When I fly back from England into Porto I often have a stopover for the night. My arrival time allows me to get the train as far as Coimbra, but I am usually too late to get the bus from Coimbra to Gois.
Although I could stay over in Coimbra, or get a taxi to my house, I choose to stay In Porto, and travel down to Coimbra the following day. I like the feel of Porto, it is a friendly, down to earth city and every time I stay over I find something, or somewhere new. So that’s what I did on my return a few days ago.
When I arrive late, the first thing I consider is where I should stay. I will write about different areas I have stayed, and which I have found good, and which I have not in another post, but on this occasion I found a cheap and cheerful hotel close to BOLHAO metro station, on the main shopping street of Rua Santa Catarina. It turned out to be a brilliant location.
At 23€ for a double room,( half the price of a taxi from Coimbra to my house) I was not expecting much from the hotel, and so I was pleasantly surprised with the Residencial Solar. It was clean, the bed was comfy, I had a brand new bathroom, a flat screened TV, and it was quiet. If you are looking for posh and fashionable, then look elsewhere, but I would stay there again anytime. The only negative was that I was on the 4th floor, and with no lift it was tempting to leave my 25 kgs of luggage down stairs! I didn’t, but the night receptionist helped by taking a bag, which saved me a trip.
After a great nights sleep, I awoke to the sun peeking through the wooden shutters, which meant it was going to be a brilliant day to explore.
First on the list was breakfast. I wandered down Rua Santa Catarina up to Placa Batalha, passing at least a dozen or more places selling coffee and cakes. I always think it would be lovely to do a bakery version of a pub crawl, a cake wobble ? when I see the fabulous cakes in the windows. I chose a place in the sun and had Um Galao e Torrada ( milky coffee and door stop thick, buttery toast) and decided to save the cakes for later.
I then found the bus station and got my ticket for later on in the day.
I usually take the train, and so I needed to find out where the bus depot was, in case I was on the last minute. It seems there are several bus stations in Porto, depending on the company you are using. The Rede Express terminal was only a couple of minutes away from The Praca Batalha ( and about 15 minutes away from my hotel).
As I wandered back to my hotel, I noticed an art shop which I had not seen before. It turned out it had only opened two days before, and had the best art supplies I have found so far in Portugal. I was beyond excited when I found out it had a web site, and you could buy on line.(I had given up on that idea after many fruitless internet searches). Today was my lucky day.
I wandered around like a child in a sweet shop, with a big grin on my face. The thought of not having to buy my art and craft supplies in England and lug them back, hoping that the inks and paints had not leaked everywhere, made me feel so happy .
My day had started off brilliantly. What next ? I had a look at my map and decided to keep with the arty theme. I would try and find the contemporay art museum ……