New destination, working with special friends and the biggest party in Porto Portugal. The Festival of St John happens every year on the night of June 23rd in the beautiful city of Porto! Thousands of people flock to the city centre and the neighborhoods surrounding the area to pay tribute to Saint John the Baptist. This tradition has been going on for six centuries. How lucky was I???
Our flight was a late departure at 10 pm. Somewhat brutal to work, however, we always find a way to endure. As we made our way to our hotel, we were combating jet-lag and trying to figure out how to enjoy the festivities that were to start early in the afternoon and continue until 4 am! Yikes
After a short nap; 3 hours at best, we ventured out. First stop coffee and a brief look at the map of Porto. When you try to cram a full day into 8 hours you need a plan and caffeine.
We made our way down the winding cobblestone streets glancing down alley ways and stopping to marvel at the beautiful train station. I have always been drawn to the colorful tiles of Portugal.
Down by the river was where we first spotted the tables lined with hammers. These plastic whistling toys seemed to be everywhere. We purchased a few and at first used them to “bop” each other on the head – an unorthodox way of passing on good luck. Learning later and (after a glass of wine) that it was perfectly acceptable to bop anyone and everyone on the head, the “hammer” was the hit (pun intended) of the night!
As the sun began to set and the streets started to burst with people we decided to take a time out for dinner at eLeBe Restaurant, Rua de Entreparedes, 37 Porto. This restaurant serves local specialities from different regions of Portugal. Has an extensive wine list, charming atmosphere and stellar service.
Making our way to the restaurant we passed several grills, which were set up on the street. Smoky and sizzling with fire, these grills were serving up meats, traditional sardines and bread. Best washed down with an ice-cold beer. All while partying in the street. Also an option for an impromptu outdoor dinner.
Don’t worry about counting calories while in Portugal. As a food enthusiast one must always indulge in the local fare. Simply part of the journey of one’s travel.
After dinner in the square center the stage was lively with entertainment. Singing, dancing and the launching of balloons which illuminated the sky.
Rich in history, beautiful bridges, delicious port wine and traditional food, this is a city in the northwest of Portugal that should be on everyone’s bucket list. For my first time visit I could not have asked for a better day and I can’t wait to return.
The night officially ends with a firework spectacle at the riverside. However, it is very common for people to celebrate until 3 or 4 am. Truly a unique event for a first time visitor! I felt very blessed to have enjoyed my trip to Porto on June 23rd 2018.