by the sea

Porto, Portugal

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Cycle in, around and out

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I haven't cycled in a long time so getting on a bike in a foreign city felt so exhilarating, especially since we were only allowed to cycle on the roads and not the walkway; Big vehicles like trucks and vans on the road were an uncommon sight so that put us at ease. We sought help at a local bike shop who told us that there were a few routes you can take depending on what you wanted to do/see: Cycle east along the riverside until you reach Porto's beaches or crossing the Ponte Luiz bridge and cycling along Av. de Diogo Leitte in the same direction till you reach here (also, pictured below)

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Stop at: Taberna do Sao Pedro for post-cycle seafood lunch

What I'd kill for some good seafood in Europe that isn't going to break the bank. We were told to eat at this seafood restaurant that served really good (and fresh!) seafood for a decent price and so we decided to make a pit stop on our way back. Be prepared to wait for about an hour, though I promise you — It'll be worth it. 

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Don't miss walking across the Ponte Luiz Bridge

Take a train out of Porto to Braga — for 6 euros a person, we set out of Porto to Braga. The architecture was breathtaking and it is one of the oldest cities in Portugal. One of the landmarks we didn't get to see due to time constraints was the renowned Bom Jesus Do Monte, which is a pilgrimage site for many after it was built in 1722 (I know, ancient right?) and what makes it such a must-see place in Braga is its 116 meter high baroque stairway — see it for yourself here

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On a whim, we booked three tickets to a quiet town in the South of Portugal during Easter break to "get away from it all" 

We booked a cosy studio apartment on Airbnb in the heart of Porto at Rua De Estavao, and that set us off close to nothing for five nights. Airbnb's in Porto is significantly cheaper than other European countries i've visited, but mostly because it is a small town in itself. After a grueling (if y'all witnessed it go down on my IG stories, then y'all know) journey from home — Liverpool St. Stn — Stansted airport, we made it in sunny oporto! The weather was brilliant (22 degrees!) and it just felt like a breath of fresh air to get out of the city. 

To be honest, i'm a little terrified of travelling around Europe so before we decided on Porto I asked around to see if it was safe for three girls to be travelling around Portugal. Everyone who replied my facebook post said that it was very safe and people around were friendly so that made me ease up a bit. But really, there's something about Porto that just seems so lighthearted and joyous. 

We played the next few days by ear and it turns out that sometimes not planning may just be the best plan of it all. We went cycling along the riverside through a sleepy fishing village, sat on top of rocks at the farthest point out in Porto and watched the waves crash onto the shore, unexpectedly found one of the best Italian restaurants on our last night (still craving for that pesto btw) and still appreciated the girly nights cringe-watching The Bachelor. Porto was not what I had expected it to be at all, nope. I expected to be bombarded with loads of things to do with too little time, expensive food and shopping. But everything unpacked itself nicely throughout this trip, whether it was craving Italian and finding the best Pesto pasta in the world or weaving through a motorbike convention with our bicycles in a foreign town.  

National dish of Porto is a Francesinha but somehow it didnt sit right with what i was craving for during the trip so we didn't have any. Finding a restaurant to have a meal in Porto is tricky (to me) because you never know what to expect. However, I found that the best way was to google search the cuisine you feel like eating or even Tripadvisor. TA saved our lives so many times during this trip because we were constantly spoilt for choice with the insane amount of restaurants that were around but we wanted the BEST!

Puro 4050 — Good pasta, nice alfresco dining experience and the price tag was decent for the quality of food we got

A Despensa — Best pesto pasta ever (you can literally taste how fresh both the pasta and the pesto were), Pricey but worth it! Our total bill came up to 50 euros for 3 people at the end of the night but we walked home feeling SO satisfied

Hope to explore more parts of Portugal (Lison!) soon but for now, it's back to London.