Claus Lauter: and welcome to another episode of the Ywe Travel Podcast. Today our travels will take us to Portugal, better sets to the city of Porto and the far north of Portugal. As an expert on the city today with me is Des Desiree Williams. She is a solo female traveler and a visual content creator who creates, who resides in Virginia, United States.
In 2021, she decided to document all. The beauty of soda traveling and created also an IG account and she traveled domestically and internationally and showcases affordable travel destinations to her viewers. Her passion is to create stories that encourage people to finally book the trip they have been dreaming of.
And while she’s not traveling, she’s an aviation geek, a huge foodie, and she lost to listen to live music. So let’s welcome te Desiree to the show. Hi, how are you today?
Desiree Williams: I am great. How are
Claus Lauter: you? I’m very well. Thank you. First question as always, what’s your first childhood memory when it comes to traveling?
Desiree Williams: I was born in Germany. Both of my parents are military, so that’s how I was born in Germany. So I actually came to the US at the age of two. Of course, I don’t remember that, but at six years old my parents got stationed back in Germany. And so that is my first memory of actually traveling.
I lived abroad in Germany from the age of six to the age of 10. So that was amazing to have. early part of my childhood to be in a foreign country, a different country. So that way I could study the culture because in my school we did have to take German. Now do I speak German now?
No. Nine. No I don’t. But we did have to take German while I was there. And my parents made sure that me and my brothers. We got a chance to experience a lot of Germany. We traveled a lot and we were able to get the food, go outside the economy, went shopping. We went to, festivals, concerts, things like that.
So that is my earliest memory of traveling when I was six. Okay.
Claus Lauter: So we got to trouble park very early in your. Let’s talk about Portugal. When was your journey or your travel to Portugal? When was that? It was
Desiree Williams: October of 2022. So it was just this past winter I went there. It was a trip where I did a piggyback trip.
I went to Portugal and I also went to Madrid, Spain. So I did a two for one because I love when I go to Europe to go ahead and, go to a different country to experience it because it is so, To hop on a flight and just go to a whole different country.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Now Portugal is a beautiful country.
Yes. And the North as well. Obviously well known the city of portal. Mm-hmm. Tell me a little bit about what was your first impression when you arrived
Desiree Williams: there? Okay, so when I first got there I actually took public transportation. so that was my first impression of how, well, how clean. And how just easy it was to navigate on the train or the metro system.
In the United States, it’s not so easy, I should say, and not so cleanly. But over in Portugal it was just easy and they had, people attendance there that would help you to say, Hey, what is it that you need? Where are you going? And they helped you to say maybe you should get the day.
Which is good because it saved me a lot of money was only seven euros at that time. The euros in the US dollar were even. So for seven Euros I got a chance to get a day pass and I was able to get to my hotel and then when I checked in, the process was really easy. And then I stayed in Gaia.
Actually, I didn’t stay in Porto, I stayed in Gaia, which is probably about 10, 15 minutes outside of Porto, but it was, when I say beautiful, very, very beautiful, beautiful.
Claus Lauter: Okay, what are the highlights in Portugal? So what should people do and see when they visit the
Desiree Williams: city? Definitely you should do a walking tour.
I always recommend that if you go to another country, there are free walking tours. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say those particular walking tours, but I’ll just say, look up Walking Tours, the free ones, because people don’t know that you can actually. Book those, and then at the very end you give the people, your tour guide, you give them a tip of how much you think that the tour was worth.
I find that with the free walking tours, they go to places in the city that a lot of the tours you pay for won’t go because it’s like they want to show you the good and the. Of the city that is what I did and that’s what I recommend that you do a walk and tour, so that way you’re able to navigate when you first get there.
Definitely also when you get there, ask the locals where to eat. That is one thing I always do. I am not a person. I’m a huge bootie by the way. I do not go to the local mom and pop big restaurants. I love to go to the local food places and do things like that. But while I was staying in Gaia, I will say that I went down.
