I must say… Portugal has given me some unforgettable scary experiences. First in Lisbon, then in Porto. If you’ve read my other entries, I briefly mentioned that I got chased by a drunken man in Porto. If you keep reading, the full story is in this entry!
I took the train to Porto from Lisbon. It was very simple – just go to one of Lisbon’s train stations and ask for a ticket for the next available train in Porto. Make sure you get on the correct train! My ticket guy sold me a ticket to a train that was 2 hours later, when there was actually train in 3 minutes.. I thought that he did this because I didn’t think I’d make the train in 3 minutes. So I got on the I got on the early one (which was not what my actual train ticket was for), thinking I can just play dumb when the control officer guy comes around to check tickets in the train.
So it turns out that I was sold the later train ticket because this train was full. That doesn’t actually mean that it’s full, though. It just means you have to play musical chairs because every seat on the train is taken for some portion of the journey (so the guy couldn’t sell me a ticket for Lisbon -> Porto since there was no one seat available for the entire ride).
WHERE I STAYED
In Porto, I stayed at Spot Hostel. I walked to it from the train station… which involved walking through some sketchy areas, so beware! Don’t do it alone at night. It also happened to be a holiday when I arrived, so everything was closed and it was pretty eerie.
The hostel itself was nice. It doesn’t look so great from the outside, but once I went in, it was nice. And cheap! 🙂 I met some nice people in this hostel, some of which were taking the same flight as me out of Porto and into Madrid! The lounge area is really comfortable as well. Highly recommended!
WHAT I DID
Fortunately, I got to meet up with my friend from university here! She was traveling also, and I really needed a friendly face after the whole Lisbon thing.
On the first day, I walked around and found myself by the water and the Luis bridge. It’s so beautiful. I went there every day that I was in Porto… so two days LOL.
- Free walking tour: our hostel hosted a free walking tour. It was really nice and informative. Our tour guide was super enthusiastic and kept clapping LOL.
- Rio Douro: BEAUTIFUL. While admiring the water, I got asked out by a random guy with no sense of personal space. It was very strange. I feel like I attract weirdos? He was nice, but stood way too close to me. I kept moving away, and he kept moving toward me! And I got paranoid and thought maybe he was trying to steal from me, but I think he was just a little strange.
- Luis I Bridge: if you go down to the water area and walk to what seems like the entrance of the bridge and then face away from the bridge, you should see stairs that lead you up to the top. The view from the bridge is amazing.
- The top: once you’re at the top, instead of going to the bridge straight away, I recommend that you have a wander around! There are some beautiful views that overlook Porto (and not just the water area).
- The other side: once you cross the bridge, you have two options. Turn right, where all the tourists go… or turn left. We turned left because we thought we saw a nice path along the water. Big mistake! We turned left and walked for a good 20-25 minutes. There are lots of abandoned homes with broken roofs. The tops of the walls are lined with broken beer bottles. It’s spooky, but artistic. So we thought we’d keep walking until we reached the other bridge in the distance. This bridge turned out to not be crossable (I think it was only for cars.. we couldn’t even find the entrance). So we kept walking, thinking maybe there was a boat that we could take back. This would’ve been a fun activity, but it didn’t exist. Eventually, we passed by a homeless guy (or at least he looked like one?) and then came across a normal-ish looking man. We asked him if there’s a way back other than to turn around and go back the way we came. He drunkenly pointed in the direction we came from. We looked at each other, turned around, and walked back. After a few minutes, he started walking after us. My friend pointed this out and said we should walk faster. So we did. He walked faster, too. We started running. It was cobblestone and I was wearing wedges, but it didn’t matter. We were in a non-touristy area, there was nobody around us, and a big drunk man was chasing us. He ran after us! I was so tired and my feet wanted to give in. We were so scared. We told him to stop, and he just laughed. He said he’d stop, but he didn’t. As we ran, I pulled out my (very heavy duty) selfie stick (LOL) in case he got too close. We eventually reached the touristy area and he fell behind and stopped. In hindsight, the two of us probably could’ve taken on a drunk man, but it was still scary! And of course that homeless guy paid no attention to us.. Be careful!
WHAT I ATE
- Da terra: I stumbled into this vegan restaurant on my first day while walking toward the water. I didn’t know it was vegan, but whatever I ordered was amazing!!
- Francesinha: It’s like a weird lasagna with lots of meat and a tasbasco-y flavour. Delicious, and a specialty in Porto! We had one from a place near our hostel called Bufete Fase.
- Castello: nice little cafe 🙂
- Piken box: yummy pulled meat sandwiches – much better taste with piripiri sauce! In the centre of town, right beside Nata Lisboa. I tried some beer because they had some special that included free beer. I hate beer and should not have taken the free beer.
- Nata Lisboa: hands down the best Pastei de Nata I’ve ever had!!!!
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Just be careful! It’s Portugal. Don’t go walking around alone at night!
I was lucky that one night, a man who walked alongside me was a fellow traveler. He and I talked and I definitely felt safer having him there! Still, never let your guard down. Always protect your belongings. Lots of people fake being friendly to you to gain your trust and pickpocket.