Porto in Portugal (1): An old town good for walking and leisure

January 19, 2017


Porto is not a popular and well-known attraction for people living outside the Europe continent. Its fame cannot also be able to be compared with other major cities like Paris, Rome or Lisbon. But for me, this unknown place remains a very interesting option for me. Porto is located in the Northern Portugal, facing the Atlantic Ocean, which is Portugal's second largest city. It is also one of Europe's oldest historic center certified by UNESCO (UNESCO). Although it is the second largest city, its size is just as fine as like other European cities, which is a suitable place to spend a good weekend.
 

Looking at Porto from Gaia Town (Vila Nova de Gaia). Photo: Apito
 
Upon arrival at Poto it was showering, and I checked in at an old hotel operated by a few elders. Without warning, suddenly there were thunders and rainstorms, followed by a burst of ice crashing down from the sky with temperature significantly plunged. People were just shocked of the unpredictable weather at this early Spring.
 
The old wooden windows in the hostel made me not able to sleep well at night, and not until after noon I woke up and left. Compared to last night's dramatic weather, today it was a gratifying comfortable sunny day.
 
Walking down to Porto University Square, only to find that today was the Old Town Festival and activities were everywhere. In addition to different theme Markets along the street - arts and crafts, food market, second-hand market, there is also a small open-air music zone. Small restaurants and street-style coffee shops were filled with people. After a while shuttling between the crowd, in a small Portuguese homely restaurant I took a sit, having fresh fish pies and olives, radishes and other dishes with a cup of white wine. All such were prepared by the two sisters in the shop and they were just  fresh and delicious.
 

 Old Town festival, food market, second-hand market. Photo: Apito
 
After having a full meal then I continued walking along the Old Ribeirinha street. Because of the festive season, all the way down it was full of joy and noisy atmosphere, people talked loudly and cheered at the parade. After the hustle and bustle gradually faded, I have come near the river Douro. There were many restaurants and bars alongside Douro River, outdoor open-air seats had been snapped up. Locals, tourists gathered here like cats lowering down the warm sun and enjoyed a great weekend afternoon. Sitting in Porto landmark -  Dom Luís I Bridge, I looked at this historical bridge.
 

Old Town festival. Photo: Apito
 

The other side of the river is the town of Gaia (Vila Nova de Gaia) which is a winery district. This place is famous of being the producer of Port wine, and you could take a glance at the style city of Porto and Gaia. After crossing over the bridge, there are many wine cellars and wineries in the Gaia area. In addition to getting a drink, you may also visit the wine cellar, do wine tasting, it is a good place to spend an afternoon.
 
Dinner was done in an almost full house restaurant near the hotel. There were many people in the queue outside so curiosity pushed me to follow the row. Waiters recommended a local dish of beef stew potato with rice (rice!), then continued with a cup of beer and it only cost 10 Euro! Meals tasted delicious and the quantity was good enough. After several dining experience here, I realized that Porto is a good place to eat and drink! Even backpackers could eat out every day without worrying about the high cost.