Holiday Gift Guide for Runners, Fitness Buffs or the Wannabe in your Life

If you’re anything like me, I’m a terrible procrastinator for gift giving. Relying on gift guides have saved me a few times in the past and I’m hoping I can share some of my favorites and save you some angst going into this holiday season.

Here are a few of my recommendations for the runner, fitness buffs and wannabes in your life! And grab some for yourself while you’re at it 😉.

For the world traveler (like me):

 

  • Topo Designs

Topo Designs durable bags and outerwear that have a lifetime guarantee. Quality gear that will get your loved one (or you) to and from all your adventures.

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  • Solepack

Solepack is based out of NYC. They have created a novel concept for a bag accessory to carry your kicks. It attaches to the outside of your backpack with a couple simple snaps, keeping your dirty shoes separate and without taking up space inside your bag.

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  • Hello Regalo

Hello Regalo is a wearable pocket that uses one of the strongest magnets to keep all your goods on you and keep you hands free. The pocket is water resistant and keeps your money, credit cards, keys, phone and more, safe and dry so you can focus on your activity with peace of mind.

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  • Janji

Janji based in Boston, MA, designs running activewear with collections that ties back to traveling and running around the planet. And not only do they create unique and inspired patterns, 10% of the proceeds is put towards a clean water initiative for developing countries. Shop and give back, it’s a win-win.

For the Fashionista:

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  • Zella by Nordstrom

Zella by Nordstrom is one of my favorite activewear lines. First, they produce long lasting garments. Second, the products are stylish while at the same time comfortable, you’ll even forget you are wearing them until you are reminded when you get that compliment, “I love those leggings. Where are they from?”

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  • JORD wood Watches

JORD Wood Watches are sustainable watches, designed by artists for the people who have places to be. The modern designs are stunning pieces of work that are eye-catching but also perfect for the minimalist, apres workout.

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  • Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices creates activewear that are simple but cozy and functional. They are perfect for that inner child within the adult who enjoys running, yoga, or just having a mocha latte.

For the one who cares about inner and outer health:

  • FRE Skincare

FRE Skincare has specifically thought of a skincare line for the woman who works out. They have developed a 100% vegan and cruelty-free line for the athletic woman to help maintain a healthy aesthetic. The line consists of a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer that takes into account the process of sweat and helps keep a fresh and blemish free face. I have just recently started using their products and have felt a noticeable, positive difference during and post workouts in hydration and reduced skin irritation. FRE is a MUST skincare routine for women that sweat. GET 25% off on your first FRE set by using my code WANDERLUST, valid only for the next 48 hours!

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  • ApexM

ApexM has created a unique mild muscle stimulator to help naturally build efficiency of female pelvic floor muscles. Hitting my mid-30’s and staying healthy is important to me, inside and out. As a healthcare professional, I know the waitlist to see a women’s health physical therapist can be extraordinarily long for those who suffer from urinary incontinence. This tool can be discreetly used at home while providing effective results for those with urinary or sexual health issues. As a woman and an athlete, I think that is pretty awesome.

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  • Legend Compression Wear

Legend Compression Wear  I’ve talked several times about my love for the Legend Compression Brand. They provide Graduated Compression Technology that helps to improve efficiency during activity and recovery following. Use this link to get $15 OFF!

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  • Invisii

Invisii has developed revolutionary workout underwear. Light-weight, breathable, comfortable and hygienic, essentials for sport underwear. They allow workouts to happen without riding up or embarrassing smells, which are real problems any woman who is active is aware of and now no longer has to suffer from.

 

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  • Roll Recovery

Roll Recovery designed out of Boulder, CO by a runner and cyclist, has developed award winning massage and recovery products for endurance athletes. I’m obsessed with my R3.

For the one who needs a little extra motivation:

  • Mind Over Matter Athlete

Mind Over Matter Athlete out of Houston, TX, brings the inspiration and motivation to life with their leisure wear and tri-kit catch phrase concepts like Mind Over Matter, I’m All Heart, and Leave No Doubt. Use the code MMKRISTY to get 10% off!

