5 gems worth visiting in Porto

Porto was the perfect city to start my most recent European vacation. It was sunny and scenic and small enough to wander anywhere we wanted to.

I had a couple hours to kill before Darran arrived to the city, and wandered in the sun, getting a sneak preview of where we’d spend the next few days, and embracing those first feelings of freedom while on vacay.

A few things I love love loved in Porto…

Ribeira Square

Admittedly the most touristy strip we walked, it was equally scenic and also lively.

Teenagers basked in the sun, while buskers entertained (depending who you ask) patrons of restaurant patios that lined the river.

I was also goofily taken with all the brightly painted building exteriors. Love that colour-blocking, Porto.

Livraria Lello

J.K. Rowling apparently lived in Porto in the early 1990s, so this little book shop is now cited among the locations the “Harry Potter” author was struck with inspiration.

And it’s not the most outlandish claim. The unique spiral staircase and ornate shelving and walls do feel something magical.

The store is also a legit tourist attraction, costing three Euros to get in, which counts toward the cost of a book should you buy one.

You will find yourself dodging tourists (like me), who are angling for their best shot of the bookstore for Instagram. Still, it’s worth stepping into this gem for a little browse, and soaking in the history of one of Porto’s oldest bookstores.

Clerigos Tower

Well worth the walk up the tower of Clerigos church for stunning views of the city in every direction.

A Sandeira do Porto

We stumbled into this hole in the wall 10 or 15 minutes before it opened, and it was just so darn cute!

Plus, the sandwiches were tasty. Recommend.

Port cave tour

To be honest, the appeal of Porto being the home of port wine was a little lost on me. I don’t have a very refined palate when it comes to wine, and I specifically knew going in that I didn’t enjoy port.

Still, you can’t ignore a city’s major claim to fame, right? So I went into our Sandeman port wine tour with an open mind… until our tour guide told us that if you don’t like port wine, you should stop trying it, because you will never like it.

That was a valuable takeaway! So I drank up my port samples at the end of the tour (I had already paid for them, after all), then two more samples that nobody had claimed, and moved on with a nice little buzz to to live a port-less life from here on out.

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Current jam: Boy Problems by Carly Rae Jepsen

When I first watched the video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s new single Boy Crazy, I was admittedly distracted over whether her current questionable haircut is better or worse than her previous questionable haircut.

But once I accepted that that doesn’t actually matter, I realized I love love love the song.

“Boy problems. Who’s got ’em?” CRJ wonders.

Obviously, all of us.

But Carly Rae shrugs off those worries, singing them away in this frothy, lighthearted bubblegum gem.

She also has a really glittery dance party with her girls at the end of the video, and that’s kind of what I want to feel every moment of every day.

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Sunny Sunday strolls

Took the most lovely walk down to the lake last Sunday, when it was 17 degrees or something perfect like that out.

People were out and about in the world, soaking up the sun, and even smiling! Spring had arrived in Toronto, and we all came to life again!

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Obsessing over the Crazy Plate Lady

For two weeks every time I walked past Milk Glass on my way to and from work, I wondered who exactly The Crazy Plate Lady was.

She had a show at the gallery, signage told me. And the installation in the window showed off an elaborate arrangement of plates, together depicting a colourful octopus saying hello.

When I finally walked in to check out the exhibit on its last night I was sure glad I did.

The Crazy Plate Lady, I discovered, is Jacqueline Poirier. She’s also the resident artist at the Ritz Carlton Toronto.

At Milk Glass, I found myself staring at a wall of hand-painted plates, each depicting a different celebrity. And so many faves were there — Joan Rivers, Rachel McAdams, E.T., Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire, Macauley Culkin as Kevin McAllister.

If Whoopi Goldberg in a nun’s habit was staring back at me somewhere, I would’ve died right then and there.

Further into the gallery, a display of plates depicted food, including my favourite — Lay’s ketchup chips.

The Crazy Plate Lady just gets me.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, the show is now over. But you can still check out Poirier’s work on her website, Instagram, and at the Ritz Carlton. And I recommend you do!

I myself am going to take this discovery as a reminder sometimes it’s worthwhile to stop wondering, and just walk through the door.

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Constant rotation: Winter 2016

  1. Youth, Troye Sivan
  2. Reaper, Sia
  3. Hold Me Up, Conrad Sewell
  4. Roses, The Chainsmokers feat. ROZES
  5. Mess Around, Cage the Elephant
  6. UGH!, The 1975
  7. Shine a Light, Banners
  8. Boom, Major Lazer feat. MOTi, Ty Dolla $ign, Wizkid, Kranium
  9. Lost Boy, Troye Sivan
  10. Cheap Thrills, Sia
  11. Hands to Myself, Selena Gomez
  12. Out of the Woods, Taylor Swift
  13. Work, Rihanna feat. Drake
  14. Bang my Head, David Guetta feat. Sia and Fetty Wap
  15. Love Yourself, Justin Bieber
  16. Wild Things, Alessia Cara
  17. Suburbia, Troye Sivan
  18. House on Fire, Sia
  19. Freedom, Pitbull
  20. 7 Years, Lukas Graham
  21. Hollow, Tory Kelly
  22. Hypnotized, Akon
  23. Pillowtalk, Zayn
  24. Broken Glass, Sia
  25. One Call Away, Charlie Puth feat. Tyga
  26. You’re Such A, Hailee Steinfeld
  27. Stay, Kygo feat. Maty Noyes
  28. Fast Car, Jonas Blue feat. Dakota
  29. Let It Go, James Bay
  30. I Took A Pill in Ibiza, Mike Posner
  31. Work from Home, Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign
  32. Rock Bottom, Hailee Steinfeld feat. DNCE
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