The first time I visited Portugal was in 1998 for the Lisbon Expo. I was with my family and had short, dark hair – or maybe I had already dyed them red. Somewhere I think I still have a Korean ‘good luck’ coin that I got from an expo stand.
I have this memory of Lisbon as a warm, happy, welcoming place where I had eaten marvellously and enjoyed walking around the city, but the memories were fading away and I so wanted to come back to Portugal.
A few months ago I won the Hostelworld Travel Blogger Awards and the award consisted of a budget to spend in flights and hostels. Since I wanted to go back to Portugal and Portuguese hostels are well known as the best in the world, the choice was easy.
We chose a road trip: two days in Porto, then by car to Lisbon stopping a few days around, then two days in Lisbon and back.
It was an amazing trip, I loved Portugal even more and I took tons of pics, maybe too many. But.. how can you possibly help, when something like this is the first thing you see when going out of the tube? You just take out your Camera and you never put it back 🙂
Here’s Tattva Design Hostel where we stayed. Isn’t it lovely? And it was so new and clean, the staff was super helpful and the atmosphere was great.
We had a quick stop at the hostel before starting to visit the city. Porto is so pretty, a mix of old and new, of colors and whites, with a unique decadent charm.
We had a quick stop at a bakery to have some tasty snacks. I will dedicate a post just to Portuguese food because it is just amazing.
Viola ate some fried meat and veggie balls. We also tasted the Bolo de Arroz, the Portuguese Rice Cake. It tasted sweet and it is quite moist, we enjoyed it. We also had some Pastéis de Nata. You find this iconic Portuguese pastry all around the Country and they’re really good, but the original ones are the one from Belém, and we’ll taste them later on during the trip. They’re pure heaven.
After a quick tour we head to Fundação de Serralves, a beautiful museum and exhibition space surrounded by a huge park. The main building, signed by archistar Alvaro Siza – white and clear, with sharp lines and a beautiful way of interacting with the park around – is a space for exhibitions and conferences, but there’s also a lovely library where students can come to read.
Hidden in the park, the Art Déco villa called Casa de Serralves is a fascinating example of modern architecture. You can easily picture the big dancing parties hosted by the nobles who lived here in this amazing space.
All these perspective invited me to take more and more snaps 🙂
Then we went to visit Casa da Mùsica, designed by Deutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Looking from the outside I confess I wasn’t too inspired by this poliedric building made of concrete and glass, but once in I was extremely fascinated by its strange, diamond shape construction.
Casa da Musica is not just an amazing concert space, but a place to learn to love music, from babies to adults.
Viola loved the kids room, where you can produce music with your body moves and you can relax or slide down the sloping wall.
It was time to have dinner and we decided to try Porto speciality: the Francesinha. It is a superligh (ha ha) dish made of two slices of white soft bread, filled with pork meat, ham and sausages, all rolled up in melted cheese, drowned in a beer sauce and served over a bed of french fries. Healthy enough for you? 😀
Here’s my ‘I had a Francesinha and survived’ face.
Porto was still to be discovered, yet it unveiled some of its charm once we were out of the restaurant.
It started pouring rain and we waited a few minutes under a shop’s tent. Once the rain was gone, a strange, golden but cold light embraced all the city. It was surreal. And beautiful.
We decided to have a walk to the Hostel. We passed the centre, with all the sparkling lights and the majestic buildings.
We visited Sao Bento station, covered in amazing azulejos.
The trip had just started.
Thanks Porto Convention – Visit Porto for the support.