romantic Porto…

Porto panorama as seen from Villa Nova De Gaia

I arrived in Porto after a fairly horrendous day spent in Madrid airport. I got up at 5am and made it to the airport in time, despite just missing both my train and bus, only to have the plane take off late, meaning I MISSED MY CONNECTING FLIGHT IN MADRID!

Always has to be a first time.

I’m going to get this off my chest now. Avoid Madrid airport at all costs. You can’t arrive with minutes to spare at the gate, as they have to bus you to the plane. I had to go there to get back to London, had oodles of time to spare but was given the wrong gate number at the customer service desk. Had to hot foot it and get a TRAIN to the other terminal. Any later and I’d have missed that flight too. Then they just bussed us back to the terminal I was at in the first place…

So, it was with much joy that I finally arrived in Portugal, albeit about 6 hours late. And even more joyous to discover the luxury to which trains are treated…
Train station at the airport, what a welcome!

Porto is a fantastic town. The historical centre is now a World Heritage site and dates back 2000 years apparently. The River Duoro is wide and fast and full of swarms of fish that like to feed off the drainage outlets. My friend Matthew and I passed the few days we spent there doing lots of walking in the maze of back streets, popping into old churches, braving the grimy looking cafes (generally pretty good & much cheaper), marvelling at the blue tile decorative panels on buildings and pondering the idea of buying one of the many vacant old apartments for sale.
Example of the glorious blue tile decoration on many Porto buildingsBig chuch on the hill, very old.The big white building is the other side of the big church on the hill.Could it be any more picturesque?Decrepit  wrecks amongst

We spent some time at the Croft port cellar where I discovered there’s quite alot more to it than I thought. For example, a 50 year old vintage port is only drinkable for 2 hours once it’s open… Also, in recent times white port has started production, and IT’S VERY GOOD!

Being on a river, Porto has a rich boating life, mainly tourist cruise boats, but it looks good nonetheless. On the Villa Nova De Gaia side of the river they have lots of wooden port boats moored. They have one large sail and a long rudder that the boatman controls from a platform on the back of the boat. There’s a festival each year where they race them. Would have loved to have gone for a sail but didn’t seem to be possible…

Porto slipyard - just for you dad.Port boatsPort boatsPort boats

We saw a concert at the famous award winning concert hall Casa da Musica (who would have thought) and were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the orchestra (Orquestra Nacional do Porto) who played Shostakovich and Prokofiev. The cello soloist Xavier Phillips was mind blowingly good. The next night we tried to see Remix Ensemble play more modern works but I had a little problem with my health and only saw about 10 minutes. Sounded great! We left at interval. Very disappointing but such is life.

Here’s a few more photos which I hope impart some of the romance, beauty and quirkiness of Porto. And there’s some more here too.

Lion doing something very rude to an eagle.... hmmmAhhhhh.......Some not so good weather made it all the more picturesque.Everyone got buried under the churches till the late 1800s...creepyVilla Nova De Gaia at night. Sigh!


6 Responses to “romantic Porto…”

  1. 1 oportocool February 11, 2008 at 8:22 pm


    Find out more cool stuff about Porto here

    Cool regards
    Paulo @ oportocool

  2. 2 barbara July 12, 2006 at 7:04 am

    Hi Ebony,

    great to hear from you this. I hope all life is that good. I envy you, want to travel to Europe, too. I’m moving into a beautiful new apartment and am taking some comfort out of that… it also has nice tiles, though some of them are broken… mail me if you want me to send you the link to the pictures.

    Kind regards

    Barbara M

  3. 3 rachel July 1, 2006 at 2:41 am

    great photos and nice idea to set up a blog. keep the good times a rolling…don’t worry about work

    love rach

  4. 4 azz June 30, 2006 at 11:57 am

    lovely darl.. great to hear you’re having fun… THe band will be over there soon… Maybe I’ll get to see u over there..

    I’ll still going strong with jenna… Its looking good.

    Love Az

  5. 5 ebonysmusic June 29, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Night one I had the table by the window on the first floor of one of the riverside restaurants. Swordfish (bones!) and veggies and a tasty half bottle of white wine. The fish was lovely if a little charred. The next day while Matthew tucked into a more fulsome meal I nibbled on the little snack dishes they put out whether you like it or not (you can send them back, they don’t get offended). Highlights were the cheese, a dense bread of some sort and the delicious little fishcake thingees. I could eat those all day. At one of the dodgy looking cafes we had very good omlettes. I’m afraid to say our other efforts were lame – we left dinner too late and nothing was open. So it was dial in pizza (very oily) and McDonald chicken nuggets. The McDonalds is worthy of note though – the most ornate Maccas I’ve ever seen – chandeliers, painted friezes and sculptures, cathedral ceiling!

  6. 6 Rosalyn hack June 29, 2006 at 9:05 am

    Looks great, good photos. Where did you eat?

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