Europe, Portugal

Porto not being nice to me, and the final reward

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By the end of my second day in Oporto I was decided to make the most out of my last day, so as we went to dinner at some restaurant, I took my map and pen and started working on my itinerary. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE looking at a map full of new places to visit, all the possibilities are there right in front of me, and I get super thrilled and fell like a child who someone just gave an entire bag of candy! Can I do this for the rest of my life, please?

So we were supposed to be out of the house by 8am (my idea of course!). You can guess we obvisouly weren’t…it was 11am when I was dropped near “Bolhão Market” alone, since my friend eventually gave up on me and my tourist day because the rain falling was insane (and the country was actually on alert due to bad weather, but I still wanted to do what I had planned god damn it!). Seriously, Bolhão Market is adorable, with old ladies selling veggies and fruit and everything is so colorful I even forgot about the weather while I was there walking around.

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At some point during morning I got mad for never knowing where I was, and decided the problem was the stupid map (I strongly believe it was backwards because I kept walking in the opposite direction ever time!) and not my lack of orientation. I walked up and down searching for the famous bookstore “Lello” – Harry Potter bookshop as the man at the tourist point told me – and actually passed right in front of it about three times without realizing it! Only found it thanks to my cellphoneGoogle Maps and because obviously there was a HUGE line at the door (even with the rain). Entering it, it was beautiful, really looks like a place you’d see in the movies, or in Hogwarts, but the amount of people inside ruined it for me. Can’t stand being in a place where everyone keeps walking right pass me like I’m not even there.

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Because of the terrible weather (felt like I was being punished for planning to see the city on my last day) I couldn’t go up Clérigos Tower (which was something that I really wanted to do in the first place). Lesson learned: when at the entry they ask you 2€, don’t say it’s expensive, just pay the guy and climb the freaking stairs!
After eating the typical Francesinha and waiting for the stupid rain to stop (which it didn’t by the way), I decided to face the freaking storm outside and complete my list of places to see by the end of the day, because I knew if I didn’t I would go back home pissed at myself.
The first place that appeared was a church that was on the map, Carmelitas Church! Well, I happened to went in happy, to get away from the rain when I look and realize there is a funeral happening…Great, just great Rita….and me in my wet pink coat. Idiot!!

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Trying to keep my camera safe as I got lost again and again searching for stupid known churches on the map that apparently were ALL closed was another downer! At this point I was in a pretty bad mood as you can imagine. I think my day was kinda doomed from the moment I tried to plan it, maybe that was the problem.
After getting down some pretty suspicious stairs that made me ask every person passing on the opposite direction of me (that was almost none) if it was safe to go down there by myself, I finally found the center. Relief!!
The weather got so bad I had to go look for some kind of shelter, so I was entering a restaurant when the man says they all close at 3.30pm around that area. WHAT? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?? So the entire country is on alert of danger for the terrible weather and now I don’t have a place to go in? I had a small moment of panic and briefly hated the city (sorry Oporto, I love you, don’t worry). After seeing things flying around me and thinking I might fly too, in my despair I found a place and sat for a coffee outside under a thing I thought it would totally fall on top of me because of the wind. As I sat there, I was almost giving up on crossing the bridge to Gaia side when the sky turned blue again. It was now or never!
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As I crossed the bridge from the under part I had this sense of accomplishment for getting there – “I made it!” – and this put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.
Oporto has this weird thing that apparently the path, many times, got a little scary and made me think”where the hell am I going?”, but in the end they aren’t that scary or dangerous at all, they’re just different from what we’re used to, and being out of our comfort zone can be really scary, but as you cross those weird scary paths/streets you realize you’re creating monsters that aren’t there, and everything is going to be just fine!
Crossing the bridge I was so happy for not giving up on this because it was raining like crazy. I knew as soon as I got there everything would be ok and I would forget all about the terrible day I’ve had so far, and that’s what happened. Watching the view over Oporto from Jardim do Morro was breathtaking and I felt so blessed for being in this amazing city and was proud of myself for going forward no matter what and leaving my fear behind – or keeping it but not letting it stop me.
Still, I wanted more, and I climbed a little higher to Mosteiro Serra do Pilar. For real, dont’t miss this if you’re in Oporto. Uau! As soon as I got there I forgot everything! I felt so blessed and happy I can’t even put into words.
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This trip with lots of solo time prepared me for what’s coming next year, left me excited to explore places, but obviously also made me wonder if I’m ready for such a long solo travel around Europe…
I ended the day watching a beautiful view with the sunset on top of D. Luiz I bridge – even though I’m not a bridge person as I get really indisposed with heights – and I had this beautiful moment where I felt really lucky to have gone there. The more I travel, the more I realize I want to spend my life with a map, a pen and notebook and my camera, and simply got to unknown places and explore every corner of them.
I feel amazing!!
Thank you Oporto!
I’ll see you again next year!
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