On the last day of February, 2023, the blast of cold air as we roll our bags down the jetway reminds us that we are leaving a cold Boston winter behind. The TAP Air Portugal pre-flight announcements in Portuguese are music to our ears.
Driving into Porto city center along the Duoro river we see tall houses with classic Portuguese blue and white tiled facades lining the river bank. The occasional scaffolding suggests there's a low-key revival underway in this bustling city. We find the recommended parking lot and start the short walk to the hotel -- cobblestoned sidewalks are lovely, except when you're rolling a suitcase.
It's too early to check-in to our hotel, so we leave our bags and set out to explore the river-front on foot. It's sunny and in the mid 50's -- a great day for walking. Lunch doesn't start until later at the recommended tavernas along the river, so we head up the winding cobble-stoned streets of the hilly city center. Richard scores a cool tee-shirt at a shop called Typographia that features all original designs by local artists.
Nancy's recently-discovered gluten allergy complicates finding a quick bite to eat. She couldn't believe her eyes when we came upon the Club Life Cafe with a sandwich board out front boasting an all gluten-free menu. We each had one of their breakfast specials -- the GF toast with avocado cream and sautéed mushrooms was excellent along side the scrambled eggs with fresh-cut herbs. We washed it down with "Green Juice" made from pineapple, green apple, red apple, kiwi, cucumber, ginger, spinach, basil, mint, and kale.
At the recommendation of our Brazilian hotel receptionist, we reserve a table for dinner at RC Restaurante, just across the street from the hotel. Shortly after we order and begin digging into some local cheeses and olives, the lights are dimmed and we are treated to a set of Fado - a hauntingly mournful genre of Portuguese music, performed by a female singer accompanied by two guitars - a standard 6 -string, and a pear-shaped 12-string Portuguese guitar that is iconic to Fado. We enjoy a delightful seafood meal: For Richard, a sea bass filet on a bed of green beans and sautéed potatoes; for Nancy, a croaker filet with broccoli and garlic potatoes. The second set features two additional singers, one of whom plays the accordion. While we enjoyed dessert -- and of course some port -- the music devolved into the accordionist trying to play songs from each country represented in the audience. It was a really great evening to cap a really great first day.
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Nancy McCabe &