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.

    Modern travel is weird.

    Half of my backpack has clothes. The other half has filming gear and dongles. A bunch of them. Thank you, Apple.

    Auto-generated description: A laptop, a camera on a tripod, and other tech accessories are placed on a windowsill with Lisbon cityscape visible outside.

    At least, everything I travel with is USB-C compatible, which means there is always a cable available to plug and charge anything. But not exactly everything. Guess what? All of those cables are useless for one device. I’ve been wirelessly charging my wife’s iPhone with my Pixel because she forgot to bring the Lightning cable. Thank you, Apple. Again.

    Auto-generated description: An iPhone is wirelessly charging on top of an Android Pixel, both placed on a reflective surface.

    No check-in, boarding or any other lines to wait in. Not even security check. Super quick boarding and deboarding. There is a lot of lag space, even in the economy class. And, to top it all off, there is the departure and arrival in the city center. It is impossible to not love trains.

    PS. 👆 That’s a Supernote.

    🌺 It’s the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution in #Portugal. Democracy and freedom in all their manifestations are values that should never be taken for granted and, therefore, should always be celebrated.

    Have I landed on a highway?

    Yesterday’s landing, deboarding, and departure from the Madeira airport were all pretty much the same as the many other airports I’ve been to in my life. But things were about to change in a surprising way.

    Today, while driving a rental car, the expressway I was on went below what at first seemed to be a huge highway, supported by an uncountable number of columns. The sight was already impressive, but when I reached the other side and looked in the rearview mirror, I was astonished by what I had just noticed. I had driven below the airport runway.

    But that’s not all.

    The underpass had many public spaces, such as sports courts, a skate park, a spacious parking lot, restaurants and even a boatyard. Yes, boatyard. Of course, I had to come back at the end of the day to check it all out.

    My photos are incapable of accurately depicting the size of the space. It is impressive. According to Wikipedia, there are 180 columns. And in one of Tom Scott’s videos, I learned that they are 50 meters tall, which is another crazy number when we remember that planes are landing and departing from the “roof” above.

    His video also explains the reason for the airport’s location. In his words, Madeira is one huge mountain just sticking out of the Atlantic Ocean. And I can confirm that after spending the day going through dozens of the over 150 tunes on the island. It’s hard to imagine something like this, but you can’t drive for more than a few minutes before you come across a new tunnel.

    In other words, this was the only place flat enough to build the first runway, which, by the way, was shorter. When the island began to attract more tourists and the planes became larger, it was extended with a platform over the columns, since a landfill was not feasible.

    I had a lot of fun geeking out below the airport, and thinking about humankind’s ingenuity, which never fails to impress me. However, this is an amazing island with remarkable sights that humans will never be able to build. Some of them have already blown me away, but there’s still so much to discover.

    Have a lovely week, Vlad.

    São João 2023

    A bustling crowd gathers at night in a lively urban setting with Porto's historic buildings illuminated by warm lights in the background. A lively outdoor street gathering with people interacting, colorful flags overhead, and a table set with food. Two people sitting at an outdoor cafe are holding and drinking beer, with tables and other patrons in the background.

    Getting away from the problem for a while often leads to new insights

    Taking a break is as important as getting into the flow

    It’s my belief most people come here for the free Wi-Fi. Not me. I have an office, that is also my studio, and even a comfortable home office. But I do my best to come to this Starbucks at least once a week to edit a video.


    I call it my Coffee Office Day. And last Friday was a special one. The city streets are not empty anymore. On contrary, everything is getting back to normal. I’m hearing people speaking English, French, Spanish and some other languages I have no idea what they are.

    Welcome back, Porto!


    Have you read The Click Moment, from Frans Johansson? One thing I’m looking for when I come here is getting away from my comfort zone.

    You need to take time, even schedule time, to explore things that are not directly related to your immediate goal. You need to take your eyes off the ball in order to see and connect with the possibilities around you. —Frans Johansson

    The Flow State

    There’s more. When I’m here, I seldom ask for the Wi-Fi password, or connect my phone to the computer. My goal is to avoid online distractions, and, at the same time, enjoy people speaking a multitude of languages. I love to edit here. As soon as I sit down and open my computer, I enter the Flow State. It’s magical.

    Flow is great, but one has to escape from it once in a while to avoid exhaustion and to break the blind alleys’ paralysis. At my office I have a different strategy, but here I do it by raising my head and looking around for a while. It never fails. In essence, this is how the Pomodoro Technique works.

    During that moment, I try to guess what a person is doing. Is he working? Is she messaging a friend? Where are they from? I’ve seen it all. From job interviews to friends from different countries meeting accidentally.

    It takes no more than a couple of minutes. Suddenly everything becomes background noise again, and I’m back to the computer.

    Something tells me I developed this ability when I lived in Boston, back in 2015. But this is a story for another day.

    Have a nice week!

    Spring 2022

    As in so many other countries, the first of May is Labor Day in Portugal. However, there’s also an old tradition linked to this date. It’s known as “Dia das Maias” (Maias' Day). In fact, it all starts on the 30th of April, when people put yellow genisteae bushes outside windows and front doors.

    There are several theories that explain the origins of this tradition, most of them connected to religion. As an amateur gardener, what resonates with me the most is the symbolism of the end of the winter.

    🌱 I love the way plants respond to spring. It feels so magic

    Unfortunately, we don’t have giestas amarelas (yellow genisteae) bushes, but my wife picked-up some yellow flowers early today when she was walking our dog.

    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…

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