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  • Momentum Jewelry

Momentum Jewelry creates some of my favorite jewelry that can be worn during athletics. Each with a motivating tag-line or one that can be custom made, they are little reminders of strength. During the Berlin Marathon my “Run and Be Happy” wrap bracelet was right next to my Garmin watch to remind me to smile despite the pain and to keep a positive outlook on my race, it was a literal reminder for me to keep going. I’m adore with my wraps! I also have two 30% discount codes and two 40% discount codes that I will giveaway on Instagram @thefitwanderluster later this week. Be sure to follow to be kept in the loop for your chance to win!

OK…on your mark, get set, go SHOPPING!

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Birthday in Budapest

A couple weeks ago, November 13th exactly, was the day I was born on! 27, I mean 37 😜, isn’t so bad. I’m healthy, happy and seeing the world. Can’t really get better than that?!

For my birthday, I decided to go on a little getaway girls weekend with my friend Carmen. Looking up the low cost airline options, we decided on Budapest, Hungary.

We took a train ride to Paris and spent the Friday night having Thai food and hitting up Rue du Lappe for a little bit of bar hopping. Then we made our great escape on Saturday morning on a direct flight to Budapest with Easy Jet.

Rue du Lappe, Paris

Rue du Lappe, Paris

Upon arrival in Budapest, we found public bus transportation that would get us to VII District and the old Jewish Quarter on the Pest (or Pesh) side.

Buda and Pest are the two areas that make up Budapest. Buda is the hilly side with old churches, monuments and the Castle. Pest is the flat land that contains the old town with all the bars, restaurants, spas and Parliament. The River Danube divides the two with several beautiful bridges connecting them along the way. Budapest is the 9th largest city in the EU and has a long war torn history. In 1949, it was declared that Budapest was under communist regime until 1956 when the Hungarian Revolution began. The city has developed and has one of the oldest metro systems along with building strengths in other areas like commerce, finance, art, technology and entertainment. And we planned to pack as much of that in within 2 days.

Budapest, thanks to mapaplan.com

We first had lunch at a very friendly restaurant called BB’z. Then we made our way over to take a River Cruise Tour to see the Hungarian Parliament and Castle lit up at night. Weather in November isn’t ideal and we sat through cold, wet, and windy weather, but the boat had booze and inside seating so we survived! We walked back through Jozsef Nador Square where they already begun their Christmas Market and we stopped to have a drink. Then we got dressed up to have dinner with traditional Hungarian plates which includes a lot of meats, dumplings and heavy sauces. And after, we made our way through a neat, little alley way called Kazinczy Street that hosts several bars and pubs. We made our final stop to the most famous bar called Szimpla Pert Pub which is an art gallery by day and club at night.

BB’z restaurant

BB’z Restaurant

Hungarian Parliament

Hungarian Parliament

Hungarian Castle and River Cruise

Hungarian Castle on River Cruise

Christmas Market

Christmas Market

Traditional Hungarian Food

Traditional Hungarian Food

Krazinczy Street

Kazinczy Street

Szimpla Pert

Szimpla Pert

A 5am return called for some sleeping in, donuts and then pampering ourselves at one of the most famous thermal spas in Hungary (btw they have over 123 of them), Szechenyi Spa Baths, which has 15 indoor and outdoor pools. Getting full day passes online for 16€ (or almost 5000 Hungarian Forint) and 40€ for hour long Thai massages, not only was it quite reasonable, it was completely worth it!

The Donut Library

The Donut Library

Szechenyi Spa

Szechenyi Spa

That evening we found an Asian fusion restaurant and made our way back to the hotel to prep for another evening out. Our neighbors in the hotel were having quite the party, a few guys from Manchester celebrating a stag party. Because we’re such great neighbors we ended up becoming friends and hitting up the near by Karaoke Bar. So much fun!

Raman

Raman

Pregaming for Karaoke

Pregaming for Karaoke

A fun and memorable weekend in affordable, cultural, and lively Budapest. Be sure to check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

The Boa System: Fit to go Further

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been selected to be part of #TeamBoa. If you aren’t aware, The Boa System has branched into the running world to combine their innovative technology with top brand shoes to enhance your running experience.

