Saturday, 2 July 2016

Porto, Portugal's picture postcard town

Douro river, Porto, Portugal
street art, Porto, Portugal
francesinha sandwich, Porto, Portugal
The south of Portugal is better known than the north. People book package holidays on the Algarve and visit Lisbon for a bit of culture and some custard tarts. But Porto is worth a long weekend or more, if you have the time, to explore the Douro valley. 
Enjoy the elegant blue tiled train station Sao Bento, the shabby chic balconies and windy streets, the picaresque view of the Douro complete with boats that formerly transported Port barrels from up river, the blinking lights of the English Port houses emblazoned against the sky, Sandemans, Grahams, Taylors, Cockburns. 
Portugal is the place to buy brightly coloured ceramics (including my favourite fruit and vegetable majolica), jewellery, shoes, perfumed ovals of soap in decorated boxes and cheap stylish clothes. Food is attractively packaged, particularly sardines, tuna and mackerel. 
When it comes to eating, try the multitude of Portuguese egg yolk based pastries, the rustic bread, the post office red tomatoes with actual flavour, the pink raspberries from the Douro Valley, the intense olive oil, the saffron barley sugar, the snowy copper roasted almendoas de moncorvo. The signature 'dish' of Porto is an outrageous sandwich known as a 'Francesinha' or little French girl. It's a Portuguese bastardisation of a Croque Monsieur but way over the top, including a multi-meat bulging interior, a cheese sauce blanket, a spicy tomato sauce and a fried egg on top. This is more than a mere snack. You can find vegetarian versions too and I'm working on a recipe. In restaurants, order local Douro wine including Port and grilled sardines for a simple but reliably delicious dinner. 
I went just as the annual festival de Sao Joao, held on June 23rd, was beginning. Buildings and streets are festooned with paper decorations, tissue paper origami versions of pots of the local tiny fragrant basil in red pots, live music is on every corner, while inhabitants bash each other over the head with plastic hammers. Unfortunately I missed the highlights of the festival but there is always next year. 
I maintain that Portugal has been somewhat ignored by travellers, food and wine lovers. This can only change. 
 Porto, Portugal
Bolhao Market,  Porto, Portugal
seed shop,  Porto, Portugal
Douro river, Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
Porto azulejo magnets, Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
tiled building, Porto, Portugal
festival of sao joao, Porto, Portugal
azulejo tiles, Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
tiled building, Porto, Portugal
bookshop,, Porto, Portugal
street art, Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
cafe decorated for festival of sao joao, Porto, Portugal
sardines, Porto, Portugal
tiles, Porto, Portugal
tuk tuk, Porto, Portugal
public art, Porto, Portugal
sao Bento train station,, Porto, Portugal
azulejo buildings, Porto, Portugal
soaps,Porto, Portugal
tiled buildings, , Porto, Portugal
festa do sao jao, Porto, Portugal
festa do sao jao, Porto, Portugal
1930s clothing store,, Porto, Portugal
street art,  Porto, Portugal
festa do sao jao, Porto, Portugal
festa do sao jao, Porto, Portugal
olives at bolhao market,, Porto, Portugal
Dressed up for festa do sao jao, Porto, Portugal

12 comments:

  1. Porto has surely loads to offer. I love the old town and explore the narrow corridors. And the wine tours, so good!!! Still need to do the river cruise.

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    1. I only spent the equivalent of two evenings and a morning there so I do need to go back. The river cruise is fun but I've heard the best way is by train.

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  2. Who did you fly with? I've been looking at Porto but flights from Berlin are pricey. It may be cheaper to fly to the UK on a budget airline first.

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    1. I went with TAP the Portuguese airline. I flew back via Lisbon to Nice so they do fly to Europe.

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  3. The pictures are wonderful and invite you right into this beautiful town. Love all the faces.

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  4. What a amzing photos! Really want to visit there!

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  5. OMG! What beautiful photos of the wonderful town! I will visit that place in my next summer holiday!

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  6. Portugal is great place for a vacation. Amazing photo. Many beautiful paces. Great post.

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  7. I am a old follwer of ms marmite blog when her daughter was still a young teenager. what a lovely suprise to receive a newsletter in my email and see this lovely article about my hometown. S. João is my favourite time of the year and I can get you a francesinha recipe ;)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Vera,
      Lovely to hear from you. Is there such a thing as a veggie francesinha recipe?
      I'm returning soon to visit the vinho verde region :)

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