Johanne Brookes

Occasional traveller: cities, history, culture, food. So many places so little time
Living in: Birmingham, United Kingdom
  • Day2

    Day 1Lisbon to Porto and beyond

    June 1, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    We woke early as we needed to get to the station for the 9:30 train to Porto. Blue skies and breakfast on the roof terrace with views out across the rooftops to the river. Also an ambitious pigeon who tried to peck my orange.
    We navigated the easy Lisbon metro to St Apollonia Station and found our comfortable window seats. We had enough time for Mandy to hop off and grab a coffee before we departed. The journey was about three hours along rivers and through small towns until finally we started to see the sea and we knew we were nearing Porto.
    After some wandering about we found left luggage (we'd been distracted by the women selling cherries on the platform) and deposited our stuff so we could head into Porto. First stop lunch at a cafe by the station where we had a hotdog (sliced in two and put in white sliced with a slice of cheese!) and a local speciality called bifana; sliced pork in a bun with a spicy sauce. Then we spent a while trying to work out how to get to the city centre; the station was out in the suburbs. Eventually we worked out that there was a discretely hidden metro station so we hopped on that for three stops and hoped we were in roughly the right area. We emerged in front of one of those blue and white tiled portuguese churches in the heart of Porto. From there we ambled vaguely looking for the Church of San Francisco or the famous bookshop but we had no maps, minimal phone battery and there were no street signs /maps. So navigationally challenged and distracted by the copious quantities of cherries for sale everywhere we drifted until Mandy rose to the challenge and blagged a map from a big hotel.
    Armed with this we set off to find the world's most beautiful bookshop (apparently... According to some survey) we knew they charged 3e to enter redeemable against purchases but we weren't prepared for a grumpy bouncer, a huge queue and a entrance charge of 5e so we will never know if it really is so beautiful... We carried on wandering up and down the hills (Porto seems to be as hilly as Lisbon) and ended at the São Bento Station (apparently the world's most beautiful station... I might be spotting a theme here) but does have a magnificent tiled entrance hall.
    We then hunted around for the again rather discreet metro station - outside, round the corner, no signs in the station to direct you and not much signage above ground. Back on it and with a line change, back to our original station where we were to meet our taxi.

    The taxi ride was around 50minutes taking us north into the hills where we were deposited a a large house on a quiet side street in Ponte de Lima. Our host seemed friendly, very fond of hunting judging by the number of heads and tusks around the place.
    We wandered down towards the river to find dinner. It seemed to be prom season and the restaurant we were aiming for seemed to be a key location so we wandered on and ended up a restaurant with only one other party in it.... And then they left so it was us and the waiter.! We decided to go with traditional Portuguese food... It arrived: big chunks of pork, with black pudding, and other chunks of meat... Inc intestines... Not recommended.
    But the pork was good and the wine inexpensive and drinkable and we finished up with a port: one white and one red.
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