Volunteer in Portugal – Porto Hospitality Internship
I found this program through one frantic google-searching evening fueled in part by the long months of a Minnesotan winter looming on the horizon, and in part by an outspoken desire many years in the making to do more, see more, and meet more weirdos like myself. Having spent some time working at a hotel in the recent past, switching to a volunteer role in the Porto Hospitality Internship at the Porto Spot Hostel was like a gust of fresh air.
The work load was light and the atmosphere was warm. I spent a handful of evenings a week tending the bar and mingling with guests, which often turned into nights on the town mingling with always-welcoming locals.
To paint a little picture, when the rain stops and the clouds part, Porto is the most beautiful city in the world… okay, also when it’s raining (which it tends to do often in the middle of the winter).
It’s as though someone went through and gathered up all the best bits of European cities, threw in some smiling faces, and a whole mess of pastry shops, and called it Porto. Once my body adjusted to the hilly landscape, it did not take long to feel comfortable and more or less at home in this city.
When I wasn’t walking around with my jaw dragging on the cobblestones, I was sneaking along to a couple of mega-informative free walking tours or hopping on trains to Lisbon or Sintra on the few days I had off between shifts. I went ahead and tried my luck at karaoke for the first time, tattooed a new friend of only six days (also a first) and ate my weight in fine Portuguese cuisine on the daily.
It may not be the most sustainable lifestyle, but it was one I could easily get used to in the short months of my stay. And although I may not have changed any lives or learned an impressive new skill, aside from making a mean caipirinha, this program gave me an unforgettable opportunity to live like a local in one of the best cities in the world. – Kate