Porto Day 3

First, a big hello to Kathy, Danny’s mother, who has been reading the blog and I’ve been shouting ‘HELLO’ to from the background most mornings while Danny is on the phone. Looking forward to meeting you again when we get to Ireland!

After staying up until 1am watching Ted Lasso (using our holiday time wisely, I know) we decided to have a lie in. Our only planned activity of the day wasn’t until 12:30.

To get across to the port house side of the river we walked down, down, down to the water level and crossed the lower level of Porto’s iconic bridge.

This was our first proper trip over to this side and it provided an excellent view of the side we were staying on. Hills might be an effort to navigate but hilly cities are much more scenic.

If we had thought the other side of the city was busy, this side was heaving – and on a Monday.

We had booked an Airbnb port and cheese experience but we were a bit early so we went for a wander. We saw a famous rabbit.

And a tower painted all around with beautiful flowers.

I had booked the port and cheese tasting experience at a port house called Quevedo, through Airbnb experiences. It was only $30 and came with a talk on port and the history of the port house.

I am 90% certain that it was one of the same port houses luke and I visited last time we were here but the cheese was a nice addition and I got to refresh my knowledge of port.

We both agreed the white port was our favourite. I don’t think it’s available to Australia but I might try bringing some home from the uk.

For the rest of the afternoon we wandered around and sat a few different places. The first did a port and chocolate pairing.

The chocolates were excellent and locally produced.

After all the chocolate and cheese what I obviously needed was a large lunch. We found an Italian restaurant in a nice laneway and I ordered carbonara and Danny had pizza. But first they brought out tiny perfect little garlic breads.

Obviously we needed a litre of sangria too.

It was an absolutely stunning carbonara, served in a bowl that was lava-hot, but I realised halfway through that I had severely overestimated my capacity. I ate it all and refused to learn any kind of lesson from my experience.

Cafe view.

One thing Danny observed as we sat there was that not a single table in Spain or Portugal had been the slightest bit wobbly. At home about half of tables require extensive chocking with coasters or wadded-up serviettes, yet here they seem to have no problem setting up a table on a cobblestone street with a 20 degree slope.

We had a drink on the waterfront and listened to a busker for a while, then caught the cable car up to the top of the hill.

We went back to a little bar we had visited two nights previously. It was by a bus stop and looked like the kind of place frequented by locals. Six drinks and a bowl of chips were 24 euros – and the gin and tonics here are at least double the size of ones at home.

One the way home we crossed the top of the bridge and managed to be right on time for an absolutely spectacular sunset.

It was a popular spot.

After an afternoon of drinking and an early morning start, I went to bed early and made the most of our last night in our lovely apartment.

Porto, Day 1

We had to be up and out by 7:30 to walk to the train station for our trip to Porto via Vigo. As I’d been woken at 5am by people literally screaming and shouting on their way home from nightclubs (don’t book central locations on weekends, friends), I was pretty much packed and the apartment was tidy before Danny’s alarm went off. He has wisely chosen a bedroom at the rear of the apartment.

The train to Vigo was only 20 minutes then we had half an hour to get across town to a different station for Porto.

Seemed like a brand new station, kind of like Melbourne Central but empty.

A lady on the Camino had said Vigo wasn’t worth a visit but what we saw was nice enough.

No time for breakfast so it was lucky we’d stowed some biscuits and fruit in our bags. The views from the train were very misty and everything looked very green. I always think of the Iberian peninsula as dry and hot but it’s definitely not all like that, particularly in the north and by the coast.

The train from Vigo to Porto was about 2.5 hours and our clocks changed as Portugal is on the same time as the UK.

Our carriage was full of pilgrims and this is a terrible photo of their backpacks.

As we left the station there was a charming sight!

Beetle parade!

We arrived in Porto quite hungry so we had to tick this off our Porto bingo sheet:

I did actually make a Porto bingo sheet.

Egg/custard tart: done!

We dropped our bag off at our accommodation then it was time to revisit one of the best foods Luke and I had on our last trip: roast pork rolls and green wine!

They had revamped since the last time and added some menu items but it was still amazing food.

