As predicted, our second day in Oporto brought with it rain that was to soak us through our coats, make our feet squelch and our jeans stick to our legs. No better time to visit one of the many port cellars for a tour. Based on a recommendation we headed to Callum’s, where for only 6 euros we had a tour and tried two glasses of port wine. By the end we considered ourselves connoisseurs with plenty of knowledge to ensure we made the right decisions relating to when we should drink each type.
A second recommendation also landed us a table at Catina 32 for the most delightful dinner I can call to mind. I wouldn’t normally write much about food, but this place has to be mentioned. Unable to book a table, we turned up early and waited for a table, and I can assure you it was worth the wait. I cannot imagine there is a single dish on the menu that would be a disappointment. With only a few main dishes to choose from, their high quality went without saying. With a lot of indecision and help from a waiter we went with a bowl of soup each to start and then the bacalhau and a stew with calamari and shrimps to share for our main. It was incredible. The bacalhau was actually the most delicious fish I have ever eaten, leaving me nervous to eat it again elsewhere as I know I will be disappointed. A special mention also has to go to the banana butter with salt, which we had with warm bread and olives as we were ordering- desperately wish I had got the recipe! The staff were amazingly friendly and informative, an interesting array of characters for whom we found ourselves making up life-stories throughout our meal.
Having heard that the cheesecake was “the best in the world” we felt obliged to try it, along with the lemon sorbet. It arrived in a plant-pot, with a spring of mint at the top, leading us to crack a terrible “excuse me, we are still waiting on our cheesecake” joke, which failed miserably and left us thinking we were hilarious and the poor waiter rather confused. Along with a second round of drinks (the cheaper wine this time!), it was a great way to finish the meal. I still have to say my Mum makes one of the best cheesecakes ever, but this one was certainly original in its presentation and was worth a try! Before we knew it we had spent over 3 hours in the restaurant and we couldn’t avoid paying the bill and heading back out into the rain any longer. I have not had such a lovely meal, in such a warm atmosphere with such wonderful company for quite a while, and it goes without saying that it was the highlight of the trip for me.
|Livraria Lelio & Irmão
The rain successfully put us off of exploring the nightlife Oporto had to offer and we seized the opportunity for an early night in our comfy beds. The next day brought drier weather and we were still on a high after our wonderful meal from the night before. We caught the bus to the modern art museum which had free entry until 1pm. A wander around didn’t have us raving about much but we were happy to say we had visited.
We headed to one of the oldest (and rated as one of the best) bookshops in the world- ‘Livraria Lelio & Irmão’. With its ornate staircase in the middle of the shop and beautiful carvings in the wooden decor, it is easy to see that this bookshop is something special. Struggling, due to lots of tourists taking photos but not actually buying books, the shop now charges a €3 entry fee, which comes off of the price of any book you purchase. There was something for everyone, old and young, and in a very wide range of languages.
After a spot of lunch it wasn’t long before we had to consider getting ready to fly home. Thankfully, Georgia is a traveller who likes to allow plenty if time for her journeys too so we worked together to ensure we were all ready to go with just enough time to get to the airport after a delayed metro trip! I returned to Madrid with the desire to return to Portugal soon, the beauty of Oporto and the warmth of its people was truly something to be admired.