Dream the European Vacation dream – Porto!

mannequins, colorful, leaning, art

I can’t keep posting pictures of the Porto bridge can I?
So here you go.
Random Porto store window with naked mannequins zig zagged and leaning over.

Ummm…Must. Post. Awesome. Bridge. Picture!

Dom Luis Bridge, Iron Bridge, Porto, Portugal

It’s too beautiful – I can’t help it.
Here’s some fun facts about the famous Dom Luis Bridge:
Lower level you see at the bottom of this picture, takes cars and people over the Douro River from Porto (north side of the Douro River) to Vila Nova de Gaia (south side).
Upper level wayyyy at the top of the pic hosts the urban light rail.
Officially opened to the public in 1886.
It’s stunning and romantic.

When you think of a European vacation you think Paris, Rome or Barcelona.
Start thinking PORTO!Douro River, Porto, Portugal, Dom Luis Bridge, vacation

Don’t freak out – the sticker was just a prop.  We aren’t defiling Europe as we tromp through.
Porto is a vacation destination for all of Europe.  Yes, they have been keeping this from us all this time.
The cobblestone streets filled with colorful century buildings of different width and height and all the outdoor cafe’s intrigue visitors from all over Europe.
They know something we North American’s didn’t.
Porto is everything you could dream of in a European vacation.

Let me show you what I mean.

The cult of eating and drinking outside in the sunshine with your friends is alive and well here.
Keep in mind THIS, is January.outdoor cafe's, live music, buskers, Porto, Portugal

Everyone’s out soaking up the sun, listening to the street performers.

Some are drinking beer.
Portuguese beer.  It’s good stuff, the popular brand here is Sagres.
Let me introduce you to Tango.
Tango is a beer mixed with juice of some kind (maybe cherry).
Kind of like a shandy.
Tango, Sagres beer,Porto outdoors, cafes

It’s pretty and refreshing.
This is how you order another beer when you’re ready.
Beer order, outside cafe, Porto, smiling man

Just kidding.  Don’t do that.
This is a Canadian thing.  Sort of…

Here is a Portuguese thing – it’s called Fado.
Fado is a traditional mini opera best experienced in a traditional restaurant space rather than a theatre.

We came across this experience on our 1st visit a few years ago by accident and we were hooked.
The owners and staff here at Porto a Noite restaurant are also the performers.
When you come here it’s like coming home.
This is the daughter/owner- her voice is amazing!
Fado, Portugal, Porto restaurant, traditional

They care and you can tell.  The lights are low so excuse the graininess.

Here’s snippet of what you get here at Porto a Noite.
As you can see the venue is small but oh the Fado is mighty!
Everyone you see here, with the exception of one table, was a returning guest from another country.
One couple was even celebrating their anniversary ❤

You dance, you drink, you sing, and you eat!
The gentleman singing in the video is the father/owner.
There is usually more than one singer at a time positioned in different corners of the restaurant.  They’re singing a story.
You’re heart is breaking even though you don’t speak the language.
It’s – amazing.
Now some off you may be a little hesitant to seek out Fado.
An opera, beside and all around me, that I don’t understand…
I get it, but here’s the thing, you don’t need to know Portuguese.
Fado is something you feel.
Like any opera I imagine, just more up close and personal.
Grab your favorite person and come visit Porto a Noite!

Here you can wander the colorful streets sucking in the sights, smells and sounds of all that surrounds you.
Porto alleyways, hanging laundry, cobblestone

It doesn’t get any more Euopeany (not a word but I vote to make it one) than this does it?
urban, grafiti, Porto

You literally can’t walk more than 3 feet without taking a picture.
And when you’re not taking pictures…
port house, Porto, Urban, graffiti,

You see other people taking pictures of something you didn’t notice which makes you take more pictures!

If you cross over the bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia there’s more awesome stuff to do.
Port houses galore to visit that are 100’s of years old which means fun tastings of port wine mixed with history lessons 🙂
Sandeman, vila nova de gaia, portugal, port wine

Sandeman is a big player here in the port wine game.
We find his presence ominous but he more than makes up for that in his port wine production prowess!

There’s a fun little cable car ride that you can take from the top of the Dom Luis bridge (see, now you know what I’m talking about) down to the end of the main street that runs along the Douro River.

The food, I have very few words for.
It’s so good.
Portugal has taught me a valuable lesson about food.  Good food doesn’t mean 32 ingredients and 8 spices.
Good food can be simple food.
Correction, dishes made with fresh ingredients, grown locally in the forever sunshine that blesses Portugal, ARE great food.

This dessert is also good and at first glance you may think how is it possible to cut a dessert with THAT much cream in it?
This is the very question that haunted us for our entire visit to Portugal until the very last day.
I kid you not.
marshmallow , Porto, cafes, traditional dessert

Ready for the reveal?
It’s NOT a cream centre.  It’s a MARSHMALLOW centre!
Is it just me or do you hear angels singing 🙂
All this time I thought these bakeries were straight out of Harry Potter being able to cut a seriously STACKED cream dessert without it falling apart.
Everything said no, this is not possible.
Sometimes things are not what they seem.
Sometimes that’s a pleasant surprise.
Dear Marshmallow Pie, I miss you.
No idea what the Portuguese name is – feel free to chime in!

Lets look at this photo one more time.
Notice the back drop of beautiful Vila Nova de Gaia, the Douro River and the Gepetto statue.
Tango, Sagres beer,Porto outdoors, cafes

The Gepetto Statue is a lovely, patient man who plays a statue every day it’s not raining.
Every day he sits, body paint cracking in the sun until someone comes and puts their coin into the box placed strategically in front of his table.
Then Gepetto smacks his hammer on said shoe two times.
This in turn scares the bejeezus out of any small children in the vicinity who were lulled into a false sense of security believing him to be a statue.
It’s hilarious.

He’s been doing this a long time.
This was me with him 4 years ago:

This is us now:

Oh how I hope to see him again in the not so distance future.
Time goes by quickly…
Make the most of it while you can as these moments are only borrowed.

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