Day 0 – Porto
When is a walk not a walk? When it’s a walking tour! Today was a non walking day. We arrived yesterday and meandered the streets of Porto. Porto feels a little down on its luck. When I came in 2017 the streets were lined with fancy arty shops and glitzy windows inticing passing tourists to stop and shop.. They’re gone now and every other window seems closed but… there is reconstruction and renovation everywhere so it seems that Porto is again on the up.
Today we met a tour guide for a 3 hour walking tour of Secret Porto. It was just us and the guide so we had his full attention. He walked the narrow streets and he gave us a history lesson of this wonderful city. We paused for drinks and photos and chocolate but mostly we walked.
For lunch Gerry had already decided he had to try a Fransesinha… a Portuguese sandwich from Porto based on a Croque Monsieur… made with bread, ham, linguiça, fresh sausage and steak covered with melted cheese and a hot and thick spiced tomato and beer sauce… with an egg on top!!! Our guide recommended a good place so we said our goodbyes and headed for lunch… I should add that I opted for a salad.
After our feast we walked back down through the city to the Ribeira District along the water front. What we never expected was an invasion from the red army! Three thousand Liverpool fans had descended on Porto for a European Champions match and all we could hear were chants of “You’ll never walk alone” from the crowds that filled the bars along the edge of the Douro. We stopped for a cold drink before heading off to find our second tour… another 3 hour walking tour of the bodegas of Porto.
First we headed across the river Douro to sample the delights of the world famous Port. After a few very large taster glasses we returned back across the river to a small Bodega in the old flower District. Again after a few large glasses and a sample of tapas we were off again. Up over the hills of Porto and into a new district to sample the fresh Vinho Verde of the northern Portuguese vineyards. Another large glass accompanied by more tapas of cheese and cured meats. The tour had been due to end at 7.00 but it was almost 8.00pm when we left. For a non walking day we managed to cover over 14km criss-crossing the city.
We bid farewell to the others on the tour and headed off half a kilometre away from the tourist area in search of Piri Piri Chicken… Google maps assured us we would find a good local restaurant… and it wasn’t wrong.
When we entered it looked more like small bar but they pointed us in the direction of stairs and we wandered up to a small but busy restaurant. We were ushered to a table and given a menu. We ordered a pepper and sweet onion salad followed by piri piri chicken… washed down with a bottle of cold cold vinho Verde. For an hour we sat amongst the hubble and noise of a Portuguese restaurant as locals watched the Porto Liverpool match on the big screen. We ate like kings and the wine was actually much nicer than the last offering on the tour. I rarely drink but I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s offerings.
It would be fair to say we willed Porto on to score but despite our best efforts Liverpool were the champions tonight. We paid our (tiny) bill and meandered the few kilometers back to our apartment.
We’re here now and downstairs we can hear a busker singing Johnny Cash songs as folks eat a late supper in the restaurantsthat line the street. Gerry is trying really hard to sulk because I ate some of his chocolate but I know he’s not serious (although has now hidden it from me so I guess I won’t be having any more). We have an easy day tomorrow along the coast and after all we have eaten and drunk today I think that’s probably just as well…. welcome to the Caminho Portuguese!