Tag: Featured

4 days in Porto, Portugal

Porto, I have now made such good memories with you. I absolutely loved the city and I came home, after 4 days, with wonderful memories and I can honestly say that it was one of my most memorable trips ever. Ok, maybe I say that about all my holidays but Porto, you hold a special place in my heart.

Check the links in red at the end of this to see the amazing street art.

To recap, I went to Porto for a friend’s 40th Birthday. Prior to that, I have to honestly say that I had never heard of Porto before. Now all I talk about is Porto. When choosing a destination, I was disappointed at the choice but the birthday girl chose it as it was a full of culture and history.

To my delight, I recently found a portuguese restaurant in Essex, family owned business and I even got to introduce port wine to my friend, who does not like wine, but now loves port wine.

I stayed at Crowne Plaza Hotel, which is about 20 mins by bus to the old town, which is the main area for the touristic places. I had a Porto travelcard, bought at the airport , which allowed me to use the bus and trains as much as I needed which was very convenient and a good value for money.

I got to the hotel by taking a train from the airport, and once I reached the destination I had to walk about 20 minutes to the hotel. That was why I took the bus for the next few days as the bus stop was just outside the hotel, therefore less to walk.

The people were generally very friendly and helpful. The ones that spoke English were the young ones mainly and they all helped with directions.

The hotel is not in a touristic part, therefore not many people spoke English. American tourists even came to us to ask for directions and help with the bus routes as they heard us speak English. We had communication trouble in a few restaurants, where they could not speak English or French, so we had to google translate everything we wanted to say. Very amusing situations. Now I know how to say butter, chicken, drink and so on in Portuguese.

At one point, we took a taxi, and the driver did not speak English, although he was eager to learn, and he learnt a few words from us. We ended up communicating with him via the concierge at the hotel.

Last holiday, I went to Algarve in Portugal and I did not struggle with communication there as 95% of the staff spoke French, so I was in my element.

What is special about Porto?

  • The River Douro

The river is one of the major ones of the Iberian Peninsula, starting near Soria Province,  flowing through Spain and Porto before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It has been said that it is one of Europe’s most photogenic river.
I could not agree more.
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  • The food

Bacalhau is a must. It is the portuguese word for codfish and there are so many ways to prepare it ( grilling, boiling and baking ) so there are a lot of different bacalhau dishes to try.
Francesinha – This is a twist on a classic french sandwich, filled with meats, covered in cheese and sauce.

Salted cod fish
Bacalhau Pasties
Grilled fish with potatoes
  • It’s street art

Every corner I turned, there was something to look at, be it a tiled building, or simply art on the walls.
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  • It’s downhill, uphill alleyways

  • Tiled buildings all over the place

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  • The port wine cellars

I learnt all about the making of port wine, visited the cellars and got to taste it too. IMG_0057IMG_0062

  • Bookstore – Lello Livraria

Harry Potter fans, this is where J.K Rowling got her inspiration for her book. The setting of the library is similar to the setting of Hogwarts. It is also often said that Lello Livrairie is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

It is the bridge I needed to cross, to go from the old town to the port wine cellars. It is a double deck metal bridge, similar style to Eiffel Tower, since it was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel himself. I love bridges and this one is impressive as it is used for both pedestrians and the metro.

  • Porto’s Old Tram

Another way to see the town is by taking the tram which has 3 regular routes. Two pass through the town while one goes along the river Douro.

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Tram
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View from tram
  • Sao Bento Station

One beautiful station. I would happily wait there for my train everyday and gaze at the art work.

Cathedrals and churches

There a lot of churches and cathedrals in Porto, some free and some with an entrance fee. The ones I visited were Palacio da Bolsa, Igreja de San Francisco, Igreja dos Carmelitas and Church of Sao Pedro dos Clerigos.

I even got to see a wedding, well guests of the wedding and a blushing bride.

So these were a few things that I did. There was also free walking tours around the town, which had to be booked in advance. Everywhere I went, I saw walking tours and I did wish I had booked one.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who approach tourists and ask for money. Some of them would spin stories about their sick child, and that it would be really helpful if we could spare a few euros and then you would overhear them spinning a completely different story to another tourist about how they lost their wallet.
It did get uncomfortable at times, to be approached by such people who would follow you around.
Below are some links to places I visited and things I did, in more details or in photos.

Porto Portugal Guide

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Bucket List

I have never made a Bucket List because I know there are things I want to do that I will never be able to do. So I have always been scared to write them down, as it will make it feel like a failure if I don’t ever manage to do them. Pessimist much !!
I also change my mind about what is really important, in terms of what I want to do first.
Oh what the heck, enough of overthinking
I am at a stage right now, where all my days are passing by, hours and days are rolling into one. I am living in a state of constant fluster, hurry and agitation, without a clear plan and objectives. Hence, all the days rolling into one. I am not achieving much, I want to do many things but I do not take action. I procrastinate and procrastinate and end up never doing anything.
So I have decided to take the plunge and try this bucket list out and see if I achieve anything.
No pressure. It does not matter if I do not achieve them. It is just a plan, to guide me, to help me plan my days a bit better.
Note : I have a feeling that my wishes are from one extreme to another, from simple to extravagant.

  1. Swim with dolphins, nah, I am only kidding. Actually maybe yes, I would like to do that one day….one day….

 
Anyway let’s start again. On a more serious note ( thinking cap on )

  1. Go on a solo trip
  2. Camp in my back garden in Summer and gaze at the stars ( I have wanted to do this for the last 5 years and failed )
  3. Get fit, be fit
  4. Visit Paris
  5. Go on a cruise
  6. Go to France 
  7. See the Northern Lights
  8. Visit Wales
  9. Have a blog and be consistent with it
  10. Fly in a hot air balloon
  11. Volunteer and make a difference in someone’s life
  12. Create my dream home
  13. Eat healthier and teach the children to eat healthily
  14. Learn how to take photos of the stars
  15. Have a picnic
  16. Sponsor a child in need
  17. Run a Marathon
  18. Take better care of myself
  19. Say No more often (thus not putting myself in situations that will only hurt me )
  20. Have a very good relationship with my children
  21. Take a photo a day
  22. Visit Devon
  23. Walk everyday for 30-60 minutes.

I will leave it at 23 things for now, as I am really racking my brain for what I would like to do, to achieve.
I am certain I would like to do a lot more things, and sometimes, they are really small things, so small that I can’t think of them at the moment.
Have you got a bucket list? Does it work for you? I would love to hear from you.

Bucket List ∗ a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime

 

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A photo A Day

A photo of What I did today/What I saw today
April 2018

 

March 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

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31/01/2018 31/365

My Garden/Snow

Last week, I put on my wellies and ventured out to my garden and took some amazing photos of the snow.  I say, ventured to my back garden because I simply do not go out there in Winter. In Summer, it is a different matter. I spend all my day until nightime out there, from breakfast, to working, to spending time with the children, up till late after dinner. Once the children are in bed, the hubby and I sit, wrapped up in blankets, on the swing and a fire pit next to us, when it is a bit cool.
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I cannot believe I have not been to my own back garden, let alone, open the back doors even since November/December last year.
I would still not have stepped out until spring, until some sun comes out, until it looks tempting to venture out, if not for the snow and my passion for photography.
I am now waiting impatiently for the next cycle of Life, Spring.

Cuddle Fairy