Monday, October 6, 2014

Running, Walking, and Pub-Crawling through Porto

I definitely smell like feet.  Like not just a little bit of me, all of me.  I don’t know where it’s coming from exactly but I have a pretty good idea that the root cause is my running shoes which I (not strategically) packed in a plastic bag right after going for a run before hopping on the plane in Seattle.  I’ll spare you the details but I don’t think freshly-worn athletic shoes make for a great smelling bag, nor do they have a great effect on any of the items in said bag.

I’m really reconsidering that mini-Febreeze I saw in the Target travel aisle and thought, “meh…I won’t need that.”  The guy next to me on the train is also wishing I hadn't been so dismissive of that genius 3 oz bottle.

Playing I spy...solo traveler version.

I’m currently on my way back to Lisbon from the northern city of Porto to meet my friends who land this evening.  Porto is a magnificent city placed right on the Douro River; it’s most famously known as the home of port wine, of which there is plenty to be had.  And of which, I had plenty.  The city itself is picturesque and beautiful. It’s a mixture of old and new with cobblestone roads and walkways winding in every direction up their river-side hills.  The streets are littered with university students pouring out of bars, tourists wandering aimlessly, and locals sipping coffee and lounging at outdoor cafes. 

The view from my Airbnb apartment in Porto.

Port wine caves at the Calem winery.

This city has seen a boom of tourists in the last few years and it’s clear they've taken advantage of the popularity.  The people in Porto seem a little jaded by this; not necessarily amused or intrigued by the influx of strangers to their beloved city.  Half the locals I crossed paths with were less than pleased with questions, my interest in the city & the food, etc.  Not that they were rude, they just weren't friendly.  And the other half of the locals were overjoyed by my interest in their city and all the wonderful things it has to offer.

Ze bota in Porto - awesome food, but less than friendly service.

Oh city bus tours, how I love you so!

A personal bus all to myself again!

One such local was named Rui, the tour guide of the pub crawl my good friend recommended. I think Rui and I hit it off at the beginning of the tour when I made it clear I was more concerned about finding food than I was about the first drink on the stop.  So it goes when you’re not 22 anymore.  I did, however, enjoy the night-long journey around town – dipping into cute bars and stopping finally at a night club (gasp) – how long has it been since I did THAT?!

New friends on the pub crawl.  Sandwich in hand.

Despite my lack of initial interest in a pub crawl, I ended up going because: (a) it was highly recommended, (b) I wanted to meet some friendly locals & tourists, and (c) life is short.  It ended up being a great experience; I made some great travel connections and new friends.

Thought of the day is a simple one and a classic…carpe diem.  When the next random opportunity presents itself to you, instead of asking “why?” ask “why not?!”  And also – always say yes to Febreeze.

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