Here's a round up of the places we visited on Day 2. Today, it was all about Porto city ... which is very different when you compare it with Vila Nova de Gaia. With its diverse architecture, rundown buildings and narrow alleys it had a charm of its own. All the places that I've mentioned below can be accessed by tram with a little bit of walking.
1) Livraria Lello - This bookstore is considered to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. The moment I stepped in, I understood why. I may not a book person but I could spend hours here just clicking pictures. Its so unbelievably beautiful! Make sure you visit the first floor and enjoy a coffee with a view! The store opens around 10 a.m. and you are allowed to take pictures only for a short time. Its better to arrive early!
2) Clerigos Church - A Baroque church built in the 17th century with an adjoining bell tower. The entry to the church is free, however, you have to pay a small fee to visit the tower. There are 250 steps and they get pretty steep and narrow. However, the long climb is well worth it with a 360 degree view from the top. Make sure you stop by each window on your way up!
3) Linha 22 - We accidentally came across this little family owned restaurant just across the road from Clerigos Church. The owner Carlos, a retired engineer called us in to try some wines. And what followed was a delicious bowl of Portuguese soup, grilled baby octopus and ham! Don't be put off by the size of the restaurant. The food and service is amazing!
4) Cafe Bar O Cais - Out of the many restaurants on the Ribeira, we chose this one for lunch. Nothing like some wine and great seafood by the river. To get down here, we used a funicular. The Funicular dos Guindais which is an attraction by itself shuttles up and down a steep incline.
5) Igreja de Sao Francisco - A Gothic style cathedral built in the 14th century. For a fee, you can visit the church, museum and catacombs. A visit to this lavishly decorated church is a must. It is adorned with gold carvings and the details are intricate. To me, the catacombs were just okay however my husband liked it!
After spending 3 days in Lisbon, we headed up north to the second largest city in Lisbon - Porto. We took a high speed train from Lisbon and arrived in Porto in less than 3 hours. (For train bookings, click here).
In Porto, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Porto Gaia situated in the historical region of Vila Nova de Gaia. This lovely hotel overlooked the River Douro. While doing some research, I figured out that the best way to get around Porto was by tram. Our hotel was almost a 15-minute walk away from the closest metro stop. Initially, we dreaded these long walks but later we thought of them as a great way to burn those calories after all the eating!
Our plan was to hit all the wine spots first. We boarded the tram at the Joao de Deus metro stop and headed towards the Sao Bento metro stop. This is the last stop in the Vila Nova de Gaia region before it crosses over to Porto city. The Dom Luis I bridge spans which across the entire Douro River separates Porto city from Vila Nova de Gaia. The moment we got out of the station we were lost for words. The real Porto was there, right in front of us and it was simply beautiful!
To visit the wineries, we had a choice of either walking down to the river bank or using the cable car. Walk? What's that? We obviously opted for the latter. But in case you feel adventurous, you could maybe walk one way and return by cable car. We purchased two return cable car tickets which also gave us a two free wine samplings at the Quevedo Port Wine Shop.
On reaching down, we first made our way to Quevedo for our free wine samples and delicious nibbles.
For wine aficionados, there are scores of wine cellars in this area. Some of the popular ones are Taylor's, Sandeman, Graham's, Calem and Cockburn's. We decided to visit Taylor's. After a walk through the steep streets and cobblestone roads, we finally reached Taylor's.
Taylor's winery have briefing sessions in many different languages and at different times during the day . We had to wait for a while before we could get an English session. During the 30-minute session, we visited the wine cellars and were introduced to the making of port. We also got to taste four different kinds of wine!
Later that day, we headed towards Senhor de Matosinhos - an area by the sea with dozens of little restaurants serving fresh fish and seafood. We were rather disappointed when we arrived though, as all the restaurants were closed. Probably because we arrived at 5 pm and expected to have an early dinner. I would suggest calling them up or checking the restaurant timings with your hotel before visiting. Since we were still in the area, we strolled around for a bit and tried the famous Porto delicacy called "Francesinha".
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