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hello! i’m juli!

welcome to design to explore! I document my adventures in travel, design, and food.

P O R T O

P O R T O

May 26, 2018 - viva a Porto!

Today we started our journey to Porto, Portugal. Let me tell you about this journey. The flight from Barcelona to Porto was THE most ROWDY flight I have EVER been on. First, we got on the plane and boarded and I passed out completely, like HARD. I was so asleep and I had fallen asleep for what I thought was 15 minutes, but it turned out an hour had passed and I woke up and we hadn't even taken off yet. People were talking, everyone was standing up, there was no sign of taking off in the near future. I was very discombobulated.

20 more minutes passed before a flight attendant finally went on the speaker to say that we were taking off, an hour and a half late. So i went to email our airport shuttle pick up before we took off to say we were going to be late. All good to go, we took off, BUT there was no safety briefing, no turn off your cell phones, no NOTHIN.

Once we were airborne, it was a whole new situation. People got up and were hanging out in the aisles talking. One couple popped champagne and so many others were buying beers. It was literally a party on the plane. I was in shock, I had never experienced such a loud flight before. Poor Steph couldn't even read her book cause a couple in front of us was making out.

Finally, we landed and we had to deplane onto the tarmac. As we were walking into the airport people legit started having a photo shoots in front of the planes. Like who the hell is on this plane, who are these people.

We luckily get our luggage with no problems and we got to the car pick up area and there was no one there to pick us up. Turns out, the shuttle responded saying they cancelled our shuttle and wanted us to respond, WHILE MID AIR FLIGHT, to tell us the updated time and if we wanted the shuttle. SMH @ Europeans, cause I specifically said, we needed the shuttle an hour later than planned and they just cancelled it.

So we got an uber driver who was super nice, gave us this really delicious candy and we made it to our hostel, yay! Our hostel is SUPER nice, we got a private room and its huge AND no bunk beds so we are happy no one has to climb for the time being.

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We met up with Steph’s friend from Pittsburgh, Juules, who is also on a Euro trip and we went to lunch at this place near our hostel called Conga. we all got these 2euro pulled pork sandwiches and they were melt in your mouth delicious, my GOODNESS. From there, we just walked around Portugal and literally I’m gonna leave this city in the best shape of my life with the amount of stairs and hills in this place. Literally.

We walked down to the water, then across this crazy amazing bridge and drank some coffee and ice tea on the water. It was really nice until Juules got pooped on by a bird, so we decided to clean her up and get out of there before another bird bowel movement.

From there, we walked up a vertical hill, literally, to get to the top of the bridge we crossed to get some amazing views. It was absolutely stunning to see the city from above and get a complete look at it.

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Since it was a saturday, we wanted to try and experience the Porto nightlife cause it seemed extremely unique, apparently everyone just drinks on the street outside bars (shout out to no open container laws). However, there was a really big soccer game, so all the places we were gonna try for dinner were PACKED with soccer people watching the game. huge crowds and the restaurants brought TVs outside for people to watch as well, still not on the level of a gameday. but it was unique in its own way.

We eventually decided to eat at a pizza place that didn't have any soccer on, so it was empty. We got two pizzas to share with beautiful white wine sangria and enjoyed it all. Then we went to Anegada Leonor, a super tiny hole in the wall bar where we met probably the MOST ANNOYING AMERICAN WOMAN TO EVER EXIST. I will not go into extreme details, but her every other word was “likeeeeee”.

We had a fun night, we took a shot of absinthe which, on top of the pizza, absolutely ruined my stomach, and I was in so much pain that we left and that was pretty much the night.

May 27, 2018 - tour de porto day

Usually, Im not about tours, but today we did TWO. I know, I shocked myself. We started off with a walking tour of Portugal (after most travel blogs recommended it since we Americans know very little about Portugal’s history). I didn't have super high expectations going it to it, but it ended up being amazing. Our tour guide was really funny, this young dude who was just a goofball. He kept telling us gossip about JK Rowling (cause she lived there for a period of time) while also giving us some cool info about Porto like the following…..

  • Porto had a law that landlords couldn't raise rent back in the day, so up until recently some people living in older houses were paying 1Euro - 7euros maybe a little more, for their apartments. The landlords hated this rule so they started purposely destroying their units until the law was changed, and thats why some of Porto looks so run down.

