So with flights and hotels booked we headed off on Wednesday morning before the Easter weekend to a city we practically knew nothing about. It was Johana's first time in Portugal while I already had Lisbon, the capital, on my list
. We used Porto's excellent Metro system to reach the hotel in no time (well, it took us about 45 minutes), and then we went off exploring for the next few days. Most of the time we spent wandering around the narrow and somewhat steep streets in Porto's historical center (another UNESCO World Heritage Site) as well as down by River Douro with all its restaurants and photogenic bridges. We found a beautiful city with lots of potential, people to be very friendly, quite a few tourists (mainly Spanish), very good food (although not as cheap as we expected) and sweet Port vine of course. One day we took the Metro out to the Matosinhos beach and walked all the way back to the city. It took us the whole day, but that was mainly due to all the beer stops we had in the sun on the way back to the city center.
On our way back to the airport on Saturday afternoon we both decided that we really liked Porto, and would definitively recommend the place for a weekend break. Our biggest surprise however was the amount of abandoned houses and nearly collapsing buildings in the historical center. Many of the houses with the best location and river views in the whole city was practically ruins or "small sheds". It was all very much part of the charm, but I think parts of the city could do with a tiny makeover.
With all the low cost airlines currently competing around Europe, I am sure that I am not the only one out there who not just book vacation flights based on the "I really want to go there" principle. These days you may instead for example make a list of all the low cost airlines with a hub in your city, and then go through their destination to see if you can find a cheap flight to a somewhat interesting city during those precious days you got off work. So when Johana and I found return flights with Ryanair from Madrid to Portugal's second city Porto for two Euro Cents per head, I guess there was no question about where we would head this Easter.