Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Porto, Portugal

For one last amazing European trip (at least for a while), I met up with Stacey, in Porto, Portugal. She is studying in France for the summer, so we planned this trip to meet up for a fun girls weekend. (Chad stayed back in Rotterdam, working hard to finish up his work at Erasmus.)

Porto is a unique, old, and authentic Portuguese city. Steep hills line both sides of the river, which is linked by a double layered bridge.
We hiked up the hill one afternoon, walked across the top of the bridge, and were rewarded by a beautiful view of the city.
Porto is known for it's beautiful tiles. There are painted tiles on buildings all over the city, such as this chapel,

and the beautiful train station.
Even the local homes and buildings are covered in colorful square tiles with various patterns and textures.

We found a great hostel to stay at called Dixo's. The location was perfect, between the river and the train station, and the old well-renovated building had a lot of character and charm. We met some cool people at the hostel who we explored the city with, and also enjoyed some wine, Port, and cheese on the gorgeous rooftop deck.

That's right folks, for just 20 Euro a night, this view can be yours!

I liked the fact that Porto was not a huge tourist destination. The buildings were old, and in many cases abandoned and crumbling. One of my favorite things we came across was this great old market that we found in town, Mercado do Bolhao. Each stall was run by a cute old lady who looked like she had been working there for 70 years or more.
This lovely granny waved as I was taking her picture. Can I put her in my pocket and take her home with me?
Also, please note, each and every stall had pictures of two things hanging in the back: the Portugal football team (which the country is crazy about) and Jesus. Jesus and Football... what else do you need?

The south side of the river, across from the city, is packed with Port wineries. We spent one afternoon walking between the wineries and sampling the varieties of Port. We went to Taylors, Croft, Offley, and Kopke.
They often paired the tastings with chocolate or dried fruit. I was in heaven.

While we are on the topic of delicious sweets, I fell in love with one of the local pastries called 'pastel de nata,' or custard tart.

I really enjoyed Portugal. It felt authentic and hard working, yet friendly, and I have a new found understanding of Port. I would be happy to go back with Chad, and possibly check out Lisbon, or other cities in the south. Will have to put that on the future list... along with so many other places.


- See all photos from the trip on Flickr:

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