Oh Porto, oh Porto

​Porto in English is apparently Oporto…?
My flight to Porto was uneventuful, but it gave me a good comparison between Portuguese and Italians. On my Italian flights the lines were a mess and they kept trying to cut the line; however, the Portuguese stood in line in an order fashion.
One the plane a little boy, maybe 9, was sitting in my row and he was just buying things left and right from the attendant. It was kinda cute. He would pull out his little wallet and hand them 20 euros or whatever. I was impressed haha.

It was about a 2 hour flight, and I realized boarding that Portugal is an hour behind the rest of continental Europe, but anyways, the flight time gave me time to plan out my ten days in Portugal. I’m super excited to see this new country!
To get to the city from the airport is quite easy. There is a metro stop, you just need to buy a rechargeable card and the price of travel.
Even the trains have this rechargeable card.
Anyways, I get to my hostel, Alma Porto Hostel and it was a lot better than Milan right off the bat.
In my first hour, I talked with 4 people from all over the world.
I was already liking Porto.
The next day, I had the simple European breakfast of buns and jam and got started on my day. The poor hostel woman, I asked her so many questions, but she was very helpful and kind.
It was a bit rainy, but in the sense of like a mist. It didn’t actually feel like the water was falling, but more just everywhere.
In the middle of the day the sun actually came out.
I walked around the city, which is so beautiful even in the rain. Beautiful balconies and the walls are covered with these titles to make different colors and designs.

Sao Bento train station rocking the titles

I came across a few churches, but they all required payment and I am tired of paying for churches so didn’t go inside.
I did; however, spend money to go into this now famous bookstore as apparently JK Rowling based an item from Harry Potter off this one.
Due to its popularity, the bookstore now charges 4 euros (at the time of writing) as entrance, but if you buy a book they subtract the fee. Because many people walk in and just leave and they probably make a mess.
I wasn’t expecting to buy a book, but I saw a book I was just discussing the night before and thought it was a sign. So far….it’s pretty good (it’s “The Cave” by Saramago).

Now, since I’m not European and I need more than just bread for breakfast, I was starving at 11am. The hostel recommended this hole in the wall restaurant for some traditional and cheap food. I managed to find it and asked if they were open. They sort of stared at me in laughter since it was so early, but I was hungry! Haha
They told me to come back in 30 minutes, but I returned after an hour.
In this hour, I walked through some adorable streets and into the Jewish Quarter. It dawned on me that most cities in Europe have Jewish quarters because they were segregating them and restricting them….basically all the way through World War 2.

I reached a view point and it was lovely even in the misty rain.
Finally, it was noon and when I got back to that restaurant (side note: central Porto is very walkable- it’s a bit hilly, but no need for public transportstion), the place had a few people, mainly old men. There was one woman.
I bring this up because after I sit down, 30 men, with construction type work uniforms on, come in….it was the lunch rush and I clearly picked a good spot since I was the only non-local.
The waiters and the cook were shuffling plates non-stop. There were even people standing and waiting. I got many stares as I believe this was a common lunch spot and I was the new person. Everyone seemed to know each other, but yet here is the one tourist female. It was funny and weird at the same time.
I tried ordering francesinhas as everyone calls it- heart attack sandwich, I’ll explain more later, but they didn’t have it.
“What do you recommend?”
“Hm….the fish.”
And in fact, most of the men were eating it so it must be good. I ordered it and it was! Of course, Porto is right on the ocean so I’m sure the fish was quite fresh.
Besides this heart attack sandwich, codfish is another traditional Portugal meal.
After, since it was sunny, I walked back to the look out point. There was a woman who was looking around a bit for someone to take her photo.

She asked me and we just started talking. We hit it off and I invited her to come try some Port Wine with me across the river. She agreeded.
J, from Germany, just finished her Masters in biology and is now figuring out the next step. I told her that I don’t envy her and whenever a particular path ends and you have to choose a new one….it’s not easy, it’s great because you have so many options, but not easy because you have so many great options.

