Porto, Portugal (Part 1) – Arrival and Initial Explorations

Coimbra to Porto, via Aveiro

We headed out from Coimbra with plenty of time to stop off in Aveiro on the way to Porto. Aveiro gets mixed reviews because it sells itself as the ‘Venice of Portugal’, solely because of its canals, but it’s really nothing like Venice. So, when you make such a claim, you can set yourself up for a fall. But we embraced it and took a 45min boat ride on their grand canal with the company Viva a Ria. It was a sunny, pleasant experience, but not a lot of canals or as much to see as expected.

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Arrival in Porto

We dragged our bags across the cobbled streets from the parking station to our Porto apartment. Great location – close to the action, but not on a busy street. And having a stay of 4 nights in such a spot is a luxury. We popped out for a short walk down Rua da Flores to orientate ourselves in our neighbourhood of the next few days. We grabbed some provisions from the local supermarket (wine, tomatoes, cucumber, cheese) and settled in for the night – tired after much driving and exploration.

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We could hear the seagulls from our room, even at 11pm; the only sound, really, that got through the double-glazed windows, and it was surprisingly pleasant. Watched one on the street gobble down some disgusting stringy piece of rubbish from alongside a dumpster. Took quite a few gulps to get it down, maybe cause it kept pausing to look at me as though to say, “What are you looking at?”

Explorations of Porto

We began the day with a tuk tuk tour (with Porto Tuktours). Our lovely driver, named Daniel, was friendly and kind and knew all the things tourists wanted to know about the city (despite being from Lisbon!). It was a fun way to get about the city on our first full day. He took us up to Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar which has magnificent views of Porto. And on a stinking hot day, it was not a trek we wanted to make on foot.

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There is such respect and patience for the elderly in this country. The server in the supermarket was so kind to the old lady in front of us who was slow unpacking her groceries and sorting herself out. Our tuktuk driver, Daniel, was so patient when there was an old woman in the middle of the road on a steep incline on a cobbled street with a walking stick, thanking her with ‘Senora’ when she was finally able to move out of the way. Sweet as. And how it should be.

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After lunch and a rest, we spent a couple of hours wandering down by the river, eventually finding ourselves at the Luis I Bridge. There were a few young men on the bridge in their underwear getting ready to jump. I say, ‘getting ready’, but really, they faffed around for another 45 minutes! It was only when a group of boys about 12 years old climbed up there with them, that they thought they should finally get on with it. Our tuk tuk driver, Daniel, had mentioned that it was a tradition for young men to jump off the bridge to impress their sweethearts. I wouldn’t have been impressed by either the bravado or the stuffing about.

Had an evening stroll north of our apartment up through the Avenue of the Allies and Liberty Square, with the InterContinental at one end and the Town Hall at the other, flanked with amazing architecture. Stood for 20 minutes this evening just looking up at the tops of the buildings along the Praça de Liberdade (very similar to the Champs Elysse in Paris). Stunning art nouveau, art deco, baroque buildings that were perfect examples of their style, all next to each other.

Tour: Porto Tuktours

Read our full Porto story here:

Part 1 (current): Arrival and Initial Explorations

Part 2: River Cruise and Old City

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About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

One Reply to “Porto, Portugal (Part 1) – Arrival and Initial Explorations”

  1. Pingback: Porto, Portugal (Part 2) – River Cruise and Old City – bontaks travels

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