The Magical Porto

Can you imagine what kind of bookstore it is with a long line of people lined up an hour before it even opens? We arrived half an hour before it opens and we were like the 15th in line. Ohh and they charge an admission fee to go into the bookstore! Well it’s famous not only that it named as the top 10 most beautiful bookstore in the world, it’s the inspiration for Harry Potter’s library in Hogwarts! It’s the Livraria Lello & Irmao Bookstore in Porto!

This is the booth across the street that you’ll need to purchase the admission ticket (actually a voucher) for €3 (when we were there, I think the price has gone up) and if you purchase a book, you can use it as credit. One voucher per book though can’t be combined and does not apply to souvenir!

The booth to purchase the ticket:

The exterior architecture of the bookstore:

Look at the line:

At exactly 10 am, the staff open the door and set up to organize the line. We walked in and OMG, speechless! Yes, it doesn’t looked like…wait I shall say, Harry Potter’s library especially the moving staircase does look like the one in the bookstore! We tried to be quick and take as much photos as we could before more and more people come in…it quickly filled!

That ceiling…is this a palace?

The bookstore is probably the most crowded tourist attraction in Porto!!!

Even the sign looked magical!

To make good use of our vouchers LOL let’s find a book!

Finally an opportunity to take a photo with the staircase!

They sell Harry Potter book too haha! But in Portuguese though!

After the bookstore, we walked to Fonte dos Leões.

And next to it is Igreja do Carmo, the blue tile art on its side wall was incredible!

We went in to check it out 🙂

Within the same square, there’s also the antique electric tram!

Ghostbusters in the work? haha!

On our way to Torre dos Clérigos, we passed by an outdoor market….very nice local made products but not for us 🙂

We arrived Clérigos Tower and got in queue to purchase the ticket……I bought the combo ticket to visit the tower and The Episcopal Palace (which I had no clue then what and where it is) since it wasn’t that much of a difference. We got into another queue to go up to its tower and they are very smart to offer free wifi so at least have entertainment while waiting. The tower has a capacity limit so the line moved slowly.

Inside the church/museum:

 

Finally, our turn to climb up the tower…like other bell towers, the stairs get narrower and narrower!

They are also smart to ask people to walk in one direction to reduce the traffic jam 🙂 The tower offers another unique perspective of the city! They charge more if you go up at night for night view but I don’t think it’s worth the extra money!

Very narrow and low clearance 🙂

We even able to point out our hotel and the Sao Bento Train Station there…

This narrow:

After the tower visit, I searched for the best Francesinha (Porto’s signature sandwich) restaurant nearby and found D Golfinho. Francesinha is a toast filled with meat and covered by a layer of melted cheese and delicious mild spicy sauce! Can’t be in Porto and not try it out right!

We also ordered a Portuguese steak dish…..that sandwich was so filling that it was enough for both of us! The steak on the other hand, wasn’t as good 😦

If you like cheese, you’ll love Francesinha. We don’t so we thought it get very heavy at the end!

The lunch cost €17.40 not too bad 🙂

We went back to our hotel to get some rest and use the restroom, that’s what happen when the hotel is so conveniently located 🙂

A little tour around the beautiful palace hotel! I love the black and white chandeliers!

Right outside their bar restaurant, it was displaying this painting with three different women faces at different angle how cool!

And we went out immediately to stop by and take photos of the famous artworks inside the Sao Bento Train Station!

Right outside the train station, the look of Porto, love those houses!

Why don’t they make figurines of those houses??? That’ll be the best souvenir to present Porto!

We headed over to Luís I Bridge! So sad to see this cluster of abandon houses that they are covered by green moss!

The BEST view of Porto is from the bridge!!!

The other side…..not the postcard one but still pretty.

Time for postcard perfect pictures every two steps!!! Can’t get tired of this view!

We walked across the bridge finally and toward the cable car station, there, has good views too!

Before going to the cable car…since we are not sure if we’ll head back up this way…we walked over to the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar to check out another point of view.

And went in to check out the church and saw that a wedding ceremony is going on 🙂 I wish Boston has this kind of backdrops for engagement/wedding photos!

We saw another photographer and asked him to take a photo of us….he was using a DSLR so figured he’ll know how to use our camera….but hum….not the best angle!

On our way walking down, we passed a park, Jardim do Morro, and checked out the view…the trees blocking so don’t waste your time to go 🙂

Back to the cable car station – Teleferico de Gaia. Round trip only cost €8 so not too bad with this type of view!

The view was unbelievable that it claimed me down from my fear of height! Can you tell that I am nervous? The speed is very slow so felt like we were floating in the sky…so magical!

And looked down at the road, it was filled with motorcycles! And a line of boats!

The ride was probably less than 10 minutes but very very enjoyable! We walked out along the riverbank to have closer look at those ships that transport the wine barrels. This ship is the only red one 🙂

And then we saw another man holding a DSLR camera taking photos there so we went to ask him to take a photo of us….urg….this prove not all DSLR camera owner are good photographers!

 

I guess we have to rely on our own cute little tripod!

