As our car nears closer to the city of Porto, I see the perfect lighting being cast over the tightly-fit buildings along the Rio Douro. Clay colored roofs become brilliant as the sinking sun reveals its reflections. I’ve been thinking about the orange and pink glows for the duration of the car ride which would most-likely be the only sunset I saw during my visit. There are less than 60 minutes before dusk when I arrive at our Airbnb; I drop my bags and race through the winding streets trying to find my way to the river’s edge with the help of my semi-accurate maps location. By the time I twist and turn my way to the water, I know I’ve missed the vision from the car. Shadows encompass the city with a soft pink glow near the horizon. It’s a different sort of beauty, calming as the water flows through this new environment. I knew I’d be chasing the light this weekend, with the weather forecasted as rainy and cloudy for the remaining days.
Despite the moody and unpredictable weather, I enjoyed my visit as well as the savory amount of food I consumed. Here are some of the places I experienced:
- Ze Bota – A quaint and cozy restaurant with wooden plaque-lined walls of handwritten customer reviews. The traditional Portuguese food was so delicious for a first meal in Porto – I ordered the salted cod topped with onions and the best fried potato slices. And of course I had to try the famous Port wine on my first night. Definitely worth the wait.
- Museu d’Avó – translated to grandmother’s museum, the place is an eclectic tapas restaurant hidden down a side street near our Airbnb. The dark lighting and walls adorned with random collections of things fit the name. I thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant open until 4 a.m. Although not quite Portuguese, I enjoyed the oldies music as Frank Sinatra’s Strangers in the Night began to play. The tapas were delicious and definitely recommend the dessert there – I had some type of cookie pie/cake which was sweet and rich. The restaurant was great for a long and casual dinner – perfect for ordering a bottle of Port for the night. Be aware that smoking is allowed in part of the restaurant.
- Serralves – the museum had quite good reviews online, however it wasn’t a favorite destination of mine. They had a contemporary photography exhibit and a post-modernism – minimalism – pop collection featuring artists such as Judd, Warhol and Rosenquist. The museum was small compared to the surrounding gardens, featuring a farm, rose garden, lake and other sculptures. Take note that the first Sunday of each month gains you free entry. We ended up taking an Uber there which was quite inexpensive.
- Clerigos Tower – a famous landmark in Porto which I often used as a meeting spot. It’s a beautiful building; however, I didn’t take the time to purchase entrance up the tower.
- Centro Português de Fotografia – a center for photography which used to be an old jail building. The center housed a couple of interesting exhibits and has an extensive collection of cameras on the upper floor. Entry is free and there is a great view from the top floor.
- Livraria Lello – one of Portugal’s oldest bookstores with a 3 euro entry fee, it was worth the visit. The 3 euro voucher can be used as a discount for purchasing a book, however I didn’t come across any non-Portuguese ones. The only downside is the amount of people constantly in the bookstore; I was constantly sifting my way through the crowds.
- Bacalhaus – A small restaurant set along the Rio Douro. Of the three restaurants we went to dinner this was the least satisfying. Service was a bit slow and the food portions were not worth the price. After having the salted cod the past two days, I opted for the vegetarian dish of rice with mushrooms and an egg. The dish was overpriced for the portion but rich in flavor. Perhaps it would be worth the visit for the view; however, it was rainy and cloudy that night.
- Ribeira Square – Before dinner at Bacalhaus, I roamed the streets around Ribeira square – a detailed and colorful neighborhood near the river. You’ll find touristy shops and other restaurants surrounded by colorful buildings and a great view of the Dom Luis I Bridge. I wish I spent more time exploring the area.
- Ornitorrinco – a small vintage shop right by the Clerigos Tower housed a few notable pieces. The shop had a couple 1 euros racks along with a suitcase full of vintage scarves (note: I did cave and buy one). It also sits right next to a small pizza bar which is delicious if you’re in the mood – they have fresh squeezed juices as well!
I feel as if Porto was a hidden gem – chosen randomly as my long weekend destination for its proximity to Madrid. My featured look is from the day I went to Serralves. I chose to mix blues with a t-shirt dress and long blazer from Asos. I added a gold necklace, tights, and my black ankle boots to finish the look. These are just a handful of photos from my visit. Link to the full photo diary at the end of this post!
See the full photo diary of Porto here.