Beautiful Oporto

An early wake up on Friday morning meant that our long awaited weekend get away to Porto had finally arrived. Meeting Georgia and Miranda en-route to the airport, our trip was to start with a caffine kick at the airport and a breakfast consisting of a squashed, processed “pain aux chocolat”, which would soon be put to shame by all the baked delights Portugal had to offer. A quick, uneventful flight landed us in Oporto, with a ride on the metro taking us into the heart of what was to be the most beautiful city I think I have ever visited.
On leaving the metro we were greeted with blue skies, cobbled streets and a beautiful church, which stood modestly on the corner, covered in white and blue tiles picturing Bible stories. Sometimes you just know you are going to absolutely love a place.
Our hostel was absolutely what we needed, and was to give us two comfortable night sleeps and a breakfast with fresh, addictive buns from the local bakery which would satisfy us for lunch as well. We dumped our bags and headed out to explore, stopping at a bakery on the way to get our hands on some pastries. Crossing the Dom Luis I bridge over the Douro river left me amazed at this feat of engineering. Its grandeur and strength making us feel very small and left wandering how such a structure was invented. From the top we were presented with the contrasting views of both sides of the river. The right side of the river was made up of old buildings that had stood the test of time and had still retained their colour and character. The famous Ribiera area close to the river bank could just be made out below us, as the city rose up behind it, illustrating the steepness of the valley on which the city was built. Washing hung out from windows and across narrow streets, whilst lemons grew on trees in the green areas. It was simply beautiful. Looking over to the left, the reason Oporto is so famous became clear. Hidden between the terracotta tiled roofs, the names of port brands seemed to appear in front of my eyes. The closer I looked, the more I could see. Each one proudly marking the location of its wine cellar. I thought at first that in contrast to the other side, this industrial area was quite ugly. But in reality, I came to really like it. The large names stood firmly to illustrate exactly what Oporto was famous for and it is incredible that they were all located within a stones throw from each other.
Terracotta rooves of the wine cellars, with the city of Oporto in the background

Our day continued with an unexpectedly long walk out of the centre of town in an attempt to reach the beach. Sadly, unaware just quite how big the scale on the map was, we were forced to cut our expedition short after finding ourselves in the suburbs with no choice but to walk nervously along a footpath next to a busy motorway…. That taught us for being too adventurous! With some attempts at speaking Spanglish (unsure of what language the Portuguese would prefer) and understanding Portuguese, we made it back to what felt like slightly safer civilisation and stopped for some lunch along the river. Our wanderings around the city over the few days of our trip were to take us past some fantastic street art and graffiti which brighten up many old walls and electrical boxes in the streets.

Wandering the streets back to the centre
We saw the sun set in the distance as we sat in one of the bars in the Ribiera neighbourhood, watching darkness cast its shadow across the industrial area as the names of the cellars began to slowly light up. We wandered home, stopping for another glass of port wine on the way that sufficed as a nightcap before hitting that hay after a very long day.
Dom Luis I bridge at night


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