as you’ve probably noticed from my recent blog posts, I´m focusing on European Destinations in 2016. And my latest travels finally brought me southwards again – to Portugal.
My sister and I went on a road trip from Porto down to the Algarve to Faro. Today I´d like to share my impressions of the first few days with you.
You can easily walk around the main part of Porto, the second largest city in the country. Anyone who knows me or has read some of my posts, knows that I´m not big in planning a walking tour, but like to go with the flow and see where my intuition is leading me (always a city map in my bag, just in case ;)). Although in the case of Porto this has led us in some streets where we might not wanted to be led. But in the end we got a very good insight of the structure of the city. What is pretty striking in Porto, but also in Lisbon and other smaller places, are the many abandoned and dilapidated buildings. Even if this is not a new discovery in the southern countries, and there are some extremely creepy ruins, you will always find great gems as well. Either obtained by its painted façade or through the spreading vegetation, they´ve got a special charm.
Finally we made it back to the beaten track and strolled along the river Douro to the Ponte Dom Luís I. This bridge consists of two levels, both accessible for pedestrians. On the upper level runs the tram and on the bottom the usual transportation.
Tasting Port Wine is a must-do in Porto
Crossing the bridge from the old town you reach the neighborhood of Vila Nova de Gaia, home to numerous port wine producers. If you´re in Porto, you simply have to attend a port wine tasting in one of the cellars, don´t you? I guess, you have no other choice, right? 😉
Ultimately, we chose Calem and signed up for the English-speaking tour (about 30 min., 6 €., incl. tasting). The tour was very interesting and I more than recommend it. Without being able to draw a personal comparison, I think however, those run similar at each company. Finally the decision will logically be made by availability of free spots.
All 56 Port wine producers grow their grapes in the Douro region near the border to Spain and harvest them in September and October. Although there are 120 different grape varieties, only 29 of them are used for the production of Port wine: 15 for the red, 14 for the white version. Each port contains an average of five different grape varieties, which do not always come from the same harvest year. Like often for alcoholic beverages, it theoretically also counts for the port, the older it is, the better the taste. It is very seldom that the respective grape varieties within a year match so perfectly that the port only includes the ones from that special harvesting period. Until now, it happened three times: in 1870, 1920 and 2000. And well, what can you say? These of course were popular, so only a bottle each is still there. Not for sale, of course 😉
The waterfront invites to relax and enjoy the gorgeous view of Porto. My favorite spot in Porto 🙂
For shopping lovers, the city has also much to offer. Definitely go and visit the Via Catarina.
Águeda – The City of the colorful umbrellas
About an hour south of Porto you reach Águeda. We actually only got the idea to pay this city a visit, after arrival at the airport, as there was a great colorful ad, which pointed to the city of umbrellas. Normally, only in July, this little festival is held this year even through September. As we went there on a Saturday, we even had the chance to explore a large local market. I know this type of market already from my travels, even from my semester abroad in Andalusia, but chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and Co. in tiny cages offered for sale – I´ll never ever get over it.
Well, but back to the umbrellas. Several streets were colorfully decorated and sometimes accompanied by music. The perfect location for taking pictures, but also for getting caught in a bit of day dreaming.
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