Porto, Portugal. I learned my first phrase of Portuguese on landing in Lisbon: “Bagagem em fulta.” After a tight connection in the ultra-modern Madrid airport, my bags didn’t manage to catch the plane. I was re-united with my boots, underwear and other necessities later that night at our hotel in Porto, the Residencial Pao de Açucar on Rua do Almada.
We had a three-hour train ride from Lisbon to Porto. We glided past farms, vineyards and fields (“Look, cows! Oh, I love sheep!”), the landscape growing greener as we traveled north. We flicked through a few tunnels and spotted the occasional palm tree. Just outside of Porto we first glimpsed the Atlantic Ocean.
We were surprised at the size of Porto; it runs up and down hills and along the wide Rio Douro. The city was already thriving in Medieval times, and it promises architectural delights. Too tired to explore, we ducked into Restaurante Guarany for the day’s specialty: rice studded with roast duck, duck sausage and duck bacon, balanced with a plate of bitter steamed greens that tasted like collards. (Greens cancel out duck, we agreed.) For dessert, crepes with hot chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
The next morning, we walked down to the Cathedral Sé and picked up our credentiales for our walk. As we walked down the steps of the cathedral, noon bells rang over the city.