Since my return to Europe everything happens so slowly and I feel so stuck in this transit time, that before feeling totally drowned, I had to buy a flight ticket. Two cities were in my mind: Porto and Tel Aviv. Porto has been on my bucket list for a very long time, so my decision was made based on the first-come-first logic.
I left to the airport with zero excitement, it felt just like a daily routine; I guess, I am not really interested in Europe anymore.
Travelling has a side effect that is either good or bad: meeting others. I am basically an introvert solo traveller and happy with it. When I see people who don’t understand the very clear sentence of “please stay in your seat until the aircraft has come to a complete standstill and the fasten seatbelt sign has been switched off”, I just secretly wish the pilot hits the brakes and they hit the floor.
No matter how much these people were in the rush, I had my pineapple magic: we arrived in the sunset and the sequin pineapple on the girl’s t-shirt next to me started to shine all around in the cabin. It was a real disco and a happy landing.
Porto’s airport is close to the city and it has a really good subway network; no taxi or shuttle is needed, and it’s nice to have an architectural view right after arriving (all the colourful houses and tiles everywhere).
My destination was the São Bento (the centre of the centre) and upon arrival I had a double strange feeling. First, when I arrived at the square and looked around I didn’t understand where am I and where are all the Chinese? I get easier used to Asians than to Western people and for a few seconds it was confusing. Second, the Queima das Fitas – the biggest university celebration. I don’t go in details but it was fun to see Harry Potters everywhere.
I stayed at the Being Porto Hostel and can heartily recommend it; perfect location, stylish building, comfy rooms, nice staff, delish breakfast, and my favourite, the balcony:
The wonder of Two
I only had two days in Porto that was only enough an instant impression. All basic tourist information is already on Google, I will not tell here any must see and must do.. only share my quick experiences.
Two things were immediately clear after the arrival: Portuguese are car-addicts and constructions are everywhere. The constant traffic was a bit tiring, but fortunately Porto still has empty, silent and hidden streets and alleys that balance the feeling.
I also observed two things in Portuguese’s attitude. They have act a bit strange; like life is hurting them so much. I don’t understand why, and they are not rude or anything, just their mimic and gestures tell more. They also enter personal space all the time. Asians don’t know this expression and they also don’t have peripheral vision, but Portuguese have. It’s nothing offensive, they just don’t realise that there is someone around them, and experiencing this in Europe was surprising.
Anyway, I enjoyed my time with music in my ears, wandering around and I also discovered two favourite locations in the city: the Rua do Rosário and the Praça da República (nothing special, they just have a really nice vibe).
Art is Everywhere
I didn’t come to Porto because of the history, architecture, wine and food etc. My only interest was the street art, and I wanted to hunt as my murals as I just could. I’m happy with my personal pinned Porto-map, I finally saw my very first Vhils, Mr.Dheo and many other random awesomeness.
Of course, the classic azulejo is beautiful (don’t miss the São Bento Railway Station), and so Porto just confirmed my opinion that streets are way better than museums.
Eat & Drink
Porto is the new mecca of foodies. Not bad, but my taste changed already, and sometimes the midday siesta (somewhere between 2 and 6 pm) and the off days killed my vibe; I had to skip almost all my pinned restaurants, because of the opening hours.
Luckily my top place was open when I needed it. I definitely wanted to find a local place with simple food and the Adega Vila Meã was a perfect choice.
It was late (around 9 pm) and the place busy. After I got my seat the perfect starter arrived: Broa de Avintes with some Queijo Saloio. OMG, I know it’s just bread and cheese, but the texture, the smell and the taste.. heaven! The main course Rojões à Portuguesa reminded me of our Hungarian classic pork dishes: the tender meat and the gently roasted potatoes are really savoury (for one person the half portion is more than enough). My belly was so full and happy that no dessert fit this time, but I’m sure those are delicious as well. This adega is really worth a visit.
The Cais da Ribeira (the main riverfront promenade) is always busy, but after the Dom Luís I bridge it’s more quiet and chill, with the same amazing sunset view. Here I found a wine and tapas bar, the À Bolina. On my first visit I asked for a girly wine, and got one for a strong independent woman (and this is not a complaint). The second time I also tried a meats & cheese plate, and the very best homemade chocolate cake ever.. oh, and I changed the wine for caipirinha (I was excited about the women handball final, needed something stronger).
An extra tip for weekend vibes: the Armazém. This place is a mixture of a gallery, flea market and tapas bar. I didn’t eat here just went in to look around, but I really liked the atmosphere.
This is not a Love Story
My mini-holiday had an interesting side effect; I not only had more discussion than usual (where did the introvert-me disappear?), but the main topics were love, relationships, personal history and all kind of feelings.
Everyone has a story and the need for sharing is in our nature. Why not fall in love, why to protect ourselves, why to separate feelings (people to love) and needs (people to use to satisfy instincts). Everyone gets lost in life at least once, goes blind from feelings, loses the point between reality and imagination. Me too. I can’t list all the conversations, but the conclusion of this weekend is that love is caring, and people chose love (= caring) instead of focusing on the OneAndOnly. Is it good or bad? I don’t know, but the topic was stuck with me.. and this song too:
It takes courage to open unknown doors, but we might be surprised by what we find behind. I have a bad habit to enter forbidden places (or just those where I’m not really supposed to be). It’s not just exciting, but usually this is how I find real hidden gems that have a story and a special atmosphere. It can be a beautiful everyday scenery, a little garden, or even a staircase:
My advice (to travel and to people) is to be curious, go and explore, but take your nice attitude and politeness with you, never forget that you are only a guest.
The Ocean calls
I miss the Vitamin Sea so much that I wanted to see and feel it again. The wide empty beach (I chose the Praia da Sereia, aka Mermaid beach), the warm sand and the salty air, the light breeze and the huge waves, the endless power of the water, and the familiar realisation of how small and unimportant we are brought me back to life. I could finally breathe again, all my anxiety was gone (at least for this afternoon), and I’m truly grateful for this.
Two days in Porto are little but enough. I got a lot of visual, emotional and philosophical stimulation here. These days confirmed, that I am not a European tourist anymore, I still want to care, I rather stay in an imaginary world as long as there’s the “za za zu” (as Picasso said: “Everything you can imagine is real.”), and that ups and downs are real: “kicsi ez a Porto, csak qrva dombos” (Porto is small just f*ckin hilly).