There's only one thing powerful enough to disrupt Porto's famed São João street festival.

    Starting tonight, June 23rd, at 9:45 pm and lasting until 1 am tomorrow, lighting paper hot air balloons will be allowed over Porto. And, trust me, they will fly in herds. The white dots in the image below from 2019 are not stars. Each one of them is a balloon that someone lit on the streets of the city.

    A nighttime cityscape with illuminated buildings and a river reflecting the lights under a partially cloudy sky.

    This unique permission reflects the scale of the famed São João street festival, as even the airport airspace will be closed during this period. But balloons are only one attraction at this incredible party. As you can see in the image below from last year’s Porto downtown, the entire city takes to the streets until the wee hours of the morning.

    A bustling crowd gathers at night in a lively urban setting with Porto historic buildings illuminated by warm lights in the background.

    If Porto is on your wishlist for future trips, I suggest keeping June 23rd in mind. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

    The only thing powerful enough to disrupt the tradition for two years in a row was the COVID-19 lockdown. And this year, it will once again interrupt it, as COVID-19 has finally caught up with me. I began feeling sick on Tuesday, and although I’m much better now, there is no way I’ll risk making other people sick. So sadly, it means there will be no festivity for me this year.

    I hope everyone has a great São João and I look forward to next year’s celebrations.

    It feels like driving on a highway not wearing a seat belt.

    When I arrived at the checkout counter, all the other cashiers were teasing him. I only understood all that buzz when I looked up. He wasn’t wearing a mask.

    I was aware that the government was discussing new measures that day, but my brain took a while to assimilate that a store employee, that person right in front of me, wasn’t wearing a mask. He had this wonderful happiness face, replying to his friends:

    —No, I’m not going to wear it anymore

    That was a great smile. Made my day.

    Starting on the last last 21st, masks in Portugal are only mandatory on public transportation and health related situations, like hospitals, home care, etc.

    It’s remarkable how we humans get used to new habits. It’s a week after the new rules, and it still feels like something is not quite right when I enter a store without my mask.

    😯 Feels like driving on a highway, not wearing a seat belt.

    Will the world ever get back to how it was before?

    Last month, after so many months in lockdown, I finally got fully vaccinated against the Corona-19, and now I’m gradually starting to enjoy simple things again. My wife and I went to some of Porto’s popular touristic sites the past weekend, but something was off. No busy people walking around, no crowds on most streets…