Porto - The City of Steep Hills
The streets in Porto were designed so that pirates & invaders would become very confused and not be able to plunder the city because they would get lost and/or nauseous trying to navigate the steep hills and sharp turns.
Today, tourists still get lost and/or totally winded when trying to get to their restaurant where they have a 7:30 pm dinner reservation. If you're going to visit Porto, you'll find it's a very walkable city except for the steep hills. Keep in mind that almost every coffee shop is located at the top of a very steep hill.
For those of you who are interested in the math, if you walk from the São Bento train station to the Cathedral of Porto, it's 246 vertical feet. By calculating rise over run, you can find the slope. We didn't do the calculation but can say, unequivocally, that the slope = very steep. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see the uphill portions.
We did some research to see what the experts say and here are few of their tips to help you explore this city without spraining an ankle or blowing out your knee.
Go on a bike tour. This was the number one tip on another travel blog. However, we would recommend that you ignore this tip since it's just as hard to ride a bike up a steep hill as it is to walk up it.
Wear comfortable shoes. Duh.
Take breaks. This is a very good tip. You can even take a break every half block if you want because se there are many shops that sell fruit or t-shirts or gelato and you can never have too many of any of those things.
Sit down somewhere. We recommend finding a park with a Merry-Go-Round where you not only get a free seat, but also some free amusement!
If you plan to rob a jewelry store, pick one at the top of a hill because your getaway will be easier going downhill.
If you are traveling with young children, it's best not to let them wear wheelies because those things don't have breaks and children are very hard to catch once they pick up speed going downhill.
If you visit Porto during the rainy season, wear boots. And good luck!
The parks in Porto have some very odd trees. They look normal on the top half but have very large, misshapen trunks. If you've been following along, you'll probably remember that we've run into mysterious trees before and so we're very puzzled by this pattern of weirdness. Here is a picture of Dave sitting amongst the odd trees Googling coffee shops that are at the bottom of a hill.
Bridges, Trains & Oceans
There are many bridges and trains. We think the high number of bridges might be due to the fact that the city sits right along a river. We were not able to determine why there are so many trains, but it could be due to the number of tourists who are too afraid to drive the streets here. The bridge pictured here was designed by Gustav Eiffel who may or may not be related to the guy who invented the Eiffel Tower.
Porto is on the coast so you can also visit the ocean which has many rocky areas and some sand. It also has a castle. We saw a lot of surfers but the sun was in the wrong place for us to get any good photos.
Art & Culture
This is a picture of a very famous sculpture of three guys laughing. There are four of these sculptures in the park with different combinations of men who are all laughing. The one guy who is upside down is in every sculpture but the other two guys are only in two out of the four. Despite hours of research and inquiries made at the coffee shop across the street, we were not able to find the artist's statement for this work, so we cannot provide insight into the reason the one guy is upside down. We thought at first that maybe he just came loose and tipped over, but when we investigated, it was clear that he was welded tight in that position.
We were surprised to find that you are sometimes expected to prepare your own appetizer. Here you'll see Dave roasting chorizo over an open flame. He did a pretty good job. Fortunately, we did not have to take responsibility for preparing the rest of our meal.
This is a photo of the queen of sandwiches in Porto which is called the Francesinha. Many years ago, people started calling this sandwich iconic and because of that is has become so famous that it now has its own reality show.
Below is a photo of us with the famous radio personality, Dave Otto who moved to Porto and as a result, met us for dinner at a restaurant serving the Francesinha.
More Scenes from Porto
A pretty cool place to visit. We highly recommend it if you're heading to Europe. One thing to note: if you're a skier over the age of 40, who has had knee surgery for a torn meniscus, you might want to bring your knee brace.