Porto, Portugal

After a few non-stop weeks of work and a looming big birthday, I knew I needed some time away from LA to re-coop, redefine and reconfigure everything I had been doing.  In all honesty, I had been so busy, I hadn't had a chance to work on the three things that I had sworn would be my main focus for the year.  So off I went to Porto, a town that my mother swore was her most favorite place to visit in the world.  Well, we all know how big the world is...but I have a lot of faith in my mother's tastes...so here I am.  And I'm so grateful I stopped by, Porto is truly lovely.  And you must know, that I say that after a week of 80% rain, so there was barely any amazing weather, and yet even with the rain and bone-chilling cold, I persisted and fell in love with this gothic city.  Which got me thinking, why is it so much easier to fall in love with a city, and so difficult to fall in love with a man?  Perhaps, if the man offered me the perfect combination of gorgeous viewpoints, history, mystery, fun and delicious food.  So, I guess I should be asking, why can't the men I date be more like Porto?? 

A view of the ancient city of Porto and the Dom Luis I bridge from the Gaia side (where they make all of the port, see the long roofs?  Those are port distilleries.)

A view of the ancient city of Porto and the Dom Luis I bridge from the Gaia side (where they make all of the port, see the long roofs?  Those are port distilleries.)

A week in Porto and I'm dreaming of brightly covered tiled homes.  How pretty are these apartments?  And I should mention, they are in a not so great part of town...look at what a little tile can do.

A week in Porto and I'm dreaming of brightly covered tiled homes.  How pretty are these apartments?  And I should mention, they are in a not so great part of town...look at what a little tile can do.

Pretty tiles are everywhere, but I especially love the blue and white tile scenes found on some of the churches.

Pretty tiles are everywhere, but I especially love the blue and white tile scenes found on some of the churches.

A view of a fish seller at the Mercado Bolhao.  The market has been around for ages, but recently has fallen on bad economic times.  The city is coming in to renovate the building and many of the shopkeepers will be moving to a shopping mall during construction.  In a few years, a new market will be opening.  I have a special love for old school markets, and am a bit sad to hear they will be going away.  But for health purposes, I suppose it is for the best.  And as a random aside, this particular fish seller was featured in Anthony Bourdain's, "Parts Unknown" episode of Portugal, and he will be revisiting her again this season.

A view of a fish seller at the Mercado Bolhao.  The market has been around for ages, but recently has fallen on bad economic times.  The city is coming in to renovate the building and many of the shopkeepers will be moving to a shopping mall during construction.  In a few years, a new market will be opening.  I have a special love for old school markets, and am a bit sad to hear they will be going away.  But for health purposes, I suppose it is for the best.  And as a random aside, this particular fish seller was featured in Anthony Bourdain's, "Parts Unknown" episode of Portugal, and he will be revisiting her again this season.

The Port Distillery Cellar of Ramos Pinto.  

The Port Distillery Cellar of Ramos Pinto.  

The famous  Livlaria Lello  where legend has it, JK Rowling came up with two ideas for her book 1) 9 3/4 train track at King's Cross in Harry Potter.  The bookstore is gorgeous and leaves one practically speechless.  But the part that supposedly inspired Ms. Rowling is the fact that there are tracks that run through the store, and a book cart at the end of the track that leads to nowhere.  2) The staircase at Hogswort's, you must see it for yourself, because it's too hard to properly explain.  Let's just say, the staircase looks like it may move at any moment and take you to a different location.

The famous Livlaria Lello where legend has it, JK Rowling came up with two ideas for her book 1) 9 3/4 train track at King's Cross in Harry Potter.  The bookstore is gorgeous and leaves one practically speechless.  But the part that supposedly inspired Ms. Rowling is the fact that there are tracks that run through the store, and a book cart at the end of the track that leads to nowhere.  2) The staircase at Hogswort's, you must see it for yourself, because it's too hard to properly explain.  Let's just say, the staircase looks like it may move at any moment and take you to a different location.

My favorite part of traveling is making new friends.  And this trip was no exception.  I met Jill from Paris (left) on a Taste of Porto tour, where we tried some of the most delicious offerings of the city over the course of a 3 mile walk around town.  And Anna from Hamburg (center) was introduced to us at Ramos Pinto Port Tasting Room.  She had sat next to us and asked for a photo.  We invited her to join us for another round of Tastings at Croft's Port Distillery...and so a friendship was born.  The three of us, spent a few days wandering the city together, meeting up for meals and sights.  I couldn't have asked for two lovelier ladies.  I'm so glad I met them, and since they both left a day before me, I really missed them on my last day of wandering.  Its funny how like minded adventurers, can so easily fall into step with each other.  They were so easy to get along with, I felt like we had known each other for ages and not just a few days.

My favorite part of traveling is making new friends.  And this trip was no exception.  I met Jill from Paris (left) on a Taste of Porto tour, where we tried some of the most delicious offerings of the city over the course of a 3 mile walk around town.  And Anna from Hamburg (center) was introduced to us at Ramos Pinto Port Tasting Room.  She had sat next to us and asked for a photo.  We invited her to join us for another round of Tastings at Croft's Port Distillery...and so a friendship was born.  The three of us, spent a few days wandering the city together, meeting up for meals and sights.  I couldn't have asked for two lovelier ladies.  I'm so glad I met them, and since they both left a day before me, I really missed them on my last day of wandering.  Its funny how like minded adventurers, can so easily fall into step with each other.  They were so easy to get along with, I felt like we had known each other for ages and not just a few days.

One of my last nights in Porto, I had a small adventure with my two new friends.  We had heard of decent place to listen to Fado in the outskirts of town, but the tram had stopped running to that part of town, so we had to find an alternative.  First we ended up at a tourists Fado dinner show, where the food was grossly overpriced and according to reviews, "not so great."  So we left and decided to just find a good meal at a restaurant that Anna's friends had suggested.  When we showed up there, they were overbooked, but suggested we try their sister restaurant upstairs.  Turns out their sister restaurant,  Talisman , had delicious food AND a Fado show...everything worked out, even better than we had planned.  And it was the perfect night out.  

One of my last nights in Porto, I had a small adventure with my two new friends.  We had heard of decent place to listen to Fado in the outskirts of town, but the tram had stopped running to that part of town, so we had to find an alternative.  First we ended up at a tourists Fado dinner show, where the food was grossly overpriced and according to reviews, "not so great."  So we left and decided to just find a good meal at a restaurant that Anna's friends had suggested.  When we showed up there, they were overbooked, but suggested we try their sister restaurant upstairs.  Turns out their sister restaurant, Talisman, had delicious food AND a Fado show...everything worked out, even better than we had planned.  And it was the perfect night out.