A time for celebration
Holiday decorations, Porto Portugal
We flew from Munich to Frankfurt last night around 9 p.m., arriving Frankfurt around 10 p.m. Our hotel was actually in the airport, making our arrival and next morning departure quite convenient. Yes, it was a tad more expensive but we were paying for convenience and it was money well spent.
We had checked our bags straight through to Portugal and had only a few carry on items with us, like medicines and toiletries. Traveling light and having a bag already checked made things easy. We got up this morning, and walked to security. Our flight to Porto, Portugal was without incident. I’ll discuss the airline and a couple of issues we ran into on my wrap up at the end of the trip.
Holiday crowds out and about. The smoke is from chestnut roasters, selling them on the street. Laurie loves them!
We took the metro from the airport to the area we were staying, near Sao Bento train station. Porto’s metro system was easy to use, inexpensive, and went where we needed it to go. We were greeted at the hotel with fresh Portuguese pastries and the specialty of the area, a glass of port wine.
We checked out our hotel and our room is on floor 5. There is a restaurant on floor 8 and a rooftop bar that sees little use this time of year. We left Austria/Germany where we had temperatures right around 0 celsius/32 fahrenheit and arrive in a city where the temperature was around 65 fahrenheit/18 celsius.
Laurie buying roasted chestnuts
I didn’t even wear a jacket as I thought it was very warm. The locals are used to much warmer temperatures and had on down coats, scarves, gloves, and all matter of cold weather gear. We ran into the same thing when we visited the Florida Keys one year where the locals had every stitch of clothes they owned on. When you’re used to 85 degrees, 65 is really cold.
After getting things sorted, we headed out to wander this new city. It is Christmas Eve and many things are closed. We have no trouble finding a place to eat not far from our hotel, but it did close early. I ordered beef steak with 3 pepper sauce and a bowl of soup. I asked if the steak came with fries and the waiter said “yes, it comes with chips”.
Steak with three pepper sauce from a Portuguese diner
In the UK what we call french fries are called “chips”. In Germany and France, they’re called “pommes”. When the waiter told me chips, my mind defaulted to UK chips, figuring I would get french fries. The meal came instead with what we in the states call potato chips. It was sort of an odd paring but the chips were actually home made and were served hot. It was good.
As we are finishing our meal, they are closing the restaurant (very similar to a diner in the US) early for Christmas Eve. Our lunch consisted of a bottle of water for Laurie, two Cokes for me, two bowls of soup, beef steak with pepper sauce and chips, and fried fish with beans and rice for Laurie. This lunch cost us a total of 20 euros.
Hand laid stone patterns in the sidewalks
While Germany and Austria are less expensive than many countries in Europe, Portugal is much more affordable. The meal we had would have been around 45 or more euros in Germany or Austria. It looks like Portugal will be very reasonable from a cost standpoint.
We wander around and run across a Christmas Market, and then walk along one of the main shopping streets. It is festive and fun, with the locals dressing in Christmas wear. Santa hats are very common and many people go all out with full on Christmas outfits in red and green. Often times their outfits will have bells or ornaments on them.
Inside Sao Bento, the Porto train station
We head back to the hotel and relax with a drink at the rooftop bar. It wasn’t open as it is winter here but we took drinks from the restaurant and sat outside. For us, it was not an unpleasant temperature and we liked sitting outside. Now we’re back in our room and headed to bed.
There are times during travel when I am struck with the realization of where I am, what is going on, and how lucky I am to experience it. I came from a small town on the edge of the coal fields and never dreamed of traveling to the places I’ve been and seeing the things I’ve seen.
Tile work in and on buildings here. It actually is a historical thing.
International travel during Christmas is not the norm where I’m from. We didn’t start out traveling internationally, but after one of our daughters passed away in 1993, we just couldn’t bear spending Christmas at home. So we traveled at Christmas, taking our children with us.
As they grew and moved into lives of their own, we started traveling internationally. Laurie and I have seen so much and done so much, and we have experienced so many places and things. Every now and then, like today on the shopping street with thousands of Portuguese people out shopping and celebrating, it strikes me where I am and how lucky we are to experience these things. Today was one of those days.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, or whatever celebration of life you participate in. Have a good holiday. I hope you are as lucky as we are. Goodnight everyone.