Portugal · 3 Days · 12 Moments · November 2018

Porto & Douro


24 November 2018

A cold but pretty walk up to and over the Luiz Bridge. Why did were leave that swanky cafe??

23 November 2018

Boat trip down the Douro After a great espresso in a village bar we drove to the dock. Luna jumped into the cockpit and Paulo fired up the boat with his Jimmy-rigged starter and cast off. It was cold, but we cinched our hoods and gladly accepted the little shots of homemade brandy that Paulo poured us from the glass decanters. We admired the sunset over the smooth cold water, and admired the centuries of work represented by the terraced fields. Paulo showed us photos of his adventures in Morocco and we had an interesting debate about work, immigration & preserving Portugese culture. Paulo tied up the boat. No power, no water, it was all simple and self contained and ...analog.
Paulo picked us up from the Douro station in his purple Benz wagon. His little Scotty Luna waited politely on her pillow in the partitioned back and happily accepted pets as I stowed our gear. We curved up mountain roads to the vineyard touring the presses as the dogs played and admiring the color and even a rainbow when the clouds parted. On to the old stone house built in 1762. It seemed like nothing the creaky boards, handmade furniture & lace had been well maintained but never charged. Paulo served us heavy pours of the estates wines (the white & Douro were my favorite) in the old converted chapel and told stories of sailing & living on the vineyard. The caretakers wife brought course after course of amazing portugese stews & pastas. We had a great discussion about nostalgia for the old warm fuzzy and analog as Paulo dropped one liner after one liner like "dreams are a bit like fireplaces, you know?" It was a fantastic feast, and we left feeling like new family friends.
Stunning train ride through the mist, golden light & steep terraced curves of the Douro valley. The forest & vineyards were aflame with fall color, crisply reflected off the mirrored bends of the river. We played Fortress and swapped travel stories with a nice American military couple stationed in Germany.

22 November 2018

We stopped into an old art deco bookstore. It as overrun by tourists but lovely anyway, and (necessarily) had a terrific architecture section. It felt like the whole place was hand carved. Perfect for a fall evening. Afterwards we grabbed an espresso woth another American named Chris (whose life mission was very specifically being a one woman ACA) then parted company to frolic in the Christmas lights & head home to crack open Scythe.
We rushed through the rain from the AirBnB trying to get caught up on the days itinerary and were stopped on the stone stairs by a stunning double rainbow through swirling white pigeons against a dark stormy sky above the old tow, golden lit by the sliver of defying the storm. We ran through the museum & up the tower trying to catch the last of it but it was all clearing up.
After some confusion about where to have lunch we followed Google maps straight up a classic winding vertical Portugese stone staircase to Intrigo. We stepped inside just as it started to rain. Our waiter (basically Portugese Louis Cintron in a hipster uniform yellow flannel shirt) showed us to a table in front of floor to ceiling window over a sweeping view of the Douro. We talked & savored excellent Douro wine, cod fritters w/ grape jam, & cream of pumpkin soup with artisan bread and watched the storm try and fail to blot out the brought old buildings across the river. On to a delicious seared sesame tuna over sweet potatoes & grilled Portobello, finishing with world class banana pudding. When a group of Korean tourists entered removing 6 waterlogged trash bag ponchos, followed closely by a family of loud Brits in matching lobster shirts & sailor hats ordering beers, we knew it was time to go.
We learned to play Fortress zipping by lovely farm land on the express train from Lisbon to Porto.

21 November 2018

After a long bus ride and a little wandering through Basic Lisbon we spotted a delivery truck in front of a yellow villa. That's gotta be it. We stared at the young guy signing for a package. "Board game shop?" he confirmed, then let us around to the tidily converted garage lined nearly floor to ceiling with board games. Diogo brought Danielle's reservations out, and a few questions turned into 90 minutes of discussion as two hard rains pounded the patio outside the glass door and faded off to sea. Diogo offered to drive us to the nearest metro stop, which turned out to be right next to our hostel, and helped I'd find a board game meet up in Porto. Such an awesome guy!
We walked over the cobblestones of a gorgeous seaside arcade plaza to Arigato for legit sushi buffet. We savored crunchy tempura rolls, buttery roasted eggplant, roasted beets, and fantastic nigiri with a cold Kirin Ichiban. We talked and watched the gold fall leaves sway against the crisp blue autumn sky. Took me back to warm memories of birthday meals of the past. Just as good as a margherita pizza with a mint shake on a great San Antonio day.
The Lisbon oceanarium. It's like an architectural masterpiece of a drilling rig sitting in the bay with a maze of impressive animal exhibits wrapped around a *huge* central tank. You get lost in a good way, finding a giant octopus in one corner, or suddenly stumbling into a 2 story convex window that makes one feel like some kind of ocean god who can exist in comfort at the bottom by projecting a force field against the water. We watched otters play, penguin swim endlessly in a circle, studied the complex mouths of spider crabs, and locked eyes with a sun fish as it gently bumped into the plexiglass. They did a great job of connecting human impact to many facets of the exhibit in a humbling way.
We stumbled into a microbrew beer bar immediately upon entering Vasco De Gama mall. Such a nice welcome! Classic Lisbon. Then off to a little H&M & Rituals.