Braga · Porto · Portugal

Portugal Wanderlust: Braga & Porto

Dear K,

I’ve never had the chance to visit Toledo, but I got really excited about it after reading your letter. It looks like a cute little town with history and good food. Can’t say no to that!

It’s time to tell you about the last stops of my road trip with JP (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5). After leaving Gerês, we stopped in Braga on our way to Porto. We had lunch at Taberna Belga which is quite famous for its francesinhas. They were indeed delicious and the waiters were super friendly.

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Following this delicious meal, we headed to Bom Jesus. I had been there 8 years ago and I remembered how beautiful it was so I decided to go back and show it to JP. We had a great time despite the countless stairs we went up and down. Also, there’s a terrace bar next to the funicular with a stunning view over the city of Braga so that’s where we ended our tour. That cold beer was the cherry on top on such a hot day!

Later that day we arrived at Hotel Moov in the heart of Porto. We took a power nap and then met our Canadian friends for dinner and drinks at Dona Gertrudes. This place serves Portuguese traditional food and great wine! It is a family-owned business and the owner is ridiculously friendly. It is pricey for locals but it is faithful to the Portuguese roots and it has a gorgeous interior patio that turns a regular summer night into such a pleasant one. Our time there was really enjoyable and we even added a new acquaintance from the Netherlands to our group, who joined us for the remaining of the evening. We ended the night at Galerias Paris. We hopped on and off a few bars in that area, danced and then got back to the hotel.

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On the following day it was time to walk around downtown Porto. We started off with lunch at Casa Guedes where we tried the famous sandes de pernil com queijo da serra and fries. The line outside is always crazy but it is totally worth the wait! We then walked in Zona Ribeirinha (by Douro river) until we finally stopped at a restaurant-bar next to D. Luís I Bridge. We enjoyed the view and the warm weather over a cold beer.

Next it was time to cross the bridge and enjoy Dick’s Bar at the Yeatman Hotel. It’s a five-star hotel, absolutely astonishing on the inside and with a breathtaking view of Porto. I got to enjoy a glass of white wine, while JP picked one of the gins they offer. It was the perfect ending for our afternoon and the weather clearly helped with the mood.

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Our evening started at Café Santiago F. This restaurant and Café Santiago (a few doors down on the same street) belong to the same family and are one of locals’ favorite places to go eat francesinha. Everyone loved it! The portions are ridiculously big, so everyone was pretty full at the end of the meal.

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After dinner, we were in the mood for some live music, so the five of us headed to Hotfive Blues & Jazz Blues Club. It’s a dark place and the ventilation sucks, so it gets really hot and smokey from cigarettes. That part was quite annoying, but the show (tribute to Led Zeppelin) and the drinks were pretty good.

Sunday morning came and we knew the adventure was almost over. Before heading back to Lisbon, we drove to Foz to have lunch at Cafeína. It’s a high-end place and with it comes great service. I just hated the way they organize the dining room. They fill every table next to the previous one that was just occupied. In the beginning, there were about 5 tables occupied (all next to each other) and the remaining of the room was completely empty. In my opinion, it kills the ambiance and intimacy that a restaurant of this level should portray. It’s a shame, as the decoration is on point. In terms of food, we ordered escargots à la bourguignonne for appetizers, and steak wellington and flamed-grilled tiger prawn with flowered tagliolini for the main course. We also shared one of the pies with vanilla ice-cream for dessert. In general, the food was pretty good, but the WOW factor was just not there. The potential exists though, so I’m eager to go back and try it again.

And this was IT!!! The ending of a crazy and unforgettable eighteen-day road trip. JP described it as the best trip of his life despite all his crazy adventures around the globe. Therefore, I am quite happy with my planning skills ahahah =) I had a blast! Of course it also helps that he is a great travel buddy.

Can’t wait to see you on your birthday!

– C

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