Last week I didn't think it was possible to laugh as much as I did that weekend all the Yams together again. I guess I was proven wrong. I cried enough tears from laughing so much to leave me dehydrated under the sun this last weekend in Porto. It seems crazy that when I came with my family, we never even went to the area of the Art District where I spent most of the time on my first trip with Gosia and Kaska. With so many other things to see and do and eat I think we just ran out of time. So this time around, we revisited all of the best places we first discovered in February and then a few more new places we found on the way. And nevermind that most of Porto can speak English because when you travel with a native, or even just someone who can speak the city's language, it changes the experience entirely. In the best way, obviously. Thanks, Mark!!
Our AirBnB apartment was on the other side of the river this time, a quieter area but still super close to the bridge. On our first evening we wandered across to the other side and headed through the winding up-and.down walkways and roads of the Old Town before we had our first drink by the river with some marinated pulpo and pastel de bacalhau. We walked around the town, popping in and out of any souvenir shop still open, until we came to one that we have now coined "Ariana Grande" after the unbelievably weird conversation with the cashier boy.
"So have you met anyone famous?"
"No we work at ZARA.."
"Have you guys met Ariana Grande?!"
"Why would we have met her?"
"Ohmygod I LOVE her."
Too tired to walk anymore, we had a "dinner" of warm pastel de nata from Nata Lisboa and bought a bottle on the way home for a night cap atop our terrace.
Breakfast, on our first morning, consisted of a gazillion pastries from a local bakery. We asked Mark to ask for one of each sweet thing in the window and a couple of things he also suggested we tried. We took our hoard back to the apartment and laid a spread out on the terrace to enjoy our morning sugar rush. It was a pretty intense breakfast.
By the time we finally made it out again it was early afternoon and we headed towards Mercado Bolhau, only to find that it had already closed. We consoled ourselves over a coffee and (another) pastry/cake at one of the oldest bakeries in town before headed back down to the Art District close to where we stayed in February. We looked and shopped in the cutest boutiques and quirky shops and wandered in and out of the little galleries and mini-malls. We stumbled into an amazing architecture/furniture store and spend a good while in a sweet vintage shop. It took a while for me to find something I wanted to buy until we happened upon a is-this-a-gallery-or-a-shop-or-a-cafe (?!) kind of place and I fell in love with a hanging mini tree, growing from a ball of mossy soil. Google says it's called a kokedama and you can find them in so many shops around Porto! Gosia bought one the last time and I regretted not getting one too. I decided it was a she and we named her Frida and I carried her around with me for the rest of the day.
We passed a place yesterday where a little old lady was standing outside trying to entice people to eat at her restaurant. Ok that sounds a lot creepier than it was meant to - it was not creepy at all. I mean she might have looked like a crazy old lady but she was super lovely and could not have been any more friendly and accommodating. She spoke basic English so mostly spoke to Mark as she talked us through her menu. She told us (Mark) that it was family run and that her daughter was the cook and that they were open everyday. Her husband ran the small kiosk for newspaper and sweets just next door. We (Mark) told her we'd come back for dinner the next day. And so we did.
She recognised us and we took a table outside the restaurant in a tiny square off the main road, in perfect shade and shielded from the wind, while Frida sat in a spare chair and we ordered a jug of sangria to start. The menu was all handwritten and traditional and Mark found his favourite childhood dish of bacalhau a bras (shreds of salted cod and onions and grated fried potatoes bound together with egg and ohmygod SO delicious) and we shared plates of pulpo and seafood rice as well. It was such a lovely meal in such a hidden gem. Without any proper signs (I'm pretty sure all there was was a handwritten board propped up against a sign for a city bus tour) I can imagine the old lady beckoning people in is how they get most of their customers. As we left, she kissed us thank you and goodbye on each cheek and it felt like we were leaving a family dinner. So for any future trips and lunch or dinner plans, take note of Restaurante Silva Bar and order the bacalhau a bras or anything else and be assured that you'll be eating authentic without all the pretence of forced fancy.
After dinner we wandered back across the bridge and up to a park close to our apartment where a small beer festival was taking place. We joined the queue but by the time the token system they were using was explained to us, we realised it was just more complicated that necessary (even the guys seemed exasperated at explaining such long-winded concept) and so we headed back to enjoy the rest of the night on our terrace. We laughed and talked and snacked and laughed some more before we all turned in for the night.
Our final day saw us through a revisit of the tourist shops that were still open today for a final souvenir haul. We found a beautiful concept store called The Feeting Room where we spent a good portion of time admiring their collection of shoes and clothes and sipping on the best ice coffee from their in-store cafe upstairs. Like an homage to our February trip, we headed back to The Traveller Caffe for a late brunch. It might not have been for proper Portuguese food, but they serve the kind of cooked breakfasts that can't be found in Coruña and so we thought we'd make the most of what we could enjoy there while we could!
With a high of 35 degrees on Sunday, we were so hot and sweaty that we stopped for an ice-cream at Cremosi to cool down before we began out journey home.
One of the best weekends with these guys and for sure it's been one of the best weekends of the summer! It's been a mission readjusting to the working week again but our happy collection of photos and stories from this trip are more than enough to hold me over to the next.