“A Cidade Invicta”
This is one of Porto’s nicknames, stemming from the 19th Century Portuguese civil war. The enemy failed to conquer Porto, and the city survived a siege that lasted over a year.
With an amazing history like that, I decided to visit Portugal’s second-largest city.
Okay, honestly, I was planning to visit Lisbon during the World Cup 2022, and had a few extra days of vacation. Friends told me Porto was a relaxing place to visit, so I had to check it out.
Flying into Porto was also cheaper then flying into Lisbon. Plus, a one-way first-class train ticket from Porto to Lisbon was only €12; second-class was €5.
For lodging, I chose to stay in Matosinhos, a city about 15-minutes by taxi from Porto’s city centre. This city is designed for relaxation and features an amazing stretch of beach and seafood aplenty.
A little less hustle and bustle was exactly what I needed during this adventure.
FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON MATOSINHOS
The Four Points by Sheraton Matosinhos served as lodging for my three-night stay. The hotel was warm and welcoming, and only a five-minute walk to the beach. Not a bad location.
Overall, I’d stay here again. Check-in was smooth, and customer service was excellent throughout my stay. My Deluxe Room was clean upon entry with very little dust bunnies. A nice size room at 25 square meters. Teapot in the room was very clean, and so was the bathroom. The ‘homemade’ cookies upon check-in was a nice touch.
Breakfast had a nice variety of food and the hours were reasonable.
The gym was small, but functional. However, walking the town was a better way to get my steps. A nice size grocery store is located about a block away, and there are many nice restaurants close by.
STROLLING ALONG THE BEACH
Leisurely strolling along the promenade is how I spent the majority of my time in Matosinhos. Golden sands and warm water soothe my aching bones.
A moment to contemplate and enjoy.
PHOTO SAFARI: CITY LIFE
Relaxation was the sole purpose of my time in Porto. I didn’t visit many attractions, just simply walked the city, enjoying the daily going-ons.
A visit to Mercado do Bolhão, nevertheless, was on my to-do list. Porto’s bi-level historic market is one of the city’s jewels. Occupying an entire block in the center of downtown Porto, it features 79 stalls located on the ground floor, 10 restaurants, and 38 shops facing outside. I spent a fair amount in this market. Such a joy.
LIVRARIA LELLO BOOKSHOP
Bookshop visits are never part of my adventure’s itineraries, but I always happen upon one in every city I visit. Porto was no exception.
The Livraria Lello is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal and frequently rated among the top bookstores in the world. I was a bit shocked there was a €5 entrance fee, but it was worth it. I spent about 60 minutes here, perusing the selection.
That is all the Majestic Café truly represents. The whole J. K. Rowling spiel is nothing more than a way to attract tourists, hoping they’d spend a lot of money on tasteless food.
Avoid this place!
A friend suggested I check it out because I love history and books. What I discovered made me sad. The menu featured common foods at ridiculous prices.
Seriously, €18 for a tuna fish sandwich with lettuce, tomato, boiled egg and tartare sauce? A bit much for you.
How about €22 for a Club Sandwich — chicken, bacon, french fries, tomato, boiled egg, lettuce and mayonnaise? Not to your liking?
Try the €29 Spaghetti alla Bolognese with minced meat and tomato sauce. Still no? I don’t blame you.
I ordered scones and tea for €12. My wallet and my tummy wished I’d chosen to leave instead.
The scones were the worst ever — dry and tasteless, and that was with the jam and cream. The tea was so disgusting, I actually spat it out. Afterwards, I went to the nearby convenience store and bought an orange juice to rinse the taste from my mouth. Ughh!
Customer service was a joke. The staff were more focused on filling seats than ensuring guests’ needs were met. Oh, but they were quick with the check. Not impressed with this place one bit.
All-in-all, my adventure in Porto was relaxing. I’ve placed the city on my “must return” list. Next time, I’ll explore more of this historic city.
Next up — Lisboa, Portugal’s capital and largest city!