Port in Porto

Porto! Port, tiled churches, amazing views, lots of hills and layers of history. Walking downhill was the main plan. Where to start? We opted for Bolhao market, as it was near the metro and is due for renovation soon. And I love markets. This was mainly on the lower  level, not much fish as it was Monday morning. Lovely cherries though.

Live chickens at Bolhao. Next to it there was a cafe with live pigeons, not sure what those are used for. I’ve had pigeon in Beijing and would not eat it again. 

The sardines, however, looked great.

So did the octopus. 

We popped into Sao Bento train station to get tickets back to Lisbon two days later. Not necessary, but easy enough (30 euros, three hours) and the station itself has amazing tiles! 

 We headed down towards Ribeira for lunch, which everyone else seemed to be doing. However, we had an excellent lunch up a side street, grilled sardines and grilled tuna. Coffee took a while as they had a power cut (just like being back in Accra: lights out….) but we enjoyed the view and rested sore feet. No complaints!

Across the river, and off to a port tour. There were port houses wall to wall, and the little tourist booth have us a map with prices for yours and tasting. We went to Ferreira (10 Euro, 2 port types) and followed the Portuguese tour. At least our port vocabulary is improving.

Port tasting #1, perfectly nice but not amazing. Tawny and ruby.

Port tasting #2, at Noval. Just tasting, no tour which was fine by us. Gorgeous view!

 We splurged and got the five ports, 40 euro tasting. Interesting, the extra dry white port can be used with tonic for cocktails, we might need to get some for our planned Portuguese evening. The last two were very nice indeed, especially the 40 year old port. Just delicious, it spoils you for lesser ports. 

Our friend went back to another port house the next day and decided to go straight to the very good port. Amazing paired with chocolate, she reports. 

Slightl tipsy, getting the funicular up the hill. Well worth 2.50! 

We wandered to the Bolhao metro stop, after stopping for mystery custard tarts. Not pasteis de nata, but similar. And we passed this church with azules facade, which I know is in the guidebook but we were too tired to look it up. 

Porto is definitely worth another more in-depth visit, to be planned!

Next stop: Coimbra

After two days in Lisbon, we hopped a train to Coimbra, a university town northeast of Lisbon. Lots of history, Portuga oldest university. About two hours by train from Lisbon Oriente, nineteen euros on second class with assigned seats. Nice trains! We arrived at Coimbra B and got a  taxi to town, though we could have waited for the local train. We needed lunch! So we dropped our bags at Hotel Vitoria (very nice) and had some small plates in Praca do Comercio. I even bought a three euro sardine-printed tablecloth, which I may regret. But after mackerel and beer it seemed like an excellent idea. 

 Pasteis de Tentugal, sweet filo-like dough stuffed with egg custard. We asked the tourist office about all the interesting pastries, and they told  us that Coimbra is famous for convent pastries.

More cakes and convent pastries, many with almonds or egg custard. And pumpkin. We sampled quite a few, including pastel de Santa Clara.  Coimbra is lovely but very hilly, so there were many opportunities to stop for a drink, a view, a pastry shop…. 

At the University of Coimbra. Amazing library (Biblioteca Joanina) and wonderful buildings. We saw students in black robes, with colored ribbons to indicate their faculty.

Singing students.

Doorway. Lots of interesting wall paintings as we wandered down steep little roads back to the lower part of Coimbra.

 Anither bakery!  With the biggest meringues (suspiros) I have ever seen. Head sized. The other cellphone is there for scale. This is at Pastelaria Briosa.

Being tourists, we also went to dado. In Coimbra, fado is only sung by men, unlike in Lisbon. We enjoyed this, and will have to try again in Lisbon to compare and learn more. 

Also learn more, olive oil tasting at Passeite, Taverna do Azeite. Very enjoyable, I never knew much about Portuguese olive oil. Lovely food too, even vegan! Definitely recommended. 

But onwards we go, and Porto is the next destination. It is lovely being in Europe  (window shopping! No chickens in the street! Public transport!) So Portugal being so pleasant for travelling is just a huge bonus. Ten days is not enough but we will come back. It is also much cheaper than expected, we are having nice lunches and dinners for 15 euro or less a head. Fabulous food so far. 

Two days in Lisbon

We are on holidays! Portugal this time, and we started in Lisbon. Lovely waterfront, winding streets with cobblestones, tiled housefronts and very nice people. This from Alfama, a local festival was in progress and there was tinsel all over. Here they were grilling green peppers as lunch prep, so we came back and had lovely fresh grilled fish and cold beer, sitting in the shade. Pateo 13, Calcadinha de Santo Estevao 13. Great after a hot morning walking steep streets.

Snails at Mercado do Ribeira. Little live grass snails, reportedly delicious when cooked. We were staying nearby, and who can resist a local market? Quieter than I expected, but lovely cherries and nice to wander through. 

Tinned sardines, in beautiful packaging. No food shopping done yet, as we will come back to Lisbon before flying back to Accra. I have not yet seen chocolate sardines (sardine shaped, not actual fish)  which a friend brought back from Lisbon, but will keep looking. Good thing I love food shopping. 

Fresh sardines at Mercado do Ribeiro, we webt for a morning stroll. Fresh grilled sardines are delicious, that was lunch. After waterfront drinks (white sangria) we also went to the Time Out food hall at Mercado do Ribeira – just packed by 2030 and hard to get a seat, another time I would go earlier to better sample dishes.

Between all the meals we also went to the fado museum. Not something I knew much about, so we enjoyed that. Then we went to the national tile museum, very nice. But a looooooong walk, so get the bus. We bussed back and that 1.85 euro ticket was best spent money of the day. 

Streets and stairs and tiles: while housefronts covered with them. 

Great city for walking and seeing little quirky details. Not to mention being able to walk all day without dropping with sweat like in humid Accra. It is strange being in Europe again, but nice. 

We have not taken tram 28 but that is on the list for Lisbon round 2, next week. Before that, however, we head for Coimbra and Porto. If you hsve any must-sees or must-eats for Lisbon please let me know, we are back there next week!