The GoGlobal Blog

I am melting

I am melting

No, this is not a joke. I think I am starting to melt. It is 23.30 h here, and about 32 grad (90 F). No wind, no moving air… only heat. I know understand why the Spaniards eat at 23.00 h: it is just too hot to cook at any other time. We “cooled off” today at 20.00 when the temp dropped from 35 grad. If only there was a beach here… then this weather would be perfect. Alas. So why am I still up at this hour? Well, besides not being able to sleep due to the heat, it is also my last week here in Madrid. I have class Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday is my final, and then Thursday I leave for Roma, Italia. The last week in Europe after a wonderful, amazing year…

Don’t worry, the recap isn’t this blog, but soon. This one is dedicated to Portugal (and the oven that is known as Madrid). So Friday the started at 5.15 when I was up, making sure I had packed everything I would need, then on the metro by 6.00 when it opened to get to the airport by 7.15. The flight was at 9.20, but as we were not sure what security would be like with this being a holiday weekend, we decided to play it safe. We ended up having plenty of time, which allowed us to grab a bite to eat, and then be at our gate with plenty of time.

Here is where I have to have a quick advertisement. Thank you RyanAir for being affordable and for allowing me to travel all over Europe. To all those who are wanting to study abroad, get to know RyanAir and EasyJet. They will be good friends of yours!

Anyway, we arrived in Porto, Portugal with no problems. After finding the metro (which wasn’t hard) we caught the metro to the stop we needed, and from there we set out to find the bus to our hostel. And the adventure starts. So we could not find the right bus stop at first (there were about 6, we needed the one with 402 or something like that). Of course the last one we check, which is closest to the metro entrance was the one we needed. As we are looking at the sign, an old man who was standing there asked first in Portuguese where we were trying to go, then he repeated it in English.

Side note: Thank you Italian, Spanish, and the few words of French I know. I discovered it Portuguese is spoken slowly, I can understand a good part of it. I cannot respond for the life of me in that language, but I can follow a conversation. I also discovered I can read it. Thank you for sharing bases across languages!

Anyway, so this old man was going to the same general area as us. He ended up telling us a lot of the history of Porto, the Holiday (yep, it was a holiday in Porto as well!), and how to get around easiest. He also told us his life story. He was an interesting man, and extremely helpful and nice. We it came to our stop, he got off with us and walked us to the hostel so we wouldn’t get lost, pointed out how to get to the center of town, where some restaurants were, and where the local store was. He was incredible. Then he took his leave and set off. Sometimes strangers really surprise me and make me really appreciate the kindness and good fortune I have had in my travels.

After checking into our hostel, we decided to walk along the river and eventually, make our way to the beach. The river walk was gorgeous. I think I took about 100 photos just of that part of town. And I am glad I did! Since it was the Festival of S. John, there were carnival stands set up along the river and beach as well. But, since we were in a residential part of town, there were next to no tourists! It was bliss! And prices were reasonable. Much lower in fact, than I thought they would be. Also. We had a leisurely walk and then we ended up at the beach. I have now seen both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and have swam on both sides of it. Pretty cool.

The water was cooler than the Mediterranean, but still just as nice. Espeically since the sun is strong and it has been so warm. We spent some time just relaxing there, exploring a bit (there is a great pier with a lighthouse providing perfect views of the coast and city), before heading up the boardwalk in search of food. After some searching, we found Casa de pasto da Palmeira- a small place, with a lot of charm: there was no complete set of anything. It was a lot of miss-match (glasses, plates etc), like you would find in the local run grocery/deli. I was able to decipher enough of the menu to pick something to eat. At this moment, I could not tell you what I had, besides it was Portuguese and good. Then we went back to the Hostel, changed, and set off to explore some more, this time in the direction of the center of town. We walked about 3 km from the hostel, along the river, to the center of the city.

It was a great walk. The city is a mix of old and new, modern and historic. Plus, since it was the holiday, there were concerts all along the river, all of them free. This is the Europe that I know, that sadly doesn’t always exist in the larger cities, like Madrid or Roma. When we made it to the center of town, we walked around, taking in all that we could, while making plans for what we wanted to see the next day. Then it was back to the hostel, shower, and dinner. We ate at a place right across from our hostel, on a terrace overlooking the river and the coast in the distance. It was a great way to end the first day in Porto.

Saturday we spent the morning in town, walking around, checking out stores and churches, and seeing the city. The best way I know how to describe it is a cross between Warclaw, Poland, and Prague, Czech Republic. It has the old feel and look, while being history and modern, but without every building having been renovated or restored. You can see the age of the buildings. For lunch we found this hole-in-the-wall place in the center of town. The other tourists blew past it without a second glance, but we decided to check it out. I had the carne assada con arroz e batatas and it was wonderful. I had decide on it before we asked for recommendations. It was also interesting because we used Spanish everywhere we went. We even passed off as Spaniards a few times.

The afternoon was spent on the beach, soaking up some sun and enjoying the ocean. It probably sounds like we didn’t do a lot, but it was more than enough, as we all wanted to relax, and as this was my last trip in Europe, I wanted it to be restful and not rushed. I was able to see the city, nap on the beach, swim, try the local foods, and not feel pressured to do anything. It was a perfect weekend.

After the beach, we went to a restaurant along the beach we had found the day before. We had dinner there, overlooking the ocean as the sun began to set. We all had traditional foods while sharing a bottle of white wine, with the sea breeze blowing, and the sun shining on the water. It was one of my favorite dinners of this past year, just because I was able to sit, stare over the ocean, which was to the west, and across which I will be flying in a week, and reflect on this past year, and all that I have done and seen. We ended dinner with a Port Desert: a crape with ice cream and port wine (hey, we were in Porto, after all). Then we walked back down to the beach and watched the sunset into the ocean: the best way to end my last trip in Europe, and the weekend in Portugal.

Today, we were up at 4.15 to get to the airport to fly back to Madrid. Normally, I would not like that, but given that I would have most of Sunday here in Madrid, I was happy. Upon arriving, I went to the outdoor flee market that only is open on Sundays. I spent a few hours there, walking around, checking out a few items, before returning to the apartment, showering and taking a siesta (hey, 4.15 wake ups are not nice, nor are 35 grad temps!). jaja Since then, I have been cleaning, packing, and trying to study and do homework. All in all, it has been a great weekend, and I am glad I went on this trip.

So, time to write that essay. Hasta luego!

View from the pier of Porto
Looking up the River in Porto
Looking at the Cathedral from Torre dos Clérigos
Walking the beach at sunset
Backflip on the beach
Sunset over the Atlantic
Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail. -- Anonymous
Carnival along the water

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