I took the train and I went down to, where all of the Porto Wine is made. It’s , an area down there where the big ships and the boats are, and you could do like the seven bridge tour, which I highly recommend that as well. But I went down there and I just sat and had a glass of Porto wine, which is.
Amazing. A glass of port wine and I just sat there and I just looked at the water and I just took in the experience. So I definitely recommend you do that if you’re staying in port head over to Gaia, head over to Montesano, I hope I’m saying that right. , head over to different parts of Portugal so that way you can experience so much more than just what Port has to offer, but.
get on the metro, explore.
Claus Lauter: I can hundred percent vouch for the walking tour. I do walking tours all over the planet. I have done the one in Porto myself, and it was really, really good. And as you said, they show you good, the good, the bad, and not necessarily the ugly, but they show you different aspects of a city that you usually would not see.
Now in Porto. I know that the bridge is one of the highlights there. Have you been on the bridge? Did you walk over the bridge?
Desiree Williams: I did walk over the bridge. Where I was staying, it wasn’t that far. So getting on the metro, I one of the stops on the metro is at the bridge, so I was able to walk the bridge also in downtown Porto.
I went to the bookstore. It’s known as the. Famous Harry Potter bookstore. You must say that, JK Roland is the author who did the Harry Potter books. I was told that she actually got her inspiration for the books while writing in that bookstore. So it’s an amazing, amazing bookstore.
It’s so beautiful soul full of architectural just, , goodies as I should say. If you buy your ticket, I always suggest buy a ticket online. Do not buy your ticket at the door. If you buy your ticket online, the $5 of that ticket will go towards if you purchase a book in the inside. So definitely do that and you get to skip the line.
The line is always long to get inside of that bookstore, so skip the line. Also they have a lot of good eateries in that area. I hate that. I, don’t know it’s a church. It’s one of the main points in Porto and it goes really high. I think it’s like two hundred and forty four steps.
I went inside and I climbed it, but the view at the top was amazing. It’s one of those views that you just absolutely can’t pay for, like to take pictures of. It does no justice. You have to see it for yourself.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Tell me about what was your interaction with the locals? Do they speak English? What was the kind of impression what you had from what the locals feel about all the visitors coming to town?
Desiree Williams: Ill say this, they didn’t bother me or say anything to me. They weren’t rude. They were just the most chill, nonchalant people like . It’s one of those places that I’ve been to where I really didn’t have a lot of interaction with the locals until I went inside of a restaurant or I asked a question.
Not a lot of them spoke English, so I always use Google Translate or try to do a couple of words. So I did use Google Translate a couple of times when I was ordering my food because, some things got lost in translation, but unless I said something to them, Everybody kind of mind their business.
They were in their own little lanes and going about their own day. And I enjoyed that. To me it was just, walking down the street and you just feel so safe. It’s definitely one of the safer countries that I’ve been to. I felt completely a hundred percent safe there.
Claus Lauter: Yeah, no, I totally agree. I wanted to touch on the topic of safety specifically as a female traveler, but I reckon, the Portugal is not really a issue there. They, one of the safest countries worldwide, and they tell you more often than not. In my time there, I was told so many times without asking that, came over and said, listen, do you know that Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world?
So thanks for letting me know. when it comes to pricing, what kind of budget should you think of when you go to Portugal or to Porto?
Desiree Williams: It is in the mid budget to me. I always feel like you should travel during, off season. Always check that. Always check to see when is a good time to travel.
So that way you can get the best deal. You don’t wanna go during a time where there’s a lot of tourists and a lot of people will go during the summer or spring break or things like that. I definitely feel as though the fall around September to late October is a really good time to go.
The weather is really nice. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. , and like I said, the euro to the US dollar was, spot on. It all depends how long you’re staying. That too, where you’re staying, how long you’re staying, you have to.
Factor all of that in. But to me it was a fairly inexpensive trip because the hotel that I stayed at, it was not a resort. , I don’t normally stay in resorts. I usually do like boutique hotels. And I got a really good deal on it. And the food, I will say the food was a little bit pricey. I will say that, but as far as attractions and things to do, it was pretty inexpensive.
