Exploring Porto in 18 Hour Comfortable Heels from Shoes by Shaherazad
Porto is not quite a city, it is more like a large village where people know each other, and more importantly, where there are neighbourly relationships and people help each other like nowhere else. This is a city which is well loved and well looked after by its citizens.
I was lucky enough to spend a week in Porto on business and took the opportunity of exploring it’s many unique delights, all in my comfortable and stylish #18hourheels of course!
For me, the most striking element of Porto’s architecture and identity is the blue and white tile work which is present across numerous landmark buildings in the city. One of the top things to do is to make a trip to Sao Bento Train Station which boasts a huge number of tiled walls which are well worth browsing and marvelling at. I also took the chance to travel like a local and got on a train to explore further afield. Much to my delight a number of stations were prettily covered in the little blue and white pieces of art. What did surprise me though is that the inspiration from the tiles has not been applied to Porto fashion. There wasn’t a dress or handbag in sight carrying the city’s hallmark features. That was a real shame as the designs reminded me of fine china tea cups and would make a great print for a summer dress.
The other thing I loved the most about Porto is that it’s a very unique retail market place. There are very few large brands for fashion, food or anything else really. Independent stores abound on every corner which makes shopping a true delight. Well, for a holiday anyway. Let’s just say that the clothing is more casual than couture which is great on a sunny summer day but not so good when you’re looking for a few new standout pieces for work. The two main designer brands are Coach and Carolina Herrera - that's it. Portugese people love comfortable shoes, wine and fruit. You can find these three things in abundance everywhere. As a Shoe.E.O. exploring footwear stores was a lot of fun.
My absolute favourite part of the whole trip was going to the viewpoint at Vila Nova De Gaia and skipping along the shores at the waters edge in my 18 hour heels. It's not too cobbly in the Porto region so heeled footwear is no problem whatsoever (as long as it's comfortable). Of course, many visitors just wear flip flops but I believe that my footwear should match the beauty of the place I am visiting so decided to wear my comfy heels.
Gaia harmoniously intertwines tradition with modernity. It has a strong and genuine identity in it’s architectural heritage; it is also recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The magnificent viewpoint overlooks the historic centre. Rather than describe it this photo I took during the trip will do the place more justice than any description ever could.
There are many unexpected adventures to be had in this laid back, friendly place. One of my meetings was in a place called Felguires which is 1.2 hours away by train from Sao Bento station in Porto, followed by a half hour taxi ride. I was visibly surprised and delighted when I found that my taxi driver was driving me up a mountain and found that my meeting was in a plush office right at the very top amongst thick green vegetation and bright purple flowers spread across the rocks. I must admit that ballet pumps or trainers would have been more appropriate if I had wanted to explore the mountain, but as I was there for a meeting my heels were ideal for the office environment atop the mountain.
Exploring a city when on business is a totally different experience than when I'm on holiday. I seem to get to know the culture, the people and way of life much more intimately when I have work to do. It forces me to use public transport, learn more of the language and negotiate options in a way that holiday making never really lends itself to. For me, working abroad is just as mentally refreshing as a holiday albeit it's also hard work. But rewarding work ... my shoe travel adventures always are.