Fresh Lobster Tours Will Provide Queer Visitors With An Insider View Of Porto
Portugal is rebounding and so is the country’s second most populous city: Porto.
Porto is rich in its historic cobblestone streets paving pathways to historic sites and modern delights at its center and the heart of its people who love the city and want to show it off.
Teresa Louro, the walking tour company’s founder and CEO, is one of the locals who wants to tell her city’s story to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and their friends through a variety of walking tours.
“It’s crucial to me to be able to offer an LGBT-friendly tourist service to LGBT people visiting Porto,” said Louro, who launched Fresh Lobster Tours, Porto’s first and only LGBT tour company, earlier this year.
She pointed to other major European cities that sponsor LGBT tourism services, such as Barcelona, Copenhagen, London, and Stockholm, that are supported by local and national government agencies. “As a minority group, we find the best support, the best advice, the best services, the best information – not only but mostly – within our own community.”
Portugal is one of the most progressive countries in Europe when it comes to LGBTQI rights. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1982 eight years after the country was democratized by a left-wing military coup in 1974. Democracy came after a long transitional period after the monarchy fell in 1910 and a string of repressive governments that followed, according to the CIA Factbook. Since then, the country has broadened its anti-discrimination protections, legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, and legalized sex reassignment surgery and government identification changes in 2011.
“In Lisbon and Porto, you can walk hand in hand with your better half. Nobody will notice,” said Louro, a 40-something lesbian.
The city also hosts a Porto Pride, a small but festive queer celebration.
Louro, who was born in Portugal and raised in the United Kingdom until she settled in Porto, has insider knowledge about the city. She plans to guide guests to places, such as, the fashionable Galerias area, where there are glamourous gay-friendly bars along Rua da Conceição and Rua José Falcão, as she continues to network within the local queer business community and with municipal agencies to develop Porto’s LGBTQI-welcoming image, she said.
“Portugal is one of the most affordable countries in Europe to visit and the third safest country in the world, after Iceland and Denmark,” Louro pointed out.
Unlike her competitor, Lisbon-based Portugal Gay Tours, which caters mostly to gay men and offers some tours to Porto, but not many, Fresh Lobster Tours is woman-owned and operated, is Porto focused, and offers small eco-friendly tours.
“We’re just like queer women in Copenhagen or queer women in London: beautiful, intelligent, independent, travel-thirsty, caring and loving, adventurous and fun. And we love Port wine,” said Louro.
Louro is proud to be a positive representation of queer women in Porto with Fresh Lobster Tours, which was named in honor her professor Alexandra Warwick at the University of Westminster, she said. The tour company’s name is also fitting given that Porto’s culinary scene is heavily influenced by the river and the ocean.
Why is Porto attractive to queer travelers?
Porto – most famous for creating port wine – is naturally attractive to queer travelers.
The port city that has resided along the Iberian Peninsula at the outlet of the Douro River into the Atlantic Ocean since the Romans settled along its hilly perch in the 4th century. The once rich and opulent city capitalized on its position as Portugal’s gateway to the world with its residents developing their taste for architecture, art and culture, history, food, and wine.
However, the recent global economic crisis took its toll on the city as it did on Portugal overall, among other European countries. Portugal and Porto hit hard times and was overlooked by travelers for many years. That was until the country and the city adorned from antiquity through the Middle Ages to today was rediscovered by travelers within the past couple of years. It began to climb to the top of the best travel lists from Europe to America.
There’s great reason why Portugal, and in particular, Porto, are drawing wanderlusters attention. The city is fashionable in art and design to culinary delights and of course the city’s signature drink: port.
Port is most often thought of as a sweet red desert wine, but it also is made in several varieties dry, semi-dry, and white wine. The fortified wine was created in the Douro Valley and was a favorite export to England in 1703, reported the New York Times.
Porto’s architecture stretches all the way back to Roman times to the creatives who have taken destiny into their own hands opening galleries, restaurants, bars and nightclubs creating a lively nightlife, and shops along with reviving hotels and tours to show off Porto’s unique qualities.
The city is charming with its collection of Baroque, Brutalist, Gothic, medieval mosaic, neo-classical Beaux Art architecture to contemporary designs nestled among the hills at the mouth of the Douro River.
Porto’s wealth today comes from its rich historic cobblestone streets and architecture and the heart of its people who love the city and want to show it off.
Ways to Explore Porto
Fresh Lobster Tours offers visitors five ways to explore Porto: art, culture and history; food, and wine by foot in small group tours two times daily for two-hours, except during Christmas.
Louro guides the tours in English or Portuguese.
“Our tours are charming, informative, local, and personal,” said Louro, stating that visitors will have the luxury of feeling like guests of “the city we love.”
Visitors can sip their way through Porto on the wine tour sampling either seven port wines – ruby, tawny, and vintage – or Portuguese wines from the Douro Valley. Louro promises to take visitors off the well-trodden wine tasting room paths to an authentic exploration of the city’s wine cellars.
Louro will show guests true Portuguese culinary delights from finger foods (bolinho de bacalhau, a codfish and potato roll), to a Portuguese sandwich (Francesinha, a large sandwich with chourico, egg, beef, cheese, and spicy sauce) to delicacies (pastel de nata, a custard tart with cinnamon) on a food tour of Porto.
Travelers can work off the food and wine exploring Porto’s art and architecture, culture and history. Louro takes visitors to some of the city’s best-known sites taking them 800 years back in time exploring Porto’s architecture and history, art and culture, and gardens and parks.
Louro will guide visitors through some of Porto’s most famous buildings explaining the history of the city as guests marvel at the Clerigos Tower, Sao Bento Train Station (where many people travel through when they arrive in Porto and is notable as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations), Porto’s Cathedral (a Romanesque cathedral that mimics Paris’ Notre Dame), Lello’s Bookshop (you might recognize from the Harry Potter movies), Ribeira Square (a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), Rua das Flores (Porto’s famed dining and shopping street), and the Stock Exchange Palace (a neo-classical edifice built in the 19th century and is also a designated World Heritage site by UNESCO) on the walking tour.
Art aficionados will delight as Louro explores Porto’s famed museums: Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (known for its collection of modern art as well as performances), the Casa da Musica (a stylish modern concert hall that is home to three orchestras), Soares dos Reis National Museum (Portugal’s first national museum founded in 1833 and the home of Portuguese sculptor Antonio Soares dos Reis works), and Sao Joao National Theatre (Porto’s historic theater) with guests.
Gardeners and urban outdoor enthusiasts will delight in Porto’s botanical gardens and parks on this walking tour admiring Palacio Gardens and enjoying a picnic at the city’s largest park, Parque da Cidade.
For those who love to walk, April to September offers travelers the best walking weather when it’s sunny and pleasantly warm in Porto.
Louro told Girls That Roam that visitors shouldn’t depart from Porto without enjoying a sunset cocktail – perhaps port – along the Ribeira, the city’s riverfront promenade; stopping at Sao Bento Train Station to admire the tile artwork; forgetting their diet by indulging in Francesinha sandwich; or clubbing at the heart of Porto at one of the city’s glitzy new queer-friendly bars and nightclubs.