I’ll admit, there are times I desperately wish to transport myself back to Barcelona, to the autumn sun, to the calm beaches, to the lazy outdoor terraces. And it’s not because Barcelona is any better or worse than Porto, it’s because it’s simply…dry.
Come autumn, Porto turns into a wicked stepchild, throwing a massive tantrum of blustery wind and sharp rain. What starts as a gentle and relaxing walk to the nursery, suddenly turns into a knockout war between you and the oncoming currents. Much like King Sisyphus’ torment of rolling an enormous boulder up a hill, only to have it fall right back down again, we’re perpetually bombarded by frigid, wet weather.
That said, there are plenty of ways to appreciate the city as a tourist and local alike, to embrace the elements and appreciate their intensity. Allow me to throw a few your direction:
There isn’t a meal that doesn’t incorporate soup in Portugal. Seriously, not one! Ok, maybe breakfast, but even then, I’d bet my life that someone in Porto is enjoying a steaming hot bowl of Caldo Verde with their café. Soup is ubiquitous in Portugal, not to mention, delicious! The aroma of garlic and onion sautéing in butter, before heaps of vegetables are piled on top, instantaneously makes you feel warm and cozy, as if your favorite grandmother is singing away in the kitchen. The only question is, which recipe do you choose? Check out: Sopa de Peixe (monkfish soup) and Sopa de Abobora (pumpkin soup).
Portuguese music is more than Fado, more than saudades. It’s filled with upbeat, soulful music that only a few outside of the country are aware of. It’s the type of music that will immediately move your hips, sway your body and put a warm inviting smile on your face. The type of music that makes you genuinely happy and fulfilled. If you’re in the mood for something fun and funky, check out Deolinda, Oquestrada, Expensive Soul, Nu Soul Family, HMB, Filipe Gonçalves
and The Black Mamba. However, for those of you who need something more jazzy, bluesy, classical or chillout, listen to: Luisa Sobral, Antonio Zambujo, Aurea, Marcia or Rodrigo Leão.
Nothing replaces the warmth and love of good friends. Despite the frigid rain that seeps deep into your bones, time spent with a friendly face within a warm bar makes your core come alive. Suddenly, your jacket slips off, your sweater is tossed to the wayside, and your sleeves are hiked above your head, because good conversation heats the soul. If you’re in Porto, check out: Taberna do Largo, Bar Tolo, Cafeina, Breyner85, Paparico and Cafe Victoria.
Walk into any house in Porto, and you’ll find a bottle of Port wine, bacalhau (salt cod) and couve (cabbage). Sometimes they’re served together, but often, Port wine is a simple and generous way to quickly warm the body. Similar to Ginja (cherry liquor) in the South of Portugal, Port wine is that magical elixir of the north that gives you a touch of heat and liquid strength in a matter of seconds. Plus, it’s just damn good to drink! If you happen to be in Porto, there are a few places I’d suggest enjoying a glass or three: the Yeatman, Vinoteca and Graham’s Vintage Room. For information on more lodges, check out Catavino’s Port Lodge Map.
If you’re like me, you’re more than happy to don your raincoat and dart outside, enjoying the muddy puddles and blustery weather. It’s days like this that help create memories, stories that you’ll carry with you for life. So why not head down to the ocean and feel the force of nature? Take a run in one of Porto’s many lush green parks. If, however, you’ve reached your saturation point, don’t hesitate to dash over to Casa da Musica, The Portuguese Center of Photography or the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art to wring yourself out again.
Life is short! Don’t let the weather get you down when there’s so much to enjoy! If you have a way to beat the ample rain and wind, let us know. We’re always open to suggestions!
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