Porto, Portugal Travel
Portugal delights and saddens me at the same time. At least, the parts I’ve seen do: Lisbon twice, Sintra and now I can add Porto to that list (I’ve never been to the Algarve or the more popular beach resorts). I started learning Portuguese at uni in Exeter during my second year and picked it up again in fourth year after my year abroad. Portugal is surprisingly different to Spain, and it’s surprising because of its proximity and linguistic origins. While the Portuguese and Spanish languages may look very similar on paper, they are audibly worlds apart.
Having the option to learn Portuguese as part of my degree piqued my curiosity and off to Portugal I ventured. Firstly to Lisbon & Sintra 2010 with Erasmus friends while I lived in Córdoba, then again to Lisbon in 2012 to visit my Italian friend Annalisa who was interning there and wrote this wonderful guest post. And thirdly to Porto in 2014 just a few weekends ago with my aunt.
And we simply adored Porto! I know I sound enthusiastic about almost everywhere I go, but Porto really was lovely and you absolutely need to go! It would be perfect for a summer weekend by the sea or a romantic getaway.
We checked into the 3* Grande Hotel do Porto, and the receptionist to our great surprise announced that the manager had upgraded us to one of their suites! It couldn’t have been any luckier, we ended up paying €37 each per night for an enormous suite with breakfast included. It’s a great hotel, whose website sports a hilarious and exotic description which I just loved:
layground for the nobility and aristocracy from all around the world, a haven for spies, politicians and exiles, a privileged setting for artists, bohemians and intellectuals, the Grande Hotel do Porto is a charming hotel which maintains a dramatic, nineteenth-century, fin de siècle charm, harmoniously combined with modernity, comfort and timeless design.
Feeling very pleased with ourselves and loving the attention of the friendly staff, we headed out to dinner. I had been invited to try out the exquisite O Palco restaurant inside the super stylish 4* boutique Hotel Teatro, a member of the luxurious Design Hotels collection. It’s a two-minute walk from the city centre and Avenida dos Aliados, and you enter through a heavy door lit up in writing. The Hotel Teatro is themed to recreate the atmosphere of the old theatre that used to occupy the site, with its bedrooms designed to give the atmosphere of being backstage. Dark lighting, rich colours of gold and bronze, and the contrast of contemporary furniture with vintage theatrical costumes on display create a very chic air. Sitting down in their restaurant, which also has an outdoor patio, we browsed their tasting menu.