Hi all… this trip takes us to the end of February (finally!) and some of the details have been forgotten, but I’ll do my best.
In January, my husband and I decided to give Lufthansa Surprise a try as he had a week off work coming up in February. The website has different categories of destinations:
- Go East
- Follow The Sun
- The Great Outdoors
- Arts & Sights
- Go With The Bro
- Urban Adventures
- Party On
- For The Lovers
- Shoes & Shops
The categories ranges from 69€ to 99€ roundtrip from Frankfurt International (FRA) and each category lists seven to 13 destinations. You select a destination category (you can uncheck some of the destinations that you do not wish to go to; the more options you have checked, the lower the price), the number of passengers, the minimum and maximum number of nights and the time of day you’d prefer to travel. You then request total price and then you proceed to book it. After it has been confirmed, you find out where you’re going.
We chose “Follow The Sun” and I had looked up some places, on the list and I really wanted to go to Valencia, however, we got Porto, Portugal. I was so intrigued by Valencia that I asked my mom if she wanted to go during her visit…and we did end up going there as well (Valencia Recap).
A friend who had been to Porto said there wasn’t much there, so we went with no expectations. Our trip was a quick one–two nights so we only had one full day there.
Prior to arrival, our Airbnb host asked us if we’d like to have her arrange our transportation to the apartment or arrange it ourselves. We let her arrange her cab driver take us to the apartment and she met us there. Our host gave us a tour of the place, and she sat down with us and showed us a few places to visit on a map, and she told us how to get to the beach. There were also some flyers for attractions there, as well as a little photo booklet with more recommendations.
After our host left, we unpacked a little bit and I took a few photos of the living room and dining area as it was beautifully decorated. The apartment was also in a great location. We highly recommend it (Airbnb link)!
We hadn’t actually done any research on Porto; but since we were close to the west coast, I figured we could try to catch the sunset. We walked over to the trolley stop and waited for it. We had to take the trolley all the way to the end of the line and then walk across the street and walk towards the beach.
Once we got on board, we sat down on the left side so we could enjoy the view across the river.
It felt like we had plenty of time to get to the beach, but it felt like a long ride there; my husband says it was only about 15- 20 minutes. As we got closer, it looked as though we might miss the sunset and I was stressing. Once we got to the end of the line, we crossed the street and rushed to the beach, and then we went towards the lighthouse.
I didn’t want to leave.. I felt bad for my husband. I kept turning around to take photos.
We got on the last trolley back and it was packed! We were standing in the back of the trolley where the controls were for going in the opposite direction. It was pitch black at that point so photos on a moving trolley were not good. By the time we got back to the apartment, we were starving, and we had dinner at the Tapas place across the street called Tapas 65.
It was all delicious!
On Wednesday, I had a mission to get some patéis de nata (custard tarts; in Canada, we just call them natas). Whenever I go home to Toronto, I always have natas because they’re my favourite, but surprisingly, my husband had never had them! It was my mission to introduce them to him so we wrote down a couple of places from the photo booklet of recommendations: A Pérola do Bolhão and Manteigaria and began our day. We picked up a couple natas at A Pérola do Balhão since it was a shop not a restaurant, and walked over to Manteigaria where we had breakfast.
I had the chia pudding and my husband had a croissant sandwich. The natas were perfect and creamy on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside, not overcooked. So good; my husband is officially hooked! After breakfast, we explored a bit on our way back to the apartment.
We walked around and went by the world’s fanciest McDonald’s to see what it looked like.. fancy, indeed!
We then went to the Sao Bento train station; it has amazing tile work on the inside and the ceilings are rather high. It was quite the popular tourist destination; there were a couple of large tour groups in the lobby, so it was hard to walk around.
I took more photos as we walked around Porto; a lot of the buildings have tiles on the front façade and it makes the city so colourful.
Back in the apartment, we tried the other natas from A Pérola do Balhão; they were good, but the caramelization was a bit too much, and we felt the ones from Manteigaria had a better flavour.
Our next destination was to cross the bridge on the lower level, check out Porto from the other side, and go on Taylor’s Port Wine self-guided tour.
After the tour, there is a small tasting, and I preferred the vintage 2014. Outside the tasting area, there was a peacock who was not impressed by us and walked away from us, despite him opening this feathers for the lady who was there before us and the family who was there after us!
At this point, we were ready for a late lunch, and we ate at the restaurant at Taylor’s–Restaurante Barão Fladgate. It was a little fancier than I was expecting, but we were starving at this point, so we had lunch there. They have a fixed menu where you choose between a couple of appetizers (I chose the soup), entrees (chose salmon), and desserts (I forgot what this was).
We went out on the balcony after lunch and I wanted to take some photos but there was a ton of construction going on, so they didn’t really turn out well as there were lots of cranes everywhere which reminds me, there was a ton of construction in progress all over Porto.
Next up was going on the cable car ride over Gaia. As we were walking towards the ticket office, we came across some people taking photos of a corner. It was street art — “Half Rabbit” pretty cool..
Here are some of my favourites from our walk to the cable cars and all the way across the bridge
On our cab ride from the airport to the apartment, our cab driver gave us a recommendation for a restaurant: Restaurante Tito. There were two different Tito restaurants (1 & 2) and we went to 1. We ordered the seafood with rice.. it was incredible.
On our third and final day, we walked around a bit in the morning and into the early afternoon since our Airbnb host was flexible with our checkout time as no one was checking in the same day.
First, we went to Livraria Lello to check out the famous red staircase. The bookstore is so popular due to rumors that JK Rowlings was inspired by the staircase when she wrote the Harry Potter series that you’re required to buy voucher around the corner in a Harry Potter store. This cost of the voucher, 5€ per person, can be used towards a purchase at the bookstore. The bookstore was really crowded and it’s really hard to get a photo without people in it; you need to wait around a bit to get your photos in. Despite all that, it was a stunning staircase and stained glass panel in the ceiling. I’m so glad we went.
We walked around a bit more.
We went to Majestic Café for coffee and to try their natas. They were both a bit pricey, and the custard appeared to be a little curdled, not smooth like the other natas we had. We went by Manteigaria to pick up some more natas to take home.
One thing about Porto is that it’s really hilly.. so if you’re planning a trip, get your calves ready!
We made our way towards the apartment and had lunch nearby at a restaurant that was facing the river. There were a handful of restaurants side by side, and honestly, it wasn’t memorable and the food wasn’t great.
Overall, we really enjoyed our little adventure in Porto and we wished we had an additional day there. We are looking forward to visiting Lisbon one of these days.
Have you ever been? What was your favourite part?