One evening while watching the news as a college student in Syracuse, the weatherman explained how the following day would be a whopping 8 degrees. He then fell into what I would describe as a cackling laughter, the likes of which has been forever etched in my mind.
I need to get out of this town I remember thinking. Not seeing the sun for months on end and the light-hearted, but troubling competition with Buffalo to see who could claim to have more snow were not so subtle indicators it was time to return to Northern California. I left the land of Narnia just a few years later.
All this to say it now comes as a great surprise that as I get older I 'd rather reach for a peacoat and a scarf than sun block and a pair Ray Bands. Thankfully, the weather in November here in Porto is just my temperature. It is how god intended fall to be -- with crisp air, a lazy sun, and a subtle breeze, hopefully at the backs of the those taking in a stroll or sipping coffee at an outdoor cafe.
Today, I took a bus just beyond the hustle and bustle of downtown Porto. The oceanside restaurants, bike shops, and hotels half
reminded me of a more laid back Santa Cruz, if there is such a thing.
I felt a sense of tranquility. My first in a while. It was the kind that comes easily like a conversation with an old friend. I was happy which is to say I was free.
Like many "step-sister cities," Porto has its own unique charm, likely cultivated from a chip on the shoulder and a desire to distance itself from its more doted on older brother, Lisbon. There's something special about the Brooklyn's, Oakland's, Glasgow's, and Manchester's of the world. The places that sit dithering in the cold shadows of the great metropolis's we're all too familiar with. These places are often deemed secondary, or working class but often turn out to have a more endearing sense of character and grit. It's the kind of personality that often surfaces as a result of being overlooked. The truth is Lisbon is lovely but if pressed to choose, I'd hang my hang in Porto.
The history, narrow cobble-stoned streets, universities, and churches make you feel as though you were on a big movie set. There's a familiarity and warmth to this place that makes you want to somehow leave it a little better than you found it.
And Porto will, if you allow it, do the same for you.