Portugal's second city, a reemerging tourist destination now featuring a modern airport and easily accessible transport system. A great short break destination offering sunshine, culture, architecture, imposing churches, and a glimpse into the past all at humane prices, 1/2 the price of other competing northern cities. 
Douro river running through Porto with it's iconic port wine barrel barges 
Back in Porto after many years some things just don't change, these iconic river barges have been here many years. They were used to transport port wine from the vineyards around Peso de Régua down to the holding warehouses in Porto, sail up the river & row back with the current, fully loaded with barrels of port wine.
Now days they are lined up along the Vila Nova De Gaia and are used by the grand old port wine houses as marketing and tourist publicity photo objects.
Ponte Luís 1st bridge 
Take a short walk from the city center over the Ponte Luís 1st bridge to the Port wine houses that stretch along the Vila Nova De Gaia.
The bridge is accessible from both the bottom level, with its narrow foot path and cars, as well on the top level for pedestrians and the yellow line subway trams.
The bridge built in the 1880's is reminiscence of the Eiffel tower and is designed by one of Gustav Eiffel's students.
Mosaics tell a thousand words 
Many of Porto's older buildings serve as billboards for historical illustrations. These fantastic blue and white tiles depict earlier historical moments in Portugal's past, as well as significant religious events.
The above mosaic is one of many decorating the main train station entry hall. Together these tiles form an outside art gallery and enrich the the city for the walking tourist.
Gold offers absolution
Theres no shortage of impressive and imposing churches in Porto. The Igreja Sao Francisco is a prime example, a gothic masterdom finished around 1425 that is lined with extensive gold covered baroque sculptures and carvings.
What price is peace of mind? Sao Francisco is a world heritage monument /tourist attraction so you must pay to get in. 
Also centrally located is the Torre de Clérigos, a lookout tower connected to a church.  To avoid the congestion at the top get there early.
Street scen porto
Take a stroll around Porto's streets, cobblestones, tiled buildings, the dominance of the river, cafés, pastry shops and the architecture reflect on the wealth that was once here during Portugal's hey day and again now as it emerges as a twenty-first century tourist destination. Porto is musical with street musician scattered throughout the city.
There's even a shop selling sardines with your birth year on the can, if you want to feel like a real live sardine take the old tram along the river out to the headlands.
Noticeably you can smell the distinctive smell of Portugal's drug decimalising laws so while moving around in the city you may get a sales proposal if you fit the "look".
River lock on the Douro
We took a day trip up the Douro on one of the offered river cruises. A full day excursion cost around 100€ and included a continental breakfast, lunch, a guided bus trip to a local port wine vineyard and the bus trip back to central Porto.
Generally the tour was reasonable, the breakfast was already on the table when we arrived, lunch a 3 course affair was well acceptable and tasty for a tourist boat trip, we passed through 2 spectacular river locks with a depth of 45-50 meters.
The port wine vineyard was a bit of an anticlimax. A bit of a quick visit which seemed rushed, and the vineyard, even though it was charming and original, was a secondary producer and in need of a face lift to bring it mainstream, but nothing wrong with the produce. If you've never tried a port wine tonic and have a bottle of white port laying around taking up space here's the solution. 
Eat seafood, take the blue metro line for a day out at the seaside to Praia de Matosinhos, a big wide sandy beach full of revelers. Just behind the beach are some neat little street side seafood restaurants, inside cool and old school bistro/café style and outside in glassed pop up charcoal grill restaurants, serious fish at 1/2 the price.
lunch on the grill
If you get in early and are a bit of a foodie check out the "mercado" local market, just across the road from its own subway stop. Be early for lots of local fish, some live animals and fruit and veg. 
The seaside promenade along the parks and rocky beaches in Foz is also a good recreational walk.  Take a quick dip in the bracing Atlantic and you'll quickly understand why most beachgoers lie in the sun rather than swim. 

Grilled sardines

What would a visit to Portugal be without a meal of grilled sardines. We saw the locals grilling on the street as well as on their balconies. Another Portuguese classic is bacalao, dried cod or ling fish, available in every restaurant and even as a fast food alternative.
Reputedly a good Portuguese wife could make Bacalao differently everyday of the year. For a good read and to understand the importance of cod and bacalao in Europe read "Cod: a biography of the fish that changed the world" by Mark Kurlansky.

It's a bit hard to get a grip on how and when one should use the description pudding, this one had sweet potato or pumpkin in it, the exact description got lost in the translation, but it was sweet and soft, well made and tasty. If you have a sweet tooth then Porto won't disappoint, there are many street side cafés serving good coffee and a wide range of pastries, Pastel de Nata being the standard. Eating pastries seems to be a national pastime, more often than not the good cafés are always full, but most places do take aways so its easy to absorb the local culture and people watch.

Porto by night
There's a cooler vibe over the city at night time, the summer temperature drops to a comfortable al fresco mood for dinner or exploring the bars and alleys.


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