I picked Ramos Pinto winery since I was suggested in my guide book, but there are so many, I’m sure they are all great!
The next English tour was at 4pm and since it was only 1 we parted ways for 3 hours. She had to check into her hostel etc.
The man asked us where we were from for statistics and I mentioned that I was American and she was German. She didn’t hear me correctly and said she can take the English tour (meaning doesn’t have to be German). The man held up his finger and shook it,
“We don’t have German tours.”
I explained to J about the statistics and we paid for our tickets (12 euros for drink and tour). Outside we both laughed at the way the man said no German tours. It was as if Germans go in all the time asking.
In Porto is Portugal’s first stock exchange/financial center. It has now moved to Lisbon, but the building and it’s elegance still stands.
I had to wait a bit to buy a tour (5.50 students), but the rooms were so lovely! My guide wasn’t so excited about the whole thing, but she tried making jokes, but one could tell she wanted to be somewhere else.
The main attraction is the last room. My pictures don’t do it justice. It’s brightly painted red, blue, green, with gold everywhere.

My picture doesn’t do it justice, it was full of bright red, green, and blue paints in an Arabic style

After, I headed back to the winery and sat there until the tour, which was just 30 minutes.
This tour guide was so energetic and a fresh relief from my other. The tour goes though the “museum” and the cellars. The museum are old office spaces with furniture from the early 1900s as well as the office of the founder back in the late 1800s.
No photos were allowed. The cellars are filled with barrels of the wine, pictures were allowed.

I didn’t know much about Port wine beforehand. I thought it was another type of alcohol like brandy, which it is as it has an alcoholic content of 20% or so, but it starts off as wine.
It was quite good. We had tastings of 2 (Tawny and White) out of the 3 types of Port (Tawny, Ruby, and White).
They were also selling bottles from 1880 for 5,000 euros!
Our guide said that the longer it sits in the barrels the better, but once you get a bottle, you can open it immediately. It’s not like wine in that it gets better in the bottle as it’s filtered. Apparently unfiltered regular wine let’s it get better.
If I understand correctly, which there is a very good chance that I don’t haha.
And the reason why it’s called Port wine because they used to write Porto on the barrels meaning they will stay there not be transported to other cities and it was just confused that that was the name of the alcohol. Where the grapes are grown and where they are processed is in the Dloumo valley.
It was funny on the tour as I have heard many times from non Americans, that we have this way of taking command. On the tour, the rest of the group was hesitant to be the first to follow the guide to the next room, but not me. I just immediately filled the gap. It didn’t dawn on me until the 4th or 5th time and I silently laughed to myself.
At the end, we asked the tour guide for a place to have the franschina.
She offered this one place and it was super delicious! We were the only people eating for several hours (we arrived at 17.37 and left around 20.30).
It’s called a heart attack because it’s a sandwich of different things, but the traditional is a bunch of meats and over the sandwich is a big slab of cheese with sauce.
When we first entered the restaurant, I told the waiter we were 2 people. Both J and I could have sworn he responded in German…
On a side note, Portuguese people speak English and Spanish really well. I was a bit surprised because the over romance languages can’t speak anything else (stereotype /generalization).
I’m not sure out of these 2 which they prefer speaking. I feel like English just because I feel like by speaking Spanish people won’t bother thinking about Portuguese or whatever, and also more peple speak English than Spanish (in terms of tourists). I don’t know. I’m just writing out loud here haha.

I parted ways with J for the night and made plans to see her the next day.
I needed to do laundry actually. Normally on my travels it’s about every 2 weeks. Especially since I hand wash most of my clothes. Luckily there was a self service laundry place near my hostel.
I didn’t have exact change for the wash since it was about 5 euros so I put in 5 euro bill and got coins. Soap is automatically included when you wash which was great since I had no soap!
I thought the drying would be the same price and put in a 20 bill. I proceeded to get 18.20 euros in coins back. My wallet was quite heavy…it turned out it was almost 2 euros and I had had the coins for that….oops.
First full day in Porto was a success and I absolutely love it!

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