Peaceful Pretty Porto

Miss Adri and I like beautiful things as much as a crackhead likes his drugs so we made it our mission to visit Portugal's most beautiful railway station, cafe and library on our first day :-) Nothing gets me going like gorgeous blue tiles and Porto is full of them! I had a spastic attack every time we saw a church covered with blue ceramic tiles or a quaint little house with a blue door. We visited a free photography museum, the crystal palace gardens and walked on the Dom Luís I Bridge. We covered a lot of ground in one day because Porto is a relatively small city. Beware of the hills because those kill under-exercised thighs *ouch*.

It is in Porto that we saw a pigeon taking a drawn-out shower in a fountain. He was cleaning his feathers because it was courting season.  Miss Adri and I saw so many male pigeons puff up their necks and running after females and heated displays of pigeon-machoism.  The pigeon didn't mind our voyeurism as we snapped photos of him showering. I really enjoyed Porto because they had a lot of artsy shops and crafty pop-up stores.  Some people might wonder if we tried any of the port wine. The answer is no. That drunken episode in Barcelona scarred us too much and we wanted to keep our wits about us since our stay was short. Instead, we strolled leisurely along the beach with our bikes.

Panda's top three things to see in Porto:

Lello & Irmão Bookstore - it is said that JK Rowling got her inspiration for Hogwarts from this book store.  Dark oak stairs and cabinets, luxurious red carpets, dangling lights and stained glass ceilings transport you to a wizardy world. Some reviews online say that you can't take pictures in the book store at certain times but we went there midday and all around us, people were snapping away.

Majestic Cafe - know as the most beautiful cafe in Portugal with its grandiose mirrors and belle epoque atmosphere. The price of your drink is obviously inflated because of the decor but it's totally worth it in my book. I could feel the elegance rub off on me, or maybe it was my sweat.

Sao Bento Railway Station - train stations always fill me with nostalgia because they used to be the only means of long distance travel. Nowadays we are so used to taking our cars or hop on a bus or set off on a plane that we forget how much history is contained within these tracks. At the Sao Bento railway station, Portuguese history is literally painted on their tiled walls. Travelers are welcomed with a visual delicacy when they step off their trains.

Eat, Chill and Repeat

Time really flies. Whether you are in a routine or on an adventure, I'm always bewildered by how fast the special and mundane moments of our lives flash by. It has already been two weeks since we came back from our trip to Spain and Portugal. I feel as if I need a vacation from my vacation because we had a pretty packed itinerary. The goal of our trip was to eat a lot of seafood, bask in the sunshine and forget about our life goals because who wants to think about *terror music* ZI FUTURE. All jokes aside, our trip was very comfortable and everything seemed to fall into its place in the end.  There were some minor mishaps (jumping off our train, losing some euros, having our bags zipped open) but clumsy moments are part of the journey. Instead of hostels, Miss Adri and I opted for a cool industrial loft Airbnb and we really enjoyed the experience! It felt as if we were living an ordinary life as a local.

Barcelona is a very agreeable city with lots of cute restaurants, cafes and shops.  Our first day was spent hitting the tourist sights: Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. They definitely look better on postcards and Google Images but we felt obligated to have a glance at these well known landmarks. On our second day, we had such a big lunch + wine that we were both food drunk and drunk drunk. We spent the remaining day walking through the streets trying to sober up from stuffing ourselves. Too much of a good thing is never a good thing people >___<! On our third day, we hiked to the Montserrat Monasteries and the 360 degree view from its highest peak was breath taking. We ended our trip in Barcelona with a bike stroll along the marina and the beach :) 

Here are some places you should eat at when you visit Barcelona: 

La Bombeta - they have the most amazing fried potato balls drenched in delicious spicy sauce. You will never look at potatoes the same way again.
Bosque Palermo - their paella was so fresh and flavourful that I thought the shrimp was going to wiggle outta the rice. The portions are generous enough to keep us full for the rest of the day.
Mercat de la Boqueria - you gotta find the stall that sells the spicy meat flaked pastries because they taste like heaven. My mouth was so busy chewing that I didn't even get to take a photo. That's when you know business is real...when there is no picture evidence 'cause it was devoured too quickly.