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On The Train To Porto!

Updated: May 12, 2022

Leaving Jamie to adapt to her new life, I headed to Porto to visit my friend Cleiton.

Porto from Lisbon is approximately 3 1/2 hours by train. For under $30.00 one way, first class

with the senior discount, the train is very comfortable. It offers WIFI, a dining car, and is great way to relax and take in the countryside.

The beautiful city of Porto is half the size of Lisbon and lies along the Douro River.

It's the home of Port wine, street art and the "francesinhas ". This is a warm sandwich with a mixture of meats, cheeses and covered by a savory tomato, beer based sauce, then topped with an egg. Delicious yes, but a heat attack waiting to happen. It is well known in the city as the "drunken sandwich" after a heavy night of drinking!

Porto is one of Europe's most visited tourist destinations because of it's rich history and culture. I think it's a photographers' dream with it's beautiful water front, { called Riberia}, tiled buildings, lovely green spaces and mixture of different architectures. Azulejo is the name for tile in Portuguese. The predominate colors are blue and white which are a symbol of power and wealth. Porto has a wonderful display of these tiles on their churches and monuments.

My favorite building is the Sao Bento train station.

I remember the first time I arrived in Porto walking through the main hall and being awestruck with the striking mosaics depicting the history of Portugal on the walls. There are over 20,000 magnificent azulejo glazed tiles depicting Portugal's royalty, it's wars, and it's transportation history. The blue and white tiles were placed over a period of 11 years. The train station is in the center of the historical district and a must see if you visit Porto.

It was so nice to meet up with Celiton after being stateside for two years with Covid and unable to travel.

We both like to walk so touring the city on foot is always on the agenda. Cleiton always has something different to show me every time I visit. Porto is a walking city offering many fine sites to explore.

We walked by the Majestic Cafe which is proclaimed as one of the most beautiful in Europe. It's worth going in and seeing it's majestic beauty but you will pay triple the price for a cup of coffee!

The Palacio da Bolsa is a National Monument that was built in the Neoclassical style and completed in 1910.

It was built as a stock exchange to impress Europe's economic leaders. Today it is used for visiting dignitaries. Of note is the Arab Room which is built in the Moorish style and took 18 years to complete.

Also worth mentioning is the magnificent granite staircase connecting the upper floors.

Clerigos Tower of the Church of the Clergy is one of the tallest structures in northern Portugal. It's a Porto landmark and can be seen from all over the city. If you dare, you can climb the 255 steps to the top to see stunning views of the entire city.

Close to the Clerigos Tower is the Lello Bookstore which is the oldest book store in the country and one of the most beautiful in the world.

Unfortunately it has been said that J. K. Rawling wrote the original Harry Potter book here while working as an English teacher in the city. She has always denied this claim but people still flock from all over the world to visit. Entrance use to be free but with 4000 visitors a day and few buying books, the store now charges five Euros as an entrance fee. The lines are around the block everyday. This is unfortunate because it is so worth visiting to see the stunning stain glass ceiling and the exotic winding staircase, with over 60,000 books to discover.

You definitely won't want to hang out and read a book with so many people around!

Also close to the Clerigos Tower is a beautiful park called, Parque de Sao Roque. I love strolling through this park and resting after all the walking we did.

Next to this park is the Igreja {church} de Carmo.

This church was built in Rococo style and not only beautiful inside with it's striking alters and sculptures but a magnificent blue and white tile faced on the outside. These impressive "azulejo "tiles tell the history of the church and the formation of the various orders that were housed inside.

Ribeira is by far the most popular neighborhood of Porto and the most picturesque. It sits on the Douro River with colorful, quaint terraced houses, all forms of entertainment and lots of cafes and restaurants. Some of the most beautiful views can be seen from here and the perfect place to watch the sunset.

The Dom Luis I Bridge is a double deck metal arch bridge, originally desiged by Gustave Eiffel connecting Porto to the Gaia area. It is definitely the focal point of the Ribeira area.

This is the perfect area for strolling, eating, and people watching. The days there are as exciting as the nights. There is a new hotel that has just opened near the top of this bridge called Vincci Ponte de Ferro. The terrace is a great place to hangout with a coffee or cocktail and admire the view.

I highly recommend a river cruise traveling down the Douro between Porto and Gaia that you can pickup on the waterfront. This 50 minute cruise goes under six bridges during the ride.

My suggestion if you visit Porto is to just get out and walk. There are so many tours to book but you really can cover the entire city and most of the main sites just by doing your own walking tour.

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