Our office trip to Porto this year began on Friday at a eye-watering 3 am for those of us who'd elected to fly from Gatwick. A later group left from Stansted and by midday we were all on Portuguese soil!
An afternoon walking tour was an opportunity for us to take in some small-scale regeneration projects in the once impoverished Campanhã district. We visited two warehouse conversions on the same street: the beautiful Loft Miraflor by local architect (and our guide) Alexandre Loureiro, followed by the Espaço Mira gallery space. A stop at the Porto d'Artes performance space, recently refurbished entirely in cork, concluded the day's tour.
A quick return to our hotel and a cable car ride later we were Port tasting at Taylor's in the Vila Nova de Gaia, before having a lovely dinner in their adjacent restaurant overlooking the Douro River.
Saturday morning's architectural tour began with Alvaro Siza's Bouça social housing scheme en route to Rem Koolhaas's innovative Casa da Música, an incredible asymmetrical polyhedron extending over nine floors. After a tour through the concert hall and its many smaller areas, we made our way to boutique hotel Casa do Conto, recently refurbished following fire by local architect Pedra Líquida. One of the hotel's co-owners was on hand to explain the hotel's history and give us a tour of three of its six rooms.
The rest of the weekend was free for us to explore the city as we chose, which included the Museu Serralves, Gustave Eiffel's Dom Luis I Bridge and even a jet boat ride on the Douro!
Special thanks go to our Office Manager Danielle for arranging a wonderful trip and to our two lovely tour guides, Alex and Matilde.