In the previous blog we ended our travels by traveling further South, where we crossed the Portuguese border. We ended up at a lovely spot close to Caminha, at the most North-Western point of Portugal. From here on we moved further South to visit Porto and the Douro, which we will tell you more about in this blog!
The Road to Porto
Our adventure begins with a trip from Caminha to Vila Chã, where we set up camp at a lively site close to the beach. The campsite is bustling on weekends, but we manage to secure a spot just in time. The nearby boardwalk, known as the Fishermen’s Trail, becomes our daily walking path, offering scenic views and salty breezes. One of the highlights of this area is the array of delightful restaurants and bars. These hidden gems offer fresh seafood (Laura’s favorite) that makes our taste buds dance with joy. Laura, our seafood lover, couldn’t resist ordering prawns not once, but twice. But, who can blame her when you’re in this area :P.
Getting into Porto
Another ideal feature of this campground, was that there were Ubers at this area to bring us to the nearest train station. Ideal, because this way we could leave our furry friend at home instead of having to take him in the heat to the big city ahead: Porto! A short 30-minute train journey later, we find ourselves in the heart of the city.
Sights in Porto
Our first stop is Rua de Santa Catarina, Porto’s main shopping street, where we stumble upon a candy store that leaves Rowan in awe with the biggest strawberry candy he’s ever tasted. Next, we moved towards São Bento train station, adorned with beautiful ceramic art. Of course, we took some photos here (perhaps some tourist snapshots here and there), but we also did our best to capture the beauty of this station! As we arrive later in the day, most tourist attractions are closed. So, we follow the flow of people down to the Douro River, where the lively atmosphere of bars and restaurants created an unforgettable vibe.
On the Douro river & Gaia
At the Douro river, is was buzzling with people, all the bars and restaurants were very well visited, a great vibe! There were various buskers playing, living statues and endless stalls selling bracelets, rings and necklaces where the female party spent the necessary time. After we had spent some time around this section, we decided to move to the other side of the water (across the lower bridge) to Gaia, the home of famous Port houses. After a comical search for the perfect restaurant (and a wrong choice first – we left before we ordered, which was frowned upon), we find a cozy spot near the water. Laura’s love for prawns continued, of course she couldn’t help herself but order prawns.. and more prawns yes. We had a lovely evening.
The next day we took it slow. Rowan went for a long walk along the shore (on the Fishermen’s Trail, while Laura caught up with work at the campsite. The walk was very relaxing, with constant views of the ocean. Nothing truly spectacular, apart from the point where the waves crashed in some rocky inlets, which gave a wild feeling of this part of the coast of Portugal, which we would later see a lot more of.
A second day in Porto
During our third day, we made a second visit to Porto. Unfortunately we found out it was a national holiday, so again most sightings (indoor) were closed once more, so we missed out on the famous book store of Livraria Lello, but we did get a glimpse through the front window. Instead, we managed to visit a couple of Igreja’s (churches) among which the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso and the Igreja do Carmo, with its beautiful paintings on the walls. We also passed by the Capela das Almas, which is the picture perfect building when if you’re looking to capture the ceramic art in the city. We made a stop at the Igreja e Torre dos Clérigos, an enormously high tower and of course the Sé do Porto, which is the main cathedral. But apart from the highlights, we valued Porto as much for the minor streets and squares, filled with colorful houses and narrow alleys. If you are into photography, it is a great city to visit. While visiting various places, we took about at least 15 minutes to listen to a great street musician with an amazing voice. Really a “holiday” moment, as far as we were concerned, given the wonderful atmosphere of being on the road.
Great food in Gaia
As the evening approaches, we find ourselves drawn back to the Douro River. This time, we venture across the towering Ponte Luis I bridge (very, very, very high!), offering a beautiful view of Porto below. We even conquer the viewpoint rock, with the bridge and Porto in the background, which is especially spectacular at sunset. To soak up the lingering sunshine, we returned to Gaia, where we bask in the warmth of early-season evenings. Our dining experience at Uva by Cálem, situated by the waterfront, treats us to a delicious feast of oysters, prawns (happy Laura again), and calamari. The slowly setting sun and the changing colors of Porto at night create a mesmerizing ambiance. Again, a wonderful location to shoot a great photograph from across the river, as Porto’s lights turn on and the cities colors change as we slowly moved into the night.
After 3 days in and around Porto, we felt we enjoyed enough great seafood and had our fair share of cities and culture, hence we moved on. We decided to move further land inwards in Portugal, in the direction of the Douro and the famous Douro port. To get to know more about our favorite port tastings and our encounter with a new friend for Moose, please read our blog about the Douro Valley.