Few days ago, I shared a few photos taken during the last weekend of the season spent abroad ( and the year I think). Before I you take with me in the colorful streets of Porto, here’s an article with some useful information.
Opodo, the online travel agency to avoid! Two and a half months before our departure , we had booked our tickets via Opodo which proposed interesting pricez with go with Vueling flight ( with just hand luggage ) and a return flight by Air Méditerranée (with checked baggage included perfect for bringing back some stuffs ), all for 118 € / person . But then 30 days before departure, we received an e -mail informing us that … » For commercial reasons CDG PORTO CDG line is canceled as of September 21, 2013 . » They kindly offer flights from Lisbon to Paris but hey, we were not suposed to be at Lisbon but at Porto… In short, we no longer had fly back and we tried to contact Air Méditerranée for repayment but as we booked through Opodo the travel agency is the one to reimburse us. We try to contact Opodo but it’s almost a ghost company, we can’t get anyone! A month and a half after the cancellation of the flight , we haven’t been reimbrused and we had to pay another return flight also.
Vueling, the low cost airline which has its advantages For the return flight we had finally taken Vueling. By booking the tickets one month in advance, we had to pay € 67 which represents 57 % of the initial price of our trip but it could have been worse! With this unexpected, the go and back was witht this Vueling arline. This is my 2nd experience with this low cost company and I must admit that I’m starting to love it. The seats are more comfortable than the seats in Ryanair or Easyjet and over the cabin suitcase, you can have a handbag ! The next time I travel, we’ll book directly through the company rather than buying on Opodo I’ll ban because of his non-existent customer service!
To go to Porto from Paris, it takes 2 hours flight. The airport is quite nice and modern, but it is especially easy to navigate even if you do not speak Portuguese! In return, there was a delay of 1:30, but fortunately the airport has a few shops and something to eat because time would have seemed longer!
ACCOMMODATION For our 3 days 2 nights in Porto, was booked at the Sheraton’s. 2 rooms for 2 people with breakfast included and access to the SPA, we paid €395 or €99 / person which is pretty reasonable for a 5 stars and « Deluxe » rooms. The rooms were very nice and spacious. The spa was beautiful and with the bad weather we had, I can tell you that it was an extreme comfort!
The facade of the Sheraton is all glass and lifts were in transparency, mounted and descent are real attractions. The view is not the most remarkable but rather significant day and night.
In the morning, we took the breakfast in the dining room with its soft carpet, its upholstered armchairs and well layed tables. In addition to pastries, we had a small selection of local pastries, and a cook who made tortillas on demand. It was very good, and so good that we only had quick lunch in the middle of the afternoon.
The small downside of this hotel is its location. If it is in Porto and even a few hundred meters from the subway, there is not much around. We had to have a long walk or take the subway before seeing a little animation, and even then …
UNDERGROUND Porto is not a very big city but the best way to move quickly is still the underground. We can of course take the time to walk but the streets are often slopes which can tire quickly and as the streets are paved, you must be very careful when it rains because a slip can happen. The subway is in very good condition if not new. Compared to Paris network, it looks more like a tram than the metro even if there are underground parts. Curiosity of the network, all lines have the same layout in Porto crossing the city from east to west. Only one line can reach the south of the city and the Douro even though the lively part of the city lies on the river.
The ticket is called Andante, and this is a card you buy at 0.50 € and you recharge by unit or lot. We bought the tickets according to the departure area and destination area. Nearby charging stations, there is a map of Porto divided into zones and a list with the metro stations and the corresponding areas. Depending on the areas of departure and arrival, the rate varies and it is downright cheap. To get from the airport (z4) to our hotel (z2), we paid only € 1.80! As a reminder, Orlyval is € 8.70 to go from orly to Antony and it costs € 11.30 to get Paris. For shorter trips, it costs € 1.20 and the title is valid 1h.
THE CITY: The toursime doesn’t match with crisis When we arrived, we decided to go in the south of the city by foot because it is nice to walk around and discover the city on our rythm. But then, from the hotel to the first monuments, we met nobody. The town is almost deserted. It is only in the Santa Catarina street the shopping street and along the Douro that we had the impression of seeing the people. Everywhere else, the streets are less crowded so … I know we can only compare what is comparable but in Paris there are always people everywhere and at any time of the day, and in Porto it seems to be empty all the time. In addition, there are a lot of abandoned buildings, closed shops and restaurants and the with the gray weather we had, we really felt like being in an abandoned city, hit by the crisis.
Despite that, we had a good good time! I will tell you and show you more in next articles!