Well our time is coming to an end in the beautiful Porto. I wasn’t a huge fan of my blog post yesterday so I have decided to re-do it. I was tired last night and didn’t put a whole lot of effort so here goes the second draft.
It took us around 12 hours and 4 trains to get from Malaga, Spain up to Porto. For those who have ever used a Eurail pass they are pretty awesome. Most of the times you can jump onto a train and show your pass and you’re good to go, no charge. Others require a mandatory reservation to be made. The app you download is quite helpful for the most part and can be used offline which is a huge plus. You can search any train in almost every European country. You can filter out trains that either require a reservation or not. The only downside is you cannot make the reservation on the app. You’re forced to go to an actual station to book it or even just figure out the cost of the reservation itself. Mark and I paid a pretty penny for our pass, but did so very far in advance. We got it during a wicked sale of 37% off and the total came to around 3500$. Keep in mind this is a Global Pass for two people (you get a discount if both of you are on the pass and always traveling together) and we also got 1st class and the longest one you can get which is 3 consecutive months for up to 28 countries. Once we started to realize how much trains cost without the pass you really get a feel for how valuable this pass is. Our round trip tickets from Paris to Marseille WITHOUT our rail pass discount was close to 600$CAD. To get from south Spain to northern Portugal cost us about 45$. It does seem kind of crazy to pay 3500$ for a rail pass and have to pay for anything on top of that but when you’re traveling for so long, in the end you are saving money and I highly recommend it when traveling around Europe. There are usually options for no reservation routes but they tend to take longer. It’s your call what’s worth paying for and what isn’t.
Our three days here were awesome. I wouldn’t recommend much more than that though unless you plan on taking day trips to other cities close by, Porto is a great home base for that we have read. We didn’t end up doing this though and spent every day in the city centre itself. We are staying just outside of the city at a gorgeous Airbnb with a private bathroom and our own little balcony. Luxury I tells ya! The trains are super easy and fairly inexpensive at about 2 euro per person each way. Its awesome that they dont charge you based on distance or zones — that’s always a pain in the ass. Our first night was a write off as we got lost looking for our Airbnb due to the extremely confusing addresses. We ended up asking a stranger in the middle of a dark road to help us and even he didn’t know which place it was. He had to call the number to figure it out. And even then, we were walking with her to the apartment and none of the doors even had a number on them. So very confusing.
Our day two was spent walking around Porto, taking in the city life. The streets are extremely steep and narrow. The apartments seem to go on forever when you look up from the bottom of them. The balconies are rainbow colors with a background of dark yellow paint on the outside of the buildings. When you get up above the houses and take in the full view of the city it is flooded with burnt orange roofs surrounded by lush green trees and bright pink, red and yellow flowers. Splitting the city in half is the Douro river busy with water taxis, speed boats and river cruises tempting tourists. The walk along the river on either side is a must see. One side is a historic area called Cais da Ribeira, filled with restaurants, cafes and a beautiful view of the Dom Louis bridge. The other side is lined with small shops selling locally made arts and crafts and Port wine cellars as far as the eye can see. I couldn’t help myself and had to buy a cute little owl souvenir even though I said I didn’t need to buy any memorabilia but this I couldn’t pass on. I ended up leaving it at a restaurant when we stopped to grab a drink and didn’t remember for at least an hour after leaving, ran back uphill the entire way and had to miss our train. Rocked up to the café and the waiter had thrown it in the garbage!! Thank god Mark asked the right person cause the guy I asked had no idea. I would’ve had to buy another one. At 12 euro its not all that bad. I blame the port wine and sangria for my fuzzy brain. We tried out several local pastries from small shops as we walked through the streets. The best one by far that we chose on random and ended up being a very popular treat in Porto called Natas. Amazing flaky tart crust filled with a creamy centre and a burnt top. Unreal! A must try if visiting!
Our last day was by far the best one. We had seen some signs and set up being done along the water for a motocross race so we came into town again to watch that. We ended up getting a pretty great spot right along the fence at the top of the track and hung around and watched for a couple hours. The tracked seemed pretty difficult but it was extremely exciting and entertaining. There was also a huge set up in the main square to watch their local football team, FC Porto win the domestic league championships. The atmosphere was awesome! A sea of blue, the teams colours, flags floating every couple of feet in the air and people singing and chanting their team song. The square was packed full of thousands of people and lined with food trucks and popcorn stands. At the end they had a large stage set up and several local Portuguese rap artist performed. We stuck around for quite a bit and soaked in the feel of the square. It was pretty amazing and an awesome way to end our last night in Porto. Enduro Motocross Race
I highly suggest visiting Porto if you’re coming to Portugal. We were blown away by the cheap cost of drinks as well as food! Mark and I enjoyed several cups of 1 euro coffee and 2 euro beer and sangria. Every glass of wine I had was delicious and I even had to buy myself a bottle of Port Rose wine for 5 euro. You’re looking at paying roughly 4-10 euros each for their classic Cachorrinhos. Which is a panini pressed hotdog covered in melted stringy cheese and slathered in gravy accompanied by a plate of french fries. An extremely fattening sloppy dish but delicious. You can get several dishes like this but trade the hotdog in for a mix of meats like ham and pepperoni. Our last night we had to try the raved about cod fish and tomato rice. Both delicious and so many restaurants to choose from averaging about 12 euros and up for each dish. It was nice to finally be somewhere we could afford to go out to eat without breaking the bank or feel like were spending a fortune! If you’re looking for somewhere to chill and get the best bang for your buck — dont hesitate adding Porto to the list!