Travel #3: Porto (Part 4)

Hello 😀

Well, I know some of you have been waiting for the Porto saga to finish. So, last but not least, let’s talk a bit about what to see in Porto and where do you really have to go. This has been a though post to write, since Porto is one heck of a beautiful city with tons of sightseeing. So, obviously besides this few options that I am going to provide you, there are tons of other ideas even better than these.

What to see when in Porto:

  1. Historic Centre of Porto 

This is the oldest area of the city and has been classified as World Heritage by UNESCO since 1996. This area is comprised of the civil parishes of Sé, Vitória, São Nicolau and Miragaia. By roaming around here, you will be faced with various incalculable monuments on Porto typical streets. In this area there some must sees that you cannot miss, such as:

    • Sé do Porto (the Catedral), which construction began in the 12th century by Bishop Hugo, is an imposing fortress with beautiful Gothic details and an amazing terrace with a wonderful view over the city.
    • São Bento Railway Station is Porto’s central train station. It is were there used to be the Benedictine nunnery in Porto and got its name from it. With an inspiration of Parisian architecture, if you peek inside you may see a wonderful arrangement of historical tiles that were hand-painted by Jorge Colaço.
    • Igreja de São Francisco was constructed around the 15th century and mixes Baroque and Gothic architecture. I believe this is one of the most beautiful churches I ever saw.
    • Igreja and Torre dos Clérigos, is one of the tallest buildings in town (and a hard climb to the top), and is also where you can have a 360º view over the city, so it is totally worth it.

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    • Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, it is on the other Douro margin and was built around the 16th/17th century. Also here you can have a panoramic view of Porto, and is where some of the best photos are taken.
    • Palácio da Bolsa is were Porto’s Chamber of Commerce is held. The only way to understand the value of this monument is by going inside. I was amazed with the Arab Room and all its details and richness. Usually this room is used for concerts, due to its acoustic.2016-02-15 15.29.43
    • Praça da Ribeira is one of the oldest squares in Porto and is facing the river. From here you can observe two bridges and, on the other margin, you can see Vila Nova de Gaia.

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     2. Port Wine Cellars

Porto Wine Cellars are definitely a must see and a must taste. Porto Wine is the brand image of the city. Although, you may not be a wine fan, you will be impressed with the history of this wine and how it is made. If you are a fan, don’t miss the opportunity to know more about its production and the free tastings so you can find the perfect one for you.

Personally, I visited Taylor’s which was founded in 1692 and is now open all year round for guided visits which end with a Port tasting. I would recommend you to ask for Marta as your guide, she really turns you into an enthusiastic! We got there and since the first words about it we were completely conquered and inside her story. At the end, we had the pleasure to taste 3 varieties of Porto Wine: White, Ruby and Tawny, and they even teach you how to taste it with.

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Besides Taylor’s, you may visit some more cellars like:

  • Sandeman, which was founded in 1790. The brand image is a man in a black cape and it also offers wine tasting at the end of the tour.
  • Ferreira, founded in 1751 and belonged to D. Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, a very determined woman. She had a dominant position in the production of wines from the Douro Vinhateiro, something really rare for those years.
  • Croft, one of the oldest companies, was founded in 1588. This company is well known for their ability to reinvent Porto Wine and were the firsts to produce a Porto Rosé.
  • Real Companhia Velha, was founded in 1756 by a Portuguese King D. José de Portugal and is considered to be one of the oldest producers and exporters of Port in Portugal.

3. Other spots you cannot miss:

  • Lello Bookshop, which was inspiration to some of Harry Potter’s books details and is one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world;
  • Porto University building;
  • Santa Catarina Street, with shops all the way down the street;
  • Casa da Música;
  • Jardins do Palácio de Cristal.

There is something you must do when you go to Porto, which is simply to walk around town by foot and discover places by yourself. I discovered one beautiful viewpoint near an old church by accident where I could have a different panoramic view of the city, which is this one.  Mostly enjoy the city and take some good company with you, I guarantee you will like this trip.

And with this I finish here my saga about Porto. If you have any question, you can reach me through my e-mail info@newestintown.com or within the comments section.

 

XOXO,

S.

One night “stand” #1: Hotel Inglaterra Estoril

Hello everyone,

As me and B. still leave at our parent’s house privacy is not something that we have a lot, so sometimes we like to go on a one night getaway to a near hotel or guesthouse. It helps a lot breaking our daily routines and just be by ourselves sometimes.

