Porto train station
Porto train station
My visit to Porto has been very pleasing. It is a nice relaxed city and to top it all off Porto has Port.
Port is fortified wine made in Porto but the grapes are actually grown in the Douro Valley (not too far away).
We stopped by some tasting rooms one afternoon. The tasting rooms are actually across the river from Porto in Gaia (you can walk across a bridge or take a water taxi to get there).
I saw a recommendation somewhere for Augusto’s so that was our first stop.
Augusto’s port is not distributed and can only be purchased in the tasting room. It is a small family winery.
We had a tour and a tasting. Money toward the tour can be used toward credit for purchases.
They talked about how Port was made and we got to taste a couple different ones.
Of course they get you just buzzed enough to make bad decisions. We didn’t end up shipping anything home (super expensive) but I did purchase a sampler of different ports. I spent the next few evenings trying to finish them off so I wouldn’t have to take them on to my next destination.
After that we stopped at a newer hip tasting room: loud music and crowded. No tour but it was fun to taste some others.
We might have stopped at one more bar that night to try one more. Maybe. You know, bad decisions :).
A couple days later I was still in Porto on my own so I visited one more winery.
I really enjoyed my Port time in Porto.
View of Porto wineries
I am about to make a bunch of you jealous.
A and I visited the famous Livraria Lello while in Porto.
For those of you that don’t know, it is supposed to be where JK Rowling had inspiration for the Harry Potter series.
As a disclaimer I am not a Harry Potter fan; I have only read one of the books and seen probably 1.5 of the movies. However I can appreciate the significance of this bookstore and also be in awe of the inside, even if it was uncomfortably crowded.
There is a ticket system to get in (fee can be used toward book purchases) and a long wait so it didn’t get too crowded inside. However even with the ticket and queuing it was still uncomfortably crowded inside. I think if I was a huge fan I might be annoyed, or maybe not. I wandered around to take a couple photos then told my friend I would meet her outside. It was too much for me. Perhaps try a visit when it first opens?
A couple days later I went by myself to another JK Rowling spot, The Majestic Cafe (it was closed on the first day we attempted to go).
The Majestic Cafe is one of the regular hangout spots for Rowling when she lived in Porto.
It is at Majestic that I finally tried the local dish Francesinha that I read about before my visit. I have to say I really wasn’t a fan. It was too rich for me and tasted a little like chef Boyyardee. The waitress noticed I didn’t even come close to finishing it. I told her it was too rich for me and she replied “we need the calories because of all the uphill walking in town”. That’s cute but I’ll get my calories elsewhere :).
I admit I am a slacker when it comes to preparing my itinerary during my travels but I one thing I was sure I wanted to see is live Fado in Portugal.
Fado originated in 1800’s Lisbon. It usually is a singer with acoustic guitar players. The music is slow and played in a dark restaurant.
I booked reservations ahead of time at Povo Lisboa. The reservation was for approximately 2 hours but I think we stayed longer; we witnessed 3 performances.
The restaurant happened to be on the same pink street we were on the night before.
Inside is intimate. We were lucky with our reservation and had a central and upfront table.
Orders for food and drink are taken as soon as possible because there is no service during performances.
We ordered some appetizers to share and a bottle of wine. I was sure to order a cheese plate. The soft cheese on the platter was pretty much magical.
Soon after we get our food the singer and guitar players come out. The singer sings slow Portuguese songs with her passionate voice. She is smartly dressed in a glitter dress but is wearing white tennis shoes, I am assuming for comfort. She has already impressed me.
I am very happy with the performance. Below is a small excerpt (didn’t want to video tape the whole thing.
A week later when I returned to Lisboa and stopped into Coracao de Alfama for another performance. Here I caught the tail in of a male singer but the later sets again had a very powerful female singer. It was too dark to good photos but here is the restaurant in between breaks.
Another morning I happened to walk by this famous Fado singers wall. It is a great tradition I was happy to view during my visit.