Aah, our first REAL summer vacation together. The stress and fear to end up in a shitty apartment/hotel in a shitty neighbourhood was real. After hours of looking through apartments on Airbnb and Booking.com we decided to simply fill in ‘Europe’ as the destination and the dates we wanted to go. We ended up finding a really nice apartment on booking.com in Matosinhos in Portugal. And so we decided that Portugal was going to be the destination for our first real holiday together.
Matosinhos seemed like a great idea since it’s a little town near the beach and not too far from Porto so we could combine both. In total we stayed in 3 different areas of Portugal in 2 weeks and I have to say, if I could do it all over I might have stayed in Matosinhos for 2 weeks straight. We stayed in a lovely apartment, had a great fish market just around the corner, the beach a few blocks away and we could take the bus or an Uber to Porto for when we were feeling a little wild and in need of city life. We ended up not going very often, because DOING NOTHING IS GREAT. I don’t talk about the beach much in this post, but just so you know that Matosinhos’ beach is very nice and whenever we were not at a restaurant eating we were probably laying at the beach.
Breakfast at the local bakery
I love creating small rituals on holiday; a coffee on the balcony, watching Netflix in bed, going to the market, or in our case having breakfast at the local bakery almost every morning. Our favorite two bakeries in the area were Padaria Popular and Panificadora Central De Matosinhos. I loved picking out a different pastry every single morning and having breakfast while practising our Portuguese with DuoLingo hoping that next time we could order in Portuguese.
Trips to the Fishmarket
The Mercado Municipal de Matosinhos is one of the main reasons I loved this town so much. Waking up, opening your window, smelling the fresh fish from the fishing boats, having a pastry at the bakery and heading straight to the market to buy fresh seafood and vegetables for a home-cooked dinner in the evening, was literally the formula for a perfect holiday (if you love cooking at least). I am so sad about the poor flavor of the tomatoes we get in Belgium. The dishes we cooked up in Matosinhos will never taste as good with the ingredients we get at home. But that’s the fun part about traveling right? Things shouldn’t feel like home I guess.
Fish every day!
I never really liked fish much, and especially since I don’t live with my parents anymore and there is no one left to force me to eat it. That’s why I haven’t eaten any fish for a long time. But waking up to the smell of fresh fish, and passing by restaurants with BBQ’s outside where they are grilling fish everyday really turned me into a fish lover! We had some lovely fishy experiences at: Cafe Nitama (Bolos de Becalhau and a delicious glass of sparkling wine), Mister Couto (various range of delicious seafood) and Casa Serrão (A grilled fish to share and some pimientos de padron on the side please!)
Trips to Porto
Lareira is one of my few favorite places in Porto. Sitting by the window with a glass of delicious Sangria, a Pork Shank and Portuguese cheese sandwich with a side of chips was heaven! This was so much better than we expected and we were sad that we didn’t discover this place sooner. We really wanted to come back for a second taste. I highly recommend going here and trying their Sangria and a sandwich! Thank me later.
For when you’re craving something non-portuguese I recommend you go to Frankie Hot Dogs for a very nice, special and greasy Hot Dog. Not so Portuguese, but very much ‘New York’.
Spencer and I really hate ‘visiting things’, but we know we actually should. And this time I’m so happy our incredible lunch gave us the forces to go and visit this ‘hyped’ bridge. Oh boy, it was so worth it! Walking over the Louis I-Bridge was so calming and impressive at the same time. When we arrived on the other side we did this very touristy thing where we had a guy take a polaroid picture of us and bought it for 3 euros. It was a total tourist experience and it was lovely.
No tourist actually wants to look like a tourist (I think) and also no tourist wants to sit at a restaurant with other tourists thinking dinner time is at six. We made sure to keep ourselves busy until 9pm so we could have dinner like the real Portuguese people. And by ‘busy’ I mean alcohol and tapas. We went with a big glass of Sangria and a nice antipasti platter at Champanheria da Baixa. Would definitely go back here for some more!
(For your info: we went to Porto twice so all of this goodness wasn’t consumed in one day, although we could…) Another nice place for Aperitivo is Aduela Taberna/Bar. A very nice spot to escape the touristic center and be surrounded by young local people.
We ended up at Panca where we had a love-ly dinner. This was the best octopus I ever had and my first ever ceviche. This was one of my favorite restaurants of our trip. We never really had a bad or disappointing dinner, but this is a place I really look forward to go back to when I visit Porto again. (As you can tell I was really enjoying myself)
We had the best time and I highly recommend visiting Matosinhos and especially staying at this beautiful apartment. I know this was a very extensive blogpost, but I hope it can help you finding your way in Porto or can encourage you to visit these places. Stay tuned for my next post about our second destination in Portugal and feel free to contact me through Instagram if you have any questions or recommendations yourself!