Porto, Portugal.

Porto, Portugal.

Who wouldn’t fall in love with this city?  It’s beautiful, manageably small (but big enough), located at the mouth of the Douro river with miles of coastline along the Atlantic, friendly people, and home to the world renowned port wine cellars.

It was our favorite place on our trip – *for many reasons*.  It felt very old-world, quaint.  A quiet working city with gorgeous buildings, squares, and bridges.  And oh, the bridges – there are six that connect Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia across the River Douro.  The most striking is Ponte Maria Pia (i.e., the Eiffel bridge – designed by the same man as the Eiffel Tower), and will always hold a special place in my heart.  The outdoor cafes that line river and look out over to Vila Nova de Gaia are a great place to people-watch while grabbing a cafe, or a francesinha.

Wandering through the markets is a daily activity for those in Porto, and it’s impossible to not want to stop into every pastry or cheese shop for a taste!  The cured hams and aged cheeses were incredible!

We happened to be in Portugal for St. Martin’s Day (November 11th) – a popular holiday celebrating a saint who shared his coat with a beggar.  For some reason, this day is celebrated by eating roasted chestnuts.  There were chestnuts EVERYWHERE – every street corner, market stall, cheese shop, everywhere.  And they smelled glorious.  They were not, however, as delicious as they smelled (to us at least).

No trip to Porto is complete without a tour of the port wine cellars across the river.  We walked over the Ponte Maria Pia towards the cellars, sun setting en route.  We meandered up and down the streets until we got to Taylors.  We enjoyed a tour of the port wine cellar, then tasted a few of the wines.  Jake even snatched a sip of a 100-year-old bottle of port – courtesy of the friends he made in the tasting room.  I had to settle for a sip of a 40-year old port.  🙂  It was really good – not as sweet as I remember the port being here in the US.

Had amazing creamy mussel soup at Cafeina on our last night.  But I am still craving the cheese we had on the river bank – but maybe that’s just because *my love asked me to marry him* here.  And we could have been eating probably anything at that point and I’d be nostalgic for it.

The road trip ends here, and we sadly had to drop off our rented Fiat that we grew to love, but there is one more stop ‘por aviao’ before the vacation ends…