Western Europe Summer 2011

Porto, Portugal – Just What the Doctor Ordered

Porto, Portugal
It had been a long day. The bus had dropped us off in a part of town we weren’t expecting to be in, the “Free Internet” wifi network I needed for directions actually cost 2.50 Euro an hour, and our bags were starting to seem heavier and heavier each day. We’d been moving around a lot, and in need of some relaxation and a slower pace. That’s exactly what we got in Portugal, the second chapter and second country of this trip.

Last weekend we found ourselves in an authentic Portuguese restaurant with 17 or 18 other people in the city of Porto, Portugal. Some were travelers, others expats, and others locals who’d grown up and lived in Portugal most or all of their lives. In all, we represented 13 different countries from around the globe. Pretty damn impressive for a small dinner party huh?

We’d made our way here thanks to the host we were staying with in the city. He was an older retired man who now spends quite a bit of his time hosting guests from around the world and showing them his beautiful city. In fact, he is quite famous in the area for giving full day tours of Porto (for free) two to four times a week and also for organizing these “international” dinners for travelers and locals alike!

Earlier in the day we’d been fortunate enough to catch part of his famous tour, where we were treated to stunning views of the city of Porto, wine tastings of the famous Port wine that comes from the region, drinks in a members only football club, and conversation with people from all walks of life and countries including Croatia, Iran, and South Korea.

Croft Port Wine

Croft Port Cellars

Croft Port Tasting Room

The dinner ended with us (and the other international guests) all being invited out to a huge concert on the river next to Porto. The city had literally placed a floating stage on the river and hired some popular Portuguese bands to entertain a massive crowd, for FREE! The show ended with fireworks and then a trip to the clubs and bars in the area. We were exhausted so we left early (2:30am) but there is no doubt the party continued well into the night.

Concert on the River

In our first day in Porto we’d tasted the famous wine from the region, seen parts of the city we might never have found on our own, enjoyed an authentic dinner, met travelers from around the globe, attended an awesome concert and fireworks show, strolled up and down the busiest night life streets in Porto, and then went to bed in the home of a local man who only wanted the satisfaction of helping others in return. Not bad for our first day in town, and all thanks to reaching out to the amazingly generous people of Porto.

  1. Christina

    Sounds like a great night! I’ve always wanted to visit Porto.

    1. Matt

      I definitely recommend it.

  2. Donna

    You call that “relaxation and a slower pace”? Does sound very interesting but not restful!

    1. Matt

      Well I guess the relaxation came AFTER this night

  3. Michael Figueiredo

    I’ve only been to Lisbon, Sintra and the Azores so far….but really want to explore Northern Portugal, including Porto, someday. By your article and photos, it looks great!

    1. Matt

      Yea I enjoyed Porto the most, but the others were great as well.

  4. Grace

    Cool. I was just thinking about Portugal since I feel that a lot of people skip it when they are in Europe. Are those barrels of wine on the boat? Lovely!

    1. Matt

      Yea, if you are in Spain it is definitely worth it to go through Portugal. At least Porto and Lisbon like we did. And yea, those are wine barrels, but unfortunately they are just for show 😉

  5. inka

    You couldn’t have asked for more, could you? Grace is right, Portugal is often bypassed on Europe tours which is a shame. I love the people and the further north you head, the nicer they are, albeit in their very own way.

    1. Matt

      That is odd, we noticed a lot of generosity and hospitality in the north as well. The guy we stayed with in the south was also an awesomely nice person though.

  6. Sophie

    Sounds like heaps of fun 🙂
    That top photo is excellent!

    1. Matt

      Thanks! Check out the panoramic shot I just put up as it is an extension of that top photo.

  7. Jeremy Branham

    Port wine is delicious!!! I had some in Lisbon but didn’t have a chance to make it to Porto! That will be on the next trip there.

    1. Matt

      I know some people don’t like it because of the sweetness, but I absolutely love it!

    1. Matt

      Yea it is very picturesque

  8. Andrea

    Wow – you’re having some great luck with amazing outdoor parties in Portugal. It’s been so quiet for us! The one party we found was a night we were exhausted and couldn’t stand up any more.

    1. Matt

      It’s all thanks to couchsurfing! Knowing locals equals good times out!

    1. Matt

      Yea we’ll just pretend they threw that for us 😉

  9. robin

    We don’t live too far away now so Lisbon is most definitely on the list over the next year or so. Looking forward to good fish and fine port in Portugal!

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