Yesterday, while at work I got a text from B. saying that we shouldn’t sleep at home and we should head somewhere to be together. What could I say besides let’s go? After some indecision we decided to book a night at Hotel Inglaterra in Estoril.

For those that do not know, Estoril is a town on the well known Portuguese Riviera in the municipality of Cascais, where you can find Casino Estoril and Tamariz Beach.

First we head out to dinner and then we rushed home so we could get what we needed to spend the night away from home.

When we arrived, we were amazed on how well decorated the hotel is and with the hospitality at the reception. We got a room on the 3rd floor of the hotel and we quickly went upstairs to check the room and to leave our stuff.

Regarding the room, it was not a big room but it was enough for us. Everything was very cleaned and the room had a large bed and a window through which we could see the ocean. Again, the room was very well decorated with neutral colors and had a big Samsung TV, a safe and a full mini bar. You can see some photos of the hotel at the end.

We woke up this morning to a beautiful sunshine (Lisbon in May, what else?), after a well rested night, to take breakfast at the Bar/Restaurant of the hotel. Regarding it, there was not much variety but truly everything we needed was there from butter croissants, bread, homemade cake, jam, butter, scrambled and boiled eggs, bacon, fruit, yogurts, cereals and obviously coffee, and some more things.

After breakfast, we went to see the pool but unfortunately I forgot our bathing suits so yes we only did manage to see it but not enjoy it. Despite a small lounge space, the pool area is really good and we look forward to spend there an afternoon taking some sunbaths.

I really enjoyed spending the night at Hotel Inglaterra and despite it was a short stay we really enjoyed almost everything and I would definitely recommend other couples to visit it. Thank you for a great getaway 🙂

 

XOXO,

S.

Travel #3: Porto (Part 3)

Hello there!

I am back today with the best part of the trip which is…. What to drink!

Regarding what to drink when in Porto there is an easy answer that is mandatory to follow, that is Port Wine. This type of wine began to be produced back on the 17th century and it is a fortified wine produced only in the Douro Valley. Despite being typically a red wine, you can also have white port wine which is also marvelous. It has a sweet taste and is excellent to try as a dessert drink.

Port Wine is produced from grapes collected from Douro Valley to which is added aguardente (other portuguese drink) to stop the fermentation process. The wine is stored in barrels inside wine cellars for as long as the producer wants to, but usually the older wine is better.

When in Porto I would definitely recommend you to visit some wine cellars (I will talk about it later) where you can learn more about the production and history of this wine and also try some Port Wine styles.

Although trying a single Port Wine is amazing, when I was in Porto I had to try something called “Porto Tónico” which is something like a gin only with tonic water but instead of gin they use Port Wine. It’s a refreshing and easy going drink where you can taste white Port Wine the best way.

I could tell you some bars you should go to but I won’t do so, instead I tell you to go to a place called Paris Gallery which is really close to Clérigos Tower and University of Porto. In here you will find some of Porto nightlife with excellent bares where you can start by trying a cocktail, taking a beer and end with a great wine bottle in front of you.

Obviously, besides trying Port Wine you should try some of the regular wines produced in the Douro Valley such as Quinta de La Rosa, Barca Velha and Porca de Murça. I guarantee you that you’re going to be amazed with the quality of Portuguese wines.

See you soon,

XOXO,

S.

Portugal, Salvador and Eurovision

Did you really think that I would only talk about Benfica? Oh no.. Saturday was the craziest day in Portugal.

We had the Pope in Fatima, Benfica as a champion and, while we were celebrating the championship, Salvador Sobral was announced has the winner of Eurovision 2017.

Congratulations Salvador! Thank you for what you’ve done!

Salvador and his sister Luísa took one of simplest songs to the festival and they won. Why? Because everyone was touched with the music even if they didn’t understand the words Salvador was singing, people felt the music in their hearts and realized its true meaning.

A naked music, a simple interpretation and a great singer was all that was needed to get the prize home, who would know? We have been participating in the contest for almost 50 years if I’m not mistaken and until now our best prize was a 6th place with Lúcia Moniz, another amazing singer.

Well, as FPF shared on twitter ‘ 10 months later, a new #11 conquers Europe!’.

Review his performance here and if you are like me the music will just be stuck in your head for hours.

XOXO,

S.

Travel #2: Porto (Part 2)

Hi guys!

I know it has been some time since I published Part 1, but I never thought it could be so hard to write about food and wine.

