We’ve been in Porto for 10 days now and it’s been surreal. We’ve met a lot more expats, locals (shop gals/guys, teachers, classmates) and visitors than we ever did in Prague/Praha and I am simply grateful. Everyone I’ve encountered has been most generous with their time, enthusiastic about being in Porto, gladly would like to share their insights and genuinely want to know more about me, where I’ve been, what I think and how I’m being treated by the locals.
It warms my soul because my experience in Praha was the exact opposite. I have encountered just as many racially motivated moments in the two months we were in Praha as I did in the 29 years I’ve lived in America. Not sure I actually want to consider going back now I have left.
But let’s go back to how wonderful Porto is and the reasons I think why it’s so great:
- Wine, wine, wine abound and made well from port (white, tawny, rosé & ruby), vinho verde (white, red and rosé), vinho alvarinho, bairrada (sparkling red) and moscatel — these are the types I’ve just tried most recently!
- Foooooooood. I mean fresh seafood, canned sardines, tuna & octopus, fresh fruits & vegetables, cured & roasted meats, and pastries influenced by the world travelers who have stopped by Portugal.
- Cimbalino or espresso is taken so seriously, there isn’t a Starbucks around because not too many people would order anything else and they don’t want to sellout.
- The architecture and the geography are things you need to experience IRL from the rolling hills, Douro River, Atlantic Ocean and azulejos.
- The climate is similar to California but much warmer and a touch more rainy days. A few locals have told me there are no real downpours, it will usually rain for no longer than an hour or two.
- As I’ve expressed earlier, the people I’ve met are very open, forgiving, and I dunno if it’s because I’m also sarcastic, but I think they are also funny and direct.
- Safety is important as a woman and as a foreigner which I gladly can say is also a priority here. I’ve noticed so many solo female travelers exploring on their own on a daily basis, which is a positive sign and very comforting to see.
Afraid of Heights
Oh, yeah that’s me and for some reason no one will take my fear seriously. All I ever hear is: “Oh it’s not that high or scary.” Like they know what’s going on in my head. And when I do get the courage, the naysayers are afraid and freak me out. Thanks guys, no really.
Well, walking over the Ponte Luís I Bridge was not at all terrifying for me because the bridge was structurally sound. There were also many people walking back and forth with a slower-than-average moving metro driving by once every 15-20 minutes. The metro didn’t rapidly appear out of a tunner, nor did it come close to the pedestrians or make the bridge sway as it drove by. Pretty safe by my standards! And of course, the view. WOW!
Teleférico de Gaia
Since I was so brave and adventurous for a moment and forgetting the reasons why I was so scared of heights, I caved in and road the Teleférico de Gaia aka sky buckets down to the Port wine caves. The real reason I did so was so I can head over to taste some port wines sooner rather than later.
Port Wine Tasting at Ramos Pinto
Conveniently located at the other end of the Teleférico de Gaia were our next two destinations: a churro cart and Ramos Pinto, a port wine tasting room Jon chose because of his maternal roots. His family was from the Azores but emigrated to America so long ago, the only Portuguese things he knows are his families’ surnames, but we’ll change that soon enough.
At Ramos Pinto, we tried the Porto Beginner (7.50 eur) flight of five wines:
- White Porto: Aged 3 years and according to Jon, “…will go great with smoked salmon.”, which he says about a lot of things.
- Lágrima Branco: This translates to “white tears” because the wine resembles tears dripping down your face as it drips down the side of the wine glass.
- Ruby Porto: This tasted like sour fruits to me and Jon thought it tasted like plums. We may also have reached the tipsy point.
- Adriano Reserva: Jon’s tasting notes, “Adriana Reserva is delicious. I mean for serious delicious.”, and insert drawing of a taste explosion here.
- Tawny 10 Años: A familiar brandy scent and a slight burning of the throat feeling. Oh yeah, we’re going to have to take a taxi home.
We took our sweet time tasting and chatting a bit with fellow tourists, but we were never rushed and everyone was cordial. It felt like we were at a family gathering tasting wine as we sat in the huge sunken living room, comfortable couches accented with coffee tables made from reclaimed wine barrels and vintage posters. If they played music, served cookies and had a fun-loving dog hanging around, I don’t think we would have ever left.
Have you been to Porto or Gaia? Tell me your favorite place/s by commenting below or send me a Tweet!