Our weekend in Porto flew by, the weekend was lovely.
We ate, relaxed, walked around, and explored.
The exploration started already online, I found some trusted influencers whom either went to Porto or live there. One of them @probisnaz was recommended to me by my cousin; a Turkish woman who fell in love with a Portuguese man, married him and moved there. She has a blog and on Instagram she shares her daily adventures, don’t we all (I know). I found the zen in her life very interesting and ended up noting down the coffee and brunch spots she went to and shared posts from; Cafe Progresso was the spot coming back constantly every ten photos or so… The decision was made.
Once we went to Cafe Progresso we ordered a savory toast, a savory bowl, pancakes with fruits, and coffee. The food was not that good but the coffee was on point.
While we were enjoying our food, behind us a huge group of fashionably dressed people with blogger/vlogger cameras and good smartphones started surrounding this huge bar table. They were taking photos, videos, and so on. At first, we were thinking bloggers unite to support one another for the first time, exchange ideas, and so on because they were awkwardly silent. To give you a scale, it would be being stuck in an elevator with the person you ignore every morning riding the elevator and now you’re forced to collaborate to get out of there. That kind of awkward and the collaboration was asking each other to take photos. Anywho, later, it became clear to us that the owner invited many content creators/ influencers to promote the cafe. Eavesdropping game strong. Great! I thought. I can witness influencer marketing in real life for once. For my job, I always report on collaboration performance and for once, I can see it happening.
I started analyzing the situation.
The food was Instagrammable, the location was beautiful, they had historical value, and the coffee was good. Who cares about the taste of the food? And I fell for it, as well. It was this lady whom I never met, convincing me to go there. It all made sense, commercially. Overall, we were quite disappointed and our craving for pancakes was not comforted. My man later on found this place called O Diplomata, where we were fully happy with the pancakes. However, the point is we did spend money there, took photos, tagged the location, and posted them.
While the importance of authenticity (I know it is a cliche overused word, sorry for my lack of vocabulary) became clear, the value of marketing left me speechless, once again. This industry keeps surprising.
About surprises, okay Porto is the prettier one in my opinion when compared to Lisbon but Lisbon’s Gulbenkian museum and its park is fascinating during Spring (Porto’s Serralves loses big time despite cute donkeys they have in their farm).
Our dear friend living here came up with the cutest idea; she wanted to organize a picnic at Gulbenkian’s park, on May 5th to celebrate Hidirellez together. Hidirellez is a tradition we celebrate to welcome Spring and the day these two fellas cross paths on earth; Prophets Hızır (Al-Khidr) and Ilyas (Elijah).
I have never participated in the rituals but always heard stories and when our friend said this, enthusiasm filled me. Sidetracked I know, why surprise?
Because kilometers away from home, we were a group of people sharing a similar background and we all wanted to unite to celebrate spring (mind you I had never done it before while living in Turkey) and while doing so we invited other friends from various backgrounds to spread the joy…
The idea was to write down or draw our wishes on papers while enjoying some food and drinks.
After we did this, everybody puts their wishes under a rose plant, leave them out at night, collect them in the morning, and throw it in the sea or river. Of course, there are many other traditions as part of Hidirellez but we chose this one and hell yeah we did it.
I know you are thinking how the hell are you going to find rose plants in the middle of the city to leave your random scribbles behind and find it back in the morning… Smart solution from our friend who organized the day, you buy roses and leave them with your wishes outside at night because in the end, the intend you do it with counts.
We were all there writing our wishes for ourselves, loved ones, and our future. Even, a skeptic like my man did so.
Be it influencer marketing or thousand year old traditions, we always find a way to come together to celebrate life. The more I write the more I figure out, celebrating life, and making the best out of it is essential for a healthy mind. All these other details, steered by ego and other people’s perception seem more and more irrelevant, I want to let go. I know we all have our luggage but I want to let go. I am not saying it will be easy but the sooner the better. The toxic energy is draining my soul.
I want to do things that make small changes for the better of one or more. It can be creative collaborations, small deeds, or whatever, I am not going to save the world in a fortnight but anything I can do in my bubble I want to do. I am fully aware that there are so many things beyond my control but I think this is the way to go up in the happiness gum dispenser scale of Sagmeister.
So far, my working life, family life, and all other relations served me some lemons but dear universe, I want to make some damn good lemonade and look forward. I am done looking behind me.
Oh and cafes in Porto have better lemonade as well in case you want to take a break from making yours for a long weekend.