  • Theres a mural in the Sao Bento train station made of cobalt tiles, and the artist wanted to stay humble so he purposely messed up multiple tiles so that the wall isn't completely perfect

  • Blue tiles are also a signature of Porto (and my favorite thing I've ever seen) because they use cobalt which is cheap and lasts long

  • There were so many churches in the city, that eventually they made some law that prevented anymore churches from being made. But there were still some stickler nuns around who didn't wanna lose their churches, so they just had to wait for the nuns to die before they could start repurposing the churches.

  • One of the bridges, the Eiffel Bridge, which is made from the builders of the Eiffel Tower. But, this bridge is SO structurally unsound that they cannot use it. Lol, good thing they stepped up their game for the Eiffel Tower.

After the tour, our tour guide showed us to a nice restaurant for lunch. I got some meat (I cant remembered what), with a really delicious salad and fries. We had some time to killed before our second tour, a Port wine tour, so we went back to the big bridge to take some photos since it was nice out. We didn't realize how windy it was on top of the bridge so we struggled more than expected.

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Then time for the wine tour. I’ve never really had port wine before but I was down. The first stop we had one glass and it was actually pretty delicious, and after complaining about how little wine we got, we learned that port wine is super strong and equivalent of a shot. So good thing they aren't filling glasses to the brim or else we would have hit the floor after the first stop.

Our second stop was a museum, it was honestly so boring and we all started to lose our buzz from the first stop. But luckily, we got two glasses of wine, a red and a white. Yum! Both were super strong, I killed the white and was excited for the red when one sip it I was a complete klutz and dropped my glass and it shattered everywhere. sad. But apparently it was super good…..

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Then we went to our last stop which was a bougie port wine store, gallery, and roof bar. We got FOUR glasses of wine here with crackers AND chocolate, so basically heaven cause food + wine. Here our tour guide taught us how to properly taste wine and distribute the wine all over our mouth, which results in the most unattractive facial expressions you could ever create. I was skeptical of his methods until I tried them for myself and WOAH I got aLLL them flavors in my mouth. Im feeling good at this point and #loving Port Wine.

We got to drink our final two glasses on the roof. The view was spectacular, the weather was beautiful it was perfect. However, I got the case of the klutz round two and dropped yet ANOTHER glass. I went up to our guide with the broken glass and said “i did a thing” and handed him the shattered glass and walked away. Good thing I still had one left.

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So overall, the wine tour was great, super knowledgable in Port wines although I don't know how often I will ever drink Port wine. Who knows, maybe ill be super bougie post grad and have my chocolate with a nice vintage bottle.

We needed to get some food, so we headed to Pedro de Frangos for quite possibly the best rotisserie chicken I have ever eaten. I also got a side salad, but it was more like a bowl of olive oil with a side of lettuce, so I didn't eat too much of that. Since we were all pretty tired from our day, we came back to the hostel to hang out in the lobby area before heading to bed.

May 28th, 2018 - the kindness (and malicious) of people

Today was an ambitious day. We wanted to hit a lot of spots and walk to the beach, so we did. Walking to our first stop, we got stopped by a man that called out to me “bag open! bag open!” And I thought at first my bag was open and I was like oh how nice, but then I got a better look at the man and it was a dirty homeless man trying to pick pocket me. I was caught off guard, when I heard this asian couple saying “no no no!” andmotioning my to run away. So I did, not that I was going to open my bag for a pick pocketer, but on the homeless mans part like thats not a great tactic for pick pocketing people…. But also shout out to the asian couple for helping us out.

So our journey continued, we started by going to the Crystal Palace Gardens (no not the alcohol for all my Michigan people). Most of the garden was closed, but we got to walk around and use a great public bathroom all while a class trip was screaming around the park. So not super enjoyable to have to witness Tweens all over the place, but we made it work.

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Our next stop was the Mercado de Bom Successo (bomb name if i do say so myself). It wasn't like our fav Boqueria Market in Barcelona, it was more defined with restaurant shops throughout the complex. I caught my eye on this beautiful quiche beef, taco and knew it was exactly what I wanted for lunch, so I went for it and got it, and it lived up to the hype. It was pretty damn amazing.

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Next, we went to these large botanical gardens and got to walk through a ton of cool plants. There were beautiful flowers, and cactuses, and lily ponds, and just some really cool sites. On the down side, it was right next to a highway so it was pretty loud and that disrupted the tranquility of it all..

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Then we kept walking and Steph and I had to pee so bad that we ran into a shopping mall center to use the bathroom and it was locked. As we stood there, we noticed two older woman sitting in a cafe knocking on the window to get our attention. They were motioning to us to get a key for the bathroom and they did! Bless the old ladies.