Aren’t those houses beautiful, I love those unique old town that preserved its look. I preferred those old buildings anytime over modern skyscrapers!

Through one of the windows of a cafe?

Love those blocks of colorful houses!

Along the riverbank are vendors that selling handmade crafts…some are expensive. I found those soap carved flowers, I bought two for 20 euros (1 for 12 euros) unique souvenir!

And those four girls just lying there and play with their phones LOL!

And also food stands!

The bikes all parked there, those were the bikes we saw down the street when we were in the cable car.

We took the cable car ride back up since we couldn’t get enough of the awesome view!

Porto is so beautiful, it’s one of the most beautiful old towns I have ever been to!

Zoomed in to see the busy riverfront filled with restaurants!

We walked to Porto Cathedral and there has a nice view of the color houses in the old town.

Porto Cathedral:

There are staffs taking photos of visitors and then selling their picture with a photo book of Porto as souvenir. The photo book has nice photos and some history about Porto so Jason thought it’ll make a nice souvenir for his mom. It cost 10 euros.

Jason found a missing tile!

 

When we walked out of the cathdral, a wedding ceremony was starting….wow so many weddings that day!

Next we went into Episcopal Palace since the combo ticket we bought earlier in the day included the admission to the palace. We had no clue what the palace is nor how it looked like inside…and when we walked in to enter, the lady said visiting the palace is by guided tour only. Urg, we really don’t like guided tour so we were about to turn around to leave and then suddenly a guy said he can guide us. And it was only two of us!!! Kind of awkward but he was very nice so we didn’t want to be rude to say no. The palace is the residence of the bishops of Porto so that’s why it’s by guided tour only. He led us up the stairs and immediately, my mind was totally blown away by the pastel colored ceiling! I have seen ceilings of palaces and castles and this is my #1 favorite!!!

According to the guy, they had no clue who designed this and only know the architect. The bishop fled Porto during the Siege of Porto of 1832 and this palace ended up in the hands of troops and they didn’t take care of the palace. Then recently (few months ago) they open the palace for public visit. We were the first few tourists who visited and photographed this palace (usually no photograph is allowed but that guy allowed us WOW felt like VIP)!

Two huge mirrors, you can see us and the tour guide.

The view from the balcony where on the right side is the Porto Cathedral.

 

He’s also the one who told us about those desk, the drawers have hidden sections draw in side!

Do you notice anything special about this photo?

The carpet mirrors the ceiling, same pattern/design you see?

And he opened the window to show us the view and would make good photos, thank you!

On our walk out, last few views of enjoying this beautiful ceiling!

And those details are not painting, they are carving out of stone!!!!! It was unbelieve!

I highly recommend visiting this palace, it’s truly an underrated hidden gem in Porto!!!!

Walking down the narrow alleywalk of Porto’s old town 🙂

We headed back to the hotel to change back in long pants and warmer clothes since after dinner, we’ll go to take night photos which could be windy and cold! We walked to Tapabento which is just located next to Sao Bento station, I made a reservation at 6 pm when they open. Tapabento is very highly rated in TripAdvisor so it’s so popular that you need to make a reservation otherwise you’ll be disappointed! In fact, I made two reservations to come back the next day in case I want to try more dishes and it was totally a right decision I made….let me tell you…

Here’s their menu, so many things we want to try and very reasonably priced too!

We tried so hard and narrowed down to the following: Foie Gras Toast, Algarve Clams, Razor Clams, Norwegian Codfish in 72 Degrees, and Irish Black Angus. The first appetizer: Foie Gras Toast, omg it was HUGE! The first bite, oh my the foie gras taste that I missed for a whole year!!! The dish looked sooo pretty too like it’s from a 3* Michelin restaurant, absolutely great value for the quality and quantity!

The Algarve clams woahhhh so much!

And razor clams OMG!!! I am not a seafood person ad definitely not a chewy clam person but this dish totally impressed me! I couldn’t stop eating it and look at the quantity, all this for €13.50!

I ordered the Irish black angus as my main dish…yummy!

Jason ordered the Norwegian codfish….didn’t know codfish is salty fish so it was just average!

This absolutely filling and satisfying dinner only cost €68.60!!! It was an incredible and memorable dining experience we had in Portugal! We couldn’t wait to be back the next day to try out more dishes! After all those food, it’s time for some exercise to burn those! Right on time for sunset! Porto’s location maybe near the ocean and river tend to be foggy early in the morning and in the evening but made it extra magical. The purple sunrise!

We walked to the cable car station that corner as that spot has the wall to hold our mini tripod for night photos. We waited patiently for the sun set and for the lights to turn on. Beautiful!

 

Then the bridge’s light was turned on wow we both love Porto! See that tallest building lit up, that’s the Episcopal Palace we visited earlier 🙂

There are few people there too and I turned to take a photo of the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar where we walked up before for another perspective of the other side of the bridge.

We waited till 9:30 pm hoping for more lights to turn on but guess not, summer time people hang out in the river bank and late going back home to turn on the lights. Good night Porto!!!

 

 

 

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