22 August 2014
I woke up early for a quick shower and got going. I had said my goodbyes to Rita and Arnao the previous night, and had given Rita a postcard from Toronto and a fridge magnet. I’m really happy with my first Couchsurfing experience! :) It took the train, metro, and a shuttle bus to get to Terminal 2 in Lisbon but I still got there really early and security was really quick. I had already checked in to my flight while I was in Canada and had my boarding pass printed out. I got some time to do some MRP work while waiting to board my flight.
It was my first time flying with Ryanair. I probably should have just taken the bus or train, but the flight was cheap and I was just too trigger-happy in booking things on my trip leading up to La Tomatina (coming soon~). In any case, it was a packed flight and we landed in Porto fifteen minutes ahead of schedule in the early afternoon.
I picked up a couple of free maps at the airport. It was a pretty lengthy metro ride to the city, but like Lisbon, it wasn’t difficult to figure out. I had saved the metro maps of all the cities I would be visiting on my phone for reference, but this would be the only time I would need to use it during my stay in Porto.
I got to my new place of stay, CoolHostel no Porto, which I had booked through AirBnB. CoolHostel was easy even for me to find right in the downtown core of Porto near Bolhão station. I met the owner, Bruno, at the front desk and he showed me around the hostel. It’s a really clean and colourfully decorated hostel, with a spacious kitchen, dining area, and terrace. I was placed in a six-person mixed dorm and settled in my bunk bed. There was one bathroom on our floor and another on the next, and waiting for turns actually never turned out to be a problem during my stay here! I was given a key for the room and for my locker, though I would have to buzz in every time I wanted to enter the building. Overall, I was pretty impressed with my accommodations for $15/night.
I ventured out with the first priority to find food. I walked by the Majestic Café with a gorgeous façade just sandwiched between all these other buildings. I would later find out that J.K. Rowling frequently used to come here to write Harry Potter. :D
I also walked by a lot of pastelerias with delicious-looking food displayed at the window.
However, I wasn’t just looking for ANY lunch. I was on a mission to find something more specific: a Porto original called the francesinha, or the “little Frenchie”, which has made a few lists as one of the ten best sandwiches in the world. This scary sandwich contains layers of meat upon meat upon meat swimming in a sauce usually containing some combination of tomato and beer. I went all out and ordered one complete with melted cheese, an egg, and fries (or “chips”, as they’re known here).
Oh my god, I can’t even. This was soo good but it’s just so much. T_T I must have spent well over an hour trying to down as much of this as I could. I kept getting surprised as I made my way through the sandwich because more pieces of different meat would just suddenly appear, lol. Needless to say, I wouldn’t really need to eat again for the rest of the day.
After overloading the food baby, I decided to walk it off and wander a bit to orient myself with my new surroundings and to make sure I knew how to get to the meeting point of a walking tour I booked to do the next morning. To be honest, I was feeling a tad mopey and drained over my MRP so I devoted the day to not doing much other than trying to enjoy my new surroundings and clearing my head. Here were some of the sights:
I also walked down towards Douro River to one of the many bridges to Gaia and the port wine cellars. Porto is known as the “City of Bridges” and is also famous for its port wine.
I wandered around Praça da Ribeira (Ribeira Square) in the historical/tourist center of Porto and continued on for more sightseeing. I absolutely loved walking around this city! Oh, I should also mention here that I was able to find my way back to certain landmarks and my hostel through a combination of using my pamphlet map and most importantly, the “OK Maps” feature on Google Maps which allows you to pre-load maps of certain areas. I had only found out about this feature about a month before my trip, and it had definitely been a life-changer.
This was a really easygoing day. Then I had gelato for dinner, just because I can! >:) I actually got this at a place just around the corner from where I had eaten my francesinha earlier on in the day. It was pretty rejuvenating, hehe.
Having had really late sleeps the past couple of nights, I turned in early for some much desired rest.