Mar 232013

Posted from Foz Sousa, Porto District, Portugal.

The Roman occupation of the Iberian peninsula in the 4th century gave foundations, as we discovered over an extended weekend at the end of February, to an extremely beautiful, cultural and charismatic place – the city of Porto (called “Oporto” by the English speaking world).

Our experience was helped by the fact that the weather was absolutely great through-out our visit and allowed pretty much for our entire time to be spent outside and in the sun! That being quite a contrast to London of course.

To set the context a bit, the city was listed as a Unesco World heritage site in 1996. You quickly get the sense of why it happened when you reach the Ribeira area in the Historical centre of the Old town. The location couldn’t be more stunning as the city spreads along the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal with beautifully green hills (also in February, yes!), those tiny little narrow and colourful houses … beautiful.

We spent three days in Porto and were busy discovering. The time seemed to be just right to see the place, but one could easily spend a week, relax, enjoy and breath in the atmosphere. There is lots to do there from visiting churches and cathedrals, to walking along the seaside, eating tasty Portuguese food … and you wouldn’t have guessed it … tasting the Port wines!

We have done a few wine tastings. The most memorable was Ferreira, which is the last Portuguese owned winery. Otherwise we have done a tour of Calem and visited Sandeman and Ramos Pinto. If you plan to do the same, take into account that the opening times are tailored unfortunately more around the stores preferences than around the customers, so you need to pencil down when you plan to visit each. Encountering closed doors is no exception.

Outside of the historical centre, do not miss the hyper modern Casa da Musica. You can tell Portuguese architects are clearly top class when walking around Porto, but this building has been designed by the Dutch. It’s really stunning. Not too far from there awaits Serralves, which is a good example of Portuguese architecture where simplicity and white colours predominate. Once done with the buildings, the Foz is a great place for a nice long walk along the seaside and you can grab some nice food along the way. The restaurants here are way above Porto’s very affordable average, but then you know you’re in a premium location.

I already know we’ll be back again in Porto. Next time it will need to be in summer and we will want to travel through out the whole Portugal – that’s the plan!

 Posted by at 12:21 pm

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