Monday, May 12, 2014

Our Portuguese Mini-Moon Road Trip; Part One

It's official, the German and I are married! It's been just over 2 weeks since our big day, and I am still buzzing from our wedding trip. It truly was the best week of our lives, and everything turned out better than we ever expected! We are still waiting on pictures from our photographer, and I do plan to write a wedding blog when those pics have arrived. Until then, I hope you enjoy part one of our Mini-Moon to Portugal. The reason we are calling this trip our Mini-Moon is we are planning our once in a lifetime 2 week honeymoon to South Africa (via Dubai) this November. We wanted to time that trip right with the seasons in the souther hemisphere, and are already in the planning process. However, we did decide we would need a break after the wedding finished, so Christian and I flew back to Edinburgh via Portugal for a quick 6 day trip.

Making the decision to take a week off after the wedding was the best decision. The wedding really took a lot out of us emotionally and physically, and I was feeling very run down when we left the airport two days after our big day. Goodbyes with my family and friends are always hard, but we luckily didn't have to travel alone as Christian's family was on the plane back to Europe with us. We flew via Frankfurt, had a 5 our layover, and 20 hours later (after leaving my parents house) we arrived at our hotel in down town Porto.  

I had visited the southern region of Portugal  on my birthday a few years ago and absolutely loved the country. I had always been keen to explore more, and since Christian had never been to Portugal along with  knowing the weather would be warm and it still being "off season" we thought it was a perfect option for us.  Porto is a very colorful, old city located right on the Douro Rover and is the second largest city in Portugal. It is famous for Port Wine, hence the name. When we arrived at our hotel, we were totally exhausted from the journey. To our surprise, the hotel had given us a complimentary upgrade to the honeymoon suite. We had our own private balcony  and a room twice the size we had booked! The hotel staff were so friendly and accommodating, I would recommend it for anyone visiting the city. 

My family loves to collect all types of things from jukeboxes to old cars. One of my favorite parts of our hotel in Porto were all of the little antiques they had scattered throughout the building. Christian enjoyed his own bumper car and I had my mini convertible.

After getting some much needed sleep, we decided to wander around the city and explore Porto on foot. The city really was pretty quiet for the first week of May which made it really nice to site-see.

One of the places we were told to stop and visit is an old book shop Livraria Lello & Irmão.The design of the staircase and interior were really amazing. Side note: you can only take pics from 10am-11am in the morning so if you want to capture the moment make sure to stop here during this time. I snagged these two shots below from the website to give you an idea of what the place looked like inside.

I love all the old cars and scooters that are around the city. I have a 2006 blue vespa back in the USA, and when I saw this vintage one with white-wall tires I had to snap a shot!  I really couldn't believe how great of condition the vehicles were in, especially for mostly being kept outside all of the time.
 One of our favortie parts about Portugal was the food and wine. There are tons of little bakeries and sandwich shops all around Porto. 
All of the architecture is so neat to look at, especially the buildings with tile. I learned that tile is used due to the weather and humidity as it is a great way to keep buildings cool in the summer. 
Even the train station had detailed tile.

 We also went to a famous restaurant in Porto called Cafe Majestic. It is connected to the 20's as this was a local meeting place for politicians, writers, and intellectuals to meet up. It really had a Parisan feel when inside. 

 Christian and I enjoying the views of Porto

Porto, being almost 900 years old, has many small meandering streets to wander around. It is also quite hilly so bring a good pair of walking shoes!  

 As you can imagine, not only were we exhausted from the wedding week, but we were jet-lagged. We didn't want to miss out of seeing the city, so we opted for a cable tram tour when we couldn't walk any more. I really loved the old trams when I visited Lisbon, so I was quite eager to ride around Porto as well. It really gives you a different perspective on a city and with the three lines in Porto we got a great overview of all the different neighbourhoods. 

We had a fun time snapping photos on the cable trams.

One of the tram lines went all the way out to the beach along the river. I loved how colorful all the buildings were in the city.  Below are more pics of the tram ride to the sea.

We finally made it to the beach after around 30 minutes on the tram. The weather was perfect so we opted for lunch and a bit of R & R. 

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem! 

 After relaxing we headed back towards the city and got some more great views of the city from a different tram line.

For dinner we decided to stroll along the river to try and get some cool night pics of the bridge and buildings. 
 From what we were told my a few waiters, the Portuguese don't really go for dinner until later (after 8pm) so we really felt like we had the city to ourselves a lot of the time!

Christian and I also had never really tasted Port wines, we we opted for a wine tasting at the river after dinner.We couldn't go to Porto without having a Port wine tasting. We learned Port wines are more of an after dinner wine you sip with dessert. Honestly, they were a bit strong for me but I was really glad to have tried the different types while in the city.
 Views from our Port wine tasting


We spent two nights in Porto and then headed to the next stop on our mini-moon road trip, Nazaré. We knew we wanted to do part of our time at the beach and part of our time exploring cities, so we picked this spot as a half way marker between Porto and Lisbon. Christian had always wanted to visit Nazare as it is world famous for the biggest wave ever surfed, 78 feet (23.8 m). It took us less than 2 hours in the car to arrive at the beach. It really was breathtaking with picturesque views everywhere.
 The beach had waves, but they are only at their peak in the winter months. None the less it was great to walk along the beach and catch some rays.

We drove up to Sitio, which is an old village on top of a cliff. We explored the square and old church (with more beautiful blue tile). 

 The views of the beach were also breathtaking! Although I didn't want to get too close to the edge.
 Long way down!

 Climbing around the rocks and cliffs
  The beach was so beautiful! The pictures below really speak for themselves.

 Boulders on the beach...

Selfie from our hotel balcony

Old fishing boats on the beach
 The town really had cute and colorful buildings. I love how vibrant Portugal felt.

 The largest wave surfed happened just past the point of this cliff.

We spent just one night at this stop which was a perfect amount of time to see the highlights of the town.  After Nazare we headed South again towards Sintra and from there on to Lisbon. Part two will be posted later this week! 

Until then, we will see you on the internet.

1 comment:

  1. So glad y'all had a great time! Can't wait to hear about your big honeymoon!