“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” – J. K. Rowling
My first and only camper van roadtrip (so far) was from Galicia to Porto, Portugal. Friends of mine, Eithne and Julio, in Santiago own a very impressive and compact camper van and ever since, I’ve been dreaming of roadtripping in a camper van again. It has become my new favourite way to travel.
However, I’m writing this post about Porto, not campervans! Thus, allow me to tell you all about the positively pleasant Porto and what there is to do there.
Browse books in Livraria Lello & Irmão
First and foremost, Oporto was the home of J.K. Rowling for a few years in the early 1990’s, while she wrote the tale that we all know and love and that’s the epitome of all 90’s kids childhoods – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In many ways, you can see her inspiration as you walk the paved paths of Porto. It is said she did a lot of her writing in Café Majestic, which I unfortunately did not get to. But the students in Porto wear hooded gowns to university, which was definitely the inspiration for the Hogwart’s uniform. Also, apparently the staircase in the famous Lello & Irmão Bookstore was the inspiration for the grand staircase described in Hogwarts, J.K. Rowling used to sit and write in the coffee shop on the first floor – which you can also patron today. The bookshop is absolutely stunning. Obviously the focal point, the stairs is majestic in itself. It’s wildly detailed and terribly grand! My favourite thing about the shop was the enormous stain glass ceiling because I absolutely love stain glass and the art it creates.
The bookshop itself is located across the street from the unmissable Clérigos Bell Tower. There was a queue when we went to visit but it didn’t take long for us to get in. You also have to buy tickets to enter but that ticket acts as a discount if you buy something inside. It was definitely worth the €3 it set us back.
Maria Pia Bridge
You’ll probably see this bridge without having to seek it out. We actually crossed it entering the city. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself and has all of the characteristics of the renowned Eiffel Tower. The river in Porto is large and winding and it is intersected by 6 bridges – but Maria Pia is definitely one to look out for.
São Bento Railway Station
The one-hundred-year-old train station is beautiful. It’s tiled with 20,000 traditional azulejo tiles and it depicts the history of Portugal. It’s stunning, and definitely worth popping your head in on the way to sip some port.
Potter around Porto
See what I did there?! The azulejos that I previously mentioned are a 500-year-old tradition in Porto. They’re simply painted tiles… but they brighten up the city so much, it’s incredible. The buildings in Porto are quite run down and are quite shabby-chic. These tiles are on most buildings and make every single one it’s own work of art. So, I definitely suggest forgetting the sight-seeing and just simply pottering around admiring the tiles.
We also enjoyed some delicious meals – at the end of one lovely traditional Portuguese meal we were presented with a mystery shot of alcohol on the house. To this day, Hattie, Julio, Eithne and I have no idea what it was… However it did come in a pretty impressive bottle!
If something similar happens to you while you’re in Portugal, I’d love to hear all about it! Make sure to add me on snapchat (imperfectlyfree) where I have snap-stories all about my adventures. Coming up this weekend – Barcelona! You can also follow my escapades on insta, twitter or facebook.