Hello Everybody, it is Roxana from @mytravellingbackpack and the first stop on my Iberian Adventure was Porto! I stayed at the Tattva Design Hostel, which was central and near the São Bento Rail Station and the Ponte de D. Luis I bridge! Porto is an absolutely charming city that needs to be explored!
My Iberian Adventure started off with a trek to Porto! I got to London Heathrow Airport at 1 A.M. on May 2nd and my flight left at 6 A.M. (Yes you read that correctly, 1 A.M.) I had a few short naps that morning in the airport but only got quality sleep while on the two planes! When I arrived at the Lisbon Airport at around 8:50 A.M., I checked my phone to see what time my second flight to Porto left and realized it was 9:00 A.M.! I bolted out of that plane and ran like there was no other option. The most disheartening part of all this running around is that the gate for Porto is all the way at the END of the terminal and every time I would look up to the gate prompts it would say “Gate to Porto departure 15 min. walking”…I was almost in tears due to the weight of my backpack, my sore legs, and the fact that I was going to miss this flight!
When I got to the gate, feeling defeated, I asked the agent if I had missed my flight to Porto. He asked to see my boarding pass and with the biggest smile told me that we start boarding for the 10 A.M. flight at 9:20 A.M. The relief that washed over me was incredible! I sat to cool down because I was drenched in sweat and relaxed for a bit before we boarded the plane.
Once I finally landed into Porto, I made my way to the metro and followed the directions that they gave me at Tattva Design Hostel to get there for only 2.60 EUR (2.00 EUR for fare + 0.60 for metro card) instead of 8 EUR for a bus or however much an Uber or Taxi would be! As a backpacker you’ve always got to look out for the best deal!
Reaching the Tattva Design Hostel felt like I arrived in paradise because it had every amenity that I need…most importantly a BED!
I felt like I was up all day (which was not far from the truth) and it was only 2 P.M.! Patty, the attendant at the front desk, gave me a great tour of the hostel, explained to me what daily activities I could expect and gave me a ‘Welcome Card’ that had a free drink to redeem at the Tattva Restaurant.
I took a hot shower to relax all my sore muscles, got dressed, and went out to take some pictures. I was in such a daze before I left that when I was out taking pictures and planning to get something to eat, I realized that I didn’t bring my bankcard! Thankfully the Tattva Design Hostel has a restaurant upstairs from the lobby and I was able to have quite an experience eating. MY FOOD WAS ON FIRE! Literally! Dinner is served from 4:30 P.M. – 11:30 P.M., you just sign up at the front desk and they take it from there.
Don’t forget you can redeem your free drink here between 7:30 P.M. – 8:00 P.M, just bring your ‘Welcome Card’ that was given to you at the front desk during check in!
It was so nice to have a traditional Portuguese meal and the convenience of it made it even better! I thanked Tattva that I didn’t have to leave and find somewhere to eat for my legs sake, and it was only a flight of stairs down from my room! The ambience was delightful with some jazz music playing in the background and pleasant chatter going on everywhere. Ruben, the waiter, was very attentive and ensured everyone had a lovely time.
I was served the Soup of the day, Chouriço Al’ Infierno (Chorizo on fire), and a delicious Linguini Nero com Frutos do Mar (Black Linguini with Seafood). The food was hearty and full of flavour. The pasta was what took me away with the buttery creaminess that the seafood gave it was just fantastic. The Chorizo on fire added a special touch since I had never seen that before!
After such a lovely meal, I decided to call it a day! My body needed to recharge its batteries for a great start to Day 2!
Having mentally prepared myself for a big day and some solid sleep, I woke up excited to discover Porto! I went up to Tattva’s Restaurant and had some breakfast from their free breakfast buffet, which had some pancakes, sausage, fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese and deli meats! It was pretty cloudy in the morning so I did not bother to sit on the terrace but I can only imagine what it’s like when the weather is nice. It would be the perfect place to have breakfast.
