This weekend I went to Porto, Portugal with a fellow Skidmore student and social media team member Emily (she makes beautiful vlogs)! We also happened to be on the same Ryan Air flight as a bunch of other Tufts-Skidmore Spain students. Porto is about an hour flight away from Madrid and I have really been wanting to go to Portugal for the past few years, so I was really excited to finally get there. I’m from San Francisco so I have a special place in my heart for hilly cities on the water. Génesis, who facilitates our Intercultural Focus Group, did a Fulbright Fellowship in Portugal, so we went armed with a list of excellent recommendations.
Once we got to Porto, one of the first things we did was go for coffee and pasteles de nata, which are a pastry shell filled with a sort of eggy custard, at Manteigaria (as Génesis recommended). They are really good warm, especially if you find the idea of an eggy filling a little funky. We spent all day walking around the city, enjoying the views of the city on both sides of the river and walking back and forth over the Ponte Luiz bridge. We also spent a few euros on the funicular, which was a great way to see Porto from above.
Another thing I loved about Porto is seeing and taking pictures of all the tiles covering the exterior of houses, churches, and train stations. Although the majority of tiles I saw were blue and white, I also saw tiles in shades of yellow, red, green, and burgundy.
The next day, we visited Livraria Lello, which is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal and inspired the bookstore in Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies. I love shopping for books and it was so fun to flip through books in English, Spanish, and Portuguese in such a stunning location that happened to have such a wide variety of Harry Potter books and souvenirs.
Next, we walked to the Jardim Botanico do Porto, which ended up being almost completely up very steep cobblestone hills and staircases winding through the hills of Porto. Although it was not in the city center, it was interesting seeing the University of Porto and Porto beyond the touristic center. It was also really relaxing to spend time walking through the gardens after a hectic week of school and traveling. We also watched a brief documentary about wolves in rural Portugal. The weather was warmer than in Madrid, and it was fun walking through a selection of plants from the United States—mostly cacti—in the middle of Portugal.
Although neither of us speak Portuguese, Emily and I had a lot of fun trying! We also found that because of our Spanish, we could understand a lot of written Portuguese and some spoken Portuguese if it was very, very slow. We also found that people in Porto spoke amazing English for the most part and found it a bit annoying when we spoke to them in Spanish, so we didn’t use our Spanish a lot. Although I’m a little tired this Sunday afternoon, I’m so glad I got to have such a beautiful, fun experience in Porto before finals season fully descends upon us.