Photo by Calihan Huntley
Upon arriving in Porto I was ready to spend the entire day in bed with the blinds closed.
When I left Nazare early in the morning, I got caught in the pouring down rain. My feet sloshed in my shoes when I walked and I had a perpetual shiver in my shoulders. That storm seemed to follow me up the coast from Nazare to Porto. However maybe it wasn’t anything personal, maybe it was just Portugal in December. So just when I thought my clothes could not get wetter, I had to make my way from the bus station to my hotel.
Originally the front desk told me I would have to wait 45 minutes to get into my room. I didn’t have anywhere else to go, so I just sat in the lobby. Two minutes after I sat down on one of the nice seats, a manager came out from the back and said, “Get that drenched rat out of our lobby, it’s scaring the guests!” And I was taken to my room.
(This story might have been an exaggeration, but they did get me into my room extremely fast after they saw I was posting up shop in the lobby.)
It was still raining. Raining to the point that I sat on my small covered balcony and watched as the cars below drove through what must have been six inches of water. In the Midwest, we call that a ‘flash flood’ in Portugal, they call it a normal Thursday. I was hungry though and the lure of a new city continued to entice me despite my dampness.
After thirty minutes, I stopped hearing the soft pattering of rain on the window. I opened the blinds to find a short lull in the rain. I had changed my clothes upon returning to the room and without making a decision, my legs walked me out of my room and through the lobby. The clouds were threatening, but so was this five-foot-three-inch girl!
I have a trick when it comes to traveling to new cities in Europe because it’s oftentimes hard to find where all the people and decorations are. Each country has a different, unique culture but if there’s one thing all of Europe has in common, it’s their love for Zara. It’s always in the busiest and most popular part of town. So I plugged Zara into Google Maps and got to walking.
I had been told by three different people that Porto contained a beauty they hadn’t seen anywhere else. The architecture of the homes built into the steep hills was differently something extremely unique to Porto. It is similar to how movies depict Greece, although Porto looks a bit more lived in.
Porto houses a multitude of different architectural styles. From the typical European gothic and Romanesque to a more specific Neo-Manueline and Soft Portuguese style. It seems as though the culmination of all these different styles combined to make the city of Porto should have its own name by now. Even in the city center, where most cities tend to look almost identical, Porto kept its own style. It’s hard to make such a refined space with similar stores unique, however I believe if you were to show a line of pictures of city centers across Europe, it would be easy to accurately assign Porto’s.
Of course, it’s not a trip to Porto without standing atop The Dom Luís I Bridge. A double-deck bridge that looks over the River Douro. I didn’t know about The Dom Luís I Bridge when I first set out for my day in Porto, but as you’re walking through the city it’s hard to miss. The crowds flock there to see the beautiful birds-eye view of the city and its surrounding areas.
However morbid, I’d be interested to know the numbers for how many tourists are hit by the metro on that bridge every year. No matter how slow the metro goes across the bridge or how loud they honk their horn, there has to be at least some.
As the daylight started to fade away, so did the dry weather. I quickly got dinner to take back to my hotel room so I wouldn’t have to walk back in complete darkness. It increasingly rained harder and harder on my walk home, until I was 0.2 miles from the hotel, with my $2 umbrella, carrying a paper bag full of my dinner in the rain. Since I was so close I didn’t want to call an Uber. I only had a little further to go and I knew I could get in a hot shower upon arriving back.
It seems as though I reassured myself a bit too much that the walk would be fine. What I failed to notice was that the small umbrella I had over my head was not protecting the paper bag I was holding at my chest. Only a block away from the hotel, the bottom of my bag broke open, and with it flew my chicken and salad. My first check, that nobody was around to watch this monstrosity happen, was clear. Unsurprisingly, nobody else was out walking the streets of Porto in the pouring rain at night. I didn’t have another bag to carry my things in, so I closed up the containers and held them in my left hand as I continued to clutch my umbrella with my right.
I tried to not make eye contact with the manager who called me a drenched rat as I made my way through the lobby.
I refuse to admit that any of my food touched the pavement. The cardboard boxes definitely fell on their side and opened, but the food itself didn’t fall out enough to get dirty. Although my memory of the event was hazy, as I was just trying to clean up the food before anyone saw the events. But I was relatively sure…
I ate my salad in peace, watching Devon Lee Carlson on Youtube while editing my pictures from Porto. I was never meant to be here in the first place, but the drenching rain in Nazare forced me out early, which called for my arrival here.
There’s not much I enjoy more than having a grand time in places I was never meant to be.
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