Portugal – Spain 2020

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Going Solo – 10 Days in Portugal and Spain

This the first part of a three-part series about my journey through Portugal and Spain.

Summary of Trip

  • Cities Visited: Porto, Seville, Cordoba and Lisbon
  • Airlines Used: Qatar Airways, TAP Air Portugal
  • Intercity Rail Service: CP – Combois de Portugal and Renfe
  • City Commute: Metro, Trams, Uber
  • Dates Travelled: 27th Jan 2020 to 7th Feb 2020
  • Cameras Used: Nikon D7000 and Apple iPhone 7 Plus

My Daily Travel Planner

You can download it here. Useful for keeping time and planning the trip logistics.

27th January 2020

I arrived at Changi Airport, Singapore, for an early check-in. The crowd was noticeably thinner at the airport, not entirely unexpected due to the ongoing debacle that is the coronavirus epidemic. I slapped on a surgical mask for good measure.

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Jewel at Changi Airport, Singapore. Copyright LionelLam.com

28th January 2020

I arrived in Doha, Qatar for an hour-plus stopover before my connecting flight to Lisbon. After being cooped up in a pressurised metal cylinder for hours, it felt great to get the blood flowing in my legs again. Lovely airport by the way. Off I went with my connecting flight to Lisbon.

Seven gruelling hours later, I landed in Lisbon, and I found myself stuck at the tail-end of a snaking queue. By the end of it, I had probably wasted 3 hours of my life. Frequently stealing a glance at my watch, I wondered if I might miss my train to Porto. Lisboa Oriente station was just some 10 minutes car ride away though.

By some stroke of luck, I managed to reach Lisboa Oriente station just some 10 minutes shy from departure. I began my frantic search for the correct platform. In just the right moment, I boarded the train, and plonked down in my seat. I could now get some sleep, or so I thought. I decided instead to enjoy the passing landscapes. As the train neared Porto, the skies grew considerably more dreary.

It was raining on arrival in Porto. I was feeling slightly dazed and befuddled at Campanhã station, likely from the cold and fatigue from the long commute.

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Campanha Station, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

I checked into my apartment, and was greeted by my host Miguel – a larger-than-life personality with a strong grip of a handshake. After exchanging pleasantries, he disappeared for a few minutes, and then reappeared with a new bottle of hand soap. Miguel’s da man! 🙂

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My AirBnB Apartment, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

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My AirBnB Apartment, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

I was dead tired and sore from the 20 plus hours of commute. As I sank into my bed, I could feel the sheets and pillows suck the life out of me.

29th January 2020

Then I woke up. I was craving for my daily dose of caffeine. My stomach, rumbling like it was nobody’s business.

It was 3.00am.

Jet lagged, I think? Off to work I went, planning ahead for the day to come.

I set out for breakfast at 9.00am to what was a drizzly and chilly morning.

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Raining in Porto, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

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Breakfast at Mercador Café, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

After breakfast, I set out to find the Porto Cathedral. Unfortunately due to the rain and wind, I had to briefly take refuge at the Tourism Office, which was just in front of the cathedral.

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Porto Cathedral, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

The weather was indeed a letdown. Then again, it was not completely unexpected as it was indeed the rainy winter season. So off I returned to my apartment. Along the way, I stopped over at the LaVie Porto Baixa Shopping Center to stock up on supplies.

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LaVie Porto Baixa Shopping Center, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

The rain subsided by around 3.00pm that afternoon. I took off again, this time to Vila Nova de Gaia situated on the opposite bank of the Douro River. It was a short ride by metro from Trindade station, which is some 10 minutes walk from my apartment. I used the Andante Tour Card (they have 24 and 72 hour variants), which I bought from Trindade Station’s Andante office. Nearest metro station to Vila Nova de Gaia is Jardim do Morro.

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The Douro River, as Seen from Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

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The Ribeira, as Seen from Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

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The Ribeira, as Seen from Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

Nice. The day was not completely wasted.

30th January 2020

I woke up to a gloomy and wet morning (what’s new?). The outdoors had not been kind to me. So I’ll instead be spending more time indoors.

First stop for the day, the Bolsa Palace, which served as the stock exchange complex some years back. It has a somewhat mundane-looking exterior, but a gilded and ornate interior which was a work-in-progress for some six decades. Respect.

Admission charges is inclusive of a guided tour in English, Portuguese or Spanish.

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The Bolsa Palace, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

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The Bolsa Palace, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

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The Arab Room, The Bolsa Palace, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

Lunch was a straightforward affair – just nearby is reputedly the “world’s most beautiful” McDonald’s restaurant, whose reputation is reinforced by the lovely Art Deco interior and chandeliers.

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McDonald’s Imperial, Porto, Northern Portugal. Copyright LionelLam.com

With the weather worsening, I scuttled back to the apartment to plan for Seville and Córdoba (to be continued in Part 2).

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