Day 13: Thursday, September 21

Our last full day in Porto!

We slept in a little this morning but got up at 9:00, showered and went downstairs to the hotel’s dining room for breakfast.

Disappointment on Rua das Carmelitas

After breakfast we set out for the famous bookstore Livraria Lello, located at Rua das Carmelitas 144. People come from all over the world to visit Livraria Lello; it’s the bookstore that supposedly helped inspire J.K. Rowling’s vision of how Hogwarts might look in the Harry Potter books.

When we got to Livraria Lello we found about 500 people in line for an 11:00 and 11:30 timed entry – there was NO WAY we were getting in there any time soon. Being a Harry Potter fan, I was extremely disappointed in not being able to see inside the bookstore; it was high on my must-see agenda for this visit, but was not to be. Oh well, lesson learned: next time I will pre-book online and several days in advance at that; the buzz and hype to get into this bookstore is unreal, and you have to pre-book days in advance if you hope to get in.

Igreja dos Clérigos (Clérigos Church)

Turning our backs on the seemingly ending queue to get in to the bookstore, we went to visit Igreja dos Clérigos (Clérigos Church); it was very close by and we hadn’t been there yet (imagine that, a church we hadn’t yet visited!).

We paid €8 each, which included entry to the church and the famous Clérigos Tower. This is the tower that we were later to scale in our visit:

Clérigos Tower

We started our tour of the church on the ground floor; it’s was all quite grand and I could see why a visit to this church is highly recommended:

The Clérigos Tower

After visiting the church we got in queue to ascend the aforementioned Tower. The queue was excruciatingly slow to move as the staff were stopping each visitor and persuading them to have their photographs taken against a green-screened version of the Igreja dos Clérigos. During this roughly half-hour wait I had plenty of opportunity to gaze at an art exhibition on this floor called Sintoma. The installations were created from pieces of litter collected from Porto’s beaches:

After a long wait to proceed up the Tower’s stairs, we finally got the go-ahead and we started to climb… and climb… and climb… in what felt like forever, going up those narrow, steep stairs to the top of the tower. It didn’t help that there were a thousand other tourists with their bulky backpacks bashing me in the face as we each tried to squeeze against the stone walls in order for the other to pass. For claustrophobic people, this ascent (and descent) would definitely bring on a major panic attack.

This is one of the wider stairwells. True, it doesn’t look so threatening when there’s no one on it, but that all changes when a few dozen tourists try to simultaneously reach both top of the tower and ground floor.

Days later, or so it seemed, we finally reached the outdoor viewing platform of the tower. It was an incredible view of Porto from the Tower’s top:

The Tower’s viewing platform is one of the highest places, and therefore one of the best viewpoints, from which to see Porto. The narrow viewing platform, though, was a little too open, high and precarious for me to feel comfortable – for the shots above I basically took the old “spray and pray” approach of grabbing a few images . We walked around the exterior of the circular tower as best we could, pushing past the other mobs of tourists who were up there. When it was time to leave (thank God) and descend, we had to repeat the previous fiasco on those miles of stairs, this time returning to ground.

Regaining Composure… The Best Way

After our descent from the Clérigos Tower and exit from the beautiful Igreja dos Clérigos, we left the building. To recover from my exertion and vertigo from the tower, we just had to go for some of the best ice cream I had while in Porto. The shop was a little place called Boutique do Gelado, located at Rua da Assunção 26, almost directly across from the Clérigos Church. The serving clerk had all the personality of a shower curtain, but the ice cream was utterly delicious.

Boutique do Gelado at Rua da Assunção 26

Wandering Again

After our rest stop we simply just wandered around Porto, having no specific destination in mind. This allowed me the opportunity to shoot a few more of Porto’s alleys and buildings:

Coffee Break

Eventually we found ourselves over on the pedestrian street Rua das Flores, stopping for caffeine replenishment at a great little café called Bistro Flores. Vince had his customary Americano and I, my Coke Zero. Bistro Flores was part of a nice-looking hotel – the PortoBay Flores. It was a welcoming, comfortable patio and the people-watching from the busy pedestrian street was endlessly entertaining. We rested and recharged for quite a while before moving on.

Bistro Flores at Rua das Flores, 27

Leaving the café, we slowly wended our way back to the hotel to drop off the shopping we had purchased (Vince had bought a large hoodie on the way back). Near our hotel we encountered more University students celebrating their frosh week (either that or they were rejects from a Harry Potter casting call):

Reaching to the hotel we had a short rest, then planned the remainder of our day:

Our hotel base while in Porto – the Eurostars Porto Centro at Rua de Sampaio Bruno 77
Rua de Sampaio Bruno – the street outside our hotel

(Late) Lunch Time

After a short rest, we set out to seek lunch (it was already 3:00 by this time). We walked over to Rua de Passos Manuel and visited Café Santiago for a delicious lunch. Vince had the Fusilli Chicken Salad and I had a massive (and quite delicious) House Burger.

After lunch we checked out the nearby pedestrian shopping street Rua de Santa Catarina:

We were doing some last minute souvenir shopping for the peeps back home. I was also looking to purchase some suitcase tags (Air Canada had so thoughtfully wrecked mine on the flight from Toronto to Lisbon earlier last week).

One Last Porto Ice Cream

After some exhausting shopping we stopped for – wait for it – ice cream (!) at Mona Lisa Gelateria Italiana. Truly delicious gelato. The shop was located directly on the pedestrian shopping street Rua de Santa Catarina at number 505, so the street traffic was good for their shop. Scrumptious, velvety gelato, and so interestingly presented:

On the way out of Rua de Santa Catarina, we spied the stately Majestic Cafe, located at Rua de Santa Catarina 112. I loved the architecture of this building. The cafe has a notable 100-year history in Porto. Unfortunately we didn’t go inside but I understand the interior is quite impressive:

Leaving Rua de Santa Catarina behind, we returned to the hotel for another rest break.

Our Final Porto Dinner

At about 7:00 we headed out for dinner. We were leaving Porto the next day (noooooo!), so our objective was to find a nice restaurant for our last meal in the city, something that would be memorable. We walked around the area near the hotel and considered a few possibilities but the one we settled on was called PizzaBX, located at Praça D. Filipa de Lencastre 90 (the restaurant was definitely more upmarket that the name implied).

Vince had a glass of red wine and an enormous hamburger; I also had a glass of the same (which is kind of unusual for me), and an order of lasagna – all of it absolutely delicious. Vince then ordered a glass of Port for both of us and we indulged (when in Porto one must have some Port; it’s the best in the world). This was the first time I’d ever drunk Port and it was fantastic – I loved it! I’m not usually a big fan of wine as I find wine generally too sharp or acidic, but I loved Port – very sweet and smooth.

All in all, this was a great meal: delicious pasta, great atmosphere – exactly what we were looking for. A perfect last meal in Porto.

If you’d like to read Vince’s TripAdvisor review of PizzaBX, click here.

Feeling extremely satisfied (and full!), we left PizzaBX at about 8:45 and returned to our hotel. We packed our bags and got as ready as we could for next morning’s early departure out of Porto.

To bed at 10:00PM to get rested up for the next day’s journey home!

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