Hills, heights, hills, help

Porto, Portugal

We spent an hour driving from Luso to Porto, the country’s second largest city, and then about the same amount of time desperately trying to follow Google Map’s complicated directions down narrow one-way European streets. Finally, we found Eurostars Das Artes, parked the car, checked in and set out to explore the city.

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The last few days have brought unseasonably warm weather to Portugal, which sounds great — until you realize that Porto is built on one giant hill. We started by climbing the Torre dos Clerigos, a 225-foot tall tower (tallest in Portugal) designed by Italian Nicolau Nasoni in the mid 1700s. From its top, we took in the sweeping views of the city and the Rio Douro before Charlotte had a minor panic attack and we quickly descended.

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After a pricy burger at the city’s best café, Majestic, and some window shopping along the pedestrian drag, we stopped at the Sao Bento Train Station, completed in 1903 and showcasing some 20,000 painted azueljos of historic scenes.

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Nearing the river, we passed the former stock exchange and made our way into the Ribeira district, a zone of winding lanes, tiled churches and cobble-stoned streets lining the riverfront.

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A beer was needed before tackling the climb back uphill to the hotel, towing shopping bags from C&A (second favorite European department store after Corte Inglés). Back at Eurostars, we searched for a truly local haunt for dinner and found a small outdoor café. Nearby, two women were wolfing down the day’s special, which without really knowing what it was, we ordered.

How about a puff pastry encased hotdog covered with cheese and special sauce?

Yeah, it hit the spot.

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