Porto is a place I never intended on visiting, and one that I will never regret seeing.
It all began in February, when I began looking for music festivals I would be able to attend while in Europe. Primavera Sound is a festival featuring one of the greatest lineups I’ve come across, and if it weren’t for the class trip to Dresden June 2-5, I would have already booked my flight to Barcelona. The following week, the festival arrives in Porto, Portugal, with a similar, but more condensed lineup. Looking at pictures of the city on the festival’s website made me take a closer look at its year-round attractions, such as the Rio Douro (Douro River) and the gorgeous town hall.
My search took me to Skyscanner, where I found roundtrip tickets between Frankfurt-Hahn Airport and Porto International for about $45! Frankfurt-Hahn is a former U.S.-military airport located about 2 and a half hours by shuttle from Frankfurt Main Hauptbahnhof (train station).
My five days in Porto were sweet, spectacular and, most importantly, WARM. I was able to see most of the city in a day, and enjoyed much of the local cuisine. I even spent the last day at the beach, which was a welcome change from the sleet and hail I experienced in Marburg and Berlin the week before. My friend from SDSU, Megha, met up with me for four days, and it was so great to have a piece of home with me in a completely foreign place. Solo traveling is something I’ve gotten accustomed to, and would recommend to almost anyone, but it was also nice to have someone else to feel lost with. One of the many things I’m grateful to Germany for is teaching me to rely on public transportation. We used Uber a couple of times, but for the majority of the trip, we took buses and trams. If I hadn’t spent the last few months learning how to get around on buses and trains, I’m certain I wouldn’t have had the audacity, nor the patience, to try and figure out which line to take around the city, which side of the street to stand on, etc.
The people of Porto were very friendly and eager to help tourists. Although I speak no Portuguese, I could get by speaking Spanish (which is still the language I’m most comfortable speaking after English!) in areas where people couldn’t speak much English. I noticed that many young people were bi- and trilingual, speaking Portuguese, Spanish and English. C’mon America, we’re really slacking…
Although I pretty much stumbled on Porto as a destination by accident, I couldn’t be more grateful. Watching the sunset over the Rio Douro, surrounded by tourists and locals alike, a strange feeling swept over me. Maybe it was the fantastic local wine, or maybe I’m just growing up, but I was almost in tears thinking about how blessed I am for this life; to be able to travel to a foreign country on a whim, to find myself blissfully lost and be able to use other languages to communicate with people, to witness the beauty of another sunset on another perfect day, the list goes on. Most of all, as I was in awe watching the sky fade from shades of marigold, to tangerine, to lavender and roses, I thought of all that my family and I have been through over the past few years; thinking that despite every hardship and bump in the road, they made this happen for me. That’s not limited to Mom, Dad, Kuya & Ate Connie, and Ate, though they certainly deserve the most credit for how my life is unfolding; it’s thanks to everyone who’s ever made a positive impact on my life, big or small, that I am lucky enough to witness another sunset and look forward to what the next day holds.
Each day really is a blessing, no matter how cliché that is. If you’re reading this, thank you! I could spend hours trying to describe that indescribable feeling, but I sincerely hope that you experience it yourself one day.
The next few weeks are busy, in the best way possible:
- Hamburg, Germany May 5-7
Class trip to Dresden for the weekend. Meeting up with a German friend who studied abroad at SDSU last semester!
- Zadar, Croatia May 12-15
Trip with friends to the gorgeous Dalmatian Coast; 13 college students sharing a 6-bedroom house minutes from a picturesque ocean front. Yup, this one should be interesting.
- Würzburg, Germany May 26-28
Visiting a friend at the University of Würzburg who also studied at SDSU last semester!
- Dresden, Germany June 2-5
Class trip to Dresden. Really looking forward to seeing what our program has planned for us. The bombing of Dresden during WWII is the first thing that comes to mind, so I’m interested to walk in the historical footsteps of the city.
- My 21st Birthday! June 7
I’m so excited to spend this special day with the wonderful friends I’ve made here. This one should be at least as exciting as the 4 days in Croatia.
Until next time,