To Porto.

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September 30th 2022
Published: September 30th 2022
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Typing time to while away the minutes.

We are currently somewhere but about half way between Lisbon and Porto based on the duration of the trip and certainly not my understanding of any of the train announcements which I assume have been in Portuguese only. Not an unfair assumption based on the fact we are in Portugal. Many and indeed most of the signs at the station were in Portuguese and English which was reassuring and helpful but most locals speak enough ‘specific’ English to help us. Waits speak menu English, drivers read ‘Google map English’ and ticket sellers know destination and numbers well enough for us to get the message through.

Managed to find grilled sardines last night much to my pleasure and the pleasure of an American couple who were close enough to hear our conversation and to order the sardines from the next restaurant as well. Plump and salty, the sardines not the Americans, I thoroughly enjoyed them and even Lee who is not a big fish (or little fish in this case) fan thought they were really good. We also had the same dish as the previous night, a steak dish that was cubes of meat seared then cooked in butter, garlic, white wine and mustard. It served with some small sausages, not chorizo, and not hot or spicy but still tasty and quite delicious. The veal liver was not available so we settled for local chicken wings. Thank goodness we are in a different location tonight as we have eaten there 3 times and just about eaten through their entire menu. I had a couple of local IPA beers which were very good but surprisingly bitter yet with a strong citrus after taste. Lee had another of those sangrias, this time sparkling and red berry flavoured. Each time they have looked large enough to swim in but there’s never any left.

The tickets to Porto were not pre-booked, unlike all our rail travel in the UK so it’s good to be on the train and travelling in the right direction. I feel like this is the end of my ‘travel agent’ duties as I’m super confident that our accomodation in Porto will be more than fine. After that ‘real’ travel agents have done the work so all should be smooth. We even have transfers from the airport to our hotel in Athens arranged. Considering we arrive at silly o’clock late at night that sounds like a good arrangement. A lot of tourists got on board at an outer station in Lisbon that was miles from the old central district. Admittedly there were several large hotel chains there but their impression of Lisbon and ours would be very different!

We are still travelling along but now it’s grape time so it’s temporary stop typing time.

Good grapes too. I think from Spain but good flavour and no seeds.

Must be more than half way and with really only an hour to go I just listened carefully enough to hear the stops are announced in English as well. I know the spelling of the our stop and the stop immediately before ours so listening becomes my back up strategy. My primary strategy is to follow a local who I know is getting off in Porto Campanha. Who said a tertiary education was waisted on me? Or is that wasted on me?

The weather has turned too good. I’m in long pants and my hiking boots primarily because the boots are big and cumbersome in the suit case and because the last couple of days have been cool. So number one job in Porto will be to disguise myself as an American tourist and break out the patterned shorts, number two job is to find a laundromat. I can’t convince Lee that turning my undies inside out or back to front is he same as new undies! Come to think of it she may have a point! That done we will look forward to being tourists again. More tarts and the ‘Harry Potter stairway’ will feature but again we are located in a great spot and should have no trouble doing stuff. The hop-on, hop-off bus did not present good options in Lisbon and I’m thinking the same for Porto but there may be a walking tour that may suit. Once upon a time they were really good but I haven’t heard much about them lately.

That’s it for while.
Really in Porto now.

Taxi into the narrow old lanes and alleyways of the old city and into our chic, modern apartment. The juxtaposition of the two styles is quite bizarre. Our Airbnb this time has polished concrete floors, is all white except for a wall sized photo of Porto and has all the mod cons including a washing machine which is a great find considering I thought we’d be hunting for a laundromat. Found a small but friendly shop that helped with milk, some fruit and yogurt so we are pretty well set up for a while.

Ate ate a social enterprise restaurant that is very close by. Called the Portugues de Gema it tries to give employment to long term unemployed or homeless. It was very good and although the waiter looked like he’d had a tough time he was absolutely charming. The dishes are in the photos that accompany this blog. Even had a dessert (cause it’s our anniversary!) which we thoroughly enjoyed, particularly the lemon tart.

Ready for a little planning for tomorrow.

See you then. Caio for now.

Additional photos below
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1st October 2022

Such an amazing city to explore
Hi Rob and Lee, hope you Porto as much as we did. I took some amazing photos early morning on the river before the crowds arrived - quite mystical. There is so much to see. We stayed just up from the River on the north side in the R. de Sao Jaoa. The south side has lovely wine tastngs - a must do. By now you will have seen the besutiful tiled foyer of the train station. The pastries and coffee are to die for. Enjoy xx Gay
1st October 2022

All true. Porto is quite lovely, the station beautiful (and more so as the images are explained) and the coffee and tarts delightful (and I don’t mean Lee!).

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