Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Portugal - Porto

As I alluded to in my first Portugal post, we liked Porto more than we liked Lisbon. For a start, we liked it immediately - already a step ahead! - with our arrival being characterised by the River Douro sparkling in dazzling sunshine. From then on, the city remained attractive, with a small but nicely set out centre and the twisting, steep roads that seem to characterise Portugal. It is not a city I could see myself living in, but it was a city I was pleased to visit.

River Douro, looking across from the Ribeira district that is the front of Porto's core centre

Porto is a port town in both sense of the word. It has a lot of port of the alcoholic variety, and historically it served as a ship hub. The town still revolves around the river, and we were fortunate to be staying right on it, in an apartment three floors up and only half a block back from the water. The above picture was taken from our window.

By virtue of being in the 'old' Ribeira district (a World Heritage Site), the apartment was not new but it was spacious. Given that Mr Bite had three days to fill independently while I was at my conference, we wanted something that was more than a hotel room and it definitely filled that requirement.


On our first afternoon, we walked through the main centre of the town, guided by only the vaguest of plans and being happy to take left or right turns on whim. We saw more tiled walls, impressive architecture, and scenic streets.




We were also amused to discover a rather quaint food hall within a shopping arcade (containing, you may note, our Porto Wok to Walk).


Wednesday was our one joint full day, and we were fortunate to have more sunshine. We decided to hire bikes, and had a hugely enjoyable three hours riding along the river and then the coast, before having a Subway picnic lunch and following bike paths back through the city. It was great fun and I will definitely keep bike hiring in mind as a holiday activity for future trips.

Coastline of Portugal


Subway salad wrap - carrot seems to be absent in Porto Subways, but corn and oregano were available

In the afternoon, we walked to the other side of the river, and then took a cable car ride up to the top of the central bridge.

More panorama playing - looking back at the main city centre

The cable car was long enough to be a ride, but not so long it lost novelty value before the end. The views were wonderful too.

The cable car route...

...and up the top.


My conference also went well, providing the sort of renewed work focus and energy I need every now and then, and had a worthy and full programme. Nonetheless, I am glad to be back on holiday! 


We are now into our second full day in London, and I am so delighted to be here, truly my favourite place in the world, that I am in a constant state of slight over-excitement. I shall try to moderate it into a coherent post eventually :-)

Those of you who loved Lisbon - have you visited Porto?
And has anyone else used biking as a way to explore a new city?

18 comments:

  1. I'm so glad this city in Portugal was better received. It certainly does look very picturesque. Love the architecture. Didn't realise Subway is in Europe. Hope the weather in London is favourable. I love London too but I don't get there often enough xx

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    1. Thank you Charlie :) London weather was rather rainy actually, but we loved it anyway!

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  2. Porto looks very beautiful - isn't it funny how circumstances can influence our perceptions of places? I love the old buildings and the bike ride sounds a great way to get about. Am looking forward to hearing about london - such a great city - hope you might catch the coat tails of some of the olympic excitment rather than GFC gloom!

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    1. We definitely got the coat tails of Olympic fever, I am pleased to say - the city seemed unusually up beat and there were still Olympic signs and things about!

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  3. Love that bridge.
    Glad the conference went well. Back to honeymooning?

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  4. I vote for incoherent exhilarated ramblings to describe your time in London! ;)

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  5. It al looks so beautiful! I had never heard of Porto before

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    1. I'm not sure I had prior to last year either, but it is definitely a beautiful city.

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  6. Loved the panoramic photo, the city looks gorgeous. Looking forward to hearing all about your London adventures and seeing some pictures!

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  7. Kari never moderate your excitement and enthusiasm for something. It's contagious! (Australians are far too contained.)
    I'm looking forward to your next post :-)

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    1. Now I have free rein it may just be uncontained and wildy excited :D

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  8. I have never been there, but it looks really beautiful! Now I would love to go to London one day! :) Loving the pictures!

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    1. Definitely go Brandi! It is my absolute favourite place ever :)

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  9. Amazing! Wow, wow, wow. I'm so jealous and happy for you at the same time. lol!

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