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Day 2: Porto

We had quite a lie in this morning after our early start the day before. Once we were up, Tim went out to see what Portuguese bakeries had to offer in the way of breakfast, coming back with some delicious pastries. Before we left the apartment to explore more of Porto, I did something I hadn't done yesterday and opened the window to see the view from our balcony.  It was really beautiful :)


After that, we set out on some more of Porto's hilly streets.


Our first destination was the Torre dos Clérigos, the enormous bell tower of one of Porto's churches.


The guidebook said that there were only 200 steps to the top, but it looked very high to me! We went inside and found that, rather bizarrely, it was more expensive to buy a ticket just to go up the tower than it was to buy a ticket to go around the museum inside and then up the tower, so we unexpectedly found ourselves going around a religious exhibition first. It was actually quite cool because we were following a route around the edge of the church, with various windows where we could look into the interior.


We were already quite high though, so in places the views were quite vertigo-inducing!


Once we had walked around the edge of the church and through a few rooms of statues, we were finally able to join a queue to go up the staircase of the tower. It seems like they must limit the number of people who are allowed up at any given time, because there was a man standing at the base of the staircase who was only letting new people up once existing people had gone down. Once we started climbing we could see why; it was very steep!

Eventually we got to the top and we could see for mile across Porto.


As we walked around the edge of the tower, we had a good view of Porto's cathedral, which we were planning to visit later in the day.


Once we were safely down on the ground again we could see just how high we had been (the balcony just above the clock).


We'd already done quite a lot of uphill for one day, so we decided to try and find a flatter route through Porto's streets.


We soon arrived in Praça da Liberdade, Porto's main square.


The big statue in the middle of the square is of a Portuguese king, 


We walked up to the top of the square...


...where we found Porto's city hall.


We also found this pretty church. It's hard to see on the photograph, but some of the walls were covered in little blue tiles :)


We'd been walking in this direction because I wanted to go to São Bento Railway Station, the main train station in the centre of Porto. Unusually, I didn't want to go to the station to catch a train or even to buy a ticket, but rather to admire the beautiful tiles which I'd read that the interior of the station was decorated with.


It didn't disappoint - I've never been in a station quite like this :)


The tiled pictures on the wall are depicting important scenes from Portuguese history. Unfortunately we didn't know enough about Portuguese history to understand what they were.


My favourite tiles were actually not the historical ones, but these pretty little ones depicting a train :)


After the station, we made our way slightly uphill to the cathedral. It's quite an imposing building, which looks more like a castle than a church as you approach it.


From the courtyard in front of the cathedral we had some amazing views out across the rest of Porto...


including towards the tower that we had climbed earlier in the morning.


From the opposite side, the cathedral did look more like a conventional church :)


As we walked round the far corner of it, we began to get a view out across the river.


We had the impression that the entrance to the upper level of the big bridge across the river was around here somewhere, and eventually we found it.


By this stage we were getting pretty hungry though, so we decided to leave crossing the bridge until after lunch and descend back into the town in search of food.


As we walked back along the main streets, I had to keep stopping and taking pictures of the beautiful tiled buildings. Like this one...


...and this one.


Soon we were back down at the colourful riverside :)


We strolled along for a while, admiring all the buildings.


And the views of the bridge.


Then it was time to search for a restaurant that wasn't just serving fish. That took a while!


Eventually we found a tiny little place on a side street which was advertising meat on its menu. We went to sit inside and found we had a great view of the chef cooking everyone's meals in the kitchen. We both ordered steak and were amazed to see the chef take what looked like half a cow out of the fridge, hack some slices off it and put them in pan. When the food came, it was some of the nicest steak we'd ever had in our lives :)


We went back to the apartment for a brief rest after lunch, before setting off towards the bridge. On the way, we unexpectedly found this beautiful church a few streets away from our apartment.


Eventually we got to the top of the bridge. I was worried that it was going to be scary to walk across because it's so high, but when you're at the top it actually doesn't feel that high at all. Trams run down the middle of the bridge, and people can walk on either side.


As we started walking across the bridge, the first amazing view we had was of this purple-flowered creeper, which seemed to be completely taking over the hillside.


As we got further across the bridge, we had views of the river...


...then views of the colourful houses along the waterfront...


...and finally, views of the cathedral towers, right at the top of the hill.


Once we were on the opposite side of the river, we were in a place called Vila Nova de Gaia, which used to be a separate town, but which is now part of Porto. We were able to stroll along the waterfront there, for more views back across to where we had been earlier in the day :)


The historic port cellars are on this side of the river, and we were able to see some of the wooden boats which used to be used to transport barrels of port along the river.


We also found a truly enormous Portuguese flag, which we'd seen yesterday from the opposite side of the river.


Then it was time to go back across the bridge. We went along the lower deck this time to spare ourselves the long climb up.


Once on the other side we walked along the riverfront once more and then back to our apartment.


We've had a wonderful couple of days in Porto and would definitely come again. Tomorrow we're off to Coimbra; I hope it's as nice as it is here :) (and that Coimbra has faster wi-fi, as it's taken a very long time to upload the pictures for this blog!!)


Edited by Clare

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