Road Trip, Days 9 to 11: Porto

We changed our itinerary a tad, due to a rainy forecast on Thursday, so instead of traveling the slow road across the north coast of spain, we exercised our windshield wipers and high-tailed it straight to Porto.

Landscape shot across the high desert near Palencia, Spain. Reminds of my childhood home in Colorado.

After an exhausting day of driving, we had dinner and sunk into the luxurious beds of our boutique hotel. One thing about Theo’s and my travel habits…we’ve realized that at our age, we go at a slower pace compared to younger days…but realize, too, that that’s what it’s all about for us.

Old buildings along the river near our hotel.

Porto is a dazzling jewel of a city, although the steep hills offered a great workout for us. We took our time, stopping mid-hill to ‘take in the sights,’ i.e. rest our weary haunches! But we were enchanted by the beauty of the buildings, clad with tile on the outside. The reconstruction taking place here is hopeful. It seems every fifth building or so is under a major reformation.

Tiiled exteriors and sculpted stonework of Porto.

Dom Luis I Bridge, built by a disciple of Gustave Eiffel, with wrought iron work resembling details used in the famous tower.

The spectacular Liberdade Square.

Sao Bento Train Station, with walls adorned by beautifully painted azulejos tiles.

As we wandered around town with our tourist map and handy live mapping on the phone, we ended a great sight seeing afternoon at the Majestic Cafe. Built in wonderful art nouveau style in 1923, it takes you back in time with its solid marble floor and columns, fabulous chandeliers, and intricate hand-carved wood frames around the now clouded mirrors. We both ordered a dessert plate with a paired port. As I savored the last few berries that topped my rich cheeecake, of course they exploded under the force of my fork to squirt all over the front of my blouse. Never fails!

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Friday night, we searched until our feet ached for a recommended restaurant, but decided, finally, that it must be the big one under construction wrap taking advantage of the winter season to renovate!!! And so we struck out to find an alternative. Found an interesting looking one less than a block away. They herded us into a room and packed us with other unsuspecting patrons. Of course, here in tourist row, they put olives and bread on the table, bring you an undrinkable aperatif, then charge you for all of them! Anyhoo, my dinner was quite good, while Theo’s was not. Soon after our food came, they turned out all the lights and we were left with just with a tea light on the table. Two guitarists came in and started to play beautiful fado melodies, then a young man with a great voice sang. Then, dum-da-dum-dum, the mother (owner of the restaurant) sang the next one. Yikes! Not good. She continued to “entertain” and finally the lights came back on. Since we were at a tiny table-for-two inches away from the next table-for-two, we struck up a conversation with some nice folks from Valencia.

For the curious, here’s some fado…

Everyone else in the room left, as we continued our conversation with our newest friends. Two other couples were seated in the room for a late dinner. Then the lights went out again, and, uh-oh, we were in for more torture! The gentleman at the next table kept talking to us and the Madame Wanna-Be-Singer came to our table and loudly chastised us like a school marm. We apologized, and she continued to lecture us! I was embarrassed for her! The two young couples at the other tables were rolling their eyes. Wow. We marched out of the room during her next song to pay the bill outside. This was neither a purchased performance nor a professional one. The waiters were so apologetic, they followed us almost to the street. Anyway, sometimes it’s the bad experiences on a trip that are most memorable!!! Ha!

Spectacular stonework on the sidewalks.

But this diva didn’t hold us back. We hit the streets again the next day to discover the port wine houses across the river.

Sandeman port wine house.

Port transport boats with the Ribeiro sector in the background.

We wanted to visit the art nouveau Lello Bookshop, but it was swamped by Harry Potter fans because it was the inspiration for the Hogwarts library and staircases (not to mention that they wanted €4 each just to step inside!)

Horsin’ around.




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2 Responses to Road Trip, Days 9 to 11: Porto

  1. Anna says:

    Oh my….. This “diva”…. You handled it perfectly! I would throw a dish at her. 🙂

    • says:

      What made it REALLY funny was that the act was such a joke. In the dark, yeah right, when someone proved that a single spot over the singer was installed but not used. Such a sashaying prima donna!

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