Last week I was in the beautiful Portuguese city of Porto, in the north for the country. It was my first time to Portugal, and so that brings my tally of countries visited to 34. Wow. Not bad for a wandering bum such as myself.
But back to Porto. Is this my new favourite city? What more can I say about it. A great location, fantastic food, cheap prices, easy to get round and a population that almost universally speaks English. Really, my phrasebook was absolutely useless here, despite my humble attempts at Portuguese, there was only one time I really needed to use the phrasebook. Virtually everyone else I met would speak English to me. Wow.
And what a place to be. Situated in a gorge at the mouth of the Douro river, this city is blessed with one of the most beautiful locations in all of the world. Craggy rocks, covered in green shape the city. The fierce Atlantic wind batters its shores and gave Porto its destiny during the Age of Discovery. And of course, for any drinkers out there, the city is the home of the famed Port wine. As a sober man, this opportunity for tanking up escaped me, but the city houses far more treats than tours of wine cellars. History, culture and beauty combine to create what is for me, a fascinating destination.
(Yeah, that was the view from my hotel balcony. Nice!)
One thing I have to say about Porto was how cheap it was. Compared to Spain next door, this is one bargain place. Two people could go to a coffee shop, grab a couple of cakes, a couple of snack bites, two cups of tea and get change from €5! Yes, that is less than a fiver! Considering how lousy the pound is, this is one of the few bargain places left in Europe. Compared to my European travels in the past year (Poland, Hungary, Germany, Romania) this is stunning, only Romania was cheaper. And the food is great. Fish everywhere, and good quality stuff. Beautiful little bites, homely eateries, rustic cooking, all for a bargain price. And the tastes are divine. The big question I have to ask is this. Why does anyone bother with Spain? The other question is this - why didn't I come here sooner?
(Civilised, and cheap!)
So join me this week, as I take you on a tour of the sights, sounds and tastes of Porto - probably Europe's best kept Secret...