a symbol of progress
'PROGREDIOR' was deliberately written over the front doors of the first grand Exhibition hall of Porto, the 'PALÁCIO DE CRISTAL' - the word 'progredior' means 'progress' in Latin and it was deeply symbolic. In the mid 1800s, Portugal, and in particular the city of Porto, were trying hard to catch up with Europe and US's industrial revolution and, at the same time, going through a period of intense... romanticism!
The merchants and industrials of Porto were bohemian, wealthy and seeking class and personal affirmation. A small group of Industrials - an association called AIP - decided it was time for Porto to have a grand exhibition hall, one that could host trade shows, large scale festivals, huge banquets, a space worthy of the the rising bourgeoisie of Porto... all of this surrounded by these 'staged' romantic gardens filled with exotic trees and wandering peacocks, fake ruins, fountains and small lakes, classical looking statues: a dignified space for poets and artists looking for inspiration or for those merely looking for romance, during those long lazy Sunday walks... wearing their best Sunday outfits...!
EXPLORING the city PARK aND THE WATERFRONT OF PORTO
As a tourist I visited many cities in Europe and in some I opted for a bicycle tour on the first day of my stay. This is such a wonderful way to have a solid overview of more than just the historic centre and escape the busy tourist attractions during the day. It is also a way to share an active day or half-day with your partner, family or friends, especially those who are not into running - or not willing to take you up on that 7AM sunrise running tour you had in mind...!
In the next lines I will pinpoint a few reasons why a bicycle tour + (maybe) a running tour + the city of Porto are actually the perfect combination!
MY weekly ritual to stay injury-FREE
In the past I had to deal with some nagging injuries, brought on by running, which kept me away from doing it for weeks... They were overuse injuries from repeating the same movement, done over and over again, maybe with a slightly off-balance gait... and then maybe also the result of previous injuries that were not given enough healing time.
While I am not saying that you should stop running I am saying that, for me, my body has welcomed the change in movement and also the strength gains that I have been making since I began to train differently and gave Crossfit a try on a weekly basis. The strength that I have gained is having a noticeable impact on my running as well because my legs are feeling much stronger with each stride.
Sometimes we just need to mix things up and try new things to refresh how we feel.
Crossfit Durius has since become my second favorite place to work up a sweat - the first being... my office, the streets of Porto!
WALKING up the arch of the Arrábida bridge ✔️
That item was on the list for a long, long time...! It took me 3 years, many excited reports of visiting runners who had done it and one kind invitation to make up my mind and do it. All I can say I am really glad I did it!
Read on for some (fun) facts about the construction of this bridge and its project's designer, Edgar Cardoso, an inventive engineer way ahead of his time...! Bonus: a short video of the experience, the highest point of my week :)
LOOKING FOR A CHALLENGE?
The running scene in Porto is tremendously active and eclectic, with many well-established and organized races throughout the year. Here's a short list with 8 of the most interesting ones, including Porto marathon (November), Porto half-marathon (September), a couple of 10ks and specially selected introductory videos of their previous editions.
We've even included an orienteering event and a 'one-of-a-kind-mad-two-stages-uphill-race' named Porto a Subir...!! Tap 'read more' to see the videos!
For the second consecutive year, the Climate Change Leadership Summit's keynote speaker was an American politician and Nobel Peace prize laureate. After Barack Obama's presence in 2018, this year Porto welcomed Al Gore, the most prominent and inspirational opinion maker of this century, regarding the topic of global warming awareness (...)
Why was there never a royal palacE in PORTO?
This blog post provides you a virtual guided tour to the interiors of Palácio da Bolsa, which was never royal, despite its majestic appearance. In fact, this is somewhat odd for a second largest city of a country that was a monarchy for almost 8 centuries: there was never a royal palace built in Porto, by any of the Portuguese kings of any dynasty (...)
"LONG LIVE THE KING! LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE! DEATH TO THE COMPANY!!"
Leading the crowd were many tavern keepers followed by some coopers, wine merchants but mostly were... tavern regulars! This blog post contains a short overview on one of the most humiliating episodes of the city's History, where 26 of the involved people were hung, beheaded and quartered and their bodies displayed in several locations within the city...! (...)
Though this was a rather gloomy introduction, take it as an invitation to learn more about about the oldest Portuguese wine company and its recently opened interactive museum, '1756 - Museu da 1ª Demarcação'. We already visited it! Includes photos & a short video :)
EVERYbody LOVES A GOOD FRIDGE MAGNET
From a few visits to souvenir shops in the city I realized that dragon-shaped fridge magnets and souvenirs are much harder to find than the sardine or rooster-shaped ones... so, let me tell you: that's deeply upsetting...! :) It reminds me of the over-abundant Russian matryoshka dolls sold in every souvenir shop I've entered while visiting Czech Republic's capital, Praga... Dragons are indeed the symbol of the city of Porto and this blog post is meant to set things straight, once and for all :)
UNLIKELY OLD stories
Despite the explicit clickbait up on that title, these may not be entirely fake news : read on to recall Santa Claus' origins and learn more about Porto's relationship with the friendliest and most generous of white-bearded-red-suited old chaps!
A RIVER AND ITS BOAT
The Douro river has always been part of the soul of the city of Porto and worked as a transport conduit for an entire region, upstream. Instrumental in moving goods and people up and down the river were the rabelo boats, a type of cargo boat unique to this river.(...)
Port, ONE of Europe's great classic wines
Produced on the steep hillside vineyards of the upper Douro valley, this wine originates from one of worlds oldest and most beautiful wine regions where vines have been grown for over 2000 years...! (...)
Some people led extraordinary lives
Our 'King-soldier', Pedro IV, the 'Liberator', was born in Portugal 220 years ago, in 1798. When he turned 24 he was proclaimed the first emperor of Brazil, 'Pedro I', to which he had recently given independence from Portugal. That day was also 12th October, of 1822.
Over the course of Pedro's short life (34years) 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...!
TAKING IT INto YOUR OWN HANDS?
Self-planning a honeymoon can seem like a daunting task...! In this piece by Samantha Lefave, you'll find a few suggested destinations that will surely end up being great fun, if you're in to street art!
Here's what she has to say about Portugal and Porto, in particular: "Lisbon is getting a lot of tourist attention right now, but those looking for a more local experience should book a ticket to Porto instead. The second-largest city is on the rise, becoming well-known for its street art (...)"
WE KEPT IT SHORT
The following list is not about gourmet experiences. It is not about a search for the best food or the most authentic, nor about the cheapest prices or the most expensive meals. It's really not. There's also no partnership with us or commissions from their side. This is simply a list of places I enjoy having a meal in the company of friends or family. And these are the places I return to because, for some reason, I happen to like them :)
Sérgio is the founder of PRT, a keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide since 2015.
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