We arrived in Lisbon about 8:30 on Monday morning (3:30am according to our body time. We were told that our last flight was out of Terminal 2 and that we had to take a bus to get there, but we had a hard time finding the right place to go. So, after asking 6 or 7 different airport workers, we successfully boarded the bus. The area was in a complete traffic jam, with taxis, buses and personal cars lined up 4 and 5 deep. But, amazingly, the bus driver managed to slowly work his way thru the mess and get us to our terminal.
Once inside, we had a doughnut and coffee/tea and rested a bit before our last flight to Porto. This was a fairly small airplane and they loaded us into a bus to take us to the aircraft…..a trip of about 100 yards!!!!!
The flight was only about 35 minutes long, but I think that Michael and I slept for at least 25 of those. It was fun to see the changing countryside as we moved from Southern to Northern Portugal.
We were met at the Porto airport by Paulo, a Professor at University of Porto. He drove us to our hotel and made sure that we were all set. The hotel is in the Old Town of Porto and there are many historic buildings all around us. Many of the streets are made from Granite cobblestones and are beautiful to look at and hard to walk on.
After he left, we set out for a walk around the town, mostly to help us keep our eyes open until bedtime. Our first stop was at a small café just around the corner from our hotel and we enjoyed a couple of pastries and more coffee/tea.
We started walking “down the hill”, planning to end up at the Douro River that runs thru the middle of the town. We didn’t make it that far……
The first couple of stops were to look in shop windows and run into a few of them to see what they had for sale. The area just around our hotel are filled with shops relating to hardware and home building supplies such as lighting, plumbing fixtures, etc. There are also a number of shops selling tablecloths, towels, and other fabric articles.
I went into one fabric store, but didn’t find any fabric appropriate for quilting. However, the store just kept going back and back and I ended up buying some Portugal made Dish Towels and enjoyed looking at lots of other goods. Several stores are built like that….they initially look to be really small, but hold an amazing amount of stuff around the corner.
Most of the buildings along these streets have 4 or 5 stories, but many are only using the first or second floors with the top windows staring blankly onto the street.
We stopped at one smallish looking bookshop, called Livraria Lello. Michael had been here on a previous trip and had told me of this beautiful bookstore.
From the outside, I couldn’t believe that it was this one, but boy did my attitude change when we walked in. It was built in 1906 and is considered to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Apparently there were some scenes from Harry Potter filmed here…..we are thinking that they are the bookstore scenes from the second movie……cant wait to watch it again and see.
One of the fun things to see was this series of tracks that ran around the bookstore. We followed it to the back of the store and found a small cart that is used to transport the books around the shop…..what a great idea.
We continued walking around and enjoying the ambiance of a new and different country, stopping briefly at a beautiful church, a natural history museum, and an outdoor book fair, complete with a children’s reading time. One of our favorite stores was a butcher shop. We were enthralled by the window which contained skinned rabbits (Coelho) and whole Pig heads that were completely de-boned.
We were starting to fade, so returned to the hotel and rested until Paulo picked us up for dinner about 7:15.
We walked to a small restaurant about ½ mile away and Paulo asked the typical question….”Fish or Meat”? I am not a big fish eater, but decided “what the heck” so I said “Fish” as did Michael. Boy, did we ever have fish!!!!
The “Starters” were…
Black Olives – these were different from home and were very nice
For the main course, we had two fish dishes that we split between us. I don’t know the types of fish, but the first one was split open and grilled with a spicy rub and the second was a thick piece that was lightly broiled. They were both served with boiled potatoes and braised cabbage and were wonderful.
For desert, we had a chocolate something that was a mixture of Mousse, Whipped Cream and Cake-like substance. It was “to die for!!!”.
We rolled ourselves back to our hotel and fell thankfully into bed about 10:30. So much for our first day in Portugal. Tomorrow we are being picked up at 10:00am and we will see what kind of things we can get into then!!!