budget vacation
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travel: porto, portugal day trip

On saturday we got up at 4:30 in the morning, to get ready for our day trip to Porto, a 2:45 train ride from Lisbon. We purchased our roundtrip tickets the evening before to make avoid lines and the stress of making sure we got seats on a train. 110.00USD for two tickets roundtrip leaving at 7a.m. getting there at 9:40 and leaving there at 6:45p.m. arriving in Lisbon nine something. I didn’t care to worry about the return time.

We left our hotel at 6:00 in the morning to walk for twenty minutes or so to the train station. Since we are staying in the center of town, walking was our best option. Even though the hotel concierge suggested we take a taxi.

The streets were quiet, not a shop or restaurant open yet, and the walk very refreshing, considering it was going to be nearly 80F degrees.

The ride was comfortable, I fell asleep just as I expected to, still a little jet lagged and woke up to the sound of my cell phone alarm clock five minutes before our arrival time.

The first thing I normally do is walk over to the tourist information booth at the train station, in any city I haven’t been to before to get a map, and a few pointers on where to visit and so forth. Which we did. We got our map, and followed my instincts down a windy narrow cobblestone road to the waterfront, where artists were setting up their kiosks, restaurants were just starting to open their doors. It was nearing eleven in the morning. We walked through the neighborhoods, up one narrow street, down the other, snapping photographs of unusual architecture, ornate doors, and windows, even abandoned buildings, which in a strange way added to the character of the small port town. Lunchtime we had a salad and beers at a street side cafe, like most tourists, not really experiencing authentic cuisine.

It was a nice day overall, walking about the town. In the evening, we took the train back to Lisbon, to discover there was a street party happening at the waterfront as well. We hung around for a while and then had dinner and went back to our room.

{Couple of pointers: Porto’s restaurants do not serve food between 3-7PM so if you are hungry you are out of luck. You can get a great meal for two for under 40USD. The architecture is fascinating in an Alice In Wonderland sort of way, be adventurous and get off the beaten paths to see more than you bargain for. Wear comfortable shoes, the cobblestones are wabbly and gapped. Walk across the famous bridge Av Viama Peres, the views are spectacular. And yes everything is walking distance, on foot is always best even though there are plenty of touristy hop-on-hop-off options and day tours.)

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