Port wine comes from Porto, Portugal. This seems fairly obvious when you see it typed out, but I had absolutely no idea. When it came to Portugal, I was fairly ignorant. My knowledge consisted of the geography of it (it’s next to Spain) and the language (they speak Portuguese). I imagined it as a mini-Spain.
My roommate German said Porto was his favorite city in the world so when he offered to take me and five other females there in a van, I decided I’d let him be our guide and not delve into the swirling world of guidebooks and Internet pages proclaiming, “The Top 5 Places to Eat in Porto!” Therefore, I experienced Portugal like a newborn babe. For those of you who don’t know ANYTHING about Portugal, here are some obvious statements to start you off.
Portuguese People Speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Portuguese can sound sneakily like Spanish if you just hear a few words, but it’s an extremely different language. This doesn’t stop people (ourselves included) from speaking Spanish and trying to be understood. Most Portugese will understand you, but prefer to be spoken to in English, if you don’t know Portuguese. Their English is far superior to the English spoken in Spain because, unlike Spain, their imported television shows are wonderfully not dubbed and many people learn English this way.
Tapas Don’t Really Exist in Porto.
I assumed Spanish and Portuguese lifestyles would be alike, but the Portuguese actually delight in a real breakfast and stick to a full meal for lunch and dinner, instead of tapas. Most Spanish people seem to either not eat breakfast or just have some bread and coffee, but in Portugal, it is popular to get a grilled crossiant with ham and cheese or leite creme, an egg tart pastry. Tapas may only be found in the most touristy restaurants, but at least you can find tapa prices. A coffee and a pastry will set you back two euros (if that) and our lunches and dinners never went over six euros.
Portuguese People Have Invented Obesity On A Plate
The Francesinha is five different kinds of meat and cheese on grilled bread, that is then covered with an egg and a spicy brown sauce. We got the especial which comes with fries, just in case you aren’t feeling fat enough. I got a half serving and couldn’t even finish it. German says that people eat this before going out to party, but I can’t understand the logic behind that. I would rather eat it drunk when I can’t comprehend exactly how horrible what I am eating is. Nothing says hot like having consumed 3,000 calories before going to drink some more. That being said, it was delicious, but I will probably never eat it again.
Port And Tonic Is A Hipster Cocktail. Portugal Loves Hipsters.
After checking out the many vintage stores, perusing through records, trying on cassette tape bags, and eating homemade pizza, the hipsters straggle into low-lit bars with comfy couches to drink them some port. Drinking port at a bar makes you look mature and relaxed. Drinking a port AND tonic means you are extremely classy, but know how to party. Like a mullet. Word to the wise, port WILL stain your favorite scarf. Word to the wiser, dish soap and peroxide WILL get it out.
Portuguese Men Are Attractive
Spanish men are good looking, but their style leaves much to desire. It is straight out of the 90’s with tight t-shirts, spiked hair, and white washed jeans. It gives me hives. So when I got to Porto and saw all the beautiful, well dressed men, well….let’s just say my friends and I were all hot and bothered.
Porto Is So Cool That It Inspired Harry Potter and Eiffel
I love Harry Potter, in an especially nerdy fashion. It’s one of those things from my childhood that I will always hold dear. Lello & Irmão, a bookstore in Porto, is said to have inspired JK Rowling for the grand staircase in Hogwarts. Also, the gowns the students wear in the movies and books bear a striking resemblance to what the students in Porto wear. The bookstore really is lovely and magical looking, but a bit ruined by tourists snapping photos in its entrance over each others heads. No photos are allowed inside so the tourists get crafty, as they always do.
Gustave Eiffel built the Maria Pia bridge in Porto, which was a railway bridge that now only takes cars and foot traffic. It’s a iron bridge, that is not especially stunning for me. The real looker is the Dom Luis Bridge built by his student (or Eiffel, this seems to be disputed) which stretches high over the water, giving heart stopping views during the day and soul stirring moments when lit up at night.
Passports Are Not Needed In Portugal
We drove our van over an iron bridge and saw a blue and yellow sign stating “Portugal” with some graffiti in black spray paint on it. That was our welcome wagon. My passport stayed packed in my bag, never once seeing the Portuguese sunshine. We may as well have been driving to another Spanish city.
Junkies WILL Steal Your Coat
I danced the night away with a Portuguese man who looked like Freddie Mercury. Some time later, when I went to retrieve my coat, it was GONE. As was said Portuguese man’s friends coat. I searched the bar to no avail. I was then informed that junkies usually roam the bars and clubs for unattended coats and jackets to steal. So now my thrift store Korean coat is keeping some junkie warm or perhaps was sold to someone on the street. The valiant Freddie Mercury ran into the night to try and find the coats/track the junkies, but we never saw him again. It’s likely he is part of a coat theft ring…Never trust a man with a mustache.
Porto swept me away with it’s colorful buildings, wineries, waterside cafes, and friendly people (like the postman who showed me the trick to getting stamps quickly). It’s a place I must visit again, for I only scratched the surface, and now I’m even more excited to go to Lisbon, a city I know nothing about, next month. Perhaps I should read up on it or perhaps I’ll just figure it out as I go along. Stay tuned for more obvious statements 🙂