Saturday, 3 October 2015

Volunteering in Porto, Portugal

While I was surfing on the Internet, I just met with the GoEco website. GoEco provides large amount of volunteering programs for people who craves to travel and contribute to the community, wildlife, and environment they visit. Undoubtedly, one of my biggest goal is Traveling All Around the World. At the same time, gaining valuable experiences, improving my personal and professional skills and meeting with diverse people are all my desires in my life too. Therefore, I decided to be a volunteer in Porto, and besides this, travel throughout Portugal.  I would like to share my experience in Portugal. 


While I was a volunteer in Spot Hostel, Porto for 6 weeks, I felt the idea I wish I could stay longer there. I was a bar tender and I found a golden opportunity to learn and taste Portuguese drinks and also international drinks. Porto is one of the most popular and touristic cities in Portugal. Therefore I was able to visit the top attractions including, Douro Valley, Dom Luis I Bridge, Clerigos Tower and Lello Livraria and much more. Apart from this, Porto is very alive city for nightlife where streets are full of people and also clubs are open until 8am with the beats of music. My volunteering program was absolutely full of benefits and opportunities such as travelling of other cities in Portugal, including, Braga, Provoa da Varzim, Guimaraes, Gaia, Aveiro, Lisbon, Sintra, Faro and Lagos. I should say Lagos and Porto my favourites !. Surprisingly, I had free pass for surfing as well. It means that I had so much spare time to visit another breathtaking cities which in turn leads to understand and learn Portuguese culture deeper, recognize their gastronomy including Feijoada, Bacalhau, Francesinha and taste Portuguese wines. Bacalhau is sooo yummy !. Port wines were my fav as well. Additionally, by listening Portuguese music which is called Fado, I understood traditions of Portuguese in depth. During my working times, I have never felt that I am working. I should admit that it was more about socializing rather than working. In other words, I have met lots of great people from over than forty countries and I had built new friendships. Besides, managers and staffs were also so friendly. In this case, I have never felt homesick or isolated. What is more, in the hostel, Saint John party is organized with considering live music, food and beverages. Therefore, I improved my communication skills and I gained various experiences such as customer services and in event areas that are key benefits for my future career.

 The Ribeira Square (Portuguese: Praça da Ribeira
I already missed the Porto ! Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon, and one of the major urban areas in Southwestern Europe. Located along the Douro River estuary in Northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European centres, and its historical core was proclaimed a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1996. The western part of its urban area extends to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. The Ribeira Square is a historical square in Porto, Portugal. It is included in the historical centre of the city, designated World Heritage by UNESCO. 
The Porto Cathedral (Portuguese: Sé do Porto)
The Porto Cathedral located in the historical centre of the city of Porto, Portugal, is one of the city's oldest monuments and one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Portugal.

Clerigos Tower (Portuguese: Torre dos Clérigos)

Clérigos church tower was the tallest structure in Portugal when completed in 1763 (the national record is now Lisbon's Vasco da Gama Tower), and as the main feature of the city's skyline, ships used it as a guide when coming into Cais da Ribeira. 

Lello Bookstore

Livraria Lello & Irmão, or simply Livraria Lello (Lello Bookstore) is a bookstore located in central Porto, Portugal. Along with Bertrand in Lisbon, it is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. In 2011, the travel publishing company Lonely Planet classified Livraria Lello as the third best bookstore in the world.


Me taking selfie at Lello Bookstore ! 

Avenida dos Aliados, Liberdade Square and the monument to King Peter IV.
Avenida dos Aliados is the cente of Porto, the significant ceremonial artery of the city and the place to celebrate the New Years Eve, St John Festival and the victories of the soccer club of the city. In this avenuethere are many nice hotels, some pasteries, restaurants and banks.
Liberdade Square (Liberty or Freedom Square; Portuguese: Praça da Liberdade) is a square in the city of Porto, Portugal.


The Dom Luís I (or Luiz IBridge (PortuguesePonte Luís I or Luiz I)

The Dom Luís I (or Luiz IBridge (Portuguese: Ponte Luís I or Luiz I) is a double checked metal arch bridge that spans the Douro River between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova da Gaia in Portugal. At the time of construction its span of 172 m was the longest of its type in the world.


Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia, or simply Gaia  is a city and a municipality in Porto District in Norte Region, Portugal. It is located south of the city of Porto on the other side of the Douro River. It is also well known for its cellars (locally known as "caves") where the world famous Port wine is stored and aged. These cellars have become a major tourist attraction.
Praia do Camilo / Lagos

Lagos is along the Atlantic Ocean in the Barlavento region of the Algarve, in southern Portugal. Lagos is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve and Portugal, due to its variety of tourist-friendly beaches, rock formations (Ponta da Piedade), bars, restaurants and hotels, renowned for its vibrant summer nightlife and parties.


I had my most beautiful times in Lagos throughout my Portugal trip because of its exciting bars, friendly people, live city and lovely beaches. 

Sintra
Sintra is a town and a municipality in the Grande Lisboa subregion (Lisbon Region) of Portugal.


Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira is an estate located near the historic center of Sintra, Portugal. It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the "Cultural Landscape of Sintra". The property consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park that features lakes grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. 


Looking down the Initiation Well




The Pena National Palace 

The Pena National Palace (Portuguese: Palácio Nacional da Pena) is a Romanticist palace in the municipality of Sintra, Portugal. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal. Lisbon is recognised as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism

Aveiro
Aveiro is a city and municipality of Portugal, it is the second most populous city in the Centro Region of Portugal (after Coimbra). 

 

Aveiro, known as Venice of Portugal. Moliceiros are the most popular style of boats to navigate the waters surrounding Aveiro. 


Guimarães is  a northern Portuguese city and municipality in the district of Braga. 

Castelo de Guimarães - Castle of Guimaraes
Castelo de Guimarães - Castle of Guimaraes is the principal medieval castle in the municipality Guimarães, in the northern region of Portugal. 
Bom Jesus do Monte 
Bom Jesus do Monte is a Portuguese sanctuary in Tenões, outside the city of Braga, in northern Portugal. Its name means Good Jesus of the Mount. The Sanctuary is a notable example of pilgrimage site with a monumental, Baroque stairway that climbs 116 meters (we walked appr. 2 hours to reach there!). It is an important tourist attraction of Braga.

I would like to mention Portuguese music and foods shorty. I love the gastronomy of Portugal, and I was so happy because I had two great friends who were cook and chef in Hot Spot Hostel. Therefore, I found golden opportunity to taste traditional foods and I got bright clues about cooking some Bacalhau which is cod fish ( my fav) ! I would like to share photo of Bacalhau, however, it even cannot express my feelings about the food how much I love it.  


Bacalhau

Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for cod and—in a culinary context—dried and salted cod. Bacalhau dishes are common in Portugal and Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, and also in former Portuguese colonies like Cape Verde, Angola, Macau, Brazil and Goa.

Francesinha 

Oh do you really call for this one sandwich !? I have just ordered an traditional sandwich and they gave me this. I had no clue that they call sandwich which is made with with bread, wet-cured ham, linguica (a highly seasoned Portuguese pork), chipolata (small fresh sausage), steak and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce. (I get tired while I am writing, WTF?). Anyway, yeah just try when you are starving that "sandwich".

Fado 

Listened Fado while I was eating Tapas and drinking my Portuguese White Wine. Fado is a Portuguese Folk Music which generally accompanied by one classic guitar, one Portuguese guitar (which has 12 strings) and one singer. In popular belief, "Fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia".

Tawny Port Wine

Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto) is a Portuguese fortified wine  produced exclusively in the  Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. 


I drank lots of lots of Port wine, maybe more than water because I just love it. Local people counts it as a dessert and I may be drank a bottle of Port wine everyday. It was too sugary but who cares? I love dessert, I love sugar so ? I drank it straight, I drank it with food and I drank it while i was at the bar in my job as a bar tender. (Maybe it was not a good idea because guests sometimes started to serve instead of me, but it was so fun ! ) And also, all of the drinks were free to me ! I am going to miss those days a lot. 

I am going to share rest of the random photos as well ! 

  All friendly staff and managers gathered for organizing Saint John theme event in hostel.

Live Music in Spot Hostel for celebrating Saint John Festival

Yeap ! We were taking cake of the bar ;)

We were fine ! 

Those lovely two Latvian girls got me a Sangria ! 


To sum up, I wandered most of the gorgeous cities of Portugal and simply I fall in love with Portugal culture and their helpful, funny people. I should admit that I did not expect that I would spent that valuable and fun times in Portugal. Thanks again to GoEco that gave me this chance to live that experience on my own.