I skipped over London and Spain’s post. Those will come soon!
How weather can make or break a trip. I first arrived in Porto, Portugal on a rainy day. I decided I couldn’t sit inside all day since I am in Europe and decided to battle the rain. Despite the rain coat, one can’t help but get wet when outside for longer period. That is exactly what happened. I ventured into town for little over hour, grabbed lunch and then decided to take my own siesta back at hostel. After nap #1, I ventured out again in the (still raining) city. Same thing again. This time I ende with trip to grocery store and snacked back at hostel. At this point I was so exhausted from roughly 2 hours of sleep the previous night (I had been in Madrid and gone out for drinks with my Spanish roomie and another girl from Vienna + early flight). I have never felt so old in my life. After taking a snooze on plane, nap in the day, I called it a night at 8 pm.
I slept in until about 10 the next morning. Once up, I had to begin sight-seeing. I had already read my Lonely Planet book and circled on the map where I wanted to go. First, Museum of Port Wine. I must say, I am normally very good at directions. I am good at maps. I am good at reading my itouch’s map quest directions. I met my match here in Portugal. The winding streets are way too complicated for map reading. I ended up in local area. How do I know it was local? When I walked down the street, I stood out like a sore thumb as locals stuck their heads out of the second floor windows to look at me in the street. Yeah… When I thought I was close, I came across three tourists around my parents’ age that I am pretty sure I had seen earlier. Call it the blind leading the blind, but I decided to ask the tourists for directions, after all, I had a better chance of them speaking English. I lucked out. Yes tourists. Yes English-speaking. Yes Portuguese speaking. They were from Brazil. They asked a local for me how to get to the museum and she directed us basically a human made mountain of streets and houses. The trio said they would join me and we began the trek.
Once making it to museum, found it was closed for lunch and trio asked If I would be interested in joining them for historic stock exchange that they had originally been searching for. I decided to and we began another long walk. Only one of the trio spoke English but he was a businessman (as I seem to meet here during my travels) and even knew Atlanta, Georgia because he had done some work there years ago.
The palace wasn’t giving tours in Portuguese on the hour, so the trio left me to join the English tour. The building was great! I wish I could have taken pictures inside to show everyone. The Arabic room was the best. Very appropriate since I just was in Turkey. Apparently the writing on the wall said things like “Allah is good” and “Allah loves the Queen”. Irony since the Queen was Catholic? Apparently it only says that since she allowed foe the building of that particular room. So far, the English speakers here in Portugal have been hiding. Even English tours aren’t the majority. My particular tour was ib English and Spanish. I got to practice my Spanish because the tour guide would talk in English and then repeat the information in Spanish. I certainly am out of practice, but it is nice getting to practice more while in Europe.
The tour had a combined combo ticket so after the tour finished, I went back to Museum of Port Wine to catch it while it was open, then headed downtown the port to take my tour of Sandeman’s. So far in Europe, I have taken a brewery tour in Austria of Ottakringer and then in Ireland, I took a Guinness brewery tour. This was my first winery tour. Apparently this port wine is what Porto is KNOWN for.i really enjoyed the Sandeman tour. Sandeman’s has a slightly different approach to making their port wine than rest. They cut the fermentation process short by a few days– making the wine sweeter and stronger. Normal wine is roughly 12%… Sandeman’s is 20%. It isn’t even supposed to be drank with food but rather before a meal or after with dessert. At the end of the tour, they give you some of their less famous white and some of their famous red Tawny. I am not a red wine person, but there is a reason they are more famous for their red than white. Both are an acquired taste, but I have gotten used to €2 Italian wine from grocery store 🙂
After Sandeman’s, I returned to the hostel to shower. I later went out looking for the grocery store to find a large amount of people gathered inside and outside of a mall. I go inside to find out what is going on and see a boxing ring and a live match going on. I have never seen a boxing match, but when in Portugal…. The crowd seemed to really love one guy. I personally thought whole thing looked rehearsed and couldn’t tell who was winner at the end of the rounds, but the crowd was loving it. Gotta love these random moments you come across while traveling!
The next day I began with looking in the famous Sé church, and hit up a port cellar called “Taylors” that was rated #1 on Trip Advisor. Same thing as Sandeman’s yet not as good of a tour. I then hiked the 225 steps to the top of the tower to get a great view of the city. I ate dinner by the river and heard my first English speakers this entire time in Portugal. Didn’t realize how many French, Italian, Spanish and German tourists come to Portugal and how few English. ATTENTION ENGLISH SPEAKERS: be prepared to improve your sign language while in Portugal.