Portugal celebrated Saint Martin’s Summer last week. Saint Martin’s Summer is basically a period of sunshine during autumn. It is named after Saint Martin, a monk who was said to have cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm. He later dreamed of Jesus wearing his half-cloak and decided to devote his life to Christ. In Europe, Saint Martin’s Day marks the end of the agrarian year and the start of harvesting. Miraculously, the weather tends to be fabulous during this fateful week! After weeks of drizzles, I was glad to be “walking on sunshine” for a change And the icing on the cake? Weiyi was here to visit! Yeah!!!
It was great having face-to-face girly chats for almost one entire week Furthermore, we had lots of fun engaging in the favourite pastime of Singaporeans, ie. locating great food haunts! Too many snippets to share, so I shall just focus on Porto for this blog entry.
To begin with, we stayed at Hotel Infante de Sagres in Porto. Its facade does not do its interior decor justice, but I suppose this is a common trait of buildings in Portugal. I personally felt that its rooms could be better refurbished, but had nothing but praises for its lovely breakfast hall and lobby! Weiyi was less critical. She was generally impressed with the hotel, particularly the historic charm it exuded. To add on, it is centrally located
After checking in, we immediately headed for the Soul of Porto – the Riberia – which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being typical Singaporeans, we were drawn to the most crowded restaurant, Chez Lapin, along the riverfront. Lunch was super relaxing, especially when we had a picturesque view of the port wine houses across River Douro.
A short walk across Dom Louis Bridge brought us to Vila Nova de Gaia. This is where majority of the world’s supply of port is stored and aged! We tried to check out a couple of cellars but they were all fully booked for the day. That said, we chanced upon a port tasting bar with live fado music
Dinner was at Camafeu, which is ranked #4 by tripadvisor. We had the best table in the house, which overlooked Praça Carlos Alberto. Both of us really enjoyed our dessert – “Carrot cake with chocolate sand, vegetables and citrus ice-cream”. Weiyi even remarked that it was better than the dessert at 1-michelin-starred Belcanto in Lisbon (which I shall blog about in my next entry). We also decided to try their unusual starter, “Salted cheesecake with nuts, crispy bacon and jam”, but it was a tad bit too alternative for our tastebuds.
The next morning, Weiyi and I explored Central Porto by foot after a very hearty breakfast at the hotel. Needless to say, we visited Lello, which is rated by Lonely Planet as the third best bookstore in the world. Photography within its compound was not permitted, so I put my camera’s zoom function to the test and captured a snapshot of its central staircase from the street. Lello definitely warrants a visit if you’re in Porto, but it is unfortunately too touristy for the genuine bookworms.
After some shopping and getting disoriented, we eventually reached Majestic Cafe along Rua Santa Catarina. As its name suggests, the cafe has a majestic interior! Numerous political figures and celebrities also frequented Majestic. Apparently, JK Rowling spent much of her time at Majestic, when she was living in Porto, working on her first book “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. I tried their house speciality French Toast and it was delicious!
That’s all for Porto. Serving more yummy cuisines from Lisbon and Cascais in my next blog post. Stay tuned!