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PORTO WITH A&K
The perfect place to escape the temperamental Great British 'summer', Porto is a tightly-clustered assortment of colourful tumbledown houses, soaring bell towers and stately Baroque churches, connected by a winding network of narrow streets and zigzagging staircases which emerge in pretty, sun-drenched plazas. The city has undergone somewhat of a renovation of late with an efficient metro system and innovative shopping centres; the Contemporary Art Museum and the cubist cool Casa da Música are well worth a visit, but Porto's traditional design still holds true. In ancient, UNESCO-listed Ribeira, Roman ruins lie beneath the city's foundations and locals mingle with tourists before peeling shop fronts. Nearby Vila Nova de Gaia offers a taste of rural Portugal.
A river cruise takes in the magnificent Rio Douro, a wide, meandering waterway flowing under the two instantly recognisable iron bridges, Dom Luís and Maria Pia. Porto is loved by the literati: browse the shelves of Livraria Lello, one of the world's most beautiful bookshops with its Art Nouveau façade and seemingly floating scarlet staircase. Traditional blue and white azulejos adorn a magnificent wall of the Igreja do Carma convent, whose interior is a richly gilded example of Baroque and Rococo architecture. In Ribeira visit the adegas - wine cellars on the harbour, for a taste of local Port.
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