PORTO

Even though Porto is technically located in Portugal, it has a very Spanish feel to it. Now, this could either mean the Portuguese mentality is very similar to the Spanish, or this could be due to the little lopsided houses reminded me of the ones I saw in many Spanish cities, like Zamora.

Porto is built on a few very, very steep hills on both sides of the Douro River, close to the Atlantic Ocean. This means two things: walking around town can get incredibly tiring, and there is always, always going to blow a very chilly wind.

Also, chances are you are going to have trouble driving up those steep hills, at least if you did not grow up in the mountains and know how to hit the gas if you come to a halt halfway up the hill.

We made the effort to climb up to Mercado do Bolhao on foot. If you want to buy souvenirs, I suggest doing it there, because they are not tacky in any way. You can also get delicious pastries to munch on while walking through the market, so you better go there hungry.

In the very center of Porto, you can find the Livreria Lello, which inspired the library we see in the Harry Potter movies. While the line is long, the visit is worth it. It is also a great place to buy classic novels.

If you are not too afraid of heights I also recommend crossing the Ponte Luís I bridge to get to the other side of the river. The view from up there is incredible.

As you might know or might have guessed, the region is famous for its port wine. It’s a very sweet, very strong wine, which is best enjoyed in small quantities with a side of dark chocolate, or so they told us at the winery. We originally wanted to tour Sandeman’s, but since the ticket was so expensive, we decided on Augusto’s.

While the weather was horrible when we were there, I imagine that on a beautiful day a dip in the ocean would be nice. A friend of mine did, unintentionally, when she got splashed by an enormous wave.