We all have had those kinds of holidays where we are just happy to be back home. And when people ask how it was, we say:
-Well it was wonderful, there’s a lot of stuff there. You should totally go!
-Mmmmm, I don’t think so, right?
Why does this happen? We long so much for our vacation days, and afterward, we feel like it was fine. Nothing spectacular comes to mind and we could secretly think to ourselves: maybe I don’t really like traveling after all…
Is this really true? Or did we just immerse ourselves in visiting all the must-see locations and having an overload of historical facts and dates that have all become meaningless?
How can we fix this? How can we juggle between having the most of our time exploring and having way too much exploration?
I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but I have learned a couple of things along the way that could be helpful.
1- Focus on people, not on buildings.
Pick the churches you want to visit. Pick one because it is a remarkable architectural feature, pick another for the saints it represents. You will forget if it was built in the 17 or 18 century. But you will remember the story of the saint (because he/she has the same name as you, but it represents an emotional circumstance that resembles your own) and consequently, you will remember the church and the facts about it. Make it personal, give it emotional meaning, and bum, you will remember it!
You won’t remember all the castles, but you remember one particular king or queen whose story you will connect with. Whether it is because of his/her bravery or foolishness, pick one and learn more from him/her.
Hint: a lot of kings and queens lived in the same castles, it’s impossible to remember them all, really! Pick one and follow his/her path in history. Then you will have a story to tell.
2- Be adventurous
It should go without saying but try the local food. Chose stuff from the menu, ask the server what he recommends. Try it out. If you love it, you’ll have a story to tell. If you don’t you’ll still have another story to tell! Observe the food when it comes to the table, smell it, taste it, find words to describe it, ask how it is prepared. Delight yourself with every bite. People will gladly answer your questions. And you’ll have a delicious or a terrifying story to tell. I get it could outstretch your comfort levels over the limit, but where’s the fun in eating only what you know? It’s only for a few days, make the most out of it!
3- Have a local experience
It has become a trend in the last few years but experiencing life as a local does really add to your experience. People are looking for unusual paths and move away from the crowded attractions everyone knows about. For you to feel the vibe of a city, you have to see more than the top 10 recommended places!
Always travel safely and look for certification when booking for a service. But to have a memorable experience, dare a little and go beyond the known spots. There’s more to Porto than the city center. By all means, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t visit the Cathedral or Majestic café, go there, they are amazing places full of history. But I am saying that there are others, lots of other places, not quite downtown and not quite easy to find on a google search, but they sure are equally memorable.
Ready to make some memories? Get in touch, I will create a personalized experience for you! Let’s make my Porto, yours!