So last week I wrote all about why I thought Lisbon would be the next top European place to be!
Because it’s worth it!
And you know what?
So we did.
We went to the Northern part of Portugal. To a place called Porto.
Porto – Portoooooooogal!
Do you see what I did there?
Porto, otherwise known as Oporto, is the second-largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon.
Porto’s combined Celtic-Latin name is known as Portus Cale, and is believed to be the origin of the name “Portugal” meaning “the port”!
Located along the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European cities in the world and its historical centre was classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996!
Porto’s settlement dates to as far back as when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire, during the Medieval Ages, and to important artifacts found in the 8th century!
And of course, one of Portugal’s most internationally famous exports is the port wine, named after the city of Porto itself!
Truth be told, until a year ago, I had never even heard of the city of Porto!
Yes, of course, I’ve had many a glass of port in my time.
But somehow, it didn’t click that the lip-smacking tipple of port, came from an actual place called Porto!
Until last year!
I was watching the BBC Travel Show when a feature came up on the city of Porto, and on how parts of it had been forgotten, with many of Porto’s oldest houses either abandoned, or at the risk of collapsing.
Porto was once an important global centre of trade and production for many a century, and then just like Bristol, business moved to the capital of the country, and that was that.
The locals moved away into the suburbs of Porto, the city lost it’s populated buzz, business followed suit, and what was left was the emptiness of a harbour, and the quiet husk of a neglected abandoned building.
I was intrigued!
And so, when I planned our Spain & Portugal Spring Break, I decided to add Porto to the core!
Most people have never heard of it! Up until last year, even I had never heard of it!
Porto seems to be dying. A little over 220,000 people live in Porto with 1.5 million living in the suburbs! As a result, 18.8% of residential buildings in Porto are empty, with many more abandoned and neglected. A very untypical story.
Who doesn’t like to buy a souvenir to take home? Portugal has a reputation of high quality, standard goods.
Some shops were raking it in, but many shops and buildings were boarded up, becoming quite the eyesore, not only uncomfortable to see, but also with a hint of “is-it-safe-for-me-to-walk-through-this-street?” feel.
On almost every street, you’ll find some sort of bookshop.
Outside of the pretty historical few, when was the last time you patronised a bookshop? A real bookshop. Of brick and mortar. Come to that, when was the last time that you even purchased, and paid for a book?
I love cats. In fact, we have two lovely twin cats at home and we love them dearly.
There were cats literally everywhere! Under cars. On roofs. On walls. In doorways. Everywhere. I can’t imagine that they’re all domestic, looking as skinny and scrawny as they did. Certainly not the type of animal that you would think of stroking.
Or touching, come to that.
Lovely, pretty mosaic tiles with pictures of historical or religious images, donned the walls of various buildings.
You only have to turn around a corner or a side-street, and you would find a building that was derelict, covered with broken red brick, over-grown with weeds, strewn with old newspapers, bottles and rags, or half-built derelict buildings.
As always, my number one piece of advice is not to shy away but to visit.
And here’s why!
TAKE ME THERE?
Getting from Lisbon to Porto was enormously smooth.
This time we took the train. Again, I can’t remember the exact details, but the train the company was called Comboios de Portugal and we bought our ticket just 24 hours previously. It pays to do so a little earlier, as the cheaper tickets went pretty quickly! The cost was something like €25.00 for adults and 25% off for “youths!”
The Portuguese train was clean, smooth and efficient. Some trains are also “quiet” carriages, but it shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re planning to party your way along the aisle lol!
The journey from Lisbon to Porto was roughly 3 hours.
If you’re flying from the UK then Ryanair is virtual proof of the pudding. If you’re on the Continent, then Easyjet and any other airline residing in France, in Belgium or Switzerland, is probably your best bet. If you’re coming from the Americas, then you’d probably need to fly to Lisbon or any other European hub, first.
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
With a population of just 220,000 people, you’ve got the place to yourself!
WHAT IS PORTO LIKE?
We were only there for three (3) days but Porto is on the one hand charmingly young, and on the other, historically old!
I DON’T SPEAK PORTUGUESE
English is widely spoken, but there’s nothing wrong with learning a few basic words of Portuguese as a measure of respect!
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
Things haven’t quite come to that!
Just like in Lisbon, we stayed at another rather adorable contemporary styled boutique hostel located in the trendy Art Quarter of Miguel Bombarda.
The Gallery Hostel characterizes the new concept of a luxury hostel, and is based in an impressive 1906 building house, blended with a modern décor, infusing neutral and earthy tones, with unique textures and furnishings.
We chose this hostel not only because it was family-friendly and family-owned, but because it has it’s own art gallery!
An Art Gallery!
An. Art. Gallery!
I’m not going to lie.
I like my luxuries, pampering, and exclusive service.
Simply because I can!
And sometimes, I target luxury boutique hostels.
Just like the Gallery Hostel.
See you next week!
This article is part-sponsored by the lovely boutique Gallery Hostel, but all opinions, and the delightful glasses of port that we sipped whilst on the riverside quay, are my very own!
Next week, I’ll be focusing on food!
From June 2nd – June 3rd, I’ll be at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival.
From June 28th – July 2nd, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week.
Save the Date!
June is going to be fabulous!
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in June, you’re going to miss out on everything!
Watch this space!
See you in Berlin.