Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Scenes from Porto

So the Portugal vacation posts continue with this photo-heavy entry about what would end up being my favorite stop on our trip- Porto. The port town was charming, beautiful and I could walk the cobblestone streets all day looking at the colorful tile buildings and drinking Super Bock (Portuguese beer).

Let's start with this perfect view from our room at the Pestana Porto Hotel. I mean, if this was the start and end of the vacation, it'd be enough to keep me happy for a very long time. How can you have a bad day when this is the first thing you see?

Across the water were all of the many port wine caves since Porto is famous for the production of the sweet wine. We walked into a few but didn't really dive into port wine tasting since the weather was downright hot (95 degrees!) which isn't the best time to be drinking the thick stuff.

Each port wine company had a ship in the water to advertise their wine:

Almost every liquor store had bottles and bottles of vintage port, like this one from 1937!

Let's get back outside now- and check out the array of beautiful tiles found all over the city: on this gorgeous church:

You're probably thinking, "Wait, where is the FOOD? This is a FOOD BLOG, isn't it?" Since we'd been eating a lot of Portuguese cuisine, we wanted to try some Italian food. After a lot of research, we heard about a place called Al Forno. Thanks to a very patient and resourceful taxi driver, we found it after 25 nervous minutes in the cab:

We found it was worth the drive because we had some of the best Italian food we'd ever had in this black squid ink pasta with shrimp:

...and this perfect pizza capricciosa, topped with fresh tomato sauce, mushrooms, ham and an egg (which I accidentally broke before remembering to take this photo!). The egg yolk was a deep orange color and so rich and really brought all of the fresh flavors together. Come to think of it, I think we get kind of screwed in the U.S. on eggs. Even when I buy from the farmer's market, the yolks still aren't as bright and rich as the ones overseas. I still dream about this pizza.

The Portuguese really love their sweet treats- check out this display of typical Portuguese pastries found at every coffee shop:

In additon to the popular port wines and vinho verdes, the locals seem to love the aforementioned Super Bock beer- which we enjoyed while sitting at an ourdoor cafe, watching the tourists walk by. The current ad campaign for the popular beer? "I Bock A Feeling" which I'm guessing is a play on the Black Eyed Peas song, "I Got A Feeling." Too bad I hate that song since it ran through my head every time I saw that Super Bock ad. Ah well. At least it tasted good!

Here's a lovely church door we discovered while walking through the streets getting lost on purpose:

....and here's J, clearly touched by the Holy Spirit in some way since the rays of heaven seem to be shining down on him, ha!! (insert glorious church music here)

How I miss walking through the narrow streets of Porto....we'll definitely be making our way back there at some point!

I'll leave you with one, last photo of the port- a view I could look at every single day if only I was so lucky!

I can't recommend Porto, and Portugal as a whole, enough if you're looking for an inexpensive trip to Europe. The places, people, food and experiences will stay with you for a lifetime.

Pestana Porto Hotel
Praça da Ribeira, nº 1
4050-513 Porto

Al Forno
a de Sta. Catarina, 249,
Leca Palmeira, Porto, Portugal