Best known in the cycling world with over 16 years experience and used by over 100 of the Tour de France cyclists, The Boa System has made a name for themselves. Their technology has also been widely used in golf shoes, snowboarding boots, utility boots and even in advancing medical bracing systems for preventative and post-operative care. Most recently while working closely with several top running brands, they’ve put their system to the test in the running world. They are a brand I am proud to stand by and run with.

What is The Boa System?

It’s a patented system combining 3 integral parts…

1. A micro-adjustable dial

2. Super-strong lightweight laces

3. Low friction lace guides

The system couldn’t be easier to use. You push to engage, turn to tighten, and pull up for quick release.

The system provides a noticeable comfort across the front of the foot that isn’t found with typical laces. That is a nice feeling to run without worrying about irritation or your laces coming untied. The Boa System provides peace of mind to really let you focus your attention to the purpose of why you put the shoes on in the first place: running.

The best part about this company is how they back their product up. The Boa System dials and laces are guaranteed for lifetime on the product they are featured on. That’s customer service at their finest!

Combined with The Boa System, I’ve been fortunate enough to also receive the most comfortable, highest quality running kit from Outdoor Voices, sports underwear from Invisii, and a classic duffel bag from Topo Designs to carry it all in. Outdoor Voices materials are the softest I’ve ever felt while providing long lasting materials for performance enhancement and durability. I could live in my Outdoor Voices joggers, no joke.

While looking good on the outside, Invisii underwear works undercover. Providing hygienic, breathable and comfortable underwear, Invisii allows you to workout without thinking about panty lines or scrunching up in uncomfortable places while trying to perform at the top of your game.

My Topo Designs Classic Duffel Bag got me and my gear to Budapest, Hungary last week to celebrate my birthday (future blog on my trip there to come)! The durable bag is large enough to get me through the weekend with day, night, and workout outfits, but also compact enough to get me on my flight with just a carry-on. Thanks to Topo Designs, I was ready for my destination. Being a tourist is no excuse to not get a workout done!

I can’t wait to sign up for 2018 races now and begin training with Team Boa!

What are your thoughts on The Boa System gear? Have you heard about them or tried them out? Let me know!

Part 2: USA – Making my way along the East Coast

Last week I went over some day and weekend trips that I went on, around a little bit of Europe, after my completion of the Berlin Marathon. The purpose was to show my number 1 spectator, my dad from Massachusetts, a little bit of the surrounding areas that are near to where I live in France. You can read it here.

After he stayed with us for a couple weeks, we (me, Julien, and my dad) all flew to the USA in early October. This would be mine and Julien’s first vacation of the year together since snowboarding in the winter. We had a few reasons to make a 3 week trip…first: I was a bridesmaid in 2 weddings, second: we wanted to hit up a few spots Julien had never been to before, and third: if you’re going to fly somewhere that takes at least a half day to get to and throw in some jet lag, you should make it worth your while.

So here is a continuation from last weeks blog, part 2: USA.

Danbury, CT

Wedding number 1 of my trip back home included an old roommate and one of my best friends from Northeastern University, Jocelyn and her groom Ryan. The wedding was held at The Candlewood Inn in Connecticut. It was a blast and I wish them much love and happiness in the future!

Dress Rehearsal

Dress Rehearsal

Bride’s Wedding Party

Bride’s Wedding Party

Julien and Me

Julien and Me

Northeastern Girls

Northeastern Girls

Jocelyn and Me

Jocelyn and Me


New York, New York

Being so close to NYC, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch a few days in the city that never sleeps and visit my college friend, Liz. We kept the days packed by venturing out to Queens for a street art run tour with my instagram friend Marnie, who has the blog RunStreet, visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, brunching with an old high school friend, and then the best part of the trip, taking a helicopter tour over the Hudson, Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. Awesome trip with awesome people and Liz just finished her second NYC Marathon yesterday while battling an injury, this girl is a champ!

