What an amazing week I’ve had! Not only did I begin training for my 10th marathon for Berlin in September and adapted my nutrition to start following a ketogenic meal plan (high “good” fat and low carb), more to come on these on later posts, but I also spent a long weekend visiting Porto, Portugal.
Visiting the 2nd largest city in Portugal started as a trip to visit a couple of American friends traveling through. However, a friend’s flight got canceled twice, due to strikes, cutting 4 days out of her trip so she decided to stay back, meaning I was venturing on my own. I took a 2 and a half hour direct flight late Thursday afternoon from Luxembourg to Porto. From the airport, I was able to get a metro ticket for less than 2€ to get me towards Trindade stop in the historic portion of the city, and also where my Airbnb was located. After a quick check-in and shower, I took to Google trips to get myself acquainted with sights to see nearby. Here’s a recount of what I did daily:
The Historic District
Street art is legal with a permit. It brings bright colors to the already lively city.
Porto Walkers Pub Crawl
I signed up for a pub crawl for 12€ which started at 11pm going til 5am if you could make it that long. With 5-6 stops visiting bars mostly on Galeria de Paris, a drink special was included at each stop. I’m glad I went because I met a bunch of English speaking backpackers from the US, Canada, and Australia. Albeit, I was the oldest by 10+ years, but was able to dance the night away (or at least until 2:30am, I admit I couldn’t quite hang as long).
Early Morning Run
Free Walking Tour
I can’t recommend enough taking this free 4-hour walking tour with a passionate local from Porto Walkers (Do this!) I learned a lot and felt it was necessary to share a few important points…
1. Porto’s tourism is relatively new (think 15-20 years new). Thanks to UNESCO and budget flights like RyanAir, the city has seen an influx in visitors and most of the locals are appreciative of the economic boost but…
2. In the poorer sections of town, where the buildings create narrow, quaint winding, colorful, clothes-lined drying alleyways, some family’s monthly wage is 500€. There used to be laws to protect them, where monthly rent was grandfathered over to keep prices low to protect them from losing their homes. Due to greed and a change in law, rents have skyrocketed from 50€ per month to 800€ per month, to create Airbnb’s for tourists like myself. This results in families getting kicked out of Porto or ultimately leaving them homeless.
3. Here’s what we can do to help: Don’t rent Airbnb’s within the Riberia district or support the overpriced, tourist restaurants and shops along the riverfront. Do eat at local Portuguese restaurants and shop off the typical tourist beaten paths. You’ll know the difference immediately because there will probably be a wait to get in because they are small and the prices will be extraordinarily less expensive.
Port Wine in Vila Nova de Gaia
I did a self-tour visiting several wineries of the sweet port wine.
Praia do Molhe
I got up early and took the old Tram line 1 along the river to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean and spent most of the day at the beach.
Dinner at Tapabento
Ranked #1 Restaurant in Porto, there are advantages to eating solo. I didn’t need a reservation! Fine dining in a quaint restaurant, you’d never know from the outside.
Last day in Porto and started it with another early morning run. Expecting to find the streets deserted I was actually weaving in and out of the drunks making their way home at 6:30am.
Breakfast at Zenith
Best Brunch Ever
Vintage Flea Market and bar. Cute, artsy and unique.
I hope you all get a chance to visit and take into account the need to respect their culture, heritage, and people. And drink all the port wine 🍷. If you’re waiting for a reason to go, the weekend of June 23rd is a huge street party for Saint John (Sao Joao) with plastic hammers, drinking, dancing, and fireworks. A celebration not to be missed 🎉