Why some trips fail for no reason and I should give Porto another chance?

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Portugal has always been at the top of my list of places to visit, so when I finally got a chance to go I didn’t hesitate for long. The plan was easy, my ex-boyfriend and I booked tickets to leave from Maastricht and return to Amsterdam. However, even the easiest plans can result in disaster.
Before the trip, my ex-boyfriend and I split up so I asked my good friend to go with me instead. However, because she had to book her tickets for different dates, we only spent one day in Porto together.

On the way to Maastricht Airport, I used the supposedly trustworthy Dutch application 9292.nl which failed me miserably. It told me to go from Amsterdam to Utrecht, then change trains to Maastricht Centraal, and finally to disembark at Sittard station and get a bus. First of all, in Utrecht the train arrived on a different platform which caused me to get on the wrong train. Luckily I realized what happened and caught the correct train. However, when I finally got to Sittard there were no more buses and the next train to Maastricht was leaving in an hour. I had no choice but to take a taxi and I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t cheap at all.
Maastricht Airport was so tiny and the only available food was a very bad ham and cheese panini. Yuck, but what could I do. Anyway, by the time I finally got to Porto I was so tired that I just took a cab to the hotel and crashed.porto
In regards to the hotel, I would advise everyone not to try and book things at the last second. I’ve always been an organized person, but due to 2 full-time jobs and a full-time Master’s study my free time was almost non-existent and finding a hotel in Porto wasn’t my top priority. As a result the only hotels available to book on the same day of arrival were obviously either very luxurious and expensive or EasyHotel. Of course we ended up staying at the EasyHotel and to be fair, I was quite satisfied with it. It was satisfactory enough and it had a strangely designed capsule shaped bathroom.porto_station2

I wish Porto itself was even half as satisfactory as the hotel. Honestly speaking, there is not much to do there and 2 days is more than enough to see everything twice, unless the weather is good for the beach. I visited the famous main station with its beautiful blue and white walls and I went to a few wineries which had free tastings of Port.porto_station

However, it was freezing cold and raining the entire time so most of Porto’s attractions were unavailable. We visited the beach but after only 20 minutes I got so cold and wet that I decided to head back to the hotel.

Portuguese food didn’t impress me at all. I saw a similar pattern as that of Brazil, meaning that finding a normal restaurant in Porto is pretty much impossible. If you’re lucky enough to find a good cafe bar you can get mostly sweet things or bread. When I went to eat at a restaurant I received over-fried calamari with cold potatoes. Luckily, we met a Californian chef who stayed with my friend at the hostel before I arrived and she cooked us dinner. We were quite surprised to go from simple spaghetti to an excellent aubergine pate with home-made garlic bread plus grilled vegetables with carrot sauce and an amazing pasta. WOW!porto_beach

More airlines adventures for my lovely fans – yes, this time I didn’t manage to fly smoothly again. I took Transavia airlines and to be fair… I thought Dutch people were organized enough but they kicked all of the passengers out of the terminal and put them in a queue in the pouring rain. We stood outside with our umbrellas, watching arriving passengers running to the terminal trying to escape from the rain…

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18 Comments

  1. Zolin
    Jul 22, 2014 / 4:06 pm

    Hi Anna,
    I was in Porto for Business Trip one year ago, the local guys took me to a great restaurant in a town very close to the city, I don’t remember the name of the town, but the restaurant name is Machados, great food, relaxed environment, kind service and good prices. If you ever return there, it worths the visit, here is the web site: http://www.restaurantemachado.com/
    Saludos desde México!

  2. Cristina
    Jul 24, 2014 / 1:24 am

    Porto is my favorite city to just “be’ in….seeing the sites but then just sitting by the river on the grass and reading a book or listening to music. It is true that it is “small” and two days are enough. But that is what I like about it. For restaurants, I would say “Chez Lapin” (don’t be fooled by the French name – it is definitely Portuguese cuisine). Getting the “bacalhau com natas” will change your mind! I lived near there for 15 years. Winters can be bleak but visit the city in the Summer or late spring for gorgeous sunsets over the river, street performers and life!