Fearless Liz and I

Fearless Liz and I

Survivors Stairs at 9/11 Museum

Survivors Stairs at 9/11 Museum

NYC

NYC

Street Art Run

Street Art Run

Queens

Queens

Welling Court Mural Project

Welling Court Mural Project

Liz, Me and Julien in a Helicopter

Liz, Me and Julien in a Helicopter

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Helicopter Tour of NYC

Helicopter Tour of NYC

Co-Pilots

Co-Pilots

Philadelphia, PA

Wedding number 2 was held just outside Philadelphia. We were able to take a short day trip to grab food at the Reading Terminal Market and see Liberty Bell and the Rocky Steps. The wedding was for my niece Kailee and her husband Chris. It was held at Normandy Farms and gave me a chance to see a lot of my family in one place. Those lovebirds are having the time of their lives in Disney World now.

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

Co-Pilots

Philly Cheesesteak

Dress Rehearsal

Dress Rehearsal

My great-niece Zoey

My great-niece Zoey

Bridal Party

Bridal Party

Kailee and Chris

Kailee and Chris

Family

Family



Washington, D.C.

From Philly, we continued driving south through Delaware and Maryland on our way to D.C. Another Instagram friend @clairerunsthere, graciously offered her apartment and took us on a fun run tour around the capital for us to catch a glimpse of the national monuments. 

Gravelly Point Park

Gravelly Point Park

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

That little place is the White House

That little place is the White House

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln



Miami, FL

From D.C. we took an early morning flight to Miami. Here we finally were able to catch up on a few days of R&R.

South Beach

South Beach

Southern Point

Southern Point

Beach Run

Beach Run

Enjoying the Florida Sun

Enjoying the Florida Sun

Happy Hour and Cuban Cigars

Happy Hour and Cuban Cigars

Don’t want to go home

Don’t want to go home



Boston, MA

After a few days of fun in the sun, we finally flew back to spend our last weekend in Boston for a dinner with friends, Halloween and to attend a New England Patriots game. With a win, it was a great way to close out our trip. 

Miming it up

Miming it up

French Mimes and Cruella Deville

French Mimes and Cruella Deville

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Dinner with Greg and Liza

Dinner with Greg and Liza

Patriots Tailgating

Patriots Tailgating

Katie and I fit to do splits

Katie and I fit to do splits

Ray, Katie, me and Julien

Ray, Katie, me and Julien

Stacie made it too!

Stacie made it too!

Pats win!

Pats Win!

Til the next time!

Til the next time!

How It Feels to Run My Tenth Marathon (and the 44th BMW Berlin Marathon Review)

On September 24, 2017 I ran and surpassed my finish expectations for my tenth full marathon by completing the 44th BMW Berlin Marathon in 4:19:58.

Berlin Marathon Finisher

Berlin Marathon Finisher

My marathon “career”, hobby, passion, self torture began in 2006. Here’s a running list (while mind you there have been dozens of half marathons, 10km, mud runs, and fun runs and thousands of miles from training,  also in between):

• Boston Marathon x3: 4:13:15, 4:24:43, 4:30:45 • Cape Cod Marathon 4:15:54 • Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon 4:21:07 • Walt Disney World Marathon 4:19:12 • Chicago Marathon 4:36:30 • Paris Marathon 4:49:59 • Rome Marathon 4:38:05 • Berlin Marathon 4:19:58

While my times stay somewhat, relatively consistent within 30ish Minutes, I’ve definitely become slower over the course of time. I’m ok with that and had started labeling myself as a 4:30 marathon runner. 

I don’t like sprint work, I don’t like the feeling of my heart pulsating out of my chest, and I don’t like not having a fun time, being able to talk to others and take in the atmosphere and experience of my runcation. These are the main reasons I’ve never felt to push myself to obtain a personal record with each of my races.