As long as you’re like buying your tickets online and if you definitely use public transportation, that’s gonna save you a lot of money. I did a lot of walking. Be prepared for the hills in Portugal, the hills, or No joke. No joke. So yeah, if you can save some money, I would definitely save money on booking everything online ahead of time.
Stay in accommodations to where it’s a little inexpensive. to stay someplace to where you can walk or use the public transportation as.
Claus Lauter: Okay. You already touched a little bit on it, I wanna touch on the topic of food, you said you’re a big foodie. Were there some specific things in the Portuguese cuisine that were really sticking out or something that you would recommend that people should try out?
Desiree Williams: A lot of seafood when I was there. I did sea bass. , I don’t think that that’s like really Portuguese, but the sea bass, oh, the sea bass was so good. I hope no one’s going to come here for this. I did pizza one night, but it was a really good pizza place in Gaia that was down the street and it was absolutely amazing.
, there was another restaurant in Porto downtown, where they had a lot of, taps. , so if you wanna do anything, they have a lot of little taps that you can eat and I’m trying to think of what was on it was seafood based taps. I’m a huge foodie, but at this part time I can’t think of words to say what the food was.
I just know the taps. Drink lots of Porto wine. Have a poor tot with everything you order, everyth.
Claus Lauter: So with your Instagram account, you obviously want to motivate people and encourage them to go and travel and explore the world. Were there any particular stories on your journey or on your travels within Porter that you had interactions with people or something funny that happened?
Desiree Williams: Okay. So on my walking tour, it’s so crazy because my tour guide, he was so funny. And we were walking and he was showing us everything and we came over to the place where you get to one of the churches and there were a lot of college students. You probably know what I’m going to say, but a lot of college students and all of these college students there are dressed in black cloaks.
if you’ve ever seen the Harry Potter movies the kids in the Harry Potter movies have on this type of uniforms. So of course when you’re walking, it kind of looks scary that there’s like this big group. Teenage kids all dressed alike in his hot outside, in these black cloaks, these dresses.
And you’re just like, wait, what? When you don’t know the story, you’re like, wait, what’s going on? And so the tour guide was like, don’t be alarmed. This is actually the traditional. , dress of the college students. They do not have to dress that way. They choose to dress that way.
And so it was during that time, it was like a rush week, meaning that a lot of the departments, whether you’re in the medical field or if you’re in the engineering field, the kids had different color band. Dans on, like yellow and red and things like that. So it was chanting, they were doing a lot of singing and chanting and wearing this.
And us as. Taurus we’re looking like, what is going on? The tour guide was like, it’s not a cult. They’re not a cult. So that was one of the highlights of my trip, seeing all of these kids walking around with this outfit on and thinking, oh my goodness gracious.
It’s the Harry Potter kids. But like I said, the author of those books got a lot of the inspiration while she was in Portugal. I thought that was cool.
Claus Lauter: Amazing story. It tells you that every time you travel, you learn something new. Correct. Tell me about where can people find out more
Desiree Williams: about you?
Okay, so I’m on Instagram, it’s Desire underscore the number two, underscore Travel 79. Also I’m on TikTok and it is Desire Henry, the number one I don’t have any other social media. It’s just those two social medias. If you inbox me, if you DM me, I will answer any questions that you have. And if I can’t answer it, I will find out because I do have a.
People who I call my travel brothers and sisters in the community, and there’s, places I haven’t been that they have been. So if you’re looking to experience a place, I can either get you in contact with them or if I’ve been to the place, I will definitely do my best to help you out and figure it out because I’m all about helping.
I don’t hold all the secrets, I’ll tell you. There’s no point of holding a secret. , I feel everyone should get out and travel at least two times a year, at least two times a year.
Claus Lauter: I a hundred percent agree. I think we’re on the same page with the love for Port or for Portugal. Amazing country, amazing city.
And also as travelers, we should always stick together. Yes. Thanks so much for your time. I will put the links in the show notes, then you’re just one click away and I hope a lot of people will reach out to you and you make new connections through that. Thanks so much. Okay.
Desiree Williams: Thank you.
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