    • Anna
      Aug 10, 2014 / 1:36 pm

      I guess I have to give Porto another try – this time during the summer 🙂

  3. Jul 24, 2014 / 1:33 am

    You are the first person who says that about Porto! I think you should really reconsider visiting it! It seems like there were a lot of things that influenced your opinion about this city, like the weather or the fact that you just broke up with your boyfriend. If I had to pick 3 of my favorite cities in Europe Porto would be one of them. I had such an amazing time there. The weather was picture perfect, and me and my friend would just take long walks around the city and get lost in its little streets! I loved all the bridges and the view from the river at the old town, especially at night. I can’t say much about the food, as it is never my priority on trips, but I don’t remember making any bad experiences. And the fruits….oh man, they were so tasty!

    • Anna
      Jul 24, 2014 / 10:08 am

      I guess you might be right – there wasn’t a good timing, however I visited other locations around that time and I had an amazing time… Also I agree that the weather was destroying a lot 🙁

  4. Jul 31, 2014 / 10:29 am

    Hey Anna,

    wow, this is indeed such a pity you could not enjoy Porto! I think this happens once in a while to every traveler visiting a city and certain things just don’t work, the weather is bad those days and then this reflects to your opinion about a city. Such a pity as I really enjoy Porto. It is such a beauty but sad at the same time. Regarding the accommodation I would highly recommend you to stay at cool hostels in Porto. All around Portugal you have the best hostels in the world including luxury hostels, design hostels, party hostels and more. I am pretty sure you would like them. Let us know if you need anymore information, we’d be happy to help!

    Have an awesome day,
    Hostelgeeks

  5. Aug 9, 2014 / 4:00 pm

    Interesting! I hope to visit Porto this year so have been looking up things to do. I think weather can have a huge impact on how much you enjoy a city or a holiday… which is why I always try to give destinations a second chance!

    • Anna
      Aug 9, 2014 / 4:34 pm

      I think I should give Porto another chance… but there are still so many places I want to see before revisiting Portugal 😉

  6. Aug 10, 2014 / 5:52 am

    This is astounding. You’re the first person I’ve heard who has been to Porto who didn’t love it! It is probably one of my favorite cities in Europe. I do hope you’ll give it another go!

    • Anna
      Aug 10, 2014 / 12:43 pm

      Hehe, I know, I know 😉 I guess the combination of bad weather, bad mood and complicated trip made me feel about Porto like I did 😉 I guess I disliked the whole trip more than the city itself.

  7. Luís
    Jan 11, 2015 / 2:16 am

    Visit my city, Lisboa (Lisbon), you’ll be amazed. 🙂

    • Jan 11, 2015 / 4:19 pm

      I really want to 🙂

  8. Sérgio
    Jan 11, 2015 / 12:21 pm

    Hi there, it is a pity that your time in Porto was that disapointing.
    Porto is a great city, with great food, if you know where to go, but Portugal is so much more than Porto.
    There is also Guimarães, Braga, Tomar, Lisboa, Batalha, etc., and also a lot of smaller places with great historical meaning, fantastic food, great wine e very nice people, specialy in the north.
    Portugal is a lot more than just Porto.
    Come back sometime.

    • Jan 11, 2015 / 3:38 pm

      I definitely want to give it another try 🙂

  9. Mar 22, 2015 / 4:14 pm

    I actually did like Porto, but to be fair, I was only there for a day and a half, and traveled there for the port wine houses. To be fair, I had spectacular weather and could have spent the day sitting on a terrace on the river, eating delicious food (we had good luck there) and people watching. That said, I did enjoy Lisbon and Sintra more!

    • Mar 22, 2015 / 11:28 pm

      I need to visit Lisbon I think – I heard it’s way nicer, but to be fair the weather in Porto during my stay was very bad so that might have influenced my experience…

  10. Mr. V
    Jan 18, 2016 / 5:06 pm

    Oh Anna! You definitely have to give Porto another go. And do this in July-September time. It is a magical place. People, architecture, the street arts, Fado music, landscape. It’s pointless to go to the beach there. Even in Summer time haha. Try Lisboa next if Porto seemed to slow for you :>

    • Jan 21, 2016 / 2:48 am

      I surely want to and hopefully I’ll revisit Porto sooner than later 🙂

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