“People in Porto love Costa and crepes,” we’d say…But it was really just us that kept going back to Costa for their giant soymilk caramel lattes, and Hand Go for their gluten free/lactose free dripping goodness, mouth-watering crepes. I have pretty healthy eating habits, and Christy is celiac, so she cannot eat gluten or lactose products. This is fine in Spain. As long as you can have rice and potatoes, there are plenty of dishes you can eat and still experience the food culture. But in Portugal, we had a tougher time. “Just tell them you want a really salty fish,” I told Christy. Not that she wanted that, but it was the only traditional thing she could try. Except most things in Porto were breaded, so we ended up having these amazing celiac friendly crepes at least twice a day. “See you later!” We’d joke with the chef! “We should be there first thing in the morning, and when they come to open the place up, we should be like, ‘What took you so long?!’” It was hard to get bored of their crepes, ordering a sweet one for breakfast, a salty one for lunch, and another sweet one as an afternoon snack. We were lucky to find this place! And during our first full day in Porto, I was constantly being approached by people in our tour, “What’s that you were eating earlier? It looked so good!” “Where did you get that?!” …in the corner of “Oh my God!” and “Give Me More!” But really, Hand Go is right across the famous Clerigos Tower, which you will certainly see if you ever visit Porto (it’s a skyline landmark).
We met up with our free walking tour guide, Ana, at our hostel (Yes! Porto. I 100% recommend you stay here. Great staff, great location, clean, hip, good vibes, cheap). Hostels tend to offer free walking tours, where you can tip your guide however much you want at the end, and this was one intense 2 or 3 hours. The tour company is called Porto Walkers, which has raving reviews on TripAdvisor, check them out! It was definitely worth it to have a guide explain details of the city, which you might have missed out on your own – like the history behind the “azulejos” in São Bento train station. This was probably the most “touristy thing” we did in the city. I did not really want to overdo the tourist act. But I tell you, this walking tour was 150% worth it if only because our guide took us to this lady that makes amazing chocolate cakes. She only sells to restaurants, but because her and Ana are super close, she lets Ana bring her tourists with her for a piece of that decadent…dreamy…creamy…spongy…delicious…homey…chocolate…chocolate…chocolate cake…God, the things I would do for another piece…So if you want to try this cake, go on a walking tour with Porto Walkers, because that’s the only way you can go find out what heavenly dessert I speak of. Hands down, best chocolate cake of my life. It was so good I was uncertain whether I was making love to it, or if it was making love to me. As Fifth Harmony would sing, “Give it to me, I’m worth it.”
Life post cake was still pretty good. We walked back to the hostel to take an afternoon nap, recover our strength, and get ready for a wild night out! That’s right! Because at Yes! Hostel, when the clock marks 11:00pm, it is officially “shot o’clock!” – which they make official by sticking a post-it note to the clock that reads shot o’clock. At this hour, everyone in the lobby/kitchen area is treated to a shot by the super fun Yes! Porto Hostel staff, who are so good at what they do, I almost forgot this was their job. They seem to be having a great time at all times! We took the shot, and headed out on the pub-crawl (also led by Porto Walkers). Hostel pub-crawls are a great way to have a night out with people from all over the world, while carelessly drinking all you want in a city you don’t know without having to worry how to get back safely. You don’t even have to look where you’re going, just follow the leader!
First we went to a karaoke bar, where we warmed up our vocal chords to Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” That’s right, my best friend and I have officially performed a Spice Girls song in another country, with 2 other British girls, AND I cannot believe we’re still not famous 🙂 People performed heartfelt songs, and I appreciate their commitment to the emotional lyrics. Then we headed to 2 or 3 other clubs which were kind of all the same: small space, crammed with too many people, so much cigarette smoke I could hardly see a thing (or breathe), bright lights, and trying not to get your tush grabbed by the wrong hands! It was a little much at times, and it was so much fun. I had not gone out dancing in years, and we drifted off to our college days. Except this time we made it to bed even later than we ever did in college (or earlier…depending on how you look at it).
You know you are reaching 30 when you high five your friends after a night out and say, “We did it! We partied hard!” So much fun. So much freedom. So much laughter. So much love. So much excitement. So much dancing. So much aliveness. So much youth.