Discovering Porto

Cantina 32 was a surprise. A small elongated culinary establishment conveniently located on Rua des Flores- our street! Dark and evocative we had no idea what we were in for. We accepted a ‘share table’ – a trestle table with forms. A Spanish couple sat beside us. John had grilled prawns with garlic, butter and lemon. Amazing! I had beef carpaccio with truffle. The red was perfect. OMG Welcome to Porto!!

The apartment was located in the centre of this busy atmospheric street lined with bars and boutiques, restaurants and retail, souvenirs and sellers of all types. Buskers and backpackers, tourists and touts, consumers and the homeless, peopled the space and painted a diverse human landscape.

We were entertained. We just had to open the doors and let the life in.

There were a few logistics to see to. Firstly – the 500 bus- and a new sim and how to get to Lisbon and … We found a tourist kiosk. The young man was basically useless- we realised he was just there to sell tours. We did find out where to get the 500 bus and about four thousand people had also just found out. I couldn’t see the end of the queue. So off to Sao Bento. OMG yes it is a railway station but …so beautiful. There we met a woman who sold us a ‘trip up the river’. (Initially I thought she had ‘sold us down the river’ but it might be OK. I’m in the middle of it as I write.)

The new sim was a disaster but too complicated to explain here just to say the internet advice about getting a local sim is easier said than done. We booked a tour and the agent highlighted the things in Porto we must not miss. We headed for the Majestic, a beautiful cafe and an opportunity to sit and resolve our sim issues. We failed but the coffee experience was wonderful.

Lello is a bookshop. Apparently J K Rowling spent a lot of time there when she lived in Porto and it inspired some of the scenes in Harry Potter. It is spectacular. It is small and it is insanely popular. It is best to book online and it will cost five euro to enter and you get that off any book you purchase. We investigated and booked for 5:30 thinking seeing it closes at 7 it would be quiet (ish). It was not. I could not believe the queue!!! However because it is small and people just want to go in and look and take a photo of ‘the world’s most beautiful bookshop’ the queue moves along quite rapidly.

We randomly came across Manteigaria and I had to have a pasties de Nata – Portuguese tart- yum!! Later we decided to head for the ‘best roasted chicken in Porto’ – Pedros dos Franco’s. We had been warned about the serving size but really didn’t expect a roasted emu!!!! Well not quite…but seriously it would have fed a large family with a huge appetite. We got a doggy bag! We needed a drink when we arrived home so indulged in a port at the little bar across the way- Kug Flores.

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