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We continued our journey, and we sat down along the river so that Steph could eat a salad she bought at the Mercado. But, we encountered this homeless woman who was super aggressive and kept asking us if we had food in our bags and to give her money. We walked away but she advanced and kept asking so we just walked faster and kept saying no. she was pretty scary all tatted up we thought she was gonna hit us or like grab our bags and run. Luckily, we survived to tell the tale.

So we sat along the water and it was great. The weather was perfect, the sun was out and we got to enjoy the day before we kept walking to the beach. And once we got to the beach it was amzing, it was still pretty cold, but we were able to lie on the beach for like 20-30 minutes with sweatshirts on and be completely fine.

We stopped for a quick juice, before embarking on an hour and a half walk back to the hostel. It was a long and hot walk, we even encountered the weird homeless lady, who followed us for a little bit. By the time we got back to the hostel, I realized how much sun I had gotten and looked ay myself and I was a literal lobster with the most unattractive tan lines in the world. I literally had a tanline from MY BRAID.

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Anyway, there wasn't much I could do for that after the fact, so I just had to soldier on and aloe up (which I did about 10 times). We went to dinner at a restaurant called Tasco, which was a recommendation from our wine tour guide. It was deeeeelish, I got pulled pork with a salad and again, another great meal.

After dinner we decided to walk around to the shopping street of Porto, even though most of the shops were closed, we wanted to look around since we were planning to have a little shopping day tomorrow. We went into the few stores that open, before heading back to the hostel to grab clothes and do some laundry.

Somehow we found this really nice laundromat, so we were able to clean some of our clothes, especially after the sweat fest that has been our walking around Porto. While we waited, we got “the best chocolate cake in the world”. Gotta admit it was pretty good, not sure if greatest in the world.

Once our laundry was done, we headed back to the hostel to get some rest. I aloe-ed up about 5 more times before actually calling it a night.

May 29th, 2018 - our FIRST day of bad weather

It is crazy to believe that I made it to DAY 18, and today has been the first really bad day of weather (besides Iceland where terrible weather is just a normal thing). We didn't let that stop us from hitting the stores, and as Helen Polise always says “money is only good if you spend it” so spend it we did. Well we didn't go crazy, we are two college grads on a budget, but we did treat ourselves to a few new clothing items. For some reason the shopping in Europe is much better.

once we shopped till we dropped, we headed to the Traveler’s Cafe for lunch and it was honestly amazing yet again. For some reason I wasn't expecting the food scene in Portugal to be that great, but here I am, meal after meal saying whatever I had eaten was to die for. So, I went basic bitch from American and got an egg sandwich with bacon and cheese along with a fresh squeezed juice. I also indulged in a small piece of carrot cake to curb my recent obsession with the treat, again amazing.

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From there, we headed to the Clerigos Church Tower where you walk up like 25 flights of stairs to get a panoramic view of the city. We did it and were expecting to be dead from the stairs, but it actually wasn't too bad. And despite the weather being crappy, it wasn't completely foggy and we were able to see some of the views.

We walked through the rest of the church too, which was also cool to see. Then we kept on walking to the Ponte Luis Bridge for one last view since it was our last day here. And it was starting to clear up so that was nice!

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Exploring the other side of the bridge, which is a new city, not Porto, was fun, but there isn't a ton to see. There is one strip of commercial type area, before it gets v residential. There was a cool food market with restaurant stands, but we ended up just getting some tea and sitting outside.

We made our way back to the hostel and got some suggestions from the front on where to get dinner, the dude was chill and recommended Casa Bracganca (pronounced bra-gan-zzah). It was this tiny lil place that was family owned, and there were only locals in there. I ordered a traditional Portuguese cut of steak while Steph ordered the octopus. Both were delicious. Our next course was dessert where I got a cookie cake and Steph got an Oreo mousse, and again, to die for. At this point we had gotten all buddy buddy with the waitress, so as she gave us the check she gave us a shot of alcohol. We thought ah so nice, and she listed off all the ingredients, “cinnamon, honey, apple…. and fire water” AKA ABSINTHE. Steph took a sip as I took a sniff, and it was a no go for both of us. So we paid in cash and darted out of the restaurant while she wasn't looking. Overall though, one of our best meals in Porto.

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We walked around the city, getting our last glimpses in before heading back to the hostel to plan the next leg of our trip - Lisbon!!! Porto was great, not gonna miss the absinthe that did me dirty, but I will miss the incredible tiles and design sprinkled throughout the town.

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L I S B O N

L I S B O N

B A R C E L O N A

B A R C E L O N A