Porto, Portugal

January, 2020

Porto, known for the fortified port wine cellars along the river. The wine is grown inland up Rio Douro, then shipped down in barrels by boat to be cellared then bottled. You will see these modified boats ferrying people on short tours up/down the river and to/from the south/north docks. Many port companies line the southern bank.

The iconic bridge separating north from south Porto. Designed by none other than Gustav Eiffel. The red roofs are the port cellars of Calem.
The ships that delivered the barrels from the Douro River valley – now modified versions deliver people on river tours.
One of the Port companies that line the southern river front

Porto has flat areas (the river walk and estuary), otherwise expect to go up or downhill. Although the second largest city in Portugal, it is easy to get around. Buses, trolleys, funicular, taxi, gondola or water taxi can take you nearly anywhere in the city. If you need to go a bit farther, the Metro efficiently does the job. But the city is also quite walkable and worth pursuing on foot, especially when pedestrians are allowed to cross the streets.

Not San Francisco. This trolley takes you out to see the Atlantic at the mouth of the Douro. No, you can’t ride on the outside.

Although we rented a car and drove in Porto, I don’t recommend it. Parking is a premium, if you can find a spot and are very good at parallel parking. Once parked, find the meter machine, feed it, then put your voucher on the dashboard. Else you will have a citation upon return. Finally, you really have to be alert to walkers, bicycles, electric scooters, buses and the like. Ever seen a driver wait and wave a bus into traffic? I witnessed it here. The drivers are extremely courteous to all.

The history: You guessed it – the Romans settled here in the first couple centuries AD. Archways and aqueducts can still be spotted from this time. The Moors controlled the lands during 700-1100 AD. In 1387 a long standing military alliance was created by Portugal and England with the marriage of João I and Philipa of Lancaster. The military alliance still holds today.

A beautifully tiled facade of a church

Food history: When the fleets left Portugal to attack Moroccan ports, all of the best meats were put on the ships. The people of Porto ate what was left. Tripe is one and still eaten today. Trust me, this is not the only food available! These people know what to eat from fresh fish, shellfish (sardines, sea breem, octopus, clams, etc) and cod – a Portuguese specialty – to other meats, sausages, cheeses, olives, bread, etc. Fruits and veggies are plentiful and can be found in nearly any stand. But most importantly – coffee!

Cod, or bacalhao is this dried fish. But that is not how it appears on your plate. There is a process to “reconstitute” it and then becomes an excellent dish.
Sausage, cheese, fries, fried cauliflower, mushrooms, cod bites and legumes.

Cafes abound and if you are in doubt, stop inside. If the cafe is open then teas, coffees, beer and wine are available. Coffee is an art form here and prices fluctuate. If you are just standing at the counter for an espresso, prices are €0,50 to €0,65. My duplo (a double) was usually €1. Beer from tap or house wine in a 1/2 liter typically cost €2 or €3 and sodas €3. Sometimes a small charge was applied if you sat. But I don’t recall anything more than €1.

One of the first cafes, The Majestic.
Inside The Majestic Cafe, a beautiful sight. Once the hangout of writers, poets and the like. Now mostly filled with tourists that pay dearly for coffee.


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