A Place I’d Never Be Able to Drive Stick, Porto!

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If Lisbon is a hidden gem, Porto is its forgotten brother.  Some people may have heard of it because of port wine; but most haven’t.  Out of every city I’ve visited Porto is one of my favorites.  It’s located in northern Portugal on the Duoro River, only a couple of miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

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UofPorto

Not my picture

arrived to Porto in the afternoon by train.  Once there I wasn’t really sure which direction to go to find the hostel; as I’m standing there deciding, I see three familiar faces coming my way.  It was Montey, George and Declan on their way to do a walking tour.  I still had to check in so I didn’t have time to do it; instead I did my own self-guided tour.  I walked around for a few hours and saw various sites of the city; there is bookstore that inspired J.K Rowling’s staircases for Harry Potter.  A lot of stuff in Portugal actually inspired Rowling.  The way the students dress with capes was inspired by the university students of Porto.  They all wear capes, walking around it literally feels like you are in Harry Potter film.  I saw the cathedral, walked atop the bridge and admired the amazing views of Porto.  While wandering, I coincidentally ran into the tour group the Australians were on.  The change in elevation in Porto is crazy, more than any city I’ve ever experienced.  My legs were already tired from walking around Lisbon, after a few hours in Porto they were dead.

When I got back to the hostel I met my dorm matesIMG_5300.They were awesome.  I was in a 4 person dorm and in it was an Australian girl and two Slovenian girls.   Later that night I had a dinner hosted by hostel.   The Australians decided to do it as well and a bunch of other people from the hostel.  We paid 10 Euro and received a 5 course meal.  The food was phenomenal and it was all you could drink for the 2 or so hours while eating.  After dinner, we went and did a bar crawl.  It was on a Monday, but it was student’s night or something; all the university students had just gotten back, so there were a lot of people out.

Getting up was rough the following day.  The hostel had a free breakfast, but I didn’t make it.  Instead, the Australians and I went to this famous restaurant to eat the famous Porto five meat IMG_5328sandwich thing, topped with cheese and an egg surrounded with fries smothered in gravy.  It would have made Adam Richmond proud (Man vs. Food).  It’s called a Francesinha.  I couldn’t have dreamt up anything better to eat.  After lunch, I left the Australians and went on a Port wine tour.  We stopped at three different bodegas: Ramos Pinto (the most famous one and the pioneer of Port wine), Quevedo and Porto Cruz.  I learned a lot about Port wine, such as how to drink it properly and how difficult it is to grow.  It can only be grown in that specific region of Portugal.  After the tour, some people I IMG_5336met were grabbing dinner, but it was around sunset and I really wanted to get on the bridge to get pictures of Porto on sunset, so I went off on my own.  The view from the bridge is one of the most beautiful cityscape views I have ever seen.  After some time, I got too cold and hungry so I went to find food.  I found a really cool, local, small husband and wife run restaurant that had great food for a really cheap price.

Later that night something happened that I will never forget.  I don’t know how I did it, but it was easily one of the stupidest things I have done.  So, I booked the hostel for 3 nights in Porto and my flight back to Madrid was for the 10th.  I arrived to Porto on the 7th.  The day of the Port wine tour (which was earlier that day) was only going to be my second night in Porto; I however thought I was leaving that night.  I don’t know why I thought that, but for some reason my brain was a day ahead.  Since I had an early flight, 6:30am, I figured I’d go to the airport around 2 and sleep there.  At 11 o’clock my roommates, the Australians and I go downstairs to take a shot because every night at 11 was shot-o-clock.  After that we decided to play some card games.  They were going to hang out with me until I had to go.  Eventually it’s 1:30, I go up, pack my stuff and go downstairs with the 2 Slovenian girls. I had already said goodbye to the Australians.  I IMG_5374go to the reception guy and say I’m ready to check out… and he goes, but you have one more night here… and I’m like yeah I know but I decided to sleep in the airport because I have an early flight… and he’s like no, today’s the 9th (since it was past midnight), you check out on the 10th.  I look at the calendar and my plane ticket just to make sure and that’s when I realized that I wasn’t actually leaving that night.  So instead of leaving for the airport, me and my roommates went out.

IMG_5356My real last day in Porto started with us struggling to get out of bed.  It was a rainy and gross day, but the Slovenian girls wanted to go to the lighthouse on the Atlantic Ocean so I joined
them. I wasn’t going to do anything anyway because I had done and saw everything because I was prepared to leave the night before.  It was cool to be back on the Atlantic Ocean on a different continent in a different country, but it was rainy and col so we didn’t stay long.  Later that night we attempted to go back to the husband and wife restaurant, but it was full so we went to the bridge to see Porto at night.  After we went back to see if there was room, but now it was closed, so we sadly got food somewhere else.

That night, the two Slovenian’s were also leaving.  They also had 6am flights.  At 1am we took a bus to the airport.  The bus driver flew through the narrow streets of Porto as if he was being chased by a squadron of police cars. I don’t know how we made it around some of the turns without toppling over, but we did.  I’ve never been in an airport that late/early; it was weird to experience the desertedness of it.  We made it through the fastest security check in of my life and then wandered around attempting to find a darkish place to sleep.  Sleeping in the airport was a terrible experience.  The airport was absolutely freezing and well the floor wasn’t too comfortable.  I didn’t bring any pants or warm clothes and only had a long sleeve shirt that I found in the hostel in Lisbon.  I think we all slowly became ice cubes.  It became so cold we were all up at one point (not that we were really sleeping).  I put on two short sleeve shirts over my long sleeve, put another one across my legs and one of the girls was nice enough to lend me a beach towel.  Oh, and the whole time they’re vacuuming or cleaning the floors.  A memorable way to end a memorable week.

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Also, the hostel in Porto was one of the nicest hostels I’ve stayed at.  It was called Yes! Hostel.  Between Lisbon and Porto they were the two nicest hostels I’ve ever stayed at and got lucky enough to have the best roommates.   Usually there are some strange people, or adults in the room, but everyone in both of the dorms were people I hung out with.

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