Running for me, personally, is something I do for relaxing my constantly running mind (if that even makes sense) and a way to stay healthy. No more, no less. For some running is about being the best they can be every time and for others it’s learning how to complete the impossible. Running is a personal sport that can make some feel self love or self hate. The gigantic community of runners can make you feel big and small at the same time. Everyone is allowed their own reasons of why or how they run and no one has the right to judge or criticize someone’s journey. 

Berlin, particularly for me, was a huge goal to knock off my bucket list. It would be my 3rd Abbot World Major and the lottery or qualifying system to get into one of the 6 majors (Boston, Chicago, Berlin, NYC, London, Tokyo) is a huge long shot. So when I applied last November for this race, I assumed I wouldn’t get into it as I’ve been rejected from NYC and London several times in the past. I even signed up for the Rome marathon at the same time for April because I figured I wouldn’t get into Berlin. Well, luck was on my side and I made it! But I then realized I had to run 2 full marathons in 2017.

I’ve been in training since November 2016 meaning I was running 5-6 times a week, including 2x a week doing speed and hill workouts because in the back of my mind I was thinking maybe I could get a personal best on this acclaimed flat and fast course. But after Rome in April and two half marathons this summer, my body was beat. The training cycle for Berlin, specifically, was brutal. I was tired, sore, mentally drained. I wasn’t hitting all my distance targets nor completing most of the sprint work. Personally for me, more than one marathon a year tends to shut my brain and body down. I honestly was not looking forward to running Berlin about 10 weeks into my training. But then I had a mental shift to remember that having fun is more important to me than a time goal and I learned to forgive myself for having a legitimate reason to feel tired. Then the mental game clicked and I was super excited to get to Berlin.

The atmosphere of a world major marathon is one of the best experiences. The city is swarming with people from all over the world to each take on the same task. The Expo always gets you ramped up when you grab your number and buy a souvenir or two. One disappointment was that finisher shirts were not included in the entry fee. If you wanted any piece of memorabilia besides a medal, you had to spend at least 45€ and the cool jackets were closer to 90€ but that’s a rant for another day. That evening, btw my dad and most loyal spectating supporter had flown in for the marathon as well, we made our way over to Checkpoint Charlie and saw some pieces and read about the history of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Marathon Expo

Berlin Marathon Expo

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

Dad and the Berlin Wall

Dad and the Berlin Wall

 

Any disappointment from the overpriced merchandise at the Expo was quickly wiped away with the free Saturday morning breakfast run. The laid back 6km run started at the Charlottenburg Palace and ended on a lap around the track of the 1936 Olympic Stadium with a breakfast included. One of the best parts of the weekend plus I got to meet up with a fellow Run Janji ambassador and my favorite British couple that I met at the Virgin Sport British 10km in July. 

Lauren and Jonathan from U.K.

Lauren and Jonathan from U.K.

Run Janji Corps Ambassadors

Run Janji Corps Ambassadors

Jennifer and I running around the Olympic Stadium

Jennifer and I running around the Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium Olympic Stadium
Olympian in the Making

Olympian in the Making


Saturday afternoon we did a 3 hour Bike Tour of Berlin. It was leisurely and educational plus we got to spectate a little of the inline skating marathon that was taking place. After our bike tour we made our way to the sombering Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

Bike Tour

Bike Tour

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

 

Sunday I was scheduled for the 3rd wave slot that had a 10am start, with an elite start time of 9:15. Easy subway transportation allowed me to sleep til 7am and head over around 8am. I chose not to bring a drop off bag but the organization at Tiergeten Park was well defined, although you did have to walk about a mile and a half from the closest metro stop to get towards the start. Plenty of porta potties, lots of musical and video entertainment on several big screens helped the 40 thousand of us stay occupied til the gun. 

