Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?
*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?
Dear readers. “I am so inspired”. (#Ibinsoinspiriert).
Only recently, my dear friends & fellow travel bloggers here in Austria have assigned me this unique local lingo hashtag. I guess a big part of it is owed by the fact that Creativelena has forever (been) inspired by writing & sharing stories on her travel blog. And it is true, dear readers. I really am inspired! Today, I want to share with you where and how that inspiration has carried me, painting a picture of a truly special country … Portugal. And zooming in on Portugal, let me take you to a most magic city: Porto, the second-largest city in the north of the country.
I have only been to Porto for the first time in June this year. Ever since … I have learned to speak fluent Portuguese in two months time. Painted a unique acrylic portrait of the city. Written poems in Portuguese dedicated to my friends in town, surprising them on the occasion of celebrating my 31st birthday here with them. “Porque O Porto Encanta“, as dear Rita Branco writes in her mission statement about the city of Porto: “Because Porto Means Magic”. And this is it, dear readers! This is exactly it. 😀
The city of Porto is located where the Douro river meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to many world-famous port wine cellars and protected by the UNESCO World Heritage declaration. During the last few years, so the local people tell me, a lot has happened in Porto, what with the crises continuing to stimulate lots of innovative business ventures – especially in tourism. And Porto has so much to offer, really. From the famous Ponte D. Luis I, to winding your way through its many little old-town lanes, and all the way to the countless panoramic vistas across the city & the Douro river, taking the old tram out to sea (“da Ribeira até à Foz”, as famous Portuguese singer Rui Veloso chooses to express in his beautiful song “O Porto Sentido“), to visiting the famous port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, and of course Porto night life …
Let me take you by the hand and share with you what truly is, so very special about Porto.
Travelling the creative way is what serves as a recurrent theme in most of my travel stories here. No wonder therefore, that my dear friends in Porto sooner or later start putting me on the right track for discovering arts & culture in town. Rita Branco for instance has me join her for a visit of the Mercado do Chapéu. She, too, hooks me up with Susana Santos, who in turn invites me to join a “home-grown” soap workshop based on Portuguese olive oil! And last but not least … the artists’ cooperative “3 Mais Arte” from Porto contacts me via Facebook, suggesting an interesting visit right next to the city’s world-famous port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. To that, I can only say: Meant to be.
Love is food and food is love. Already in my first story about the city of Porto, I have shared my food lover’s perspective thanks to the many sensory revelations experienced through “Taste Porto Food Tour” with lovely André! Upon this next visit of mine, André takes me to another one of his local gourmet places, Taberna Santo Antonio, where we savour incredibly tasty, typical Alheira sausages matched by a nice small beer that the locals call “Fino” here. Yum !! What makes me very happy in addition, is that I am able to feed back my delight in fluent Portuguese to the lady of the house, making those special connections in the heart-opening way that languages are.
Check out even more food lover travel tips in & around Porto here.
I have to say that I just love green spaces, or nature in general. Every city I go to usually has me check out its parks and green areas almost immediately. Porto has something special to offer in the sense: Parque da Cidade in the west of town, reaching all the way to the sea and home to countless festivals and (music) events, such as the “Porto Sunday Sessions“. In the beginning of October, I get to witness the last in a series of such outdoor music events, topped by a truly breathtaking sunset right by the sea … WOW.
So now, let us head to the sunset magic of Porto, dear readers! As if the sea itself wasn’t enough to enchant any poor landlocked individual such as myself, the atmosphere filled with surfers, music, sunset & beer against the backdrop of a city like Porto simply becomes … mind-blowlingly beautiful. I warn you: The following photos are to be looked at with care, as they will make you want to go there immediately and infuse you with a sense of nostalgia, or “Saudades“, as the Portuguese are known to express in their Fado culture.
My instructions for travel happiness read as follows: Go to Porto. Get on the comfortable, modern Metro line A all the way to “Matosinhos Sul”. There, most importantly!, take off your shoes. After only five minutes, feel the sweet, soft sand tickling your toes. Now, allow yourself to squeal with delight! Have a cool beer. Ask whoever you are with to take your picture. Beam and start smiling through your eyes. Laugh out loud. And hold it. Hold it, right there. At the very point where time and space cease to exist and you simply ARE. Where nothing else is important but feeling, realising, becoming aware that the magic of the entire universe is with you, in this very moment in space and time.
Last but not least, I want to tell you about the people that make Portugal, and especially Porto, such an inspiring place on Earth. Sara Dias, of Oporto & Douro Moments who upon our first meeting even offers me home-made apple compote.! Susana Santos, of ArteSana Soap Manufactury who spontaneously invites me to her soap workshop in her home in Porto. Rita Branco, who originally hails from Brasil and chooses to express her everlasting love for the city of Porto in the most light-hearted and inspiring way through her blog, “O Porto Encanta” – Porto Is Magic! Gabriella & Ryan Opaz, who among the first wave of expats flocking to Porto successfully run their international wine tourism venture Catavino from here. Besides, they are also responsible for the “Digital Wine Communications Conference” #DWCC and in turn have inspired me as an international wine traveller to join them for the first this year in Montreux, Switzerland (YAY)!
André Apolinário, co-founder, co-owner & tour guide at Taste Porto Food Tours, whose dream is to have his business as THE place to go for food lover & gastronomy explorations of town: I can assure you that he is on a good way there, both him & his team! 😉 And of course all of his lovely friends who I have been so happy & fortunate to meet over the course of time: Tiago Ferreira. Liliana Patricia Pinto Silva. Xana Maciel. Flávia Santiago. Bernardete Rodrigues. Melanie Rocha. Joana Conde. Sofia Príncipe. Tilda Lindberg Fontes. And many more …
“Queridos amigos … esta é para mim mesmo muita emocão … Obrigada pelo carinho e pelo amor que demonstram sempre antes de mim, tão na minha festa de anos no Porto, uma das festas mais lindas da minha vida, como nos distintos encontros e convites que tivemos na cidade … Quero-os muito!”