My birthday is tomorrow, and OF COURSE, that was all the reason I needed to plan a getaway! And OF COURSE, I wanted to go somewhere new. I found two others who were up for an adventure. Portugal is a new country for me, and Porto was a new city for everyone, so it won out! I’m so glad it did. It was a BEAUTIFUL weekend…looked like fall (leaves changing colors and falling off the trees), but felt like summer (still in the mid-80’s, abundant sunshine, and palm trees). In my book, that is perfection! It was a great infusion of warmth and sunshine before embracing colder weather in Switzerland for the next several months. I’d never heard of Porto before friends visited earlier this year. It turns out, it’s an adorable city. Not very big, but full of character. We packed in a lot of things on Saturday (surprise, surprise)…starting with the Bolhao Market – a traditional market that’s still rockin’ old fashioned sanitary conditions.
[I don’t know what this animal is. I’m just hoping it’s a goat, because I can’t handle it being a dog! Either way, it appears to like Coke Zero.]
Our hotel served breakfast (which proved not to be very good on Sunday), but I really wanted to try a place I read about while researching Porto…Cafe Majestic. The restaurant was SO adorable, and I was thrilled to have a real breakfast of omelet, orange juice, and scones.
After breakfast, we meandered around town – popping into churches, winding our way up and down the cobblestone streets, and taking in the view from a lot of different vantage points. Porto is REALLY hilly, so we definitely got our exercise!
[Does anyone else think this looks like kudzu?!]
[The impressive altarpiece from the 1720’s in this 12th century cathedral]
[So many orange tiled rooftops!]
[Stock Exchange Palace was home to the Portuguese Stock Exchange until the 1990’s when it moved to Lisbon]
[The catacombs at Sao Francisco Cathedral. Couldn’t tell if these skulls were real or made of plaster…]
[…but I do know that these were definitely BONES & SKULLS one floor beneath us!]
[Getting the perfect shot all weekend long]
[The Ribeira neighborhood stretches along the Duoro River]
[This lavish room was home to the Portuguese Stock Exchange until the 1990’s. Hard to imagine a place like this being home to the trading floor of the NYSE!]
[Despite looking like wood, the ceiling in this room is actually plaster painted to look like wood. WHAT?!?! Who thinks of things like this??]
[This table was made by a single artist. He carved the entire thing using scraps of wood and a pocket knife. It took him three years, and he won a gold medal at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889 for his work. If you remember, the Eiffel Tower was built for the same World’s Fair.]
[The Arabian Room at the Stock Exchange Palace]
[Oh, you know…just the lobby of the largest Metro station in town. Porto loves its tiles.]
[Did you know that the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world is in Porto? It’s located in the former Imperial Cafe. Would you like fries with your chandelier?]
[Doesn’t the Sandeman logo remind you of Zorro or V for Vendetta? Too bad they were closed when we arrived for a tour of their port cave. Apparently, they are the Budweiser of port wine. Whatever that means. Now, we’ll never know.]
[We toured this smaller port wine cave. Earlier in the day, we learned that one of the former owners sat as President of the Stock Exchange for 32 years.]
[They use these huge barrels for as many as 100 years.]
[Awww…love that the port wine we tasted was called, “Old Friends.”]
[The view of the two-level Ponte Dom Luis I bridge across the Duoro River from the funicular.]
[Dinner at Papavinhos was delicious, and as a bonus, it was SO CHEAP compared to what we’re accustomed to paying in Switzerland!]
On Sunday morning, we meandered out of town to Serralves Foundation Contemporary Art Museum & Park. We made our way through the museum, the pink art deco mansion on the grounds, and all through the park before heading to the airport.
[This artist had an entire exhibit of shapes made from pieces of mirrors. I’m curious to know how many times she’s cut her fingers open.]
[The view from the balcony of the mansion…before we were escorted back inside. Apparently, we weren’t supposed to help ourselves to the balcony.]
One of the best parts about a weekend in Portugal? Pastel de Nata. I ate 2.5 of them. Between the three of us, I think we ate more than 10. I don’t know how to explain it to you other than to tell you that it’s some sort of custard-y, pie thing. Oh, and it’s DELICIOUS!
Birthday week started off with a bang! Here’s to celebrating all week long!!