Bom Bidi Bom Jesus

Our Porto hotel has by far been our favorite. It was very nice, excellent customer service and we LOVED the location. I mean, in reality it was Chris and his research into the hotels that allowed us to have such great stays. We had a patio off our room, robes, a great bathroom – it was just grand. And to top it off, breakfast was the best we had so far!

After we indulged our stomachs with some excellent breakfast food – we headed off to the pharmacy down the street so we could get our Covid tests and not have to worry about getting the results too late before our flights on Sunday. We made our appointment for noon and headed out to check out our sites for the day.

First stop – the Stock Exchange, or what used to be the stock exchange. The stock exchange in Porto started before the one in Lisbon by a few years, but more recently it has been shut down in Porto and is strictly in Lisbon now. Anyway, one of the rooms is where Gustave Eiffel worked! This town also has a bridge by him and one of his students! The building is still used for commerce things, but also weddings and fancy shin digs. it has some amazing wood working but also FAKE wood, one room looked like all wood but it was in fact plaster from the shoulder height up. We had to take a tour with a guide as it is an active business building.

After our visit to the stock exchange we headed to the Capela das Almas – a church covered in the Portuguese blue and white tiles. It was about a mile away, up hill to get to. The church it is on is a shopping street – and that district has hung some aerial art – which sadly now impedes thee view of the church in its entirety.

From there Chris was kind enough to go with me to the Ponte Luis I bridge. We had crossed the bottom yesterday to go Port tasting, but since it was such a high point of the city I wanted to get on the top portion. It has a walking path and tram paths. The view was so pretty. This bridge was designed by Eiffel’s student. It is still used to this day. I love bridges and enjoyed getting to experience both levels of the bridge. It also allowed us to check out two more bridges, Eiffel’s and the vehicle bridge in between.

We had to head back to the hotel and check out at that point. Once we were packed, the front desk held our bags and we headed off to get swabbed for the Covid test. The upstairs of the pharmacy was a little pharmacy museum. These stupid swabs are not fun, but this one was better than I had in the states as the swab was thinner.

Now, its time to shop! I got some Port wine for my cousin (Mike, if you read this, your birthday present is coming early) and Chris was able to get some other gifts for his list. He likes to do his Christmas shopping on our trips, I had shopping and lugging around so I try to avoid it. I like pictures better.

Once we had what we wanted, we headed back to the hotel and grabbed our luggage and off we went to pick up our car at the garage. It is very silly. If you pay in the machine a 24 hour period is $37 – if you pay the guy working in the office is $23. So thankful I read google when we found the garage.

Chris was lucky enough to drive back out of the city and onto Braga. In reality the only thing we went to see there was Bom Jesus, a pilgrimage site that the Portuguese has built in the 16 and 1700s. It became larger and larger over time. We parked above the church and walked through a park to get there. Then we climbed down the stairs and back up. Its a lot of stairs, but the landings for sure help it not feel so horrible.

I drove us away from Brage to Guimares. Here we are staying in an old monastery. It is basically 15 minutes from the nearest town by foot – but has beautiful gardens, a pool and a restaurant. We decided to hang by the pool once we got here. It was a nice relaxing end of the day. We even decided to eat dinner at the hotel so we didnt have to get back in the car. It was much fancier than yesterday (when I dressed up!) and of course I did not dress up tonight.

The food was great, and the service was the best we have had so far.

Tomorrow is our last day in Portugal and then it is back to real life. This is something I am most definitely not looking forward to. It has been so nice to be around people who know that wearing a mask means that we can keep living our lives safely. They are being selfless here and I have appreciated every last person doing their part to open the world back up.

More bones, duh!

We got up earlier than breakfast today so we could walk around town since we didnt get here until basically it was closed for the night yesterday. On our way out we asked to move breakfast to 10 so we could stop at the bone church (wooohoo) BEFORE we ate. They had an opening, so we moved it and set off to explore the waking city.

We didnt have much in mind to check out, just meandered around and witnessed the city come to life. Shop owners setting up for the day, cafes setting out tables and pastries. It was a wonderful way to start the day, along with the rest of the city.

We got to the church at opening, we beat the crowds (maybe there is a crowd?) and hit the church first (the bone chapel is next door). The church was pretty bland. I was actually very disappointed because it looked very cheap. Like the outside had PAINTED grout lines on it (it was stucco made to look like blocks) and the inside was the same way!! It was just shocking, so cheap looking!