The race went off without a hitch, The temps were cool (10C/50F) with a little rain to start. The race was crowded, honestly, in its entirety. The crowd support was awesome with live bands every so often along the way. Because Berlin is built on mostly water, there aren’t many skyscrapers and the buildings are all about the same height making everything look the same with little standing out, so it was nice to have the entertainment as a distraction. The course itself is exactly as they say, fast and flat, and my starting times were, for me, quicker than I was planning. But I felt good, so I held onto the 9:15-9:30 pace up until the half way point when I was looking for my dad. I thought to myself, “if you go fast now that means you can slow down later”. Which, btw, is opposite of what pros would tell you to do. After seeing my dad I maybe had a mile at about 11 min pace but felt good enough to go back to my original pace. The volunteers and aide stations were fantastic and I really felt energized by the crowd and cool temps. So I pushed on at this pace comfortably through the second half. Upon hitting the Brandenburg Gate, I was sprinting and smiling towards the finish knowing I would have one of my best times since 2009!

The Start of the Berlin Marathon

The Start of the Berlin Marathon

Some Motivation

Some Motivation

My new Baby

My new Baby

All Smiles

All Smiles

#10 in the books

#10 in the books

 

I’m so elated and proud to have completed my 10th marathon with my 4th best time after having a crappy training cycle. My enthusiasm is renewed and my goal will be to push forward and complete all the world majors! But first a break from racing for the rest of 2017 😉.

456 Hot Air Balloons

I’m always searching for something interesting to see or do, to broaden my horizons or purely satisfy my curiosity. 

Luckily for me, I’m living about a 30 minute drive away from the annual Mondial Air Balloons held at Aérodrome de Chambley in Hagéville, France. 

It’s an annual week long international Hot Air Balloon Festival held at the end of July. Several countries participate with, weather depending, morning and evening flights.  People can come watch and peruse local vendors with outdoor activities for the kids. And best of all it’s free.

This year was particularly special because they were planning for what’s called “La Grande Ligne”. This was a plan in hopes for the most hot air balloons to take off at once, to set a world record. The days for take off kept shifting due to storms and wind but finally was set for a 6:30am on Friday July 28. I didn’t want to miss it!

I woke up at 4:30am and drove the half hour to claim a front row view. Then I waited. I wasn’t alone with some other brave early risers but the weather was cool and damp, with no indoor waiting area, and nothing to look at. We were staring out to empty runways and I think most of us were hoping we were in the right area. We waited some more as 6:30am came and went with no action. But around 6:45am we started to see cars with trailers, what seemed like thousands, driving out to line up on the runways. This went on for a good 45 minutes. Then the pilots and crew started setting up by laying the ballons on the ground, attaching baskets or single seats to the balloons, checking the ignitions of the fire and then started to blow the balloons up. What seemed to take forever and seemed like thousands of balloons, was actually 456 balloons that anti-climatically lifted off around 8am. With a suttle wind, the balloons were seemingly all in flight and began quickly drifting north all within minutes. 

I grabbed as many photos as I could and ran to catch a great action shot. I watched them raise higher and drift more north as I made it back to the car and started to drive home (which was north). So surprisingly for me, I got a great view of them as I headed back home.

Are we in the right place?

Starting to see some action

And it’s take off


Such a cool experience. I highly suggest catching a festival, maybe next year I’ll make friends with a pilot and be on one!

Sweet Oporto

What an amazing week I’ve had! Not only did I begin training for my 10th marathon for Berlin in September and adapted my nutrition to start following a ketogenic meal plan (high “good” fat and low carb), more to come on these on later posts, but I also spent a long weekend visiting Porto, Portugal. 

Visiting the 2nd largest city in Portugal started as a trip to visit a couple of American friends traveling through. However, a friends flight got cancelled twice, due to strikes, cutting 4 days out of her trip so she decided to stay back, meaning I was venturing on my own. I took a 2 and a half hour direct flight late Thursday afternoon from Luxembourg to Porto. From the airport I was able to get a metro ticket for less that 2€ to get me towards Trindade stop in the historic portion of the city, and also where my airbnb was located. After a quick check-in and shower I took to Google trips to get myself acquainted with sights to see nearby. Here’s a recount of what I did daily:

Thursday:

Livraria Lello

Famous Bookshop

Famous Bookshop

Red Staircase

Red Staircase

 

The Historic District

Town Hall

Town Hall

Ingreja da Santíssima Trindade

Ingreja da Santíssima Trindade

Typical tiled buildings

Typical tiled buildings

Praça de Carlos Alberto

Praça de Carlos Alberto

Igreja do Carmo

Igreja do Carmo

French inspired architecture

French inspired architecture



Street Art 

Street art is legal with a permit. It brings bright colors to the already lively city.

