Porto, your perfect getaway!
Hi! My name is Brendan Guzmán Padrón, I’m half Dutch and half Spanish.. In this travellers blog I’m going to tell you a little bit about Porto, based on my 5-day city trip. I will tell you how they manage themselves as an up and coming tourist destination and of course share my personal experiences of this beautiful and enchanting city called Porto (Oporto). While doing research about Porto on forehand, I already found out that it seems to have everything needed. I visited many touristic destinations all over the world… But let me reveal you this: surprisingly Porto as a city trip inspired me the most. Porto is definitely a place you need to visit at least once in your life!
Porto is a harbour city situated in the north of Portugal and it’s located next to the Douro river. Porto is slowly becoming a more tourist destination and so far it is quite undiscovered amongst travellers. Maybe that is exactly why Porto is so attractive and beautiful. It’s still an untouched destination that has no interest in multinational organisations such as AirBnB, McDonalds, Starbucks etcetera. As soon as I arrived in Porto I was sold. The architecture, the characteristic streets, the picturesque feeling, its hospitality from locals and the atmosphere made me feel like as if I had found my second home. Let’s not forget about the port tastings where Porto is known for…
The government and the local non-profitable tourism board wants to introduce a tourist tax for every inbound tourist of two euros to preserve its authenticity. These two euros will be collected at a national bank so that after one year the total raised amount can be invested in Porto. Think of buying local buildings so locals can live there and to create facilities managed by locals to create local employment. There are so much more ways how Porto wants to grow as a tourism destination while keeping the sustainability, the local quality of living and at the same time work towards corporate social responsibility solutions.
I was very pleased to hear this information during the presentation of the local tourism board, where they presented Porto’s future oriented goals. I was surprised by their way of thinking ahead, even when it is still an undiscovered hidden treasure. Seemingly their destination management knows where they’re aiming at!
The locals were the most hospital people I have ever met. They are so warm and welcoming, I was kind of amazed by this because I haven’t experience such good hospitality for a long time. As you might know and experienced yourself, certain tourist destinations see tourists as something normal which results in a decrease of the hospitality level. That’s why I love travelling because you are constantly researching and exploring new destinations. Every day in Porto I went out to discover, to experience, taste, smell and see new things. Everything I saw, heard and smelled amazed me, it felt like I peacefully died and woke up in real estate heaven…
During an evening out I met a Portuguese barber (84) who started working as a barber in 1959. You would assume that he rather quits working and enjoys his retirement, but that wasn’t the case. He loved being a barber so much that he would only stop when he no longer could work. It was an eye opener for me “If you do what you love, you would never have to work in your life”. This old Portuguese barber offered me a haircut and a beard trimming, like real Portuguese barbers do, and so I did. You could clearly see how passionate he is about being a barber, we chit-chatted throughout the entire session, how Porto was back in the days and how it developed until now, it was very inspiring.
That wasn’t the only time I got in touch with the locals. The next day I met local elderly on the streets while I was strolling through Porto. Honestly, I was actually kind of lost.. In Porto you can get lost so easily! It’s a maze sometimes, but it does bring you to the most unique parts of Porto. This elderly couple started to speak in Portuguese and at first I couldn’t understand them. Again they said to me “pode me ajudar”, this time I understood it loud and clear. In Spanish we say “me puedes ayudar” which means “can you help me”. They needed help crossing the street, so I took the opportunity to have a little talk with them. Immediately they started speaking Portuguese so I had to tell them that I wasn’t Portuguese but Spanish and that I was a tourist. Now they were amazed and laughed pretty hard. I had no plans for that day so I invited them for a cup of coffee and they accepted my offer.
(If you speak Spanish you won’t face any problems whatsoever in Portugal: these two languages are very similar).
One cup of coffee quickly became 3 cups of coffee over time. I had such a nice talk with them about back in the days when they were young, how they have met and of course about the developments Porto has made over the last couple of years. Sunset started, so checked the time and I didn’t notice that already 2,5 hours passed by. “Time flies when you’re having fun”. It started to get cold and I decided to thank the couple for their company and said that I needed to go, and so I did.
Porto, I will never forget you: in all my chaos you were my perfect getaway.
Escrito com amor,
Brendan Guzmán Padrón