We escaped the freezing German weather last weekend to head somewhere a hell of a lot warmer.
James first sent me a link to Porto 6 years ago when he was deployed and I was pregnant with Emmie, but we’d never taken it any further. That is, until I managed to get 4 Easyjet return flights for a sum total of €125 and we basically couldn’t afford not to go.
The second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, located on the banks of the River Douro, Porto is one of the oldest cities in Europe and its old town is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Knowing nothing about Porto before we left, except that it was famous for the manufacture and export of Port, we went armed with the tiniest Lonely Planet I’ve ever seen and minimal expectations.
We stayed in a trusty old AirBnB. I’ve got it down to a fine art now. 2 bedrooms, a central location, good wifi and this one even had a large terrace with a view of the cathedral.
We were right smack bang in the middle of Ribeira which is the Old Town. A stone’s throw from the river, from the train station and the main square where we could catch the Hop On Hop Off bus.
As they get older, my children like to walk less and less. So much so, that we took the pushchair with us this time, and promptly remembered that we hadn’t picked it up from the baggage carousel as we were getting into a cab from the airport. A police report, body scan and airport security escort later, I managed to retrieve it. Not the best way to start a trip!
Anyway, we bought a 2-day pass and definitely got our money’s worth. Especially as it was a direct and entertaining way to get to the beach. As interesting and beautiful as the city is with its blue tiled architecture and red roofed skylines, the kids wanted nothing more than to play on the sand. It was hardly painful, as we sat at the accompanying cafe drinking multiple café com leites and enjoying the sun on our faces.
We did less walking than we’ve done on a city break in a long time. But that’s not a complaint. I had a stinking cold and both children just wanted to play and eat ice cream so we took it easy. I had my fill of pasteis de nata; Portugese custard tarts, we shared a Francesinha; a local sandwich specialty filled with about 6 different meats, smothered in melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce and I had the most delicious glass of Red Douro wine as well as a few swift Ports.
It was a true 4-day rest in a warmer climate with beautiful architecture. Just what the Doctor ordered.
Porto is lovely, and a definite competitor to Barcelona if you want a city to explore with a beach alongside.