Porto, sweet and salty!

From Harry Potter to the salty Atlantic Ocean – my top 4 recommendations for what to do, see or eat in Porto, the favorite parts that made my journey special.
Oporto, the second largest city of Portugal is a true gem. Most people combine it with a visit to Lisbon, but I believe this city is worth a trip alone as well. Because ‘wise is he who enjoys the wonders of the world’, as Fernando Pessoa puts it.

Majestic Porto and river Duoro

 

1. Three words: Harry Potter inspiration

First, follow the steps of J.K. Rowling, who lived in Porto several years, teaching at the University of Porto and found inspiration in the city for some aspects of the Harry Potter novel. For instance, the Lallo bookshop (or Livraria Lello & Irmão) resembles the magical Hogwards library and the lions from the University of Porto’s fountain were the inspirations for the Gryffindor lion.

Plus, the black Hogwards uniforms were modeled after the distinctive uniform of the students, the ones they wear on special occasions and only if they want.

 

Livraria Lello & Irmão Oporto, ~ but some might say, Hogwards or Diagon alley 🙂

 

Literature exists because the world is not enough – Fernando Pessoa (my inner Hermione agrees)

 

It goes without saying it – as a huuuge Harry Potter fan, was pure magic to visit the Lallo bookshop. You first buy the ticket from across the street from a small truck. While waiting in line, you can admire the beautiful façade of the library, with Art Nouveau elements. It costs 3 euro to enter, but when you buy a book, the price of the ticket is discounted.

I purchased the book “Eat Portugal,” which leads to my next point.

 

2. Sweet Porto

Eat pastel de nata and drink coffee

Second of all, eat and drink coffee (and port wine of course, but more about this later). Survival phrases read on the “Eat Portugal” book are:

  • “café de saco” is a filtered coffee similar to an Americano
  • “cimbalino” – the Porto name for espresso, while “bica” is the name in Lisbon
  • “pingado” would be my favorite – espresso with a few drops of milk.

 

Eat your way through Porto, always a good idea

Pastel de nata – aka little piece of heaven

 

 

Café Majestic is the most beautiful location to stay for a coffee, but my favorite one was Café Guarany in the center, close to Aliados metro station.
I tried pasteis de nata in several places, but the most delicios ones I found in Pasteis Ribeira (close to Porto University). Best to serve sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon on top.

 

3. Architecture and Azulejos (tiles tiles tiles)

 

The dreamy São Bento Railway Station

Choose your favorite ‘Azulejos’ design

Most important, admire the architecture and the beautiful azulejos on houses, churches and restaurants. As I wrote in my article about Lisbon, everywhere in the Portuguese cities you see azulejos – the Portuguese and Spanish word of Arabic origins for painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework.

Start with the train station São Bento, a story of travel and time told using 20,000 azulejos. You definitely won’t find many other train stations as pretty as this stunning São Bento. Most tiles are beautifully hand-painted, telling literally a story about travelling.

Confession – I love train stations and here, I found myself staring for minutes at the details of this blue tiles.

 

Dreaming time – I am sure, when I will have my own house, my kitchen will be decorated with this colorful Portuguese ‘azulejos’.

 

4. Porto, stay salty!

Atlantic ocean and the sunset

Last, but not least, head to the salty ocean in the afternoon. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen last year (competing with the one in Dubrovnik).
Taking the tram 1 “Infante-Passeio Alegre,” which follows the river Douro, you will reach the ocean in Foz do Douro. I went on my last afternoon in Porto and was an amazing way to end my trip.

In the summer, for fresh fish, locals go also a bit further, to Matosinhos.

 

‘There’s an ocean inside of me’ – Johnny Nguyen

 

Originally, “to be salty” is the slang for ‘to be upset or angry’, usually when something doesn’t go our way. But to me, everything that is salty (tears or the sea) has a healing power. I went to Porto last autumn, when I wasn’t in the best place in my life. And being there last November helped me heal, organize my thoughts and put things into perspective.

 

Crossing River Duoro on Dom Luis I bridge

Plus a little BONUS – wine lodges

Since Porto is the house to the Porto wines, you must cross the River Duoro on Dom Luis I bridge in Vila Nova de Gaia to visit the wine lodges and also have a different perspective on the city of Porto.

Is advised to always look ahead, literally and in life. When you are on this particular bridge, look also down. The view might surprise you 🙂

 

There is something about Portugal! I think I need to plan my return.

 

Obrigada,

Aida

 

Text and pictures credit: Aida Mola

You may also like