Ice filled cooler bag covers for wine bottles – brilliant.

I’m sorry to say that the first thing I did was video call luke to tell him where I was.

It was warming up. The next logical step was…

We had a wander through town and listened to some street performers, took some photos of the views and then went to look for a bar.

We specifically wanted the smallest bar in Porto.

It was very, very small.
Drinks were regular sized, thankfully.

I was tired so we went back to the apartment and I slept from 5pm to 7pm. By the way, Danny tells me it’s bizarre that I don’t have my watch face showing 24 hour time, he thinks 12 hour time is for babies. Except when talking about time out loud. I don’t get it.

We wandered around in the evening and found a restaurant that was nice.

I had prawn linguine and Danny had a local dish, kind of a croque monsieur but with gravy.

Not altogether appealing in appearance.

It gradually dawned on us that the service would’ve been a lot better if at least one of us had been a teenage girl – the waiter was talking to every table of girls for ages and barely spoke to us. Eventually I had to interrupt him flirting right behind us just to get the bill.

We then wandered through the streets.

Across one of the big bridges.


Had a drink at a bar then brought some wine home to watch a bit more Ted Lasso. We’ve got a few things lined up to do tomorrow but I’m looking forward to lying in!

Three Plays, and High Tea On A London Bus

While in London Jess, Luke and I stayed at a flat in Camden that was in an excellent location for two reasons: first, it was only a block away from Camden tube station and second, because it had a huge glass window that overlooked a narrow street where van played dodgem cars – literally ramming each other to make parking spaces. As we watched I couldn’t help thinking how much my dad would enjoy sitting 5ere and watching the mayhem play out below.

The apartment, like all AirBnb places under a certain price, had its oddities. Like 18 halogen downlights in the small lounge/kitchen space and a bathroom fan switch that was so high up it almost touched the ceiling. Weird.

While in London we did a bunch of things! Here they are in a roughly chronological list.

The Play That Goes Wrong

Andrew and Lila came down from Cambridge with us and we bought them tickets as a thank you present for letting us use their house as a backpackers hostel.

We had seen a bit of the play on YouTube and it didn’t disappoint live. Much hilarity, both slapstick and more clever humour. Well worth the ticket price.

High Tea On A London Routemaster Bus

My friend Lorraine and her daughter Rosie were in London at the same time as us so Jess and I joined them for a lovely afternoon tea on a bus!

We arrived a little early and had a chat to the bus driver who was a proper cockney.

I booked an upstairs table and we had a lovely time! They catered for vegetarian and gluten intolerances (Jess and Lorraine) and the food was good!

After we’d eaten the food pictured above the scones were brought out and these were the first warm scones we’d been served in all our UK afternoon tea experiences. We were very pleased!

I will admit that we didn’t pay all that much attention to the commentary and the only thing I really remember is passing the ship front from the movie Kingsman.

Not a cheap experience, at £45 each but worth it for the special treat.

Cereal Killer Cafe

Jess’ friend Erin joined us for the next few days and we all made an early trip to Cereal Killer cafe to see what the fuss was about.

Although not all he ones pictured above were for sale. I had Oreo and a peanut butter cereal mixed together. It was delicious but tasted more like dessert than breakfast. There was literally nothing healthy on the menu.

The decor was neat – very 90s bedroom chic.

A Comedy About A Bank Robbery

At the end of the first play we saw they announced that the same production company was putting on another play in the West End so we went to see that too.

This time it was just Luke and I – Erin and Jess went to see The Lion King – and we LOVED it. It was funny and clever and they set design was fantastic. Go see it if you get a chance! We bought tickets on the day and still managed really good seats. The theatre itself was beautiful- like a wedding cake turned inside out.

My photo doesn’t really do it justice.

The Importance of Being Ernest

We saw this production on our last day and it wasn’t bad. I’ve seen it before many years ago and I like all the Oscar Wilde I’ve read but I wasn’t thrilled by this interpretation. It felt rushed and the two male leads seemed to be shouting most of the way through.


We all did quite a lot of walking around Camden. We looked at street art.