17th Restaurant & Bar

Views of Porto

Views of Porto

Rosé on steroids

Rosé on steroids

 

Dinner at O Buraco

Fresh and inexpensive traditional Portuguese restaurant

Fresh and inexpensive traditional Portuguese restaurant


Porto Walkers Pub Crawl
I signed up for a pub crawl for 12€ which started at 11pm going til 5am, if you could make it that long. With 5-6 stops visiting bars mostly on Galeria de Paris, a drink special was included at each stop. I’m glad I went because I met a bunch of English speaking backpackers from US, Canada, and Australia. Albeit, I was the oldest by 10+ years, but was able to dance the night away (or at least until 2:30am, I admit I couldn’t quite hang as long).

Friday:

Early Morning Run

Free Walking Tour
I can’t recommend enough taking this free 4 hour walking tour with a passionate local from Porto Walkers (Do this!) I learned a lot and felt it was necessary to share a few important points…

1. Porto’s tourism is relatively new (think 15-20 years new). Thanks to UNESCO and budget flights like RyanAir, the city has seen an influx in visitors and most of the locals are appreciative for the economic boost but…

2. In the poorer sections of town, where the buildings create narrow, quaint winding, colorful, clothes-lined drying alleyways, some families monthly wage is 500€. There used to be laws to protect them, where monthly rent was grandfathered over to keep prices low to protect them from losing their homes. Due to greed and a change in law, rents have skyrocketed from 50€ per month to 800€ per month, to create Airbnb’s for tourists like myself. This results in families getting kicked out of Porto or ultimately leaving them homeless.

3. Here’s what we can do to help: Don’t rent Airbnb’s within the Riberia district or support the overpriced, tourist restaurants and shops along the river front. Do eat at local Portuguese restaurants and shop off the typical tourist beaten paths. You’ll know the difference immediately because there will probably be a wait to get in because they are small and the prices will be extraordinarily less expensive.

Ponte Luís I

Ponte Luís I

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

View of Douro

View of Douro

Old Tram

Old Tram

Igreja paroquial de Santo Ildefonso

Igreja paroquial de Santo Ildefonso

Inside São Bento Train Station

Inside São Bento Train Station

 

Port Wine in Vila Nova de Gaia

I did a self tour visiting several wineries of the sweet port wine.

Ramos Pinto

Ramos Pinto

Croft

Croft

Inside Taylor's

Inside Taylor’s

Taylor's Courtyard

Taylor’s Courtyard

Taylor's

Taylor’s Port Wine

 

Saturday:

Praia do Molhe
I got up early and took the old Tram line 1 along the river to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean and spent most of the day at the beach. 

Dinner at Tapabento
Ranked #1 Restaurant in Porto, there are advantages to eating solo. I didn’t need a reservation! Fine dining in a quaint restaurant, you’d never know from the outside. 

Seated Tuna

Seared Tuna

Red Mullet

Red Mullet

Pistachio Sufflé

Pistachio Sufflé

 

Sunday:

Last day in Porto and started it with another early morning run. Expecting to find the streets deserted I was actually weaving in and out of the drunks making their way home at 6:30am.

Breakfast at Zenith
Best Brunch Ever

Detox Smoothie bowl (I also got 2 eggs with avocado not pictured)

Detox Smoothie bowl (I also got 2 eggs with avocado not pictured)

Armazém
Vintage Flea Market and bar. Cute, artsy and unique.

Portobello Rooftop Bar

Finished the trip with a couple cocktails at Base

I hope you all get a chance to visit and take into account the need to respect their culture, heritage, and people. And drink all the port wine 🍷. If you’re waiting for a reason to go, the weekend of June 23rd is a huge street party for Saint John (Sao Joao) with plastic hammers, drinking, dancing, and fireworks. A celebration not to be missed 🎉