Last Day in Porto

On my last morning in Porto, a black cat gazed past me with half-mast eyes and a glazed expression that clearly said, you don’t even deserve to be in my line of sight, traitor.

All I had done was say hello to the dog that was barking eagerly at all the cats in the courtyard from his balcony above. It doesn’t have to be like this you know, cat. Doesn’t have to be like this.

Tell that to the dog, sneered the cat, as she turned her face fully away from me now.

O Porto dos Gatos is a super fantastic vegan cat cafe on Rua Rodrigues de Freitas in Porto. A beautiful restaurant courtyard and a cozy kitty parlor are where cats reign supreme. (Finally, the grey and white one commented to me with a yawn as she readjusted her position in her kitty bed . I don’t know what’s gone wrong since Egypt, but at least someone aims to give us our due. She looked at me pointedly before laying her head back with an upturned chin to warm her throat in the sun’s rays just beginning to peek over the wall.) Plus an indoor restaurant with more traditional seating and no cats.

My “special ‘cat-chorro'” (a play on the words cachorro, dog or hot dog, and cat) was good but I was a little disappointed that it was just a variation on a francesinha. The orange cake with coconut and guava, however, was a treat!

Walked around a new neighborhood or two.

On my last afternoon in Porto, I found a little hole-in-the wall in the middle of a long staircase down to the river. Along with bacalhau (salt cod – or as my family calls it, the Italian baccalá), sardines are a specialty of this area, so I sat at a teetering little table on one of the wide steps, and ordered a couple of sardines, a cod fritter, a tomato salad, and a beer.

The preparation of the sardines was quite a production. There was a little charcoal grill balanced on the step in front of my table, and a man came out with two fresh sardines and a fan. He had to flap the fan quite a bit to get the coals going again.

My attempt to unobtrusively snap the grill production…it’s in the upper left of the frame.

Since I don’t speak Portuguese, I used Google translate to say to the waiter, “It seems like a lot of work for two little fish…!” He laughed.

The sardines were good and the beer was cold and I liked that this was a little hideaway with a few tourists but not overrun with them. No view, no fancy drinks, nothing but about 8 items on the menu and 4 small tables on the stairs.

Then a detour further down along the river where there were no tourists before heading back to the apartment.

(Oh, I passed Castro on the way back and stopped for a coffee and pastel de nata. It was just there, what could I do??)

On my last night in Porto, I attended church in the park. The people were the body and Wish You Were Here was the hymn and myriad seagulls flew through the sky like cherubim, and people partook of wine and bread and tortilla chips together on the hill and participated in the Liturgy of Sunsets in many languages but also one, and marveled at the mystery of our very own star disappearing again in a blaze of color, even knowing the magic of sunrise and sunset would happen again tomorrow, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The congregation applauded.
Watching from the monastery
I brought Mateus rosé both because I see it everywhere and because my mom said my dad brought a bunch back from Portugal when he was stationed hete.
Monastery at dusk
I choose to believe this reads “Hi D-R.” That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.i

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