photos: Studio Revoir
The fact that you’re about to leave the country for that city trip makes all other things less bad. Didn’t have a good night rest that particular night? Well, whatever. That holiday is around the corner. Got a deadline at work? Pull through and you can pack your luggage after. I’m feeling that kind of mind set, it makes things a lot lighter and easier. That’s how it went down when I know I was almost leaving for my city trip to Porto, Portugal – Prepare for a long ass travel article.
After finally deciding where to go, I started sorting things out about the city of Porto. What to see – and very important: where and what to eat? (sorry, not sorry guys). I spent hours surfing the internet, just to find out what Porto is about when it comes to art, culture and food. Yup, after that the neuroric girl in me is able relax again.
Once we arrived at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam), I enjoyed the vibe, the fuss. Lots and lots of people. Normally this would make a little nervous and all, but this is Schiphol. I got this. I’m dressed comfortable, we’re on time and much more than that doesn’t really mather anymore.
Ribeira & Vila Nova de Gaia
Besides the beautiful and well known city of Lissabon, Porto is definitly worth paying a visit as well. The city is located in the north of Portugal, at the Douro river. The city center of Porto, Ribeira, is ‘muito’ charming. The small streets, coloured houses and the characteristic tiles (azulejos)… authenticity, I love it. Cosy feels. On the other side of the river – the ‘Vila Nova de Gaia side – you can find several Port houses. Well known houses are for example: Graham and Cálem. They offer several kind of tours, Port and wine tastings.
Just outside the city centre, you can find the business district of Porto. The hotel where I stayed during this trip – BessaHotel Boavista – is also located here and has a quiete neighourhood. There’s a lot less you can actually see and do than downtown Porto, but luckily it’s close to the central road ‘Avenida da Boavista’, where you can grab a cab or a bus to the city center. The concert hall – ‘Casa dá Música – for example, wasn’t too far from our hotel (20min. walk). We enjoyed our stay at the four star hotel, which was fully equiped. Simple breakfast, beautiful designed rooms, a little gym and a nice terrace situated next to the restaurant. The hotel is very neet and clean, which are important aspects to me (read: little myso).
BessaHotel Boavista, Porto
Rua Dr. Marques de Carvalho, 111, Ramalde, 4100-325 Porto, Portugal
My Home in Porto
If I would visit Porto for a second time, I would go with another accomodation (short-stay), where I’m more under the locals and get to feel that vibe of Porto even more. I bumped into this beautiful home later: http://myhomeinporto.com/web/en/house/. It’s in the city center and the prices aren’t too expensive if you’d travel with at least two persons (stay from two days). The prices include breakfast and VAT already. But if you’re tight to a lower budget, it’s better to look at accomodations that are a little further from the city center and mostly are cheaper.
Art and culture
You can find a lot of beautiful art and typical cultural aspects in the city. The ‘Azulejos’ tiles, the characteristic white-blue tiles, you can find on several walls of big historic buildings. There’s also a lot of street art in Porto, in alleys, side view of homes and buildings. Some of Porto’s well known street art pieces are in the pictures below.
The iconic work of Frederico Draw, which you’ll see when you walk of the upper deck of the Ponte Luis I (Avenida Vímara Peres).
By artist Daniel Eime.
Casa dá Música
Casa dá Música is a beautiful building located at the Rotunda de Boavista, Porto. The architect if the building is Rem Koolhaas (yup, a Dutchie). The building it form has a particular form and great lines. It isn’t symmetrical at all, but when I look at the building it seems just perfect. It also has a timeless look in my opinion (it was built in 2004 already). The building has tree area’s, the auditorium, the small room and the restaurant on the top floor. Unfortunately we weren’t able to grab lunch because the restaurant was closed temporarily.
De bouw van Cása da Música was in 2005 afgerond (na 4 jaar) en heeft zo’n 100 miljoen Euro gekost.
Not for from the city center you can also find this cute little place called ‘Matosinhos’. The beach of Matosinhos is loved very much by the locals but also the tourists. After lots of walking (because that’s what you do when you go on a city trip), a day at the beach doesn’t sound bad at all, right? Let the wind blow through your hair, tan, do some surfing. All good.
After spending a day at the beach, just walk up to one of the fish restaurants near the beach and enjoy the fresh catches of the day.
In front of the restaurant you’ll find people preparing the fish on traditional grills or barbeques. The smell of charcoal and grilled fish… the smell of a sultry summer night. Take a good glass of Port with that and you’re done for evening (refills of course). One of these nice restaurants is ‘Palato’. A simple restaurant, with lots of choice and really friendly staff.
F O O D
Steak ‘N Shake
Besides the fish restaurants in Matosinhos, you can find a lot of other restaurants in the city of Porto. After an afternoon of shopping, I really get hungry (sometimes hangry) and we got a quick bite at ‘Steak ’N Shake’ in the city center. They serve oldschool milkshakes, grilled burgers and loaded fries. Fries. With. Melted. Cheddar. Cheese. Seriously, after that I could die in peace.
Craving for sushi? Well, then you’ll be very happy when you visit Sushihana for example. We went for dinner at the location at Pinheiro Manso. The restaurants have a clean design and interior and they serve beautiful and different kind of sushi.
Even though Porto has several chique and fancy restaurants, the restaurants with the greatest food don’t need fancy looks because it’s all about the food.
As I’m sharing an article about a ‘quick get away to Porto’, I’m confinsed that you can do a lot in just a few days, but I realize I always get a little too exited and I’m exhausted when I get back home. So to wrap up my article, here are some locations which are worth visiting and don’t take much of your time.
Ponte Dom Luis I
Igreja do Carmo
Praca da Batalha
View backside Jardins do Palácio de Cristal