Porto, Portugal - My First Solo Travel Destination

Mary Zarba
February 10, 2020

On Friday January 17th, I woke up at 4:00am and headed to Barcelona El Prat airport for a 7:00 am flight to Porto, Portugal. I booked this early flight so that I would have the whole day to explore the city. I was particularly excited when my plane landed in Porto because I was by myself in a city that was completely foreign to me. I checked in to my Airbnb, dropped off my luggage, and immediately got to exploring the unknown. 

My first impressions of Porto: Mountainous. The roads were treacherous as they consisted of cobblestones laid over steep inclines and declines. Colorful tiles of yellow, orange, and teal decorated every building's facade with bright colors. Tiny shops inundated every narrow street with meat, cheese, bread, and pastries. In the afternoon, I stumbled upon the city center where Sao Bento station was located, a train station with walls covered in intricate blue and white artwork. Across the street, I climbed to the top of the Se Do Porto cathedral where I could see the whole city from a bird's-eye view. Making these incredible discoveries on my own gave me a strong sense of confidence as a solo traveler. 

On Saturday, four of my friends traveled from where they were studying in Lisbon to meet me for the weekend in Porto. We decided that this day, we would explore the river and all of its surrounding festivities. If I had to recommend one thing that everyone must do when visiting Porto, it would be to walk across the Luis I bridge and look back across the water at the beautiful, colorful buildings that make up Porto. We soaked in this stunning view while sipping on Port wine and snacking on delicious tapas. I will be back to Porto one day, without a doubt and I highly recommend it to everyone reading this. You won't be disappointed. 

Porto encompassed numerous "firsts" for me. My first weekend trip abroad, my first solo-travel experience, and my first time in Portugal. I am extremely grateful for my time there.  

Mary Zarba

<p>Hey there! My name is Mary Zarba, I am a junior in college, and I am studying abroad in Barcelona with IES Abroad in the Spring of 2020. I study environmental science at a school connected with Syracuse University called SUNY-ESF. Being from Long Island originally, I absolutely love adventuring outdoors especially if I'm near the ocean. I never forget to bring my camera on these adventures. I have a passion for capturing the moment through a lens and transforming ordinary photos and video clips into creative masterpieces.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry
Island Park, NY
Environmental Studies
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