Porto. Where everyday life has a taste of magic

Beautiful panoramic view of Porto

‘What do you want to watch?’

‘Find something magical. Please.’

This is a standard dialogue of P. and me when we are thinking what movie we should watch. Due to the fact, that P. isn’t a fantasy movie lover (‘Come on, L., lets watch Mad Max!’. Crazy.), sometimes movie night just doesn’t happen for us.

As I think now, something similar happened when P. had to choose his destination for Erasmus. Just this time there was no difficulties in making a choice.

‘Porto or Marseille?’ he asked a year ago.

‘Porto!’ was my suggestion.

And that time I suggested something magical.


Thursday. July. Porto.

L. goes to explore things, which has crossed her eyes, but there wasn’t enough time to check them properly (P. has to write his course paper. However, he came here to study).

It is a fourth time in five months, when I’m walking on the streets of the riverside of Rio Douro. However, all my visits here were short, so there are still lots of things I want to see. And this time, I have two months for exploring my beloved city.

First stop – handbag boutique.

My new bag!

My travel handbag has seen a lot. During the past journeys it got so tired, that it transformed from light grey to a dirty dark something.

There are certainly many interesting places where you can go shopping in Porto. You just need to make a right turn. In the boutique near Clerigos Tower, which I have captured on my last visit, I bought a small backpack. We can go further.

Next stop is Majestic Café. This is the place, Dear Reader, where magical things of today’s route starts.

According to the legend, these tables – matured with a lot of love, friendly conversations and small arguments – are the birthplace of the secret corridors of Hogwarts. And with every step deeper into the thicket of really majestic Café, it gets totally clear WHY. White marble façade with golden Majestic Café written on it, walls coated in dark wood (probably oak?), puffy ornaments on the ceiling.

Mirrors – the same as in 20s? Probably. How many generations have they heard talking?

Uproar, as if it were Great Hall during a breakfast.

Spectacularly majestic patio. Do you know what stands there? Yep, the same sink as in Prefects’ bathroom on the fifth floor.

I am quite sure that after a minute or two here, you will find yourself thinking which of the tables had impacted the birth of magical saga the most. Maybe it was that one on the left with dark brown leather armchairs?

Majestic cafe during day-time

Where are we going next? Up! via Rua da Santa Catarina.

Look at that red round cornered building with its big white windows. Even Rolex shop on the ground floor doesn’t take its XVIII century charm. Or into that white one with a swimsuit shop on the ground floor. You can’t deny that it looks like covered in a thick layer of sweet, sweet sugar glaze. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, that I am walking on the streets of the story, which took place at XVIII century. And even more often I catch myself repeating ‘This is magical’ in my head over and over again.

Rua de Santa Catarina goes up and down. In fact, not only this street, but all Porto old town is curly from these ups and downs. At the upper part of this pedestrian street is a church named Capela das Almas. It is covered in those spectacular white and blue Portuguese tiles (azulejo1).  Despite the fact, that in North Portugal it is quite a common thing, I admire these decorations each time I walk through them.

What a beauty!

Next? One right turn and now we are at Mercado do Bolhao. City’s main market also makes you feel kind a magical. It’s a big two-floor building with a lot of typical Portuguese goods inside it – from fruits to souvenirs. It is crowded and chaotic, old and charming. And authentic – from the moment you enter, you can feel that traditions are preserved here. But the things I admire here the most, are small traditional food and wine shops around Mercado. With colorful wooden façades and all the tasty stuff hanging from the ceiling, lying on the stalls, arranged in the cupboards and baskets.

Oh, but it’s a real fairytale! And this carousel of good emotions and beautiful sights took only an hour walk.

However, it will be enough for today – it’s almost lunch time with P.

But… I Solemnly Swear, it will be continued.

Today’s route: Rua da Santa Catarina (starting from Rua de Passos Manuel) – a piece of Rua de Fernandes Tomas – a piece of Rua Formosa.

  1. Azulejo


    Azulejo – is a form of Spanish and Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework. Azulejos are found on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary houses, schools, and nowadays, restaurants, bars and even railways or subway stations. They were not only used as an ornamental art form, but also had a specific functional capacity like temperature control in homes. Via wikipedia.com