This weekend I was lucky enough to be able to visit my cousins and Tía in Portugal. My mom's side of the family comes from Portugal, and I am super proud of my Portuguese heritage. My grandmother immigrated to the U.S. after she met my grandfather, and my great grandma and the rest of her children immigrated shortly after. I have grown up listening to Portuguese, (still slightly mad they never taught me to speak it!!) and following Portuguese traditions like celebrating the São Paio Festival in Naugatuck, CT. I also had always wanted to visit my family that still lives in Portugal, who are my grandfather's brother's wife, children and grandchildren. I also have some cousins on my grandmother's side of the family there as well.
My family was incredibly welcoming, and invited me to visit for the weekend so they could show me around the area, and so we could spend some much anticipated time together. I had an amazing weekend filled with love, family and so much history. I loved every second of it!
When I arrived in Porto, my cousin José who is studying there, met up with me and gave me a tour of the city. I love Harry Potter, and Porto is actually where JK Rowling started to write the series! Majestic Cafe, was the where Rowling wrote some of the first book while living and teaching in Porto. Downtown Porto was also the inspiration for Diagon Alley. I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Livraria Lello, the inspiration for Flourish and Blotts in the series. It is gorgeous inside, and it truly does look like something out of a fantasy book. It has a ton of history however, as the book store opened in 1906. Lastly, students in Porto, and other parts of Portugal, wear traditional uniforms that inspired the uniforms worn at Hogwarts. The "Traje" is a formal uniform including a cloak with patches.
José also walked with me across the Dom Luis bridge, which had one of the most unforgettable views.
When José left for class, I continued to explore the city before getting on a train to Aveiro to meet up with the rest of my family.
I arrived in Aveiro, and my beautiful Tía Palmira was waiting for me with one of my cousins and her sister-in-law. They drove me around for a while so I could see some of the city, including Costa Nova, which is an area in Aveiro located along the water, known for it's unique striped houses.
After a while of exploring we returned to my Tia's house to relax for a while and eat dinner with the rest of my family. Of course we had to stop for some Pão and Pasteis Nata first!
The next day we saw some more of Aveiro, before taking a train to Coimbra to see some more of my cousins. After getting some lunch, we went to University of Coimbra, the oldest University in Portugal, and one of the oldest in Europe. The bell tower at the University is known for being called "Cabra" (synonymous for the good ole B word.) Students have referred to the tower as this for years, given that it rings when it's time for class.
After admiring the view at the University, we saw the church that two of my cousins were married in and then headed across town to the Santa Clara statue.
We then returned to Aveiro, where I got to go on a boat ride with two of my cousins throughout the town. Aveiro is known to be the "Venice of Portugal" and there are canals stretched throughout the city. The boats are traditional portuguese fishing boats called barcos moliceiros, now used in the canals just for tourism. I loved the tour and being able to see the city from that point of view.
Later that evening I went out for pizza with my cousins for dinner, and from there they took me for a night out at the bars by the "mercado do peixe," or fish market. It was a great night!
My final day in Portugal was spent in Torreira, where I got to see where my grandmother and her siblings grew up. Being able to feel and see the history of my family was absolutely indescribable. In the evening we went back to Aveiro to say goodbye.
House that my family grew up in: then
Although this experience was extra close to my heart given my family history, I strongly recommend visiting Aveiro. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and has such a homey feel. Check out my video from the weekend below!