So, we now live in Canidelo, a neighborhood in Vila Nova de Gaia which is across the river from Porto where port wine is stored and aged. The views from either side to the other are fabulous! We have been here almost five weeks and we have not yet cracked the surface of all there is to see in Gaia, much less Porto. All I know for sure is that we really need to prioritize our travels because, we are way too old to see/do it all! We could spend a year exploring different routes to the beach or the river from our apartment!
We do have a few landmarks to keep us centered. In the unfortunate department: Mc Donald’s and Burger King are way too close, about a 20-minute walk away. No escaping US influence anywhere in the world, I’m sorry to say. And these are probably two of the worst offerings from the states.
In the it’s a wacky world department, right near Mc Donald’s is a round about that has a 20-foot-tall strawberry in the middle of it. Now, that’s a landmark! Vila Nova de Gaia has an agricultural history and has an ear of corn and strawberries in its coat of arms. And yes, they are delicious, the strawberries, that is!
Gaia is also well known for its beaches. There is a 14-mile boardwalk that starts in Espinho a little north of Gaia and runs through Gaia along the beach. The beaches are beautiful and there is a 17th century chapel towards the south end of the boardwalk. The Chapel of Senhor da Pedra is practically in the ocean on the rocks. During high tide it is in the water!
There are many great restaurants in Gaia, as well. The 4 Caminhos Brazilian steak house has all the great aspects of the big Brazilian restaurants in the states without the exorbitant prices and over the top salad bar.
Bairra is a tiny hole in the wall owned by a local celebrity chef, Pedro Sanchez. The tables are set with champagne glasses and Pedro suggests a glass of the local sparkling wine to start. You don’t have to ask me twice! It was as good as any champagne. We never saw a menu, we just took his suggestions and said, bring us whatever you think we’d like. This is my kind of place! The bread, cheeses and sausage were outstanding and the roast pork we had for an entrée was one of the best dishes to be had anywhere. It paired perfectly with the local white blend wine that he suggested for us. The chocolate pot de crème dessert was choco bliss. Everything was made in house and with dessert we had a local cinnamon honey whiskey (also made in house) that was dangerously delicious at 100 proof. But wait, there’s more! Then our gracious host poured us some of his 30-year-old tawny port. Holy mother of wow! Nectar of the Gods, I tell you! Oh, and Bairra is an eight-minute walk from our place. Pretty much everything you could possibly need is within easy walking distance. Yes, I think we have chosen wisely!