Day 35+: Santiago de Compostela, Spain- Porto, Portugual- Lisbon, Portugal
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
We woke up in our room fit for royalty, in the parador, and were so happy we didn't have to walk anywhere other than to the bus station today. We took our time getting to breakfast, and HOLY MOLY, it was a buffet also fit for royalty. AND THEY HAD GLUTEN FREE EVERYTHING. On top of this, we ran into Lane from TX. We all seemed to be walking on cloud nine. We caught up with him and took some photos in front of the Cathedral together before parting ways. Guys, if you can afford it, try to stay int his parador once you make it to Santiago. It's worth every penny.
Our trip to Portugal, started by taking a bus ride (30 Euros) from Santiago de Compostela to Porto, Portugal. Porto is a beautiful older city, and for 50 euros/night, we stayed in a centrally located hotel, called Vera Cruz Hotel. Let me just say that you get what you pay for. I could easily compare it to any Albergue you would find in Spain in terms of cleanliness, etc. The front desk staff spoke perfect English and was able to make great recommendations. However, the worst part of this hotel, was the ‘bar.’ The ‘rooftop bar’ which opens at 9 PM, offers lukewarm tea and old coffee, regardless of how many times you return it, for four euros. Yeah. I guess you could say I would not recommend staying there.
Transportation in Portugal is as amazing as it was in Spain. My two main goals while in Porto were to visit one of the oldest bookstores the world, Livraria Lello, as well as get me some Port wine. Overall, English is just as regularly spoken as is Portuguese (I swear it is because they use subtitles rather than just dubbing it). Despite being cheaper than Spain, and much more diverse in culture, food, architecture, yada yada, Portugal simply isn’t as clean.
In visiting Port Wine Bodegas, you will a) be mesmerized by the view, and b) should definitely look at the hours of operation. We made the mistake of arriving too early for dinner, or too late for wine tours. But anytime I did get to sip on some port, I was in heaven. Also note that you are visiting factories, not actual Vineyards, which are a good 150k inland from the city or Porto. Be sure to cross the Dom Luis I Bridge for some astonishing vistas of the city and the Ribeira-Rio Douro (Douro River).
Getting to visit one of the world’s oldest bookstores, Livraria Lello, which supposedly inspired J.K. Rowling’s description of Hogwarts was super rad. It costed 3 euros to enter, but you can use that towards any purchases made in the store... And I purchased. Reason they do this? People will straight up use the space to have Instagram photoshoots, meanwhile getting too touchy with the already vulnerable architecture. Apparently charging for entrance, filters out these types of nuisances. They’ve also seen less theft since charging, at least according to the Portuguese man standing at the entrance. The weather there was cold and rainy, and not conducive to the cold I was trying to keep at bay. We both were yearning to get to the Mediterranean climate of Lisboa. I know it will be tourist-y, but I look forward to the day I can return to Porto during the summer.