Getting Hammered at Porto São João!

Phew! Feels good to be back. After a month of hiatus, well, not really because my instagram is still quite active. In short, I was slacking off. Well, not from work per se, because I was literally so busy but you know, instagram is the easy way to post. A few pics in, sometimes a touch of filters here and there and poof, you’re good to go. But blogging, I quite found new respect for those who do this professionally. Writer’s block is a real deal.

Huge ball of hammers waiting to attack!

So, as I wait for that upcoming summer trip, here’s a recap of a recent trip to Porto. We managed this time to participate in the epic São João (St. John’s Festival). Well actually it is my second time this year. That’s how much I love it. Every 23rd of June, luckily also close to my birthday, the city of Porto in Portugal is in feast mode. Like literally, forget about every hangover you had for the year, this is the party to be. At dusk, people descend to the city center armed with plastic hammers you can buy for a couple of euros from just everywhere. Tradition is, you have to hit people in the head for good luck! There’s really something about Portuguese hitting people in the head for good luck. They do the same for Queima das Fitas when the students graduate (cute post about it here). But anyway, yeah, hit someone in the head and they are all cool with it. Some with a bit of vengeance but what’s there to lose, it’s an effin plastic hammer.

It’s hammering time!

So, armed with our own, my friend and I sauntered along the sloping streets. She kind of overdid it by buying a 5-euro worth, the biggest you can find and she got praises for it. Also not to mention, we seem to be the only Asians participating in the crowd so people are pleased to slam us often. No racist pun intended, it’s actually quite a hospitable gesture. Music is everywhere, mostly Portuguese chants and Brazilian pop music, but each street has its own DJ so you can actually street-hop like open air bar hopping to look for the vibe of your liking. The twin party streets of Candido dos Reis and Galeria de Paris are packed as usual. Overflowing beer at a cheap price of course, welcome to Portugal, the awesome budget friendly destination.

And of course, there’s a big explosion in the end. It’s the biggest party of Porto, if not the whole of Portugal so it has to end with a bang. Fireworks along the Douro in magnanimous display! It started late (sorry, Portuguese stereotype) and anticlimactic in the end but still, in the 20 or so minutes in between it was an amazing non-stop spectacle. We managed to nick a spot at the Miradouro da Vitoria, an elevated space overlooking the river with a fantastic view of the fireworks scene. Had to kind of risk our lives there with the crowd and the equally competitive Portuguese people and tourists but phew, it was not too hostile thankfully. Afterwards it was all crazy Latin street party with people still hammering each other in the head. Truly a one of a kind tradition.

There’s also a smell of grilled sardines and soup (caldo verde) wafting around, the traditional food of this festival and occasionally, some old guys might stuff your nose with garlic flowers (the annoying, stinky hammer alternative), but yeah, seems like only the funny dads could pull off this shiz. Overall all it was intense and E.P.I.C.! I wonder why it hasn’t caught on in Europe like 90% of the crowds are still Portuguese, and nobody from outside has ever heard of it. But definitely it is for the bucket list, I mean, the one excuse you can get so hammered literally and figuratively? This is your chance.


What we and Porto actually look like sober.

5 replies on “Getting Hammered at Porto São João!”

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