When you look for a place to stay while travelling, you may be looking for the proverbial Room With a View. Seek no longer. I have a whole CITY with a view for you. Or should I say many views.
On our first day in Porto, Julia and I make our way to the guest house (which, inspite of what it said on the internet, does not have heating and is freezing cold not only, but very much also in our room!) only to drop of our stuff and then go for our first stroll through town. We just head in the direction of the waterfront. I love getting lost in a foreign place – drifting, daundering, just following my heart. Porto has the perfect size for that. It’s big enough for you to get lost, but small enough to not get lost entirely. My kind of getting lost. Just above Rua di Vitoria, we find a lookout that seems to be there coincidentally rather than purposefully arranged for tourists. The views are spectacular.
This first glimpse of the Cathedral won’t be the last, but the way it majestically emerges from the sea of red roofs in this moment is particularly touching to me.
The next day, Julia and I climb the Torre dos Clérigos, a beautiful baroque bell tower and a landmark of Porto due to its height and visibility from various points throughout the city. Again we see the cathedral and the Antiga Cadeia da Relação, the former prison that today houses the Portuguese Centre for Photography. I marvel at the colour contrasts – the grey cold stone of the bell tower, the bright red roofs beneath us, the blue sky and the white sunlight. I am not sure what I did expect when I came here, but I don’t think it was the red roofs. For some reason, so far they have seemed innately German to me. From now on they will be something I remember about Porto.
On our third day, a day after our climb up the bell tower, we have booked a free walking tour through PortoFreeWalkingTour. Eugénia is a lovely guide, knowledgeable, kind and she obviously likes what she is doing. She sets great store by history which is my kind of thing exactly. Amongst many other places, she takes us to yet another viewpoint on top of the old city wall.
It is misty this morning, and grey. Fog lies upon Douro River, and the pinnacles seem even more barren, more lifeless, but in a way also more eternal, more ancient to me. The river is of that fresh, chilly blue and grey-ish colour, and it is quite still, but not clear enough to reflect the life at shore in its waters. The street you can see in this picture is the one crossing over Ponte Luís I into Vila Nova de Gaia.
Later, in the afternoon, Julia and I cross that bridge to set foot on the other side. It is strange to think that we we are in another city. But then, and don’t I know it, sometimes bridges connect countries, even continents, why wouldn’t they plainly connect two cities. The view onto Porto is gorgeous and much more romantic and charming than the one onto the more modern Vila Nova de Gaia.
Crossing back into Porto over the bridge, there are bridges to see in every direction. But the most majestic view is still the view onto Ponte Luís I from the streets of Ribeira.
Porto offers amazing views on every corner – and they are all the more impressive in contrast to the secluded little alleyways where the houses seem to be closing ranks above your head. You leave one of those shady little streets only to find yourself out in the open, with the wide, blue sky above you and beauty abounds all around you. Always having to walk up hills is exhausting, yes – but totally worth it for the views you find.
Have you been to Porto? Did you notice a beautiful view anywhere that I have missed? What’s the most exquisite view you have come across during your travels?