As soon as the two little pink lines came up on my pregnancy test I knew as a pregnant single mom I had to start planning for where myself and my baby would live.
As a UK and European Correspondent for an American news service I could work from anywhere in Europe so London didn’t seem a sensible place to remain, given the cost of living there.
I had been to a conference in Porto, Portugal in 2017 and really fallen in love with the city, so I decided what better plan than to travel to Porto! Porto is Portugal’s second largest city. I needed to do another trip to the City before deciding to move there.
As soon as I knew I was pregnant I booked my flight at the end of November to Porto. Because it was off season I managed to secure a beautiful one bed apartment by the river right in the centre of the town next to the Ribeira.
I loved the apartment and could watch the river pass by the balcony as I worked online and made phone calls. It seems to be booked most of the time but check out the Porto Premium River View on Booking.com
I was prepared to have a quiet week. Being pregnant I knew I needed to take myself out of my usual busy social life for a while. In London meeting up with friends usually meant drinking alcohol. I didn’t really want to explain to people that I was pregnant until I had reached the third month.
Travelling pregnant really wasn’t a problem, I wasn’t morning sick yet this early in the pregnancy. In order to celebrate my productive week of working and looking at potential apartments to rent in the future in Porto, I relaxed and posted a photo of myself in Porto and chatted to some friends on Facebook.
The stunning World Heritage site in Porto, The Ribeira
Suddenly my phone pinged. I discovered that two friends from London were in Porto that very week! Of course it was hard to say no to meeting up. My first friend was there on business and asked me to have dinner with her that very night in the Ribeira, three minutes walk from where I was. The Ribeira is a national world heritage site and the gorgeous old harbour of Porto. We met at Cafe do Cais. A big silver box style restaurant near the main entrance to the Ribeira and with indoor and outside seating. We met outside and sat under the heat lamps watching people stroll on the Ribeira.
We enjoyed the sights and the boats coming and going on the river before heading towards the bridge to look for a restaurant that was less packed and more Portuguese.
We were almost at the end of the Riberia on the bridge when we saw Chez Lapin and chose it for the funny decorations outside. A lot of stuffed portuguese cockerels, a traditional symbol of Portugal, hung from the restaurant rafters and in the stone archway, tucked back a little from the main thoroughfare. They are called the Galo de Barcelos, and due to legend they symbolise honesty, integrity, and trust in Portugal.
Hopeful for the luck of the cockerel we sat under them and had a great mixed fish stew. My friend ordered a bottle of white wine, like we always do and I had one glass slowly and kept filling up her glass when she wasn’t looking. For the first time ever I realised most people don’t watch what you drink as she didn’t ask anything when I only had one glass. Luckily she was tired from her work so we called in to bed early that night.
Luckily she was tired from her work so we called in to bed early that night.
A couple of days later on Saturday I met another friend for lunch, who happened to be there working with an IT start up in Porto.
I picked my favourite place to eat, because it’s located at the end of the Ribeira, with a charming view of the Dom Luís bridge, from seats perched outside in a charming side alley off the river front. The wonderful Bacalhau Restaurant is tucked away from the main tourist area of the Ribeira and feels more like it has history and the menu is more authentic.
As per the restaurant name we ordered the most popular dish, the Bacalhau. He ordered one pint and sipped it slowly asking me why I didn’t have one too. Luckily at the moment he was asking me why I wasn’t drinking a massive Sea gull attacked his plates and took his French fries. I didn’t want to explain my reluctance to drink but had to lie and say I was on antibiotics. After lunch we went for a long walk around the city enjoying the mild winter and stunning sights along the riverside.
It sucked to be single and pregnant, and not wanting to confuse friends. Knowing my lack of will power and how I am a bad liar I had to find a new way to avoid people during this time. I was so full of regret I knew I had to exile myself from London and friends in general for the next three months. The only way to do that was to go somewhere that was far away.
This was when I hatched the plan to go to my parents in Myrtle Beach for Christmas because if my pregnancy was successful I would have to tell them in person about it anyway. Following Christmas I could stay with my grandmother a who never drinks. My best friend from childhood is near my grandmother in Rochester NY, is a child of alcoholic parents so never touched the stuff either.
With that in mind I booked my flights for December, and then enjoyed some more of the river views from the apartment before heading out for a walk. It was raining, as it often does in Porto in the winter months from November to March.
I googled what I could do indoors that was near the Ribeira and decided to take a tour of the Palácio da Bolsa. The Palácio da Bolsa was built in 1842 and is a National Monument, which is also known as the Stock Exchange Palace as it was built by the city’s Commercial Association. It was only 3 Euro to enter and I waited for a tour in English. The Salao Arabe, the most beautiful room, can be rented out for various functions. It was only when I saw it again that I realised I had actually already dined in the Palace as part of the social events when I had come to Porto for a conference. I felt thrilled to be back again as a tourist and to appreciate it from a tourist perspective.
From the Palace I walked through Infante D. Henrique Square which is directly opposite. The rain had stopped so from there I headed uphill to Livraria Lello, a library that is famous because it was frequented by author J. K. Rowling. It is believed to have been the inspiration for the author’s Harry Potter series. I could see why the wooden stair case and gothic features could be said to inspire Rowling and why she comes back often to give book signings at that library and it is worth queuing for. Entrance costs only €5 and will deducted from any book you might buy there.
After a fun filled Sunday I escaped the rain which had come back again by getting an Uber back to my apartment. I had to leave back to London early the next morning so packed up and finished replying to estate agents before calling it a night.
Follow on to my next adventure in America and my big reveal!