Thursday, November 3, 2011

Porto, Minha Bela Cidade

If you're anywhere in Western Europe, Portugal should be a mandatory destination for your travels. Why? Because I said so. Totally kidding, but really, just trust me on this one - it'll be a decision you'll never regret. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to travel throughout the whole country but I made it to two very wonderful and beautiful cities, each in their own way. The second city I visited in Portugal was Porto, the port wine capital of the world. Yes, I know, I would. But hey, why not? A glass.. or two.. or three.. or four (maybe more) is good for you! Anyway, Porto is what I imagined every European city to look like with its old alleyways and beautifully colorful and old buildings. The people are wonderful, the food is cheap cheap CHEAP and delicious, and it doesn't hurt that almost every guy is good looking :P

 Most of the buildings in Porto are covered in beautiful tiles.

 As well as AMAZING street art.

 The main cathedral of Porto.

 The tall tower in the distance is called Torre dos Clerigos or the Clerigos Tower and is one of Porto's most iconic landmarks.

 Old alleyway that my friend and I decided to meander through to see where it would lead us.

And here I trademark the wind-flattened hair look. I promise you, it'll be all the rage.

 A Ribeira - the most touristy part of Porto which overlooks the Duoro River with it's colorful riverfront restaurants.

 Behind me is another city along the Duoro River; Vila Nova de Gaia. And is also the world's port wine capital.

 Can you tell just how excited I am to be drinking? Sometimes I scare even myself...

 Sardinhas y arroz com tomate - Whole sardines with tomato rice aka DELICIOUS. Normally I'm not too big on sardines, but the fish was so fresh and had such a wonderful taste that I practically inhaled it. Oh, and a word of MUCH NEEDED advice when going to Porto - the portions are usually for 2 people. We didn't know, so we ordered 2 orders of the sardines aka enough food for 4 people and then some...yeah... good thing you can't have too much of a good thing, or so they say.

 An old trolley we took to the beach.

 And here my friends is the Atlantic Ocean.


 Note the look of pure bliss on the dog's face from us scratching her butt. Hilarious.

 "Cali" as the Europeans would say for California
 All the billboards with names on them are the wine caves that house the famous port wine.

 City lights at night

 The main plaza in Porto

 My hostel in Porto - Gallery Hostel Porto. Probably one of the most amazing hostels I've been to. The hostel staff were the most friendliest and helpful and the bed was the most comfiest I've slept in since I've been in Europe and that's including my own bed at home... sadness. Once again, trust me on this one - this hostel is worth every penny.

 Bite size perfection. Here I present to you a Portuguese limonhata. Filled with custard, sugar, and covered with a baked sugar coating. Sweet baby Jesus...

 Pasteis de nata - the most traditional Portuguese dessert and my personal favorite. It's a simple egg custard like your typical egg tart but creamier and oh so fresh and heavenly. Gawd, my stomach is growling so loudly I think I might wake up my neighbors!

Not a very good photo but a photo regardless, of the inside of the Lello e Irmao taken by the rebel, yours truly. People are not allowed to take photos inside, but when you're told not to do something, you want to do it even more; it's human nature. Anyway, this bookstore is one of the oldest in Portugal AND third best bookstore in the world

The bookstore's Art Nouveau facade. 

 We found some European coxinhas. Not as good as the ones in Brazil, but if it's got any kind of meat inside, I like it.

 Really cool window displays

 A Ribiera once again

 Roasted castanhas (chestnuts) with a hint of salt. YUM. 

 Stylish hippie that I chased down to take a photo of... and ask where he got his shoes.

 The wine cave we chose to go to for our "cultural event"

 Their logo: "Sandeman, famous for pleasure"; I don't disagree.

 Double-fisting crunkery with sherry (yellow) to my right and port wine (red) to my left. Very sweet and VERY strong. We made the best of our cultural experience by drinking all the left over glasses. Definitely got my money's worth.

 Supposedly the best place to come and eat a francesinha - a traditional Portuguese sandwich that is the most authentic and delicious in Porto.
Rua Passos Manuel 226Porto

 With our two lovely Italian friends!

 Sadly, I was too mesmerized by the beauty of this sandwich to stop eating and take a picture of the inside. But basically, a francesinha is a sandwich filled with layers and layers of MEAT: linguica or a smoke-cured sausage seasoned with garlic and paprika, another sausage called chipolata which is similar to Italian sausage, a fat piece of steak or roast meat, cured ham, tomato - all topped with melted cheese and drenched with a tomato-beer sauce. Egg; optional but not really and served with a side of fries and a tall refreshing glass of ice cold beer. Have I just described heaven? I think I have.

Finally, a beautiful picture of the town hall at night. One very profound Italian friend that I made on this trip told us that when we see something beautiful, we should take a moment and stop and soak in every ounce of beauty that emanates from it. Very moving and beautiful words. Thank you A.B. <3

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