Okay, SOOOO much has happened since I last posted. So much, in fact, that I have resorted to keeping a list on my phone to keep track of everything I’ve done. And because it’s so much, I must write two posts this week. I know, I’m sorry. As if I didn’t blow up your Facebook feed enough.
But here’s the deal: I have to skip over everything that’s been happening the past few weeks because I’m SO excited to share my long weekend with you. This goes against everything my Type A personality requires, but I am not posting in chronological order this week. Oops.
So what is it that I did that is causing me to take such a risk and go against my personality?
I went on a trip.
To Porto, Portugal.
This was a huge deal for me because this was my first true solo trip. It was pretty spontaneous of me (another out-of-character thing for me), but I had a long weekend and my friends were traveling elsewhere, so I booked a ticket and went. And while I was scared out of my mind, I’m so happy I did it.
I packed up my backpack and left Saturday morning for the airport. After a simple 50 minute flight, I was in an entirely new city and country, and also wondering what the h*** I had gotten myself into. I had directions to the hostel, but it required me to take the metro. Simple, I thought to myself. I had become a pro using the Madrid metro, so why should this be any different? “Not so fast!” said the Porto metro. Because little did I know, I had to purchase my ticket for a certain zone, and did I know which zone my hostel was in? No, I sure didn’t! So while I stared at the Portuguese on the screen for a hot minute with at least 10 people lined up behind me, I began to panic. Finally, I turned around, put on my best puppy dog face (to be honest, I wasn’t acting, that’s how helpless I was), and asked the people behind me to help. Luckily they did, although they ended up being kind of wrong, but by then I got the hang of it.
After a long ride, I finally made it to the hostel and checked in. I’m going to tell you right now, if you ever decide to go to Portugal, stay in the Yes! Hostels. They. Are. Amazing. 10/10 would recommend.
The hostel offered an afternoon walking tour about an hour after I checked in, so I decided to just check out my room and chill until that. I met a girl from Canada, Beth, who shared my 4-person room. She’s been traveling all over the place by herself! I was in awe and admired her so much! Luckily, she was in Porto until Tuesday like me, so we hung out quite a bit. It was so great getting to know her!
Anyway. We went on the walking tour and learned all sorts of interesting things about Porto. Then at the hostel dinner, Beth and I met a French auxiliar named Josie who is teaching in Spain like me! She was so cool too! We all participated in the pub crawl hosted by our hostel, and oh my goodness, was that a blast and a half. We went to 3 bars and 1 club and they were all so neat. We met a ton of other people from around the world at this pub crawl, and even though we were out until 4:00 am and were pretty much dying the next day, it’s a night I’ll never forget.
On Sunday I got up, had breakfast, and headed across the river to Graham’s Port Lodge for a port wine tour and tasting. I had never had port wine before, and since Porto is famous for it (even though it technically isn’t produced there OR stored there…), I figured I had to try it. The tour was very interesting and informative, and the port was…strong. Lol, but I really enjoyed it!
After, I bought some lunch at a stand by the river and just sat and enjoyed the alone time and the beautiful view.
Then I headed back over the river to the Sao Francisco church and checked out the *insane* amounts of gold and intricate carvings on the walls. I even explored the museum and catacombs #itwasalmosthalloween.
From there I went and climbed the Torre dos Clérigos to admire the beautiful views of the city.
And after that? I met up with Beth and Josie to taste francesinha, a dish that originated in Porto. Now, according to our walking tour guide, the reason for this dish is pretty interesting. A restaurant owner brought his nephew over from France to introduce some French cuisine to the menu. This nephew was used to the promiscuity of French women and was disappointed to find that the dictatorship in Portugal made it very difficult to find promiscuous women. So, he decided to invent a dish that would force the women to be promiscuous. He created a sandwich with steak and other meat, covered it with melted cheese, and topped it with a fried egg. Then, he developed a spicy sauce to go over the whole thing with the intention of making the women get so hot they would need to start taking their clothes off. Also, since the sauce was spicy, the women would need a drink, so the nephew was ready to hand beer after beer to the women. Well, turns out the dictator caught wind of this and decided to ban women from eating francesinha. Luckily that’s not the case anymore, so we ate the francesinha. Unfortunately, it was disgusting, but turns out it was just the restaurant we were at because Josie and I tasted the francesinha of some friends we met the next day and it was actually the bomb.
On Sunday I went on another walking tour with Josie and two guys we met, Raju from San Francisco/the Philippines and Regan from New Zealand. It was really cool and informative! We also checked out Mercado do Bolhao and got a coffee at the Majestic Cafe where JK Rowling scribbled her first notes for the Harry Potter series!
We then decided to chill at this really neat park/garden with an outdoor bar and have a beer before we headed back to the hostel to celebrate Halloween and the hostel’s 5th birthday with free food and drinks! It was soooo fun talking to everyone and dancing around and playing games.
I was getting really worried because my flight was at 6:30 am, but everyone told me to just stay awake and not go to bed! So I took their advice to heart and hung out with some cool people from Morocco and India until I went to bed for an hour, got up, and headed to the airport to come back.
So, what did I learn from this solo travel experience?
- People are amazing. Everyone I met was so interesting and well-traveled; it made me feel really lame, but it also makes me want to do what they do.
- I am fully capable of doing things on my own. Before, I was never the type of person who would have gone on a trip alone, but I have gained so much confidence from this experience.
- I need to see more of the world.
Thanks for listening to my rambling, guys. You da real MVPs.
Shoutouts: To Yashas for encouraging me to go on this trip alone and motivating me when I was freaking out about it. To my mom for listening to my meltdowns when I’m homesick. To my friends back home for inundating me with hilarious snapchat videos that make me feel like I’m there. To Jess and Elaine for taking time to Skype with me. To everyone who has been reading my blog for showing your interest and support. Thank you guys!!!
Missing: Having a dryer…these damp jeans are getting to me. Also, being healthy. I was sick when I came to Spain and I’ve also been sick the last week or 2. But then again, what else is new? Also, even though I don’t really watch baseball, I’m totally missing the fact that I’m not there to celebrate the Cubs winning the World Series! How cool!
Okay, if this didn’t bore you to death, stay tuned for the next post coming about the last few weeks…coming soon!