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When we made it back to the restaurant, Paula, having closed up shop and thrown a brown suede jacket over her stylish ensemble, stood ready by the door. The four of us piled into the sedan, and Fernando continued playing docent. He drove for an hour, singling out landscapes that might interest David’s artistic eye. When we reached the tip of the peninsula, we stopped in a small fishing village, where we watched the sun set as we sampled some more of that Portuguese espresso.

Once back in the car, David, who is used to deflecting the spotlight my way, mentioned my writing and how much I love to read. Thus began the new focus of our tour. Fernando whisked us to a shopping mall and led us into Fnac, a French-based chain of book and music stores. The mall — so modern, well kept, and bustling with people — was jarring after a full day of quaint, barren towns.

While David and Paula wandered around, Fernando led me to the foreign-language section and began pulling down books — the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges (who was Argentine but wrote in Portuguese) and the Portuguese poet and philosopher Fernando Pessoa. Enlivened by his passion for Pessoa, Fernando insisted I flip to any page (“Is not matter which; all equal are good”) and read a poem. I did and was duly impressed. “I will be ordering some of this from Amazon as soon as I get home,” I said.

While Fernando and I had been geeking out over poetry, Paula had been on a clandestine mission. When the four of us reconvened in the middle of the store, she presented David and me with specialized chocolates — for David, a chocolate camera; for me, a bag of chocolate letters and an oversized chocolate pencil. We were awed by her generosity and thoughtfulness.

Fernando invited us to join him and Paula for dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Porto to celebrate his birthday, which had fallen on the previous day. On the way there, and on the way back to our hotel afterward, he continued to regale us with tales of Portuguese prowess. We bid Paula and Fernando farewell in front of our hotel, 11 hours after Fernando had come to collect us. “Is nice to see both of you in Portugal and show you a little piece of this country,” said Fernando. Paula smiled. “Keep in touch and beginning to plan a bigger trip to Portugal. You are always welcome, and if you need something and we can help, is just to say.”

Hugs were exchanged, and each cheek was kissed. As Fernando and Paula disappeared back up the steep hillside, David and I gazed at the stunning, Monet-like sight of the glimmering bridge over shimmering water and reflected on the warmth and kindness that had been extended to us by our new Portuguese friends.

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More from SDReader


pete78 Nov. 6, 2008 @ 1:56 a.m.

I met the enemy of Dick once...Surprisingly enough, I found her at a lesbian bar. She was a large bulldyke-looking woman with a chain on her wallet and evil in her eyes.


sandiegocoug Nov. 7, 2008 @ 9:21 p.m.

This confirms why I love port. I'm told I'm mostly Portuguese. Cheers !


Barbarella Fokos Nov. 8, 2008 @ 4:28 p.m.

Have you tried white port, sandiegocoug? It's fast becoming a new favorite of mine. Enjoy!


rustyjb Nov. 16, 2008 @ 9:57 a.m.


In 2004, in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversry, my wife and I traveled the Douro river in a small (40 passernger) river boat. We visited wineries all along the route. It was a great trip!

Before our "cruise" we stayed a couple of days in Lisboa. What an incredible city. One of the nicest things about Lisboa was the proliferation of small coffee shops thoughout the city. We stopped in various ones two or three times a day during our short time in the city. And the espresso was incredible. The Portuguese sure know their coffee.

My wife and I really enjoyed walking the narrow, curvy, & hilly streets of old Lisboa. There is a funicular in the old section and when you get off at the top of the hill it's a different world.

We have a friend here in Louisville, who is from the Azores (islands 600 miles off the cost of Portugal). His brother lives near Lisboa and met us at our hotel and took us to dinner. We specifically asked to go to a restaurant where tourists don't go and where seafood is served.

I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was incredible. There were rows and rows of tables covered with butcher block paper. We sat next to total strangers, and it was like family. Our friend, Cesar, ordered for us, and the food was amazing. One of the items was 8" shrimp from Madagascar (which Cesar told us belonged to Portugal). They were split lenghtwise and grilled - I'm drooling on my keyboard, just thinking about it.

If you go back to Portugal and would like the name of the restaurant I'll see if I can get it for you.

Also Portugal makes a sweet Liqueur which you can only get in Portugal - Licor Beirao - absolutely heaven.


Rusty (aka Harry)


olima Dec. 2, 2008 @ 4:40 p.m.

You made my day with your description of an unforgettable day spent in Porto and Espinho. It happens that my wife and I often have lunch or dinner at Casa Floro, Fernando and Paula's restaurant in Espinho. It's a very cosy place, the food has always that homemade flavor that makes you feel relaxed and look at the kitchen to say hello to the chef. The deserts are always a special occasion as you are invited to stand up and move to another room to make your choice. Many people only go to Casa Floro because of these cakes. Thank you also for the excellent video clip embedded in your post.


Barbarella Fokos Dec. 3, 2008 @ 11:32 a.m.

I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Olima, especially as you know first-hand how beautiful the area is and how warm its people. Fernando and Paula were excellent hosts, and you are lucky to have that restaurant in your vicinity. Thanks for commenting!


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