Guess what…a new Starbucks franchisee cafe just opened in Porto… hurrah (not...!)
You know, we've all done things in the past that we’re not proud of. Mine include entering Starbucks a few years back in Madrid on a desperate quest for free wi-fi or going for a BigMAc burguer in Vienna. Oh and… those chicken wings at a KFC in London… shame on me…!!
Yes, I have been a lazy tourist, I must admit. Against all guidelines of sustainable tourism, I have 'sinned'. Not proud of it though..!!
Irony aside now: I totally understand people who go in multinational brand cafes or restaurants while visiting a new city, in search for a familiar meal or quick fix of coffee to fight off those jet lag symptoms. I get it, I really do. But if you payed for an airline ticket to Porto, maybe just landed from an intercontinental flight, you deserve much better. And genuine. For unique local cafes - and a decent espresso or specialty coffee - read on:
Some people led extraordinary lives
Our 'King-soldier', Pedro the 'Liberator' , was born in Portugal 219 years ago. When he turned 24 he was proclaimed the first emperor of Brazil, to which he had recently given independence from Portugal. That day was also 12th October, of 1822. These two dates were not too hard for me to memorize because I was also born on 12th of October, though not in 1798!!
Over the course of Pedro's short life he abdicated the throne twice, was father to 19 children and fought many battles for freedom, in two different continents. Pedro's heart is nowadays the most amazing treasure the city of Porto has in its care.
In this post I share a couple more of utterly unbelievable -real- stories about him...!
I’m pretty sure you won’t need more than the friendly attitude of local people or a glass of full-bodied red wine from the Douro valley to really feel like at home in Porto. But still, if you’re looking for a common element, something familiar, one that you can find in other parts of the world, then you may want to read this post through to the end. Spoiler: it's not the croissants!
I had never even set one foot inside that building...! (honest confession)
Fact is, unlike many cities around the world, Porto does not have daily or weekly tours of the city hall. There are, however, arranged visits on special occasions and one monthly opportunity, if you book in advance (see bottom of this post).
So, this was THE gap on my 'rap sheet', considering I am a tour guide in Porto and slightly 'hooked on' History...!
NOT ONE but THREE DIFFERENT BUILDINGS
Allured by the promise of visiting the tower, (finally!!) I registered for a group tour - not a running tour, unfortunately :). As a bonus, the Architect guiding the tour also lead the group to 3 other locations where local politics were discussed&decided during the previous centuries. Hence this handful of photos you'll see, some old and some fresh, from inside and from the top of the present building's central tower. Got 2 minutes?
At the top of Aliados Avenue, the present city Hall is turning 60 this year!
Exceptionally this time, the post is not about running and part is written in Portuguese. Its topic is sustainable tourism and it briefly describes my experience as a participant in a program that engaged people from 12 different Portuguese cities on an exploratory one-week journey. Objective was to learn more about the process of generating business ideas for a very specific purpose: tackling some of the Portuguese tourism's most demanding challenges for the next decade...!
If you're into entrepreneurship and tourism trends, you may be interested in this one.
This weekend we welcomed runners from England and Switzerland. My favorite story and one of the many I got to share with them was about how D.Pedro IV's actions during the civil war and the 1832-33's siege of Porto influenced the course of history in Portugal and the city's toponymy.
"Pedro stopped in Azores to assemble an army, composed by mercenaries and exiled liberals. The army then disembarked in a beach near Porto and quickly occupied the city, cheered on by its residents."
This day was the 9th of July, 1832, exactly 185 years ago!
Today's blog post is about the origin of the Dragon's symbolism in Porto. Two things are for sure: they are not endemic and they're not the reason for FCPorto's excellent results in football and other sports :)
Honestly, I have no feelings of prejudice towards neologisms. Terrible as some may sound at first, I have come to like these made-up words that combine different concepts or activities.
The bLeisure buzzword is a bit on the horrendous side but people have been using it to describe a new type of business traveller: one who fits in leisure travel while 'on the road'. Even some companies are realizing that helping their traveling executives to tag on some me-time to work trips is a good way to retain talent and provide some work-life balance.
However, professional or personal commitments at home may mean you can't book that extra day.
This is where Sightrunning comes in.
" - Is that the Crystal Palace you've mentioned? "
" - Well.. not really... :) "
You can't miss this building when you look at Porto's skyline. That is why it frequently becomes a conversation topic in the running tours I guide. A second reason is because I often bring up the fact that this venue is intimately connected to running, though not in an obvious way... !
While some local people still call that UFO shaped green dome in the background "o Palácio de Cristal", that is not its name. The historic Crystal Palace was indeed built in this location in the 1860's, inspired on the original exhibition building that stood in the south of London. The Portuguese 'replica' does no longer exist for it got dismantled in 1951.
The currently existing building's real name is Rosa Mota pavilion, a sport venue. To explain you who Rosa Mota is and how is running involved we need to go back to the 80's.
Care to join me?
I know how tough this day can be for some of you. If you're not in a relationship, then you're probably trying to schedule a night out or a dinner at home with a group of other single friends, as far as possible from any of those 'romantic' restaurants...
On the other hand, if you're already committed, then you're possibly still searching for the perfect gift... is this your case?
Well, if your soul mate is an avid runner, I believe I can help. If he or she is not - but you are! - then I suggest you surreptitiously leave your laptop open on the dinner table, with this post on display...!
Sérgio is the founder of PRT, a keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide since 2015.
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