Work in Progress

“In the best travel, disconnection is a necessity. Concentrate on where you are; do no back-home business; take no assignments; remain incommunicado; be scarce. It is a good thing that people don’t know where you are or how to find you. Keep in mind the country you are in. That’s the theory.”
–Paul Theroux

A human who loves the world, finds beauty in the unknown, and can't keep her feet on the ground. I like finding unique (and cheap) ways of making my way around the globe. Interacting with people while living, learning, and loving the culture I'm surrounded by.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Perfection in Porto

Porto, Portugal 
Not gonna lie, Lisbon didn't leave the BEST impression on me. It was a fun place to party and be a "backpacker" - but it didn't do much for me. It seemed dirty, which can be typical of a lot of capital cities in a country. While I was in Italy my little old Italian friend Candido recommended I go there, and since I had to be in Madrid in a few days I figured I might as well check it out. I decided to go the Couchsurfing route which really defined my experience in Porto. My host, Gustavo, was one of the kindest people I met throughout my travels. He picked me up at the train station and after he set me up with a bus pass we went grocery shopping together. Exploring supermarkets in different countries is SO. MUCH. FUN. There were salted codfish staked in large crates and fruits I have never seen before. I grabbed a few things I could snack on and we split stuff for a simple breakfast of toast and cheese in the morning. It was late by the time we got back to his place so we said our goodnights and I crashed comfortably on the couch.

Gustavo set me off on the right bus in the morning and I ended up near The Porto Cathedral around 7am. He had to be at work early which was fine because I was quite happy to enjoy a quiet morning in Porto. I wandered around the Cathedral and made my way towards one of Porto's 5 bridges, Ponte Luis I. This bridge had amazing views. I explored the area surrounding a few of the bridges, wandering through small stone streets lined with worn down houses. I ran into a dead-end and a man kindly redirected me through a cemetery. This was the first of many graveyards I wandered. There is something about them that I am obsessed with. Could be considered morbid, but walking around a local cemetery shows you a different side of a town or city. Finding the oldest gravestone, imagining people's lives and what they left behind. I'll post a cemetery blog soon, stay posted!

Ponte D. Luis I - Porto, Portugal
The picture above was taken from Ponte do Infante. The first day I spent wandering around the center and the area surrounding it, no real itinerary. Just enjoying. So many things to just enjoy in Porto. Granted, I could have gone on countless Port Wine distillery tours and entered numerous museums and displays. I took a more laid back route. I met up with Gustavo after he got of work, we had a drink and he took me to a park, Jardins do Palacio de Cristal do Porto, where Peacocks roam free and the ponds have lillie pads. Parks and cemeteries. That's where the real fun is at ;) 

Olives, bread, and oil were always on my table. I craved it! It was so cheap, which was the most important part. And so fun to eat. 

The second day in Porto I took about a 20 minute bus ride to the beach, where I hung out at a park across the street. I remember posting up in an area that I specifically picked out, it felt like a good place to be. I had 4 euros on my person and not much more in my bank account. I had an apple and an orange for lunch and used my travel towel as a picnic blanket. I watched the birds fly and the little boys play soccer with their dads. I was a park nomad for a day, it took me that long to explore it. Okay, I may have taken a nap or two. Doing absolutely nothing on the other side of the world when it feels like there is everything to do is so peaceful. Try it. 

For dinner we met up with a friend of Gustavo's at a shopping mall who was studying in the food court area. This was wonderful, because there were loads of cheap options and it was SO FUN choosing. I ended up trying the Francesinha from a Portuguese fast food restaurant. How authentic ; ) There is ham inside there, and it is smothered with a gravy like tomatoey sauce and cheese. YUM.

Gustavo, me, and his friend - who's name I have forgotten :(
While Walking along the river we asked a man to take a photo of us. The boys ended up talking to this man the whole walk back, about 20 minutes. Gustavo laughed as he explained how friendly people are, they talk to strangers like they are their best friends. I listened to the conversation, which made no sense to me - but I could sense how comfortable and light and happy they all seemed. Gustavo and his friend were genuinely interested in this man and his life. They explained most of the conversation to me, thankfully. What would I do without my Couchsurfing buddies? He was talking about the history of the fisherman, and how the area has changed and how it had stayed the same. It is so beautiful, hearing about a place from someone who knows and loves it. 
Homes along the river - Porto, Portugal
So, in summation Porto is absolutely perfect. I wish I had more time there, but that's always the case.

*I just titled this blog after writing it. I am starting to feel a bit ridiculous with my titles, like a Dr. Seuss wannabe. 

No comments:

Post a Comment