So I fell in love today, her name is Porto, but I call her Oporto...
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and is one of the oldest European centers. Of course it is know for it's Port Wine, which is world renowned, but it really has so much more to offer. The fast collection of parks along the Douro river add the relaxed charm of the city. There are always people hanging around outside in different cafes and bars and the narrow streets are straight out of a European travel pamphlet. It is really something to be admired.
I had such a great experience here. First off, I made friends with Xachi, who was the most hospitality host and tour guide. He introduced me to his friends, to me to a music studio, and gave me tips on how to enjoy Porto. The best part was his bass skills. We immediately hit it of once we started jamming. He had a unique style and there was so much energy in his technique. I could see why his band was gaining traction in the Porto music scene.
One night we went to an abandoned shopping mall complex that had been taken over by musicians and artists. Each room had been converted into some kind of studio whether it was art or music. Xachi took me to meet his buddy and we all started jamming even switching between instruments. Lets just say my drumming skills could use some work, but we were in the zone and it didn't matter.
The next day I busked in the city center at Fonte dos Leões. It was a beautiful square but unfortunately it was too large and the sound was lost. I was a little disappointed but I knew there had to be some better places to go, so I decided to take a break.
I met up with John my South African compadre and we hit the streets to explore and also look for batteries for my amplifier. Of course, the tour ended at the Porto Wine Houses and we signed up for a tour at the Sandeman Winery, so we could be cultured on the historical Porto. The tour was great and at the end we ended sipping on port by the side of the river with Danielle and Christine, two american girls from New York. These are some of my favorite moments traveling. I love when you meet knew people and have good conversation, while doing something that is so simple yet at the same moment so unique and foreign because of your location and feelings. This is what it feels like to sip wine on the river side in Porto.
On the walk home I finally found the perfect busking location. It was on a strip of sidewalk right outside all the little fancy restaurants right on the Douro River. If you are a busker you can find this spot by walking along the river towards the Ponte Luís I bridge. So I ran back to Xachi apartment and grabbed my amp, guitar, and mic, it was time to busk.
When I showed back up to my gem of a location, I came to find that I wasn't the first person to have this idea. In fact, there were jugglers and people dress up as statues and some low rate Russian cover band playing at one of the cafes. I was about to give up, but I thought it was best to see how long they stuck around. Eventually the street performers trickled away and I was alone to own the street. People were really digging my sound and it was a fun set. It also helped that John, Christine, and Danielle came to watch me as well. I always enjoy having a built in fan group.
All in all, Porto is a spectacular city. It is warm and friendly and there is always something to do. Make sure you rest up before visiting because the Portuguese are known to stay up until all hours of the night, and trust me you will too.