May 25th - 26th
We arrived in Porto after a short Ryan Air flight from Bordeaux. As mentioned in a previous post, the views of San Sebastian from the sky brought back some wonderful memories of sidra and txacoli. It made me excited for the adventures to come in Portugal. After a landing that could be described as 'holy shit the plane is coming in fast', we retrieved our luggage and set off to find the shuttle to our rental car company. The problem was that our rental company was nowhere to be found.
After walking around searching for the shuttle, we started asking the drivers of other companies if they knew where the shuttle was. Nobody had even heard of the rental company we were using. Sensing our nervousness, the various drivers starting pulling out their phones, calling the number we were given, looking at maps and asking around for us. Even though we were anxious, it felt good to see that people were doing everything they could to help us. After 20 minutes or so, a driver from a company called Gold Car told us he was actually the driver for ACE driver (our agency). Relief and gratitude settled in and we were on our way to meet our new ride for the week. She was a Fiat Panda that we baptized 'Nanda' after the way Tessa says the word 'panda'. Her panda is also her favorite thing in the world. so we felt even better about our sweet ride.
After a little bit of dangerous driving in Porto we found our hostel. Porto Novo. The manager was an older Portugese man who, despite telling us the contrary, spoke no english. After paying up front for the night, we were showed to our bedroom overlooking a courtyard left in despair with barking dogs to rule it. We quickly go ready to go walk around and eventually find a place to eat our first taste of Portugese food. Walking around we were enamored by the beauty of Porto. It is a strange beauty. Magnificent buildings, churches and monuments but also apartment buildings with tiled facades. Some beautifully preserved and some abandoned. What is also striking is that there aren't that many tourists. Maybe it was because of the time of year we decided to visit.
The entrance to our hostel
We walked around and decided to eat at Petiscaria Santo Antonio located at the foot of Clerigos Tower up to of a steep tiled street. Our meal was wonderful. The staff was great, recommended a few items thatwe shared while drinking a great €15 bottle of wine. when it was all said and done our bill amounted to €40. I remember telling Jess that in Portland, the bottle of wine alone would've been that price, let alone the portugese chorizo, bacalhau, arroz y fajol and pota.
Portugese Chorizo. Delicious!
Stuffed and happy we wandered towards the river in search of a drink. As we walked towards the shore, we were offered neatly packed weed by people in the street. Not wanting to engage we swiftly walked by and meandering down we decided to take a left down a picturesque narrow alley where a man at the bottom of th eroute stood as a vigil for the 5 or 6 men standing in the alley waiting to greet us and it seemed sell us drugs. Quickly turning around before we were too close to them, we continued our way to the rier where cafes lined the street full of a mix of locals, tourists and street performers fire dancing. Under the Eiffel Bridge we drank a liter of mediocre €5 sangria amongst mostly locals spending time with their friends.
Under the Eiffel Bridge
Halfway through the liter a rush of people (including Jess), ran towards the river as it was clear something was happening. Jess came back to fill me in with the news that a dog had jumped in. We finished our sugary drink and walked by the dog's owner drying his shaky pup with a towel. We made our way up the beautiful stairs back to the top of the hill and back to the hostel. As we neared the door to it, we saw a group in their early twenties exiting the hostel dressed to go out. An ominous detail it turned out.
I haven't said this before but our basic room felt dirty and we weren't really looking forward to spending the night there. But 'it's only one night' we said. At 4AM we were awoken by the angry manager banging on the door of the room adjacent to ours, followed by the sound of the the plumbing being worked on. The dogs I mentioned before started barking soon after that. We were woken every 30 mins by a mixture of dogs, construction and school bells signaling the beginning of classes. At 9AM i had to go check on the parking meter down the street. I paid the meter and climbed back up to the hostel to get ready for our drive down to Lisbon.
Our room at Porto Novo Hostel
As I entered the room i immediately noticed a repugnant small, it was clear after a quick look around that the plumbing issue that our partying neighbor caused, surfaced into our shower as the manager tried to unclog the toilet. Jess noticed it too and in a rush of disgust we quickly packed, told the manager about the state of our shower and loaded the car. We were happy to be on our way to Lisbon. We hadn't spent time much time in Porto but we knew we'd be back at the end of our trip.