05 Apr Miraculous Porto, part I
I am not sure if I knew something about Portugal before I booked my plane tickets. I was certain only about where it was and that they speak Portugese. Also I knew they always have to prove they are not Spain, which reminded me about situation with Lithuania and Latvia, which get confused by foreigners all the time (so, feel you, portugese people). Well.. and that was basically it, that was all I knew. Shameful.
I visited several small cities, but most of the time was spent in Porto – city just by the Atlantic Ocean with less than 250.000 inhabitants. This bastard tried to steal my heart, so I have to share my experience. I will write mostly general impression of mine in this post simply because there is so much of everything. Soon I will make the second part with more details and specific tips.
Let’s start from the same thing, that my journey on the blessed Portugal’s land started from. The first thing I saw after leaving airport’s arrival hall was overcrowded space next to public transport tickets machine. Lots of lost looking people trying to insert their coins into machine, then checking if they got the right one and making sure by tapping on the shoulder of the hall worker carefully and asking if they can get to the center with this. Well – I am getting into the line as well and what I feel is tension all over the place. Waiting. Here is my turn. I have no idea which buttons I push, but I have just made money refund. People stamp their feet and give those deep sighs, like “Oh, c’mon, I have no time for this sh**”. There are several machines, but lines are still as long as they were in the shops of Soviet Union after bananas arrival. Everyone looks in a hurry, which makes it even worse. Whatsoever, I get the ticket at the end, phew. At the same time I get the thought “How, on Earth, am I going to survive here if I can’t even buy a ticket?”. But, as you have probably heard – first impression is usually wrong. It was wrong this time as well.
Where did I live? I found hosts on Couchsurfing. I spent most of the time with a host, who lived just next to the center of Porto, later I lived with a great family in Vila Nova de Famalicão. So as you probably get it, I can’t tell you much about hotels and hostels in the city. If you feel really awkward living with strangers for free and don’t want to use Couchsurfing, use airbnb – maybe you will feel less awkward when paying 😀 If you are not interested in cheaper alternatives and dawdling with locals in their house or appartement – choose hotel. I chose my hosts carefully, so there were no problems. Just a lot of pros, f.e. I got plenty of suggestions and even secret tips, which normally are not available for “a simple tourist”. And this is why it was a good idea to live with local hosts, but I am going to write more about Couchsurfing in the near future.
Money, yo. „Is it expensive in there?“ – probably the most popular question I get after any trip. Talking about Porto.. After Germany – paradise. You feel like a Hollywood star while spending your euro cents. So you are not getting poor – I guarantee you. Here, take an example: I found this cozy little market, where I filled several bags with various fruits. I was getting ready morally to pay.. well.. a bit less than 10€. When cashier said “It will be 1,7€.”, I was like “For what? Apples? Pears? Or what?”. It turned out – for all. Whuuuuuuuuut?! In general I ended up by spending ~150€ in a week. What I had – every meal in the cafe or restaurant, desserts in the evening, train tickets from Vila Nova de Famalicão to other cities for several days, rent of a bike for the whole day, few fee paying objects. If you want a lot of fancy, take few hundreads more and you will be the king of the world (whom I felt with 150 euros as well). Also add accomodation expenses, which I didn’t have.
Food. Is it good? Yes, bro. What’s traditional? Fish, seafood, fruits, steaks. What do I have to try? Francesinha – traditional Porto dish. Double sandwich with a steak inside, swimming in a cheese and sauce. If you wish – with french fries. Gluttony, man.. Gluttony. I didn’t take fries – I am a realist and still I needed few pauses while eating this monster. So, trying Francesinha is mandatory. What else? My every morning started with tea+milk and Pastéis de Nata + croissant with ham and cheese. Pastéis de Nata is a sweet puff pastry patty filled with creme (I will share the receipe from the book I got in Porto soon). Port wine is mandatory as well. Also don’t skip the fish street, where fishes are prepared and grilled just in the middle of the looong street parallel to the Atlantic ocean, filled with wonderful smells of grilled fish.
Those were three the most basic aspects, everyone is always interested about. Interesting, right? There will be more, stay tuned. I will discuss activities and specific places in the continuation of this post. I will also share secret tip of my host (oh lala). And of course – more photos will follow!
Are you planning to travel and have some specific questions? Something is not clear? Ask. I am here to share what I know, especially when there is a chaos in your head while planning a trip.
See you soon!