Wednesday, January 21, 2015

All Time Favorite Destinations Part 3: Porto, Portugal


Porto is a lovely city to walk around feeling like Dionysis himself, buzzed off the sweet yet strong port wine. To be completely honest, Portugal was never on my bucket list of travel destinations. I booked this trip the first time around because it was a cheap destination, so why the hell not? And guess what? I loved it so much, I went 2 times after that and every single time was a unique and absolutely wonderful experience.You can read about my first experience here.

Unfortunately, I only have photos from that trip and not the subsequent 2 trips, so I will leave you with a short post since I don't want to recycle photos.

Things To Do:
1. EAT, EAT, EAT and then eat some more. Food is extremely delicious and cheap, besides, you need to fill your stomach for the next thing on the list

 Pasteis de Nata - Portuguese Egg Custard


                       Francesinha - A Meat/Beer/Cheese Lover's Sandwich. Check out Santiago Cafe 


                                                                 Images via tripadvisor
                           Adega de Sau Nicolau - Restaurant for Traditional Portuguese Fare

Bolinhos de Bacalhau - shredded cod croquettes #tdf
Image via Link

2. DO A PORT WINE TOUR. This too is cheap (prices vary depending on the caliber of the port winery) and you get to learn a thing or two as well as have a wonderful tasting at the end; no complaints there! I think all 3 times I went to Sandeman - creature of habit that I am....



3. GET LOST and soak in the city. All 3 times I went, we just wandered around and discovered so many great places and all 3 times, my experience was totally different and unique because Porto just has so much to offer.
 I rode on one of these when I went with my parents.. and it was kinda boring to be honest.
Image via Google

Dom Luis Bridge
Yes we crossed this 146ft tall bridge by foot. Yes, the subway goes right along side you as you walk. Yes, my poor mother was so scared as the subway rushed by that she crouched down and gripped on to the rails for dear life. Yes, my dad and I laughed so hard our stomachs hurt.

The nightlife is also very fun and safe in Porto from my experience. We went to a bar that's located inside an old apartment. Beer was cheap and good (under 2EUR I think?) and if you save your glass, the refill is only like 1EUR. The place doesn't have a name visible from the street and I can't remember the name... but it's located in the same plaza as Livraria Lello & Irmao. I know that's a lame description but you will find it! There are people hanging out on the balcony with beers in hand so just go to that plaza and look up!

I loved Porto so much during my time in Europe. It was a tranquil escape from Madrid and had a European twist on the "chill Californian vibe" which was probably why I was so enchanted by this place.

Picture taken from Kirsten and the only photo I could find of us all from this trip.  From L to R: Sophia, Kathie, Kirsten, & Me!

Getting In:
Depending where in Europe you are (or elsewhere), it's probably cheapest and easiest to take one of the budget airlines to the Oporto airport and take public transportation or a taxi into the city.

Accommodation: 
My 1st Time: I booked a 6 bed female room with my friend, Terri for about 20EUR/night at Gallery Hostel. They do great group dinners where you pay a flat fee and get to experience homemade Portuguese cooking. So delicious! And Terri and I got to meet some awesome new friends. Staying at a clean and safe hostel is so important to me as a girl and this hostel truly exceeded my expectations. The idea of a hostel can be scary, but it's actually great for meeting like-minded and interesting fellow travelers!
My 2nd Time: I came with my parents so we decided to rent a private apartment and this was also such an excellent experience! The owner of the apartment was super friendly and even left us a carafe filled with port wine to drink. The apartment was clean, modern, and very comfortable. A private apartment is great because you can comfortably cook your own food and have some privacy.
My 3rd Time: This time, there were 4 of us girls so we booked another private apartment. Again, great experience with a great location. The owner told us about this fabulous dining experience where you go and they make you whatever they feel like that day and also provide wine and when you're done, you pay whatever you feel like the meal is worth. Isn't that crazy cool? I think that's called a supper club or closed door dining and to be completely honest.. I totally forgot about this until this exact moment! Anywho, you guys should try to search for supper clubs in your area because it's such a fun and unique dining experience.
(I can't find the name or links to either of these apartments I stayed at but you can look on airbnb.com, hostelworld.com, or hostels.com)

Transportation in Porto:
I always recommend my favorite mode of transportation - walking! You get to see things you normally might miss in a car, bus or subway. If course if the place you are trying to get to is too far, subway or taxi is the best option. All of these are extremely easy to find and use. There are also vintage trams that are still running to take you from one place to another (there are kind of a lot of hills in Porto X.X)

Have you guys been to Porto? And if so, what are your thoughts on the city?

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