I fell in love with Porto almost instantly. It is such a beautiful city with so many excellent aspects. Porto reminds me a lot of San Francisco, but with more history, cooler buildings, nicer people and a much better beach.
My love for the city may also have been related to it being the first destination of my solo adventure, but it really is a gem of a place. I was so impressed by the beautiful tile work all over the city; the Church of Saint Ildefonso, Carmo Church, and Carmelitas Church all had beautiful tile work. But the mosaic in the São Bento railway station was by far the most magnificent.
I was also amazed with one of the bookstores in the city, Livraria Lello & Irmão. It is the most gorgeous bookshop I have ever seen. It has beautiful woodwork along the walls, ceiling and staircase in the middle of the store. Another noteable spot was the Church of Santa Clara. It is an elaborate church with a stunning, golden interior. It has countless statues, carvings and reliefs opulently encased in gold leaf. I also meandered through the Bolhão Market and crossed the Dom Luís I Bridge for a great view of Porto and the Douro River.
I also very much enjoyed the Praia do Carneiro (beach). It was quite a way outside of the center of town, so I hoped on a bus out there. The beach was very pebbly, but I loved the texture of the “sand.” I also visited the Felgueiras Lighthouse, which is the breakwater of the Douro River as it spills into the ocean. There was also a nearby park that I spent a lot of time in just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful day. I strolled all the way back in to town (it was at least two miles) in the afternoon.
Other than strolling around and checking out the sights, I indulged in a local treat, the Francesinha, a heart attack of a sandwich. It is two pieces of bread stacked with linguica, ham, sausage and steak, smothered with cheese and a beer and tomato sauce, topped with an egg and served on a bed of fries. It was so disgustingly delicious. An experience that just has to be had when in Porto.
I ended my time in Porto relaxing at my hostel, Andarilho Hostel. It is funky and fun, and the staff are laid back and welcoming. One of the staff had family visiting, so they made a big meal for everyone. We had a tasty soup and a really great fish/potato/egg/carrot/greens dish that was somewhat like a casserole. I don’t remember the name, but it was very good. And the company was excellent. It is one hostel I would be happy to live and work in to stay in a city a little while longer. But if I only return to Porto for a visit, I will happily stay at the hostel again.