Barcelona did a number on us. And being awake so early in the morning to catch our flight to Portugal, we were definitely feeling the effects. Our flight to Porto with RyanAir was nothing short of a disaster. The flight over there was an absolute nightmare. Turbulence, wind, rude flight attendants, the whole 9. We even landed two hours late because the plane took so long to take off. I could not have been happier to be on the ground after we landed. Right when we got out of the terminal, I got an instant vibe of relaxation. I could tell that Porto was going to be a very relaxing end to our spring break. We arrived to our Hostel and could not wait to just sleep off the 6 days of partying we left behind us in Barcelona. Our hostel room was very nice, decorative, and calling our name for a nap! After sleeping for 8 and a half hours, we thought we should go find some food. We stumbled into this place that ended up becoming our usual place, we ate here everyday as well when we were in Porto. The food was fast, delicious, and it was relatively close to our hostel. After we ate, we went back to bed and rested up for our walking tour of Porto the next morning!
We met our tour guide in the center of the city, which in the tour we came to find out was a VERY small city, even smaller than Florence. Our tour group was also very small so we all got along famously with the tour guide and each other. Our tour guide did a really good job at describing all of the beautiful monuments in Porto. He told us many stories about the origins behind all of the beautiful architectures. The most interesting story he told us, was about these spray painted origami doves that we were seeing all over the city. It was an ancient Asian myth that if you make 1,000 of those you can grant a wish. The artist who made these origami doves made 999 in Porto and 1 more in one other country. It was interesting to see them everywhere with the numbers underneath them (ex: 312/1000).
He showed us the biggest bridge in Porto, which we also learned was designed by the same architect who built the Statue of Liberty. He took us through the Canals neighborhood, and showed us all the historical monuments. He even told us how Porto is the city that the Harry Potter series is based off of. The college students in Porto walk around with capes, like they do at Hogwarts. The coffee shops, libraries and other scenes throughout the series are all places in Porto; and of course our tour guide took us to see for ourselves. All of the “bad guys” in the Harry Potter series were also based off of Portuguese dictators. I’m not even into Harry Potter and I thought this was awesome. I couldn’t wait to tell my Harry Potter fanatic friends about this place.
At the end of the tour, our tour guide invited all of us to a pub crawl that night, part of the program that held the tour. Just coming off of a crazy 6 day binge, we thought we should skip but decided against it. We wanted to really experience Portugal and its culture. Going into it with an open mind, we began our pub crawl at a wine tasting and headed straight to a little strip of bars that had herds of people crowded outside of it. This particular Portuguese beer tasted like Bud Light, but more cheap. We stood outside of this place for a little while and mingled with other pub crawlers since our group had a lot more people who were in the 30s and 40s. We switched locations to this bar that was most famous for their Sangria. I really enjoyed it! Sangria in Spain and Portugal is a lot different than the US. It uses a lot more fruit and hardly any other alcohol except for wine. However, this bar was small, and it was me and my friend Alex, among 15-20 grown men and women, so we were sipping our Sangria and waiting for the next destination. The next destination was definitely for the older crowd. It was a club mostly focused on 70s and 80s genre. I knew a few of the songs but I was really waiting for the pub crawl to pick it up with the excitement. Smoking was also permitted indoors, so I was getting very irritated with the smoke around me and found it hard to breathe. Sitting outside sipping my drink, our pub crawl leader takes us to our final location; a club – FINALLY! We walked in and it was a pretty cool place, the layout reminded me a lot of Space in Florence, except it was one floor and about half the size. There were dancers in glass boxes above the dance floor, intense light displays and a lot of people. We were told that the ‘college’ crowd doesn’t hit the clubs until about 4 or 5 in the morning. At the time it was about 2, and we were at our last destination for the night. Absolutely exhausted, we ditched out of the pub crawl at around 3 and called it a night.
The next day, the weather was supposed to be beautiful. I was definitely time to see this beach in Porto I have heard so much about! The beach sand was so soft and fluffy and the scenery knocked me off my feet. It was so relaxing and enjoyable, and a great way to spend the day! We got back to the hostel and received another pub crawl invite from a different company that promised us that we would be with people our age and go to different locations. We were definitely with people our age, but our locations were the same. However it was more enjoyable to be around other students who were studying abroad and on spring break like we were. Our pub crawl leader was very nice, she even bought us our first round of drinks free of charge. The night ended before we reached our final destination, we were at the 70s and 80s disco for almost double the time from the night before, so we decided to call it a night.
We had three more days left in Porto, and we had seen a good amount of it. We spent the last three days exploring, and looking through their hand crafted jewelry. On our tour we were also told about the traditional Portuguese dish called Francesinha, it was a colossal sized sandwich stuffed with meats and smothered in cheese and eggs, our tour guide said it considered a heart attack on a plate but it is the most delicious thing you will ever have. I was so tempted to try this, but I didn’t end up doing it. I kick myself now for not trying it! As we spent our last few days discovering Porto, our spring break wound down and we were back onto a plane to Rome to start the second half of the year.