When I was continuing my search for places to go that didn’t require quarantine on arrival or quarantine back home, Portugal was one of the countries that came to my mind.
I knew that Ryanair flew to a few places here. I didn’t really want to go to the islands or where there would be a huge influx of Britons (we don’t have a good name in the EU for many reasons – not least our loutish behaviour and I didn’t want to be lumped in with them) and Porto seemed like it would be a good place to visit.
The only issue is that it was a late arrival into Porto – thankfully public transport was still running from the airport to where the hostel was so that helped cement the decision to visit Porto.
I actually did a bit (a tiny bit mind you) of research of places to see when I was here. It gave me some ideas if nothing else.
I booked and then played the waiting game for departure day.
Departure day came and I dutifully headed to the airport and on the flight – no row to myself this time, but the middle seat was free. There were rows free but the passenger on the same row didn’t feel like moving. Oh well.
On the way down to land, the captain said there would be some light turbulence. My stomach sank – I hate turbulence. It was the kind of turbulence that shook the whole plane and you could hear the creaking of the overhead lockers and the shaking of the seats. It was only a couple of minutes but that was a couple of minutes too long for me. Did I mention that I hate turbulence with a passion? If not, I do. If I did, take it as a reminder of how much I don’t like it.
I got to the hostel in one piece and checked in. The room was in the lap-of-the-gods-nosebleed-section. Thankfully it was cool up there – I couldn’t handle another night in a hot room. I went out to find some food and then promptly hoofed it back to the hostel so I could go to bed and sleep as I was shattered.
I decided that I would do the first day different this time round. The hostel provided a walking tour so I decided that I would do that.
The tour lasted a couple of hours and it was great to have a guide that actually grew up in the city as he was quite knowledgeable about the city and what he was showing us.
He told us some of the history of the city. I didn’t realise that the British and Portuguese were as close allies as he was saying we were. He was saying that the area was of importance to the British because of the port and the river and the wine producing. The British have a lot of wine cellars here.
You can see the British influence in simple things like Pillar Boxes and Phone Boxes – this is something I also noticed in Lisbon.
He was telling us that the name Portugal comes from the cities on either side of the Douro. Porto and Gaia. He said it merged to Porto-Gaia and then eventually Portugal.
He took us to some good spots where we could get really awesome views out over the Douro to the Gaia side and also along the Douro on the Porto side. In Porto, they call these Mirodouros and they are all along the banks on the Porto side. I didn’t really spend much time in Gaia to find any (minus 1 or 2 from the sightseeing bus).
Once the tour was over, I went and had some food in the most ornate McDonald’s I have seen. Tiles and chandeliers adorn the inside.
I also got myself a sightseeing bus ticket so I had stuff to do the next couple of days. I used Gray Line this time round and they were actually pretty good and also inexpensive.
They had 2 lines and also a boat trip along the Douro showing the 6 bridges of Porto. A 48 hour ticket with the boat only cost me €21. Definitely worth doing!
Once the buses had finished for the day, I decided to have a wander around where the hostel is and also to find some food. I found a place called Steak n Shake and the food was awesome and it was also very inexpensive. I paid about €12 for a cheeseburger meal and an Oreo shake. The outlet is really ornate too. It has tiled murals inside and out.
Once I was done here, I headed back to the hostel to get some much needed rest (I forgot about the climb to the room).
Total steps: 16,253
Total miles: 8
Below are some of the pics from today
Below you can see a map of the highlights of the places talked about during my visit here.
One thing I will say about Porto is that everything you want to go in to see or do costs money. If you want to view the insides of the churches they cost a couple of Euros to get in. This is why you haven’t seen any pictures from the inside of churches. A couple of Euros may not sound much, but if you visit half of what they have open for visits, it soon adds up.
I had to go to bed early on my last night here as I had to be up at 03:00 for the flight home – I know, I don’t know either. The fun of being a traveller.
It turns out my early night wasn’t so as I got chatting to a couple of people in the room and we sat and talked about our travels and putting the world to rights. It was actually quite refreshing.
I did finally get to bed and sleep around midnight. Yeah, I know. I’m crazy. I got 3 hours sleep. The only good thing about waking up at this time is you get the good shower and it’s clean and dry.
I headed to the bus stop and we headed to the airport. The bus driver thought he was in some sort of race as we weren’t going the speed limit (or it felt like we weren’t).
My stomach was playing havoc once I was at the airport. All of a sudden I heard the call to queue for the flight as I was powdering my nose. I hurried and my stomach was still in bits. I had no option but to hold the nose powdering until we were in the air.
I had a row to myself which was good. Nobody to disturb on the way to the powder room. The flight was uneventful until we were in UK airspace and then the turbulence started. Not good when you have a bad stomach anyway.
We had cloud cover pretty much the whole way down. I was so disorientated as I couldn’t see anything but white and grey cloud. It wasn’t until almost touchdown that the cloud cover was gone. I thought we were going to skid on landing as the rain was so heavy. I was so glad for the rain and took my sweet time from getting off the plane to going into the terminal.
I finally got home and had to do laundry the same day for a trip I was taking 2 days later (that didn’t happen. Grrr).
Total steps: 45,842
Total miles: 22.6
You can view all of my Porto pics here.