After tip-toeing downhill the steep hills and/or polished cobblestone (why?!) of Porto on a rainy Saturday afternoon, we were relieved to find some sun and take some big steps out to Matosinhos – the seafood capital of Portugal, possibly the world. I passed a sign from the visitors center claiming the title, so it was on the day’s to-do list.
Again, I am so glad to no longer be allergic to shellfish or not have any serious allergic reactions for a few years just as long as I don’t physically touch them with my hands. My mouth totally doesn’t count, sometimes.
How-to Get to Matosinhos from Downtown Porto
We were so excited to see the ocean after two months living near the Vltava River in Praha, Czech Republic and a month right next to Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois, USA. I never knew how spoiled we were for living next to the Pacific Ocean for the majority of our lives.
We inhaled the salty sea air and embraced the warm air, it was at least 22°C (71.6°F) on Sunday which is an incredibly warm November day. Definitely, a day for shorts and a short-sleeved shirt but most locals strolling down the boardwalk were dressed in their Sunday best plus coats, scarves, and boots. Beach wear was strictly left to the people in the water or on the sand.
We kept walking until we saw Forte de São Francisco Xavier do Queijo also known as Castelo do Queijo or Cheese Castle. <insert crying and laughing emoji> Queijo means cheese in Portuguese otherwise, I have no idea why it’s called that and neither does Wikipedia. After paying cinquenta centavos (50 euro cents) to take a look inside the fort, we took cheese-y cannon photos like a Top Model challenge. We’ll let you be Tyra Banks and decide who won this round.
Chestnuts Roasting Over An Open Fire
Raise your hand if you remember this tune (oh wait I can’t see you) or know how to roast chestnuts at home. Because I thought I was being clever by recreating this at home in our oven. You know what I got instead? An hour’s worth of clean-up duty because I didn’t score the chestnuts or sprinkle them with water before roasting like this helpful recipe suggests. At least the house smelled like autumn for half the day.
Roasted chestnuts or castanhas assadas (probably pronounced cash-tuh-shahs uh-shah-dash) are sold by many vendors this time of the year. It was also chestnut day or something, but wasn’t too sure because I didn’t talk to many other humans the day it happened.
Eating Seafood at Restaurante Tito I
After a few hours of walking around the beach, fort, park, and checking out an outdoor market where I scored a sweater with a bunch of eyes on it — we were hungry. As delicious as a dozen chestnuts are, we would be dumb to go to Matosinhos and miss eating the world’s best fish.
It was nearly 16:00 by the time we made it to restaurant row which was good since there was no wait and bad because they were also closing up for the day. Luckily, Tito was still able to seat and feed us! We ordered grilled sardines (sardinhas), grilled octopus (pulvo à lagareiro), vegetables of the day (dose de legumes) and a bottle of vinho verde. We had so much food leftover, we ate the rest for breakfast the next day!
<photos TBD after I figure out some hard drive and syncing issues>
Sunset & Sea Tragedy Monument
After linner (lunch-dinner), we walked back down the promenade as the sun was setting and the sky turned into hues of pinks and purples. Most people will remember Matosinhos as beautiful seaside destination when in Porto, but we should also learn about Tragédia do Mar (tragedy at the sea) memorialized as a powerful sculpture:
The day December the 1st, 1947 is remembered as one of saddest dates for the fishing community of Matosinhos – the sinking of four trawlers which killed 152 fishermen. In July 2005, based on a framework by the master Augusto Gomes, a sculpture by artist José João de Brito paying tribute to the victims of the shipwreck and their families.
Matosinhos is a 30-40 minute metro ride from Downtown Porto and I’d recommend having lunch first before walking down the beach, if you’re planning a leisurely day of sightseeing.
- Praia de Matosinhos
- Pink Movement Vintage and Local Fashion Market
- Forte de São Francisco Xavier do Queijo (Castelo do Queijo)
- Parque da Cidade
- Jardim Senhor do Padrão
- Restaurante Tito I | map
- Modì, Gelateria Italiana
- Escultura Tragédia do Mar
Have you been to Matosinhos? Tell me your favorite place/s by commenting below or send me a Tweet!