Porto Walkers picked us up at the Hostel after breakfast at around 10:15 A.M. and brought us to the meeting point. I made some friends while walking to the meeting place, which reminded me that hostel life is about meeting friends that are travelling from all over the world!
Our tour guide Nuno gave us extensive information about everything on Porto – like how common language trumps the actual names of city buildings or locations, how the Roman, Moorish and Barbarian influences are still present today, and how “everyday is leg day” due to the rolling hills in the city!
After being impressed by all of the information, we needed to fuel our brains. A few others from the tour and myself asked our guide for a great traditional Portuguese lunch spot and he brought us to Restaurante Novo Mundo. I had the Carne Gardenia and I highly recommend it if you enjoy tender meat! It was very authentic and very delicious. The owner and son don’t speak a lot of English, but you can get by with smiles and hand gestures!
After lunch we all headed back to our hostels, and relaxed on the rooftop terrace. I loved Tattva because there were so many places you could relax, whether it is on the rooftop, or in the living space next to the kitchen or even in the Aquarium Lounge where they have a mesmerizing fish tank, you can come as you please and ENJOY!
I got ready for the evening after I relaxed for a bit and made my way with one of the girls from the hostel to Café Santiago to have the popular ‘Francesinhas’.
We ate very well since the ‘Francesinhas’ is a take on the Croque Monsieur but it has ham, beef, chorizo, is covered in cheese and lastly has gravy poured all over it! It sounds intense because it is intense! I recommend if you are not very hungry, ask to split the sandwich in two but if you are very hungry, have it all for yourself!
Surprisingly, the meal restored my energy levels enough to go on a Pub Crawl! The great staff of Porto Walkers also hosted the Pub Crawl! For 12 EUR you got 5 drinks in 4 different bars, and if you wanted to buy more drinks you got a discounted price! The Pub Crawl was great because you got to make friends from all over and have a great time all together! Jessica and Lucy, the go to gals for the Pub Crawl from Porto Walkers, were so energetic and hyped our party up! The music that was played on the Pub Crawl ranged from the current top 40’s, to Brazilian Funk and Reggaeton.
I called it a night around 4 A.M. because there was still so much more I wanted to do on Day 3 and needed some sleep!
Day 3 went by the fastest because I felt like I did so much on so little sleep. After breakfast in the morning, a hostel friend and I decided to have a new experience and rent a Vespa for a couple of hours so we can see the city and take some pictures! The company that we rented the Vespa from was right near Tattva, called Porto Mod! The gentleman that helped us out was so patient and explained everything to us! Obrigada!
We rode around all of Porto and Gaia. I always forget when I travel that there are other ways to see the city than just by foot and it is refreshing to see those different points of view.
After a couple of hours we brought back the Vespa and went back to the hostel. I was staying in a ensuite room with 6 beds and no one was there when I got back. I seized the moment to repack my backpack because I knew that I would wake everyone up if I tried to do it in the morning.
I relaxed once again on the rooftop and waited for a friend to join me to have a last walk around the city. We found ourselves back to the Ponte de D. Luis I bridge and by the Cais de Ribeira, there was a great band playing. We grabbed some drinks from the little shop and sat on the quay while enjoying the sunset go down and the Brazilian sounds of Bossa Nova. Apparently this happens every Saturday night by the Cais de Ribeira, so I recommend doing so if you have the chance!
Seeing the sunset go down while having music playing in the background was the perfect way to say goodbye to Porto!
Lisbon is the next adventure that waits for me and I am very excited to revisit a city that I was enchanted by three years ago!
Recommendations for Porto:
– Experience the Chouriço Al’ Infierno (Chorizo on fire) at Tattva Design Hostel
-Go on a walking tour with Porto Walkers
-Eat a Franchischina (Café Santiago)
-Drink a Porto Tonic
-Listen to some live music along the Cais Ribeira during sunset
-Walk across the Ponte de D. Luis I Bridge
-Take a River Taxi and visit the Port Cellars in Gaia
-Visit Igreja Sta. Clara
– Go to the beach by driving west on Rua do Ouro