Tuesday, 9 July, 2019 - 22:28

#MobilityIsMyLifestyle: Part 4 - Porto

My Erasmus destination, a colourful city with hospitable people and positive vibes, situated right by the Atlantic Ocean. A place where you will leave a piece of your heart and will always strive to come back. Welcome to Porto!

Have you ever had the opportunity to drastically change your life for the better? Have you ever lived in your dream place? Have you ever met the best people in your life that you couldn’t even imagine that it was possible? Have you ever enjoyed the feeling of leaving everything behind and just being in the present?  

If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, don’t worry. Two years ago I would not have been able to either. 

However, here I come to tell you about the once in a lifetime opportunity that can make it happen. You don’t think you need any changes and maybe the place where you are right now is perfect and you don’t need anything else? That is okay, everyone has their own path, but if you are a little bit lost and your dream is to explore the world that is literally waiting for you, then you are in the right place to start. 

This is what Erasmus can bring to your life. This is what Erasmus brought to mine.

Thanks to the #MobilityIsMyLifestyle competition I was able to go back to the place where everything had started. My new friends had been asking me: “Why are you smiling all the time? Don't you have bad days?” And my answer would be: “I am in my dream place and I want to appreciate everything that this place is giving me with a good attitude”.  

The place I am talking about is Porto, my Erasmus destination.

It has colourful buildings, narrow winding streets lined with cafés, castles, historic churches, and plenty of wine. Porto wine. You have to cross the river Douro into Vila Nova de Gaia, to visit the Wine Lodges. My favourite tasting place is 3+arte! Check this out!

Along the waterfront called Ribeira, there is live music, places to eat and people just taking in the views. There are six bridges that you must see, one of which is the bridge called Dom Luis Bridge: it's the longest two-tiered steel bridge in the world.  It connects Gaia and Porto and it is a perfect place to watch the sunset.

Porto is famous for a lot of things, everybody will tell you their favourite. My personal one is the people who give you so much energy and positive vibes. It is an incredible city that makes a lasting impression on all students and travellers who have had the opportunity to stay here.

I stayed in this amazing city for 10 months and I can call this place my second home. I left a piece of my heart there. Just a piece because the people I was surrounded with are still close to me up until now. Erasmus friendships last forever. This is what changed my life totally and I am so grateful for it.

One of the places in Porto that was special for me and my travel buddy Roberta, because it gave us the feeling of freedom, was Foz do Douro, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean. It has beautiful views over the ocean, sunsets and a huge park with palms... It is known as  Porto’s most exclusive neighbourhood. 

And guess what! Me and Roberta were lucky enough to have a hostel called Pousadas de Juventude next to the ocean! We could enjoy the benefits of breathing in the ocean air and being able to clear our minds all day long and maybe that’s why we managed to see most of the places I wanted to show to Roberta in just one day.

Moving on, who would I be if I kept all the best places to eat just for me? I want to tell you some of my favourites ones in case you ever need a quick bite while travelling in Porto. One of the most important things is to try pastel de nata in one of these places depending on where you will be: Manteigaria Bakery, Fábrica da Nata and Praia da Luz - Esplanada, with a beautiful view of the ocean.

Next, do you know what Porto is famous for? No? I will tell you! It is Francesinha: a hard to describe sandwich that consists of lots of different types of meat, topped with melted cheese and a hot sauce. Yes, that’s it! Remember to find your buddy to share it with because one portion is big enough even for 2 people!

And the third type of food worth trying is bifana with a wine called espadal rose. My favourite combination is in the place called Tasca “A Badalhoca” on Rua da Picaria, 26. 

To finish our perfect day we went to soak in the real Portuguese vibes and experienced the nightlife of Porto in Erasmus Bar. The music and the people who own this place just gave us so much energy that we were sure that it was the best ending to our wonderful day.

Porto is one of the places that you need to experience yourself. And most probably not once. At least Roberta and I are sure that we will easily come back to Porto to recharge our batteries and refresh pretty soon.

Written by Justyna Golonka

#MobilityIsMyLifestyle is a competition organised by ESN and several of our partners - StudentUniverse, Hostelling International and Thalys - where participants can win a paid trip to six European cities in the period of two weeks. To enter the competition, the participants had to record a 45-60 seconds video of themselves talking about the topic “What is international mobility for you?”. This competition is a good example of a successful collaboration between an organisation and its partners in achieving a mutual goal - promoting and providing young people with more opportunities to experience mobility

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