And I went with Jess and Erin super early to take a photo at… well, you can guess where.

On our last day Luke and I took a walk around Hampstead Heath and looked at all the dogs. I’ve tried to go to HH a number of times previously but my hay fever has always flared up. Autumn was definitely in the air this time so I was safe.

Our last meal in London was a return to Five Guys, a burger chain Luke’s Aunt Sue had recommended. We enjoyed it a lot more this time as we’d been able to read the menu, unlike our attempt in France;-).

Also Oreo shakes are amazing!

So that ends the European part of this trip! We packed our bags and boarded our Thai Airways flight for Bangkok. I spent most of my awake hours on the flight thinking about how I could manage to come back next year to do more hiking in the north of England. We’ll see!

Last Day In Paris

On our last day we didn’t do much at all. It was the hottest day of our stay and also a Sunday, which meant that half the shops weren’t open. I decided the first thing we had to do was eat chocolate eclairs. I hadn’t had one in years so we went to three different bakeries and tried one from each.

They might look identical but they were (slightly) different. All were excellent!

Then we spent half the day being real locals – we sat in a cafe eating french food and drinking. Aperol Spritz for me and beer for Luke.

Lovely! Well, except for the wasps. Wasps everywhere in Europe right now! Everywhere we’ve been the pleasure of sitting outside and inhaling other people’s cigarette smoke has been mitigated by wasps trying to get into our drinks and food.

After this exceptionally lazy day we packed our bags, ready to head for Colmar via Strasbourg.

A few last examples of Paris street art. For those who like this sort of thing I have to note that stencils seem to be hugely popular here. Maybe they’re quicker to put up?

England: Friends and Family

On our way back from the south west we stopped for a night with Jen and Rob in Bristol. Jen had told me that Bristol is considered by some to be quite like Melbourne, and I could certainly see the similarities. There’s lots of (good quality) graffiti and there seemed to be strong and varied cultural scene. More people with dreadlocks and op shop clothing than I’ve seen in a long time. Jen took us for a walk to a green hill very close to her house, from which we enjoyed and excellent view of the city at sunset. Then we walked through a huge area of allotments that reminded me of CERES and a community farm just like Collingwood! I think if I was to come back to stay for a while Bristol would certainly be somewhere I’d consider.

Somewhat surreal.

We had a couple of drinks at a pub before heading to Thali Indian restaurant. I wish I’d taken some photos of the interior, it was an astoundingly bright mix of blue, teal and dark pink. Completely different to any other Indian restaurant I’ve seen and full of character. The food was fantastic too. Luke and I are already moaning about missing the food in the UK and we haven’t even left yet.

Afterwards we went to see a really funky band, then ended the night at Jen and Rob’s, laughing at Rob doing the Birmingham accent and chatting into the wee hours.

We left the next afternoon, much later than I anticipated and got stuck in horrendous 4pm Friday traffic. I swear I’ll never complain about Australian traffic again. You really have to think about what time you’re planning on being on the road here – we spent over half an hour crawling along at virtually walking pace. Still, it was worth it for the huge English breakfast we had at a cafe near Jen’s.

Bristol – we’ll be back one day!

On the subject of Jen, I completely forgot to write about going to Birmingham a short while back to see her play her cello with a band. It was only a short set (or maybe it just felt short?) but the music was lovely and it was the first chance I’d had to meet her partner Rob.

Jen on stage.

Before the gig Luke and I had lunch with an old friend, Liz – my friend Sarah’s mother, who conveniently lives in Wolverhampton, not far from Birmingham. We met up at her house then went to a pub for a roast lunch. The food was great and it was lovely to catch up and hear Liz’s plans for visiting Sarah (who lives in Melbourne) for a few months around the time Sarah’s baby is due. While we’ve been overseas it seems like half the 30-something people in Melbourne have had babies or are about to. It’s weird to think that a few weren’t even contemplating children when I left and when I get back they’ll have babies in their lives. I’m looking forward to meeting all these brand new people :-).

One day I’m going to learn, for once and for all, that it’s always worth getting my good camera out to take photos. Was great to see you, Liz!