Friday, April 10, 2009

Porto deserves some credit

Most people haven’t heard of Porto, we hadn’t either. Unlike Barcelona, Venice, or Paris, saying we went to Porto requires specification of country and map coordinates. But, we saw that there were Ryanair had cheap tickets to Porto from Barcelona and we jumped at the opportunity to go somewhere slightly off the beaten path, and I don’t think we could have made a better decision.

Porto is like a Mediterranean Prague. Now, I haven’t been to Prague, and Porto is not in the Mediterranean, but that is the best way to describe it. The orange tiled rooves, ceramic tile covered buildings, hanging laundry, wine barges, and tiny pastelerias led us to pat our backs on our find. And, to top it all off, it turns out that this city, the home of port wine in northern Portugal, just happens to be the cheapest city in Western Europe (quite the relief after our previous destinations.) And to make things even better, our hostel was perfect. Young, hip, and comfortable, the Rivoli Cinema Hostel, complete with film-themed bedrooms and rooftop terrace, was cheap and perfectly located. Things couldn’t have worked out better.

Thoroughly museumed out and without any idea what to do in Porto, we opted out of museums and churches (although we did take a tour of a port wince cellar) and instead spent most of our time trying out all of the delicious pastries displayed in every other window, wandering the streets, sipping capuccinos, and scavenging for neat jewelry finds. We also made good use of our time meeting locals: the one night we had in Porto was spent out at a great local club that we wouldn’t have found without the help of a group of local students who we met at a jazz bar.

For being a city that only merits half a page in our Let’s Go! book, Porto was quite the diamond in the rough and was definitely one of my favorite parts of my trip.

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