Portugal Trip Bairro Alto

Portugal Trip : Day 6

Day 6, 18 August: For breakfast, I had my bica (Portuguese espresso) and a nata (pudding in a small pie crust) at a sidewalk caf’Bicas are strong and oily and wonderful; if your car leaks oil, just replenish it with a bica. And so I had my Latin breakfast. Of course, I was hungry and jumpy all morning.

We explored the Bairro Alto, atop one of the seven hills. Its streets are narrow enough to squeeze out most auto traffic, and there are old ladies walking in the streets and looking out their windows and greeting one another, and there are grocery stores so narrow you can barely turn around in them, stretching meters deep to the back, where through a half-open door you can just glimpse a stout old tree in a secret courtyard. I would have lingered on every alley.

At night, we taxied to the Clube do Fado in Alfama for dinner and music. Four singers entertained us in shifts, an old man, a middle-aged woman, and two beautiful young women. Two men on guitars, another on the double bass. As we’re eating, Cathy motions for me to turn around, and there’s the lady who had ordered me to put out my cigar in Coimbra. “Because of you, I quit smoking,” I said. In the dim light, she didn’t know who I was at first. Then she recognized me. Everyone laughed. She’s Greek.

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