Porto – Before and After the Camino! Part 2: After

We thought we would be returning from the Camino bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We were wrong. All three of us had foot issues. There wasn’t a non-limper among us. But we were still up for continuing our adventures in Porto. Maybe just a little more slowly…

The Half Rabbit! Little ole’ me at the Half Rabbit, R. de Santa M.nha 5-39, 4400-290 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.

Checklist:

  • Vila Nova de Gaia
  • Half Rabbit
  • Port Wine Tasting
  • Eat With
  • Livraria Lello
  • Burmester
  • 6-Bridge Douro River Boat Tour
  • Douro Valley Wine Tour

One of the first things on this nerd’s list was the HALF RABBIT! I just had to see it! In person!

We walked across the bridge and entered the world of Gaia. The Douro separates the city of Porto from the city of Gaia. And we quickly found out that Gaia was just as happening a place as Porto! It was in Gaia that I needed to find my half rabbit.

If you look at the pic above, you’ll see just how huge this sculpture truly is. I can hardly see myself in the photo. I wanted it for perspective. This rabbit is HUGE. Ever since I first discovered the Half Rabbit, it has fascinated me. It’s made from trash and recycled goods collected by the city of Gaia. Created by Portuguese artist Bordallo II (animal art out of repurposed materials is their thing), the Half Rabbit serves as a critique of society’s wasteful ways. I think it’s fair to say it’s also a call to sustainability.

Makes you think. It’s beautiful, but it really makes one think about the amount of trash we accumulate, the landfills filling up all over the world.

The Half Rabbit is in the same neighbourhood as all the Port wine companies that dot the riverside on the Gaia side of the Douro. Our next stop, of course, was a quick tasting…

You can get tastings at various different restaurant patios in Gaia. This one we had was 5 for 5 Euros deal, which, come on…is exceptional value. You really can’t beat that. And the Port was fantastic.

On to the next thing! Wherever you go in the world, do yourself a favour and check out what’s happening there on EATWITH. Eatwith have everyday people in the cities you visit offering to host you at their house for a meal. It’s also a great place to check out other eating related events in the area you’re staying, like food tours and special offers, etc. I’ve been excited to try them for a while now. I was not disappointed! We booked an evening called THE PORTO STORIES: ON CITY, COD AND PORT with hosts Manuel and Jelena. Our hosts were entertaining and gracious. They made a fabulous meal and told wonderful stories about their city, cod, and much more. It was a thoroughly entertaining evening, accompanied by wonderful food and drink. So glad we booked it! Wherever you go, if EATWITH is available in the area, you will find so many interesting things to do. Check it out!

My only wish is that we had given ourselves another day to recuperate from our recent travels prior to booking this evening. We were all walking zombies by the time we arrived at Manuel and Jelena’s house. We thoroughly enjoyed it, but the exhaustion had us dragging a bit at the end of the evening.

The next day…drumroll please! The moment I’d been waiting for! Livraria Lello! Such a beautiful interior in this historic bookstore. And I had only been able to see it on Instagram and YouTube. I’m a huge fan of bookstores in general, and if you’ve read any of this blog you will know I have a favourite and that it’s in Paris and a stone’s throw away from Notre Dame. But this one? I’ve been dying to get inside.

Even if you book a time online prior to your arrival, you’re going to have to wait in a line. The frenzy to get into this one is even more grand scale than it is at Shakespeare & Company.
An historic plaque outside the bookstore.
The stained glass ceiling. “Decus in Labore”, which means “Dignity in Work”

The store, as seen from above at the top of the staircase.
It was almost impossible to get a shot that wasn’t a little bit blurred. It was constant motion in that store. Such a different vibe than Shakespeare & Company. People are here to SEE the store. People are at Shakespeare to FEEL the store.

Bookstore selfie!

It was a wonderful store and I grabbed a couple of books. One for myself as a souvenir and one for the grandboys because that’s what I do…I buy them books.

I got myself a special Livraria Lello edition of one of my favourite books, Gatsby.

After the bookstore, we decided we were not yet finished with Gaia. We had a Port wine tour booked and we needed some lunch. The riverside on the Porto side is filled with restaurant patios. But it’s good to remember that so is the riverside on the Gaia side. We had seen some nice restaurants over there and wanted to give them a go!

First! It was time to once again attempt to save the world. I did this in Lisbon in 2019 and nothing seemed to happen. Thought I’d try again…

Off to Gaia!

A quick stop at the FANTASTIC WORLD OF PORTUGUESE CAN made me realize maybe us Canadians don’t put enough stock into our canned goods?

Oh, and did I mention the Casa Portuguesa Pastel Bacalhau? Once you’ve had one of these lovelies, you will understand the need to have a huge emporium erected just to showcase their yummy goodness. Step inside and have a bite! There’s a LOT to see in Gaia!

For lunch, I highly recommend Faberninha do Manel.

I’m not going to suggest which of the plethora of Port cellars in Gaia you should visit. Do the research and decide which one you should go to. Or go to two or three or many. It’s up to you. We chose Burmester, which is the first one you come to after you cross the bridge from Porto (it’s right at the foot of the bridge if you cross over on the bottom span). The tour guide was lovely and we had a great time.

We arranged our Burmester tour with the 6-bridge Douro River boat tour. Get both together in a package with a discount.

The 6-bridge tour was next and we had to return to the Porto side for that. It was nice…I’m glad we did it. It wasn’t the Seine, but it was well worth it for the experience.

The last planned event on our itinerary was an all-day affair. We booked a tour of the Douro Valley that included lunch, a vineyard tour and tasting, and a boat-ride. Before we even set out, I have to say I was feeling a bit over-vacationed. I think we were all feeling a little exhausted and warn out, but we kept on trucking. This was to be a highlight of our trip.

Only, it wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great. We just didn’t anticipate how mind-numbingly over it we were when it came to travelling. By travelling, I mean…we spent a lot of our day in a bus. Do the tour. It’s great, really. But be prepared for bus time.

The Douro Valley is beautiful, and worth seeing. Maybe do it at the beginning of your trip when you’re still fresh.

Photos from our day in the Douro Valley:

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For all intents and purposes, that was the end of our Porto (and beyond) adventures. We had the next morning, but then we were off. It was time to return home to Canada.

These were just a few of the things you can do while in Porto. It’s an amazing city and it shouldn’t be overlooked when planning your European vacation.

 

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