It’s been three months since we've been back from Europe and I find the longer I'm away the more I'm missing it.
This weekend I left my phone at Whole Foods. When I realized what I'd done I drove back as fast as I could praying the whole time that it would be there. I didn't care about the credit cards stored or the back account passwords saved I only cared about my Europe photos.
Someone turned in my phone (thank you kind stranger!) and I left thinking it was time to commit these memories to the web.
That said, I have a horrible memory, which is one of the reasons I like to write so much; I figure if I write it down maybe it will stick more. So this is me, writing now to both share our experiences and also to help me remember them.
I’ve decided to start with Porto, Portugal. It was our last stop and gave us one of our favorite days in Europe, one that I don’t want to forget. But before we get to that day let me say this:
We enjoyed Porto, thought it was beautiful and the Port wine was unbelievably delicious and affordable. However, we stayed three full days and both agree that if we were going to do it all over again two days would have been enough.
Where We Stayed:
We stayed at Tattva Design Hostel in Porto. Of all our hostel experiences, this was our favorite of the trip. Why?
They gave you a free drink coupon when you arrived
They had a great restaurant which came in handy the night we first arrived
A complimentary breakfast was provided with the cost of the room: breakfast included Nutella pancakes (enough said) and daily episodes of Guess the Year on VH1.
Their add-ons included walking tours of the city, wine tours, etc. If you’re looking for a youthful, fun environment, centrally located in Porto, this is your place.
It was clean and our private room came with towels and our own restroom.
What We Ate:
In general, we weren’t huge fans of the food in Porto however; there were three major exceptions:
Francesinha – a traditional Portuguese sandwich made with multiple meats (think pieces of ham, sausage, steak), bread, cheese and a tomato/beer sauce. It was described to us as a heart attack on plate. And was served to us at the hostel with a basket of bread, soup, a flaming sausage and bottomless wine. The waiter’s advice to us when he served it was: “go slow, and drink a lot. Seriously, the more you drink the easier it will be.”
Palato Restaurante – we dined on white sangria, calamari, garlic shrimp, local sausage, codfish and crème brulee. It was a delightful experience near the ocean where you watched the chef cook your meal on the outside grill.
Tasco – a tapas restaurant that serves Portuguese cuisine made by the owners’ moms. So when the menu reads “mother-in-law chocolate mousse” it’s really made by one of the owner’s (three best friends are partners) mother-in-law. Here is where we also tried green wine for the first time.
Our first (and only) Franceshinha.
Best Coffee in Porto
Without a doubt our FAVORITE coffee in Porto was at Combi’s coffee truck. It was literally parked around the corner from our hostel and had delicious cappuccinos and pour over single origin coffee. My only regret is that we didn’t discover it sooner and that we didn’t visit their brick and mortar.
Had breakfast at hostel
Went on FREE walking tour from Porto Walkers that took us around the historical district of Porto and lasted three hours. On the tour expect to:
Take photos on The Dom Luis I Bridge
Get homemade treats at Cozinha Doce (something you can ONLY do if you are on a tour)
Visit the Porto train station
*We LOVED this tour. In addition to helping us get acclimated to the city on our first day, we learned a lot about culture and Porto history (including why there’s tile on the buildings). Our tour guide, NuNo (sorry if I’m spelling this very wrong) was incredibly kind and not only took the time to make suggestions to everyone in the group on where to go for a late lunch (late for American standards, right on time for Western Europeans) but actually walked us there AFTER the tour was complete and all tips were already paid. Side note: make sure to tip. Although there is no charge for the tour, tipping is the way your guide makes a living. It’s worth it, we promise!
Visited Livraria Lello Bookshop (aka the Harry Potter library). You pay 4 euro to get in but can use that 4 euro as a credit towards the purchase of a book inside.
Had dinner at Tasco
Porto Train Station
Views from The Dom Luis Bridge
Sites from the Walking Tour
Repeated breakfast at hostel
“Ran” for coffee at Esquires café.
Met Porto Walkers for a 3pm wine tour of the port wine cellars across the bridge in Vila Nova de Gaia
Grabbed Pizza Hut for dinner. Don’t judge. We tried a lot of Port wine (which is part Brandy) so not only were we slightly buzzed but after 27 days in Europe were also a little home sick. Pizza Hut tasted delicious and it felt like being back home.
Repeated breakfast at hostel. At this point we were considering going to a contemporary art museum about a 40 minute metro ride from our hostel.
When we got back to our room to change out of our pajamas we decided, in part because of a recommendation we received from a couple on the wine tour the day before and in part because the weather was so beautiful, that we should metro to the beach instead but not until we got coffee.
Got coffee at Combi, a coffee truck Ryan spotted the day before. We asked the barista if he thought the beach was a good idea. “It’s an awesome idea!” was his reply. He then told us to go for a walk along the river. It would lead to the sea. Along the way rent bikes and ride them.
So we did! And it was the BEST day ever! We walked, we biked, we ate delicious seafood at Palato Restaurante, and when it was time we biked back along the coast at sunset, stopping for sidewalk vendor popcorn and photos overlooking the ocean. That night we grabbed beers from a convenience store along the river and listened to a live performance by an amazing singer-songwriter, Keely Denham. And then we went home.
Lunch at Palato Restaurante