The last country we visited on our year long honeymoon was Portugal. It was a spontaneous trip, booked mostly to get out of the 16 degree weather in Prague. We were at the tail end of our Winter Eastern European tour and we were attracted to the promise of sunshine and warm limbs.
Portugal ended up being a magical country that changed our hearts forever. Maybe that is the reason we have been holding out on blogging about it. It ended up being so special to us and we wanted to be selfish and keep it to ourselves, or maybe we were afraid we wouldn’t do it justice. Either way, it’s finally time to share about the country we fell in love with immediately at first sight. We both admit that if we had a chance to live there, we’d pack our bags in a heartbeat.
Our first stop was Porto, a smaller city compared to the capital and more popular visited Lisbon. We stayed at a small hostel run by a Portuguese woman that refused to believe I didn’t speak Portuguese, often forcing me in awkward situations where I was in fear of letting Amauri out of my sight. For $10 a night, there was no heater and no hot water. Still, it was comfortable, quiet, and just what we needed.
The weather was on our side and perfect for exploration. Wandering around the city with no actual direction was (and usually is) the best part of the trip. When we travel we usually pick a few things we want to see, then keep the rest of our itinerary open.
Just like Anthony Bourdain, we believe are big believers in improvising and getting lost.
What we found was a dynamic little city with a population that is proud. It is built along the hills overlooking the Douro river, and the architecture is breath taking with intricate blue art on the walls, which reminded Amauri of his childhood in Brazil.
Porto is dotted with hundreds of different bakeries, pastry shoppes, and cafe’s that serve coffee and sandwiches. The corner shop from our hostel was so good we ate their for lunch and dinner. For two dinners and a bottle of wine in Porto, our total bill was usually around $15. Every meal felt like it was straight from your mother’s kitchen, warm and comforting.
A highlight was eating a local sandwich called a Francesinha, which is originally from Porto, made with bread, wet-cured ham, fresh sausage, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese, hot thick tomato and beer sauce and served with french fries. We are hungry just thinking about it.
Coming with no expectations of Portugal, we were off to a good start. The people were friendly and welcoming, the food was to die for, and the weather allowed us to sit outside and enjoy our surroundings. Everything just felt right. We were eager to explore more of this beautiful country. Next stop, Lisbon!