If you are like me you really value food and most of all, you value and appreciate the typical food of the places you go. If you go Porto, a city in the north of Portugal, don’t expect less than a full plate and great food (obviously, the full plate doesn’t happen in those gourmet restaurants that make me sad with the small amount of food geometrically centered in my plate). So, what are the dishes that you shouldn’t skip? Here is my list:

  • Francesinha 

Francesinha_especialAlthough I do not appreciate this specific dish, almost everyone I know is just crazy about it. It’s a sandwich mix of several types of meat like sausage, fresh sausage, ham, cold meats and beef steak. All of this is fully covered with cheese and then it’s guarnished with beer, tomato sauce and chili. It’s always served with fried chips and in some places with a fried egg.

  • Tripas à moda do Porto

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So this one a very tradicional portuguese recipe which some say that goes back to the Age of Discovery when Portugal started sailing the sea and discovering the world. Basically, the inhabitants of Porto were left only with the tripe of the animals to eat, so they invented this dish. It is a mix of meat, tripe, white beans, some vegetables and ‘enchidos’, like chorizo and morcela. For me everything that comes with enchidos aside is just awesome and if you never ever tried one portuguese morcela or chorizo you don’t know what you’re missing in life! Just by curiosity, due to this dish Porto people are usually called ‘Tripeiros’.

  • Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

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Oh my oh my.. Codfish is the portuguese wonder! We have more than 100 different dishes made out of codfish and they are all so amaziing. In Portugal we usually use salted and dried codfish to our recipes and this one is no exception. The ingredients are, besides cod, onions, garlic, eggs, olives, olive oil and boiled potatoes. This goes to the oven and just comes out like one of the greatest dishes I ever tasted. Get a recipe here and try it by yourself.

  • Caldo Verde

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Caldo Verde is soup, but not any soup because… it has chorizo! Just kidding, it’s a really good soup with lots of tradition. The soup base is just composed by potatoes, onions, water and some seasonings. To this we add curly kale cuted in really lean stripes (caldo verde shape) and chorizo. A simple soup but obviously delicious.

Next post will be obviously about the Porto wine and Douro wine and what type of drinks you should try. Stay tuned!

XOXO,

S.

Travel #2: Porto (Part 1)

Hello there!

I usually go on a travel at least 2 times a year and usually it happens in September and in February. Last year, I decided to travel with my best friend to Porto for a 5 days getaway without boyfriend (for those who are pitting him, he went to Amsterdam with his friends, so his fine!).

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Porto in a cloudy day seen from D. Luís Bridge

Why Porto? It’s a beautiful city with so much nice people! It’s the kind of city where you can enjoy some historical monuments and buildings, but also where you can eat well and drink even better! Anyway, I’m going to give you five reasons that made me visit the city and you may like and agree with at least 3 of them:

  1. I live in Portugal so it just takes 40 minutes by plane and 2 hours by train to get there;
  2. Amazing food;
  3. Original and the greatest Port Wine (everywhere);
  4. City’s history;
  5. Cheap, like everything is cheap.

Here, you can also enjoy Douro River margins and visit some Port Wine Cellars or even the vineyards. You are just a leap away from some historical and beautiful places.

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Vineyards in the Douro Valley – classified as a World Heritage by UNESCO

With that said, now let’s start planning your trip to Porto? Awesome!

How do you get there?

  • Plane
    • Porto has an airport which is Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport. The airport is located near the city and you can get there to the city center and the other way around using public transportation. (check more info here);
  • Train
    • Porto is one of the biggest cities in the north of the country so it has Campanhã Train Station where you can get trains that establish international railway connections;
  • Bus
  • Car
    • If you enjoy road trips, you can get to the city by car. If so just enjoy all the motorways that were built around Porto and the excellent road connections.

Where to stay?

Where to stay in Porto it’s easy to answer. Nowadays you have so many options that you just have to choose based on your budget. I will just share with you some options:

  • Hotel
    • In Porto you have great hotels, some cheaper and some expensive but you can always count with a very professional service. You can either choose for a Bed & Breakfast, a Hostel or even a 5-stars hotel. On this matter I advise to search on TripAdvisor and this Telegraph article what are the best options for your pocket
  • House rental
    • Usually when I go on vacations I just go for a house rental. I always do some math and I find it cheaper to prepare home meals and have a full house to myself than just rent a hotel room and to pay for meals everyday on restaurants. I always use AirBnb website to search for the house that suits me best and the one I believe to have a fair price.

After this, I promise to return briefly to let you know where to go, where to eat and what to drink! Don’t miss the second part…

XOXO,

S.