Célia Rego, Operations & Product Executive Porto

What makes you a local?

I have lived in Porto since I was three years old, moving here from Bragança, a small town further inland. I remember not knowing anyone, but I was able to make friends, playing in the street and feeling total freedom – those are now friends for life and my second family.

I know my city and all it corners very well, including all the new venues and the older hidden gems not known to most tourists, such as the place where Francesinhas, our local dish, was first created and served (it is kind of a sandwich with several meats and a secret spicy sauce).

What do you love about Porto?

There is a fantastic architecture; Stock Exchange Palace with its outstanding Moorish Hall, or the Museum of Contemporary Art of Serralves and its inspiring gardens. You could even attend a concert at “Casa da Musica”, designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

There are wonderful tiny streets and buildings, especially in the Ribiera quarter, where you can sit on a terrace with a beer and lupins and just…enjoy, watching as the local characters, including fishwives, fisherman or bait sellers, walk the streets, just as they did 50 years ago.

We also have an abundance of culture and entertainment in the form of concerts, theatre, music festivals and great night life, as well as wonderful city outskirts with great places to relax and unwind. It is not a surprise Porto was voted European Best Destination 2017 (voted by European Best Destinations, a European organisation developed to promote culture and tourism in Europe)

Any recommendations?

When you love a destination, it’s impossible to only mention a few things…you’ll just have to come visit!

  1. Douro River: Catch a tram to the mouth of the river and explore this beautiful area or cruise down the river on a “rabelo boat”, which in the past carried bottle of Port wine.
  2. Lello Bookstore: Enter a magical space, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, where you could easily spend hours and hours….
  3. São João: A bucket list experience, celebrate this festival and join dancers scattered all over the city and eat grilled sardines during the longest night of the year!
  4. Bolhão Market: Meet the most genuine people of Porto and enjoy the unique smells, colors and sounds of this special place …
  5. Café Majestic: Travel back to Belle Époque times for a cup of tea at a café founded in 1921, considered one of the most glamorous places in Porto
  6.  Amazing food & Drink:  “Pataniscas” – fried cod cookies with red bean rice, and “tripas a moda do Porto” – stewed tripes with white beans and (of course!). Also Port wine, with cellars you can visit for a tasting session.

What will you smell, see and hear in your destination?

Walking around Porto and the surrounding area is an experience second to none. Matosinhos is a fishing city close to town and you will smell freshly grilled fish and hear seagulls cry. If you walk along Foz, the mouth of the river Douro, there are beautiful views of the beaches, gardens and you will feel the breeze on your face. In the old quarters enjoy the relaxing terraces overlooking the river, the sunset through the six bridges and a glass of port wine in your hand, priceless!

What will happen in Porto in the next 5, 10 & 20 years?

With all the travel awards, new hotels and infrastructure, I believe Porto will continue to grow and establish itself as one of the most successful destinations in Europe. Personally, I am not sure I could leave Porto and it’s unthinkable for me to move outside my country. I just hope in the future I can continue to do what I love doing and support tourism in my city.

What do you like about working at Intercruises?

First of all, I have studied for this and I am very proud of all my work and effort to get where I am and knowing that I’m doing a good job. I started working with Intercruises six years ago and love that every day is different and the opportunity to explore and discover new things about my city that I can share with the world. At Intercruises you are always driven to deliver the best service and the satisfaction of a job well done is the greatest feeling the world – a pride that fills your soul! I believe that all this is reflected in our daily life, in the way we work and in the security that we transmit to cruise line/guests – it is impossible to think of not working with Intercruises.

What is the biggest problem/challenges you have faced during your time at Intercruises?

A ship was scheduled to arrive at 11am and we had everything ready, but we were then notified the ship would arrive at 1pm – these 2 hours were very challenging, with pressure from guides, drivers, venues and more. In the end, thanks to a huge effort from everyone involved, we were able to get everything ready and the call went ahead like nothing had ever happened.