Anyway, after the blasé church we headed to the bone chapel. This chapel even had two mummies! It is said that the mummies had been found hanging in the corner and stayed that way for a while. It was much more recently (like within the last 10 years or so) that they have been removed from their hanging position and placed in glass boxes. Their origin is unknown. The chapel was created by some nuns to show the fragility and temporariness of human life (kind of ironic in today’s world). Anyway, as always the bone churches are a site to see and really do speak to the temporariness of humanity.

After the bone church we headed back towards our hotel and the church behind it was finally open. We also decided to check this one out. This one had a tower you could go up to, so of course, we must climb! Turns out, it wasnt a tower, it was the ROOF! It was cool to walk around the whole roof of the church. Wasnt much more than that to see there, but the views were great and it was a nice site to see before we left!

We went back to our hotel to eat breakfast and to grab our things and hit the road! We had super lucked out with our parking spot last night, so it was a nice easy walk to our car with our bags. Getting out of our spot was another story. I had to park against the block wall on the drivers side, which meant I had to climb over the passenger seat to get into the driver seat. Since this car is diesel, the gears are a bit different in automatic. You arent “held” in place on a hill like a gas automatic. You still need to wait for the gear shift to happen. That being said, the spot was tight and made for a long process to get out. I kept panicking I was hitting the van in front of me, because of course I was left with very little room to navigate out of the spot. Chris so kindly got out to ensure that I wasnt hitting the cars or the wall.

Once we were on the road I realized we would need fuel again before we got to Porto, so about an hour and a half in I pulled over at a station and got some diesel. Diesel is so dirty that they provide GLOVES for you when fueling up. It is just so kind! This little Benz is getting great gas mileage – it was only our second fill up, and it wasnt even on empty – it just wasnt going to make it all the way there.

We hit the road again and in another hour or so we switched drivers. Chris drove the rest of the way and into Porto. Porto is a CRAZY city for driving. random turns, one way streets, things Google thinks are streets, but Americans think otherwise (still dont know if it was a street, but it wasnt worth it to figure it out). We turned down this street and I said “We should really find parking” and BOOM, 100 meters behind us was parking, we just passed it when I said it. Thankfully no one was behind us so Chris backed up and we got in line. The garage was full and so until vehicles leave the gate wont open. It is great that the system is so smart, but annoying when you want to park.

We were the third car, but all of a sudden 3 cars came out and we were able to get in. The spots are tighter than the ones in San Francisco, CA! We found the last spot in the garage and parked for the night. The hotel was about 500 meters from the garage, we couldnt have had better luck!

We got to our hotel room and Chris had to take a work call (stupid work getting in the way of life!). I went outside to read for a bit and enjoy the outdoors (its much cooler here and provides much a more comfortable experience). His work call was postponed until tomorrow, so he called the front desk to get us reservations at a Port tasting room and dinner reservations.

The Port tasting room was a 30 minute walk, it wasnt far, its just downhill to the river, then back up hill on the other side. Needless to say, I climbed more than 50 sets of stairs today according to my watch! Anyway, I learned a whole lot about Port wine, and that it actually isnt horrible (I thought it was a bitter wine, its much more fruit and smooth than regular wine). I took a sip of both red and white and then gave them to Chris. We ordered some olives, because SO GOOD!

After our Port tasting we had a hustle back to the hotel so we wouldnt be too late for dinner. Tonight was our “nice” dinner. For me that meant a button down and jeans. For Chris is meant the same….just nicer haha! He ironed my shirt so I wouldnt look like a hoodlum. We then headed back down to the river for dinner.

This place was super cool. We ate right on the water and enjoyed wonderful food, beautiful views, perfect weather and excellent company! We have been enjoying the snacks menu at dinner. Tonight we got bread and olive oil, sheep cheese and olives. All were very good! My meal was a “calzone,” a salad and potatoes. What it was, was a veggie omelet wrapped in a tortilla, shoe string fries (like the ones that come in a canister at the store) and a salad. It was good though. Chris got veal, a salad and au gratin potatoes (his really was all that).

After dinner we were heading for gelato and everything was already closing. It was only 9pm (I know REALLY late for me, but Im doing “Europe”) and so we knew there had to be something open with gelato. We walked past our hotel and found a place. This one had the best gelato yet. I got oreo and nutella. Chris got chocolate chip cookie crunch. It was excellent!

We did some souvenir shopping after that and headed back to bed! What another amazing day in Portugal!