Because we are at an “age,” we like to break up the flying for trips abroad. This time we flew to Dallas, then onto Philadelphia. We stayed in the Marriot hotel at the Philadelphia airport which happens to be close to the home of SlowTrav friends Sheri and Joe. They picked us up at the hotel and gave us the Royal tour of South Philly, including taking us to a neighborhood restaurant for Philadelphia roast beef sandwiches, not to be confused with Cheese steak sandwiches which are totally different. It was so great to meet Sheri face-to-face at last.
The next day our plane didn’t leave until 9:15 PM, so we dropped our luggage at the International terminal. Luggage can only be checked in 6 hours ahead and we were well over that. A very kind AA rep checked with two supervisors until she found one that said go ahead and check it in. So we were off to Philadelphia on the train that runs from the airport to Reading Market. We ate at the Down Home restaurant and I had scrapple for the first time. I really liked it! We wandered up and down every aisle of the market and then headed out to the Museum of American Jewry. It is a really interesting and very well-done museum. Then we walked to Chinatown and had a huge dim sum feast at Dim Sum Garden. Stuffed, we took the train back to the hotel to pick up our carryon luggage and then the hotel shuttle to the International terminal. Since we have an Admiral’s Club membership with our credit card, we waited there for a couple of hours and then boarded. The flight was a non-stop to Lisbon, but it was an old 757 and small and broken down in many places. Since we mostly napped, it was okay, but the turbulence was bad enough the whole way that the seatbelt sign never went off.
Immigration and customs were easy and we had arranged for a driver. We had to wait for him because traffic was terrible, and that held true for the ride to the hotel. The Hotel Britannia is a very nice boutique hotel and we would recommend it if you want to be in the center of Lisbon. We fell into bed and slept about three hours. Alan woke up first and took a walk while I showered and dressed. He brought back the first of several Pasteis de Nata, or small little custard tarts. Yum! A new addiction has been born. He took pictures on his walk but I can’t seem to download them from his phone. When I figure it out, I will add them.
Later we walked over to the Chiado area of Lisbon and had an outstanding meal there. He started with fish stew and I had shrimp in garlic. Then he had razor clam rice with squid ink and I had tuna tartare. Outstanding! For dessert we split bolo con frutas which means cake with fruit. Again, the pictures are on his phone, so they will have to wait.
After breakfast at the hotel, we taxied to one of the train stations for our train to Porto. Luckily, we were early. Since we had to get seats, we checked in and found that the fast train we were ticketed for was full. There was an earlier train, albeit a local, so we took that one. Of course, keeping up with our train adventures, we were in the wrong car and the wrong seats, so we had to move to the next car while the train was moving. There was no room for luggage, so we wedged one suitcase and the camera bag in front of us and Alan held onto the other bag and the carryon, which were sitting in the middle of the aisle!
Upon arrival, we caught a taxi to our hotel, the Hotel da Bolsa. After checking in, we went for a short walk, mostly to find another round of Pasteis de Nata. Then I came back to the hotel, while Alan went to find a dry cleaners so he could get the dim sum out of the lapel. While looking at Facebook, I fund out the several friends had arrived already, and then Marcia messaged me that they were downstairs in the bar, along with Alan and our fearless leader Shannon. I hurried down, and we all sat around talking until it was time to walk to the restaurant Tapabento. We had a variety of great tapas and great wines, along with great conversations. Now we are back at the hotel. Tomorrow is a free day until 4 PM when Shannon meets with us all and the wine tour begins.
Here are a few pictures of Porto.