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Out of breath but in love...

Based on everything I'd read and heard from other travelers I knew there was a good chance we'd like Porto. I had no idea we would fall in love with Porto in just a few short hours. After yesterday's travel - and the adventure of the lost passport - we were exhausted, so we got a late start this morning. Turns out that didn't matter at all as our hotel is located literally smack dab in the City Center. In fact, Rick Steve's Porto Walk begins at the statue of Pedro IV which sits right outside the front door of the hotel. City Hall is directly facing us at the top of the Praça da Liberdade. I'm embarrassed to say that we've already eaten at the Imperial McDonald's (formerly the Imperial Cafe) which sits in King Pedro's shadow. He's probably horrified.

Our walk this morning began with a steep climb up the Rua Fábrica towards Praça Guilherme Gomes Fernandes. I've included several pics Dave took of the characteristic tile work that makes Porto so beautiful.

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After a stop for dessert at Padaria Ribeiro we came upon the Praça de Gomes Teixeira. The centerpiece of this square is the Fountain of Lions, and behind that is the main building of the University of Porto. The U of Porto is the second biggest in Portugal, with about 33,000 students. We also admired the Armazéns Cunha department store with its faded neon Art Deco sign and peacock, and paid a visit to the Carmo Church. It's really two fine Rococo churches in one which were connected by a tiny house so the nuns and monks inside never had to visit the outside world.

Click on the picture to start the slideshow

Right next door to U of Porto is the Livraria Lello bookstore, which MIGHT be notable to Harry Potter fans. I've never read the books or seen the movies, but we handed over 5 Euros each to enter the bookstore today anyway. It was gorgeous.

After the bookstore it was time to finish up the walk with a visit to Clérigos Church and Tower. The architect Nicolau Nasoni spent three decades of his life designing and building the church, Chapter House, and tower. Yeah, I climbed all 225 steps to the top. Slowly.

We finished our afternoon with a wine and port tasting at Touriga wine shop back on Rua Fábrica. The gal working in the shop was SO friendly and helpful. I have a new favorite wine - Azal - and Dave bought a bottle of tawny port.

It was 67 degrees and sunny here today. We may not come home.

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