since I returned to Europe this year, everything moves sooo slowly forward and I feel sooo stuck in this transit time (waiting for the next big step) that before feeling totally drowned, I had to buy a flight ticket. two cities were in my mind: Porto and Tel Aviv. as Porto has been on my bucket list for a very long time, my decision was made based on first-come-first logic and the time has come to visit with an okay-price ticket.
the most interesting part of my departure is that I was not excited at all. I went to the airport as if it were daily routine, without even caring or realizing it.. I felt just like okay, go somewhere, whatever. I’m not really interested about Europe anymore and I guess this feeling is hiding in the background.. or not.
on the other hand travel has a side effect: meeting others.. and in some cases you have no choice. I am basically an introvert-solo-traveler and I am happy with it.. especially when I see groups on the plane who are not able to understand the very simple sentence “please stay in your seat until the aircraft has come to a complete standstill and the fasten seatbelt sign has been switched off”. maybe it’s not nice from me, but I secretly wish the pilot to hit the brakes and see all verybusyperson falling down (muhaha).
but no matter how these people rushed, I got my pineapple magic: we arrived right 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 simple and the city has really good subway network, so it’s very easy to get into the center: no taxi or shuttle is needed, locals use it the same way, and actually it’s nice to have an architectural view right after arriving – you know, all these colorful houses and tiles everywhere.
my destination was the São Bento (the center of the center) and on arrival I had a double strange feeling. first of all when I came to the square and looked around I didn’t understand where am I and where are my Chinese??? really.. I get used to Asian people quicker than to Western people around me and that 15 seconds were so confusing that I just turned around ‘till I realized my location (strange hahh?). the other thing was the Queima das Fitas – the biggest university celebration. I don’t go in details but it was fun to see Harry Potters literally everywhere. :)
I stayed at the Being Porto Hostel and I can heartily recommend it: perfect location, stylish building, comfy rooms, nice staff, breakfast.. and my favorite, the balcony (it was a real surprise, since during booking I only checked the pictures of the room and the bathroom).
I only had 2 days in Porto, which is not much – simply didn’t have the time to experience the real Portuguese lifestyle, just got my very first and very instant impression. if you need standard touristy info then please google it: believe me, everything is already written, there’s nothing else to say about “how to” and “what to” or “must to”. I will not recommend things here, maybe just tell the reality behind the main spots.
two things were immediately clear after arrival: Portuguese are car-addicts and constructions are everywhere. the constant traffic was a bit tiring, but fortunately Porto has still some empty, silent and hidden streets and alleys around. in one I even found a totally dead house about that I imagined how would I rebuild it and how cool it could be. :) btw there are 2 more things I experienced with Portuguese. first, they have a strange attitude, like life is hurting them.. very much. I don’t really understand why, they are not rude or something and try to strain themselves, but the mimic tells more. second, they enter personal space all the time. we can say about Asians that they don’t have peripheral vision, but Portuguese have and again it’s not offensive, they just don’t realize that there is someone besides them.
anyway, I enjoyed my time with music in my ears, wandering around and I also discovered two favorite locations in the city: Rua do Rosário and Praça da República – don’t really know why, but I felt there a really nice vibe.
among the sights maybe the most disappointing point was the Livraria Lello. I love books and old bookstores, the smell of the paper, and the history in the wooden interior.. but I don’t see the point of standing in line then in the crowd in tight spaces. I don’t want to make the pictures of my life anymore (it’s easy to download them from the Internet), but I need the value and the enjoyment on site. this bookstore is absolutely not a hidden gem anymore (as you can find it), so I skipped off out the door and walked away.
bad habit (?), but I like to enter when I see an open door.. this way it’s easy to find cool and beautiful everyday sceneries, staircases, little gardens and so on. I suggest to do the same.. just don’t be rude or offensive (as I see it sometimes), don’t forget that you are a guest, explore with smile and nice attitude.
art is everywhere
I did not come to Porto because of history, architecture, city view, wine and food etc.. one thing interested me: the street art. my goal was to hunt all the murals I’m fond of. it was obvious that on the way it’s impossible to escape the attractions, but I always try to get away from the crowd as soon as possible..
I’m happy with my personal pinned Porto-map, as I could finally see live my very first Vhils, Mr.Dheo and many other random awesomeness.
of course the classic azulejo is beautiful as well – the São Bento railway station is a “must see” -, and Porto just confirmed my opinion that streets are way better than any museum.
extra: the Armazém. this is a typical cool place, a mixture of gallery, flea market and tapas bar. still not crowded (or I was just lucky with the timing), it’s worth to look around and have a coffee here.
eat & drink
as I read, Porto is the new Mecca of foodies. well.. not bad, but nothing special (Brazilian food is better :P). on the other hand, the “long” siesta (somewhere between 2 and 6pm) and the off days (1-2 days somewhere between Sunday and Wednesday) killed my vibe: I had many places on my list to visit and try nice food, but (my fault) I didn’t check the opening hours so had to skip almost all of them. cafés and bakeries are everywhere, finding snacks on the way is not a problem, but I needed something else.
however, one restaurant was open in the right place and right time, and I’m very glad for it since it provided the best food experience: Adega Vila Meã.
I definitely wanted to find a local place with simple food (nothing fancy this time) and this adega is a perfect example of delicious and filling dishes. it was late (around 9pm), but I still had to wait few minutes ‘till I got a free table. first of all, that bread: the Broa de Avintes with some Queijo Saloio is a perfect start! the texture, the color, the taste.. and it’s just a bread, but sooo good. the Rojões à Portuguesa reminded me of our (Hungarian) classic pork dishes: the tender meat and gently roasted potatoes are really savory (for one person the half portion is more than enough). I was so full that I could not try any dessert, but I’m sure it’s delish too, so according to my experience, this small place is absolutely worth a visit.
the other place where I spent more time is À Bolina. the Cais da Ribeira (the main riverfront promenade) is evidently full with locals and tourist alike, but if you walk a bit behind the bridge (Dom Luís I) it’s more silent and chill with the same amazing sunset view. this is a wine and tapas bar where I asked for a girly wine and got one for a strong independent woman. :) after half day walking I really needed the chill.. and a meats & cheese plate. when I started following online the handball final, I was so excited that I ordered a homemade chocolate cake (OMG.. I’m not a choco cake type, but that was amazing) and changed my wine for a really nice caipirinha (I like bartenders and bartenders like me ;)). In summary, with the sunny weather, the tasty food, the good drinks and the Győri AUDI ETO winning the Champions League, it was a perfect Sunday.. almost.
this is not a love story
..then I got the news that whom I want to see for a year is just visiting my city, it means we missed each other. I walked in the sunset like WTF and was freaking out on the balcony.. where an interesting thing started. my mini-holiday had an extraordinary side effect: I not only had more discussions than usual (where did the introvert-me disappear?), but the main topics, with all the random people I met, were love, feelings, relationships, personal history and everything behind.
everyone has their life story, the reason why not to fall in love (again), why to protect themselves, why separate feelings (people they love) and needs (people they use to satisfy instincts). everyone gets lost in life at least once, gets blind from feelings, lose the point between reality and imagination, lose the “path”. what we know so far that love is caring and people chose love instead of focusing on the oneandonly. after that many questions and inputs, when you’re alone with your thoughts and feelings.. there’s something happening (and it’s not over yet).
the ocean calls
besides street art, my other reason was the ocean. I miss the vitamin sea sooo much every day that I wanted to see and feel it again.. and it was amazing as usual. the wide, empty, warm sandy beach with the light breeze and the huge waves, the endless power of the water, the familiar confrontation on how small and unimportant are we.. and I finally could breathe again. the cold water brought me back to reality and to life, the suffocating feeling has gone.. and though I still don’t know what’s next, but it’s all good. it’s better if I show it (listen & watch):
I chose the Praia da Sereia (Mermaid beach) for this Monday chill and I was really lucky with a guide and with a motorbike. actually I love to ride and feel the velocity on my skin, and a BMW can perfectly give the feeling. :) if you want to go to any beach I recommend to call an Uber or friend a local with a car/bike as it’s pretty difficult to go there (no public transport, you have to walk a lot, it takes too much time).
I chose the Praia da Sereia (Mermaid beach) for this Monday chill, and I was really lucky with a guide and a motorbike. actually, I love to ride and feel the velocity on my skin, and a BMW is perfectly able to give this feeling. :) if you want to go to any beach, I recommend you to call an Uber or make friends with a local who has a car/bike, as it’s pretty difficult to go there (no public transport, you have to walk a lot, and it takes too much time).
2 days in Porto are little and enough. I got a lot on visual, emotional and philosophical level too. these days confirmed that I am not an European tourist, that I still want to care, that 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: as I summarized in beautiful Hungarian “kicsi ez a Porto csak qrva dombos” – translated it’s like “Porto is small just f*cking hilly”.