Part One: Porto
The choice is yours between two fabulous Portuguese cities; however allow me to introduce your options!
Porto (also called Oporto) – A World Heritage City and every photographers’ dream. The city is full of surprises. Every corner your turn you’ll find the iconic tiled walls backing onto the streets. Blue and white designs that are smooth to the touch whispering stories of ghosts passed. Revering a culture with heavy Catholic ideals and displaying art that leaves no cryptic interpretation.
The city is beautiful. It is also full of surprises.
Some label it a gastronomic surprise – and it was certainly that when I tucked into the “Portuguese Pork Special” which – ‘SURPRISE’ was the entrails, intestines, stomach and ears of a little piggy friend coupled with beans.
This meal aside however, Porto is famous for a local speciality known as a Francesinha – recommended to me by some friendly staff at Tattva Design Hostel. Be warned, if you stop for this sandwhich, you might be floored for the rest of the afternoon. This sandwich is a challenge for the toughest and hungriest of men. Layered with steak, ham, multiple layers of bread and covered in melted cheese and boozy tomato sauce. Also recommended with a side of chips and a cerveza. Perhaps not for the health conscious, but Porto is the ideal spot to be walking off such a meal.
The winding hilly streets coupled with funiculars (trams) are reminiscent of San Francisco, except older, richer (in culture) and perhaps less scheduled. Standing at the base of these streets you can glance up to a hive of activity, and during the night-time the buildings glow orange and yellow, the roofs shine red, and they’re all lit-up like a permanent Christmas gift.
And lets not forget PORT! The fortified Portuguese wine that is super sweet and a dessert on it’s own. A highlight in itself and tours of many cellars are on offer to fulfil your gastronomic needs.
While the city is nowhere near as popular as it’s European counterparts (including Lisbon) it’s a shame that many view it this way, as it possesses both the charm and the cheapness that many others do not.
In particular – it is home to the “Best Large Hostel in the World 2014” – Tattva Design Hostel – as rated by HostelWorld. We were given the pleasure of enjoying its facilities – and it truly has everything you could want (including full accessibility and chair/stair lifts for my less accessible friends). Check out how great it was decorated! Fish tanks, reading rooms, and upside down lanterns. It lived up to the name of “design hostel”!
The outdoor balcony was a hive of social activity (not pictured above)– people bbqing, listening to music, sharing bottles of goodies and generally just being more social than at many other hostels; and straight away it felt like a place you could relax, make some friends, and call home away from home.
Most importantly – for many it was a place they didn’t seem to want to leave – us included. Get to Porto and don’t shaft her in favour of some of the ‘flashier’ European cousins.
You will not be disappointed.