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
Read on 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 :)
JUST DO IT!
Global Running Day is the day for people around the globe to celebrate the joys of running. Participation is simple —just take part in some kind of running activity during June 6th. It can be a solo run around the house, a long run with friends or even a pushing your child's stroller along your favorite ocean front section. The key is to share your passion for the sport and inspire others to get moving.
Here at PORTO RUNNING TOURS we're offering a 20% discount on all tours in June if booked during Global Running Day (Just insert the code GRT2018_20OFF in the booking form!)
Happy celebrations! Keep running strong!
A DASH OF IRONY
Guess what… a new Starbucks franchisee cafe just opened in Porto… yay.. (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..!!
IS IT THE PASTRY?
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 politicians discussed the fate of Porto during the previous centuries. Hence this handful of photos you'll see, some of old demolished buildings 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!
the darkest year of Porto's history
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!
neologisms: love them or hate them?
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.
A sports pavilion named after a marathoner
Frequently heard during our sunrise running tour:
" - Is that the Crystal Palace you've mentioned? "
" - Well.. not exactly... :) "
The present building's real name is Super Bock Arena/Rosa Mota sports pavilion, a multi-sports venue. To explain you who Rosa Mota is and why running is 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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