Porto: The Port of Nostalgia
Porto – in my heart it’s my second home. Even when I first traveled to Porto 2010 and was waiting for the metro at the airport, I felt a soft feeling of comfort in my body and I knew “I’m home!”. Since that day, I have experienced many unforgettable moments in the small town at the outfall of the Douro River, which have linked me more and more to the city. My friends often ask me, “What is so special about Porto?” There are millions of answers to this question. Countless Travel Magazines have been talking about Porto as “insiders tip” for several years.
Porto is not a secret anymore, but it’s still a tip! Therefore I would like to tell you some of my reasons why you must travel to Porto!
Saudade – the untranslatable feeling
In the Portuguese literature, the word “Saudade” (in English it’s to compare with the word longing) is used again and again. It is almost a symbol of Portugal and the Portuguese people. The former seafaring nation dreamed of unkown lands and their settlement. They also set historic milestones with Vasco da Gama and Magellan, who sailed under the Castilian crown. During this period of exploration, the small nation on the Iberian peninsula was wealthy. But prosperity did not last long. The Spanish rule and the longtime dictatorship left their mark. Many experts explain it why the Portuguese are filled with a longing. Whether this is true – it can be argued.
But nowhere else you can it be so nostalgic, as with the view of the Atlantic, where you can easily imagine America in the distance. Porto’s atmosphere is perfect for nostalgic moments and the longing of the good old days. The houses with their azulejo tiles and granite facades, their iron or tile roofs in the old neighborhoods Sé, Vitoria and Ribeira are staggered like a labyrinth from the city center to the river bank. Many of these houses are not beautiful, but they show how it used to be back in the days. Whilst sunbathing on the banks of the Douro River, the houses in the back, looking to the right, towards the Atlantic, the feeling of longing comes all by itself!
Porto, and what it has to do with Harry Potter
True fans of J. K. Rowling have known it for a long time: the inspiration for the Harry Potter novels, the author found in Porto. It is very likely that you will see a group of girls and boys on the streets of Porto wearing dark clothes and a cloak. It seems like you were in the middle of a Harry Potter movie. Only that the story does not play in rainy London, but in sunny Portugal. The student culture in Portugal is called “praxe”. Each faculty of a university in the country has its own color. In this color the students present themselves, just like the houses Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor in Hogwarts. The Diagon Alley can also be found in Porto: Angled lanes, old brick walls, irregular stair steps make the district Ribeira perfect for a Harry Potter setting.
Even more obvious is the Potter inspiration in probably the most famous store in the city: the bookstore “Lello”. Immediately upon entering, you look at the red, winding staircase in the middle of the bookstore. Since 2013, Lello has been a listed monument. The store has so many visitors every day that you have to pay three euros to enter. When buying a book, the entrance fee is used as a discount. All these things make Porto a bit magical.
“Work is being done in Porto, in Lisbon you spend the money”
This is what the people in Porto say about themselves and their city. But if you live here for a while, you soon realize that there is something true to this statement. There are not many luxury cars parked on every corner, there is only one exclusive shopping center and unpretentious restaurants have more guests as 5 star cooks. The people are modest and yet incredibly hospitable and cordial. They help you find the way, if you are confused in front of your city map, sometimes they even accompany you to your destination, while they chat along with the fruit seller or the street sweep. The people are not arrogant. They are very open to tourists, as these are a great source of income for the city. Although thousands of tourists visit Porto each year, the city has not lost its identity. For me, Porto remains the most beautiful city on the Atlantic and my second home!
Book Tip: A friend of mine has collected unique tips for Porto. Local tips where you can eat, sleep, shop and party the best. His E-Book: Porto Bucket List 55 Secrets.