Travel Days (8 – 9 March) Getting to the Route

For those of us who live in the Lehigh Valley, we oftentimes take the bus to Newark Airport. Transbridge is back in business though only four routes during the weekdays drop of passengers at EWR. Plan accordingly.

United provides a “travel ready” link that asks international travelers to upload various documents days before travel like passports, vaccination card and test results, and for us, the Portugal Locator form. Uploading these items was a real challenge. Not to worry. Carry your original CDC vaccination card and printouts of your Covid test results and Portugal Locator form. An agent at the check-in counter quickly reviewed them and voila, our boarding passes were printed. No need to deal with more angst.

But a twist in the boarding routine awaited us. A few weeks before, we were re-routed from EWR to Dulles and then to Munich from our original direct non-stop to Munich. When we reached the gate at Dulles, we had to get into another line at the gate to have our documents reviewed again. This step was unexpected. Check when you get to a gate whether you need to do this.

