I’ve been exploring Porto, Portugal for the last few days.
This city has a very old world charm to it and I’m really enjoying my short time here! I have to plan a week or so during the warmer months to visit the beach and explore more.
I also met some wonderful souls who were expats (majority black) at a happy hour that I found out about through a FB group.
Here are some of my notes on Porto:
Although there is an airport in Porto, traveling by train is easy and affordable. I am told there is also bus service.
Riding down these winding cobblestone alleys in a European car has me feeling like I’m in a James Bond movie!!!
I loved hearing the church bell chime every 15 minutes. It took me back to my childhood in Brooklyn growing up on Carroll St. and hearing the bell from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
Porto is very affordable in terms of food and transportation. My Airbnb was cheaper here for the same amount of time compared to Lisboa.
The hills are real, especially in Gaia, but not nearly as intimidating as Lisboa. Walking is my preferred method of travel, but be clear, it is not for the faint at heart.
There are many sites to see and things to do. Walk down by the Douro River and taste some of the famous port wine produced in the region or have a traditional bachalau (codfish) dish with a glass or two of sangria. You can also check out a jazz club, listen to street musicians play for free and I even heard some house music (or dance music as it is called here) playing one evening. Visit the Sao Bento train station or stroll around downtown. The architecture is also amazing and I spent a lot of time marveling at the tile work. There is such a wide variety of food options, no matter your diet.
Mais Mar in Mercado Beira-Rio - Tastiest meal that I had in Porto...and it was only 12€ and included a glass of wine!
Enoteca 17.56 - amazing service and overpriced food. Flavor was meh. Chocolate mousse cake was decadently heavenly. Need a reservation and it’s best to make it over the phone.
Negra Cafe - I love a good cafe and this place didn't disappoint!!! The music, the decor, the vibe and the service were on point. This spot was dope! Black owned.
Honest Greens - the healthiest salad I’ve had since I left my house in the states! My body was begging for it and was very happy to get this level of nutrition. This is a chain and I saw it in Lisbon.
Piccolo Camafeu - wonderful owner and stellar reviews. Didn’t have a chance to visit but met the owner briefly and she was very warm and inviting. Black owned.
Africans in Porto Cultural Tour on AirBnB - Great way to learn about the African influence (or lack thereof) to Portuguese history. Mafalda is the sista who leads the tour and she centers Black people during this experience. She is also very passionate and knowledgeable. Black led.
African Arte - African art gallery on Rua Dom Joao IV, 303. Beautiful pieces from throughout West Africa, including Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. Black owned.
Wear or bring a packable down jacket. It is cooler (to me) than I expected in late March. Due to the age of the architecture and the tile, the buildings aren’t insulated and may feel cold and damp. Pack warm pjs also. No need for heels due to the cobblestone streets. Pack dressy flats and/or sneakers.
It’s Europe, so you also may need to pack a washcloth.
I did not have a good experience with the taxi drivers in Lisbon or Porto…bad attitudes. Bolt is cheaper but you get what you pay for. Uber is a little more and I am told it is the best of the three options. The train, bus and cable cars are easy to navigate as well.
Use Apple maps, if you can. Much better directions and available offline not matter where you are.
Many people I met spoke enough English to make it work. I speak Spanish, so that made it much easier for me. Google translate is a game changer.