Friday, November 22, 2019

Porto: After Leaving the Villa

September 28-29 2019

Click Porto to see photos of our two visits.

The Andrews, Ray and I drove to the airport after leaving the villa, first dropping Jack at the Porto Airport Hotel where he would stay overnight before flying home to Calgary. Our second stop was the airport where Margaret left us to fly to Brussels and catch a train to Bruges. Finally, both the Andrews and Burnhams returned their cars to the rental agents at the airport and took a taxi to the very comfortable Grand Oceano Guest House, conveniently located very near the train station in Porto.

You don't need a car to explore Porto. The center is well set up for walking, provided you don't mind climbing hills. There are no flat area in Porto Center.

We had enjoyed our Rick Steves walking tour so much on our previous visit with the Carvers that we were happy to introduce the Andrews to Porto the same way. he tour. A special treat were the magnificent tile murals covering the walls of the entrance to the train station. We couldn't get enough of them. By using the accounts given in the guide book we were led through the history of Portugal and village life in the area.

By that time we left the train station, it was almost time for lunch. We found an excellent small restaurant, Petiscaria, where we feasted on tapas. Well fed and refreshed, we walked down to the Ribiera waterfront, a must see for all tourists.

A funicular ride from the waterfront brought us back to the upper part of the city center. We walked back to Liberty Square where a busker was performing a clever tango dance with a dummy partner attached to his shoes.

We had hoped to see a Fado performance while we in Portugal. On our way back to the hotel we passed a restaurant advertising an evening show and dinner. We booked to have dinner and take in the 8:30 PM show, with two addition sets that evening. The Fado singer had not checked her schedule and thought this was her night off! The first set started closer to 9:30 PM. The musicians and the singer were very good but we could last only part way through their second set. It was not a good introduction to Fado.

The next morning we had time to visit a few spots on the tour we had bypassed the previous day. We took a break at the Base cafe, built on an attractive grassy park camouflaging an underground parking garage. It is a popular spot for tourists and local to have a drink and a snack or lounge on beanbag seats on the grass. More cities should use Porto's example and build a park, complete with cafe, over a parking garage.

I had hoped to visit the famous bookstore if I arrived when it still opened. That was not to be. The lineup was even longer that either our first visit to Porto with the Carvers or the lineup the previous day. Oh well, you only get about 5 or 10 minutes to look inside the store anyway.

It was time for us to check out of the hotel and take a taxi back to the airport rental agency to pick up our car for our trip back to Lisbon. We headed off to stop briefly in Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal, and spend the next two nights in the University town, Coimbra.

One thing we learned about Porto; just like Lisbon, the city is definitely worth a visit of several days to truly see all it offers. Ray and I didn't even get to the Port Lodges, but we certainly enjoyed a glass of Port after our meals at the villa.



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