I have to admit to liking Porto better today, for a few reasons, but mostly having to do with much better weather. This morning Arnaud and I crossed the river for a wine tour and tasting, then walked around, took the teleférico up the hill for some stunning views, and then made our way back across the totally insane Luís I bridge and back to our flat. I say the bridge was insane because there is a very low guard rail for a very high crossing. I can’t believe there aren’t a huge number of suicides off this bridge, it is crazy vertigo-inducing, but also affords truly spectacular views. We had a lunch of Bacalhau (what else) and then I bid a fond farewell to Arnaud who left to catch his flight back to London. Finally this evening, on the advice of a local, I sampled a local culinary horror called the Francesinha, sort of a distant inbred cousin of the already classy Monte Cristo. I am feeling a bit ill but proud for having taken up the challenge.
I will go to bed early tonight because I have to be up to catch my taxi to the airport at the ungodly hour of 4:15am. I am finally heading home after 4 and a half months on the road.
Arnaud and I have been walking around Porto all day, most of which it wasn’t raining too bad, but right now it is kinda pouring out. Arnaud still wanted to walk around, so I said have fun, see you back at the apartment. While we have yet to do a tour of wine shops here (that is tomorrow), we have walked all over town, have seen a lot of buildings inside and out, and even went to the very interesting modern art museum designed by Alvaro Siza. So far here are my impressions of Porto:
– It is a beautiful city, but has nothing on Lisbon.
– It is quite run down in the center, historic city. Many buildings are crumbling or abandoned.
– Unlike most cities in Europe, the wealthy seem to live more in the suburbs, which seem to be in better physical shape than the old city, but lacking much of the charm.
– The food here has been quite a bit more expensive than in Lisbon, but perhaps because we are going to more touristy or better places. Come to think of it, maybe the cost also explains why the quality has been better than Lisbon for most meals.
I will reserve judgement until after tomorrow’s wine tasting and other-side-of-the-river viewing, but so far I think if you came to Portugal and could only choose one city to visit, Lisbon would win hands down over Porto.
Since I was in Portugal, I couldn’t really leave the country without seeing Oporto, so here I am. The trip is made all the nicer by my old friend Arnaud agreeing to meet me here for a few days. I arrived about an hour before him at the airport and awaited him, then we hopped in a cab which took us through the rain to our stunningly beautiful apartment overlooking the Jardim do Infante Dom Henrique in the very center of the city. Even though it was raining almost the entire day, we walked all over the place, had a really yummy lunch and got a feel for the city. So far, I can tell you that (despite the rain) Oporto is a charming little city. Similar to Lisbon but a bit more run down, and there are wine shops all over the city, which we plan to avail ourselves of in earnest starting tomorrow.