Travelling with a unconventionally shaped bag with lots of straps dangling off it often means that my luggage can’t go down the conveyor belt at airport check-in desks. At Valencia Airport the check-in clerk got on the radio and within a couple of minutes an airport employee turned up. I was beckoned through a door seemingly off-limits to the public and towards a service lift in which I was told to put my bag. After this bizarre palava I wasn’t sure whether I’d see the bag again but thankfully it made it to Porto.
There was no respite from the hot weather in northern Portugal with the thermometer outside of the station stating a temperature of 29C. I’d arrived in town in time for this morning’s free walking tour. Yes another walking tour. I like them. This was a long one, three hours or so. It was a testament to the enthusiasm of tour-guide Miguel that it seemed to go quickly. On this tour they used the old trick of taking you to their mate’s bar at halftime.
Porto is a lovely city. I’m not just pretending to say that about all of these places because I chose them. I’d definitely put it into the category of underrated European gems as I don’t think I’ve never met anyone who’s been here. Porto is also very hilly. We were up and down more than (insert joke here). We finished up at the river, beneath the iconic metal arch bridge. The only trouble was that it was over 200 stairs back into the city centre and I know this as I counted them.
I was staying in the Wine Hostel. Porto is in a big wine region, as in the port variety, and it markets a lot its tourism around this. A bit like Liverpool and the Beatles or Belfast and the Titanic, albeit in a slightly less cringe worthy manner. The hostel was really nice. It’s set in a grand converted building (although I’m not sure what it was converted from), complete with a marble staircase and a domed roof. The decor is lovely with nice furniture and empty wine bottles decorations. It’s probably too nice for some of the clientele you get in these sort of places. The hostel is great value at €14 a night. Having said that Porto is noticeably cheaper than Valencia and obviously Paris. I had a sit-down meal in the square outside the hostel and ordered the Portuguese sausage (as the translation described it) for €5. You are served get a decent portion of sausage, rice, chips as well as a fried egg on top.