Posted on September 26th, 2016
For our next and final stop in Portugal we took the train up north to Porto. For all the places I’d been to I’d had a full on list of everything we needed to see, do and eat but with Porto I had nothing. The extent of my list was: taste port. That’s it. And so Porto was just kind of a “Let’s arrive and see what happens.” And it turned out SO well. It was our last place together before Jodi would fly back to Paris and I would continue on to Brussels. So, filled with sadness that our time together was drawing to a close, we made the most of Porto. We arrived at San Bento station (which is an attraction in itself, the interior covered in tiles telling stories and awe-inspiring to look at) fairly late and so that evening we decided to make the most of our colourful, cosy cinema-themed hostel with a well equipped kitchen. We joined a friendly crew making pizzas in the kitchen, making our own spread of crêpes with ham and cheese and then some with Nutella. To complete the sleepover scene, we snuggled up to watch a romantic comedy.
The next day our first place circled on the map by the hostel guy was Livraria Lello, the most beautiful book store in the world, otherwise known as the Flourish and Blotts bookstore in the scene of Harry Potter where Lockhart hosts a book signing in The Chamber of Secrets. J.K. Rowling was actually inspired by many things in Porto when she was teaching English here. The school kids have a uniform with a black cape, giving you the impression you’re walking around Hogwarts. We bought our tickets to go in and just admired the beauty of the old wooden shelves, stain glass ceiling and centrepiece staircase. You felt like you were in Diagon Alley.
We walked around the pretty streets of Porto, the buildings here also covered in typical tiles in varying colours and designs.
We made our way to a place called Majestic where apparently there was good coffee. Upon arriving we realised that it was Porto’s equivalent to Paris’ Angelina’s. And so began our ultimately incredibly classy day. The most expensive scones and cappuccinos we’ve ever consumed later, we walked out of the gorgeously luxurious café into the fresh autumn morning. In Porto we definitely felt that the autumn chill had arrived. We buried our summer dresses in our suitcases and hauled out the jeans and jackets that had sat unworn at the bottom for so many months.
We walked through a very quiet flea market before heading down to the river front lined with colourful, stacked together houses. We stepped into a restaurant in a side street with the most gorgeous view of the river filled with boats, straddled by a large bridge and across the way, all the big names of the port houses. We ordered fresh salmon and felt très sofistiqué.
We walked along the riverside, up and over the bridge and across to the port house side of the river. The area is literally saturated by them but because we’d gone at the last hour of the day, most places were fully booked. We went from one to the other and started to worry as to whether we’d get to taste any port that day. Eventually Kopke invited us in and we sat in a luxurious, plush tasting room, sampling white, ruby and tawny port accompanied by chocolate. What an experience sipping on port and looking out across at the sun setting over the river. Just incredible!
And so our time in Portugal was concluded. I had a crazy early flight the next day and so we said our goodbyes that night. Sad to have finished our month of traveling through the South of France, Spain and Portugal together but filled with joy at all of the beautiful memories made and moments shared together.
I had been planning this trip for MONTHS and it had always been what got me through the difficult times. It’s crazy to think that it’s all over, but exciting as I commence the final leg of my grand trip before heading home to Cape Town. Only Brussels, Prague, Vienna and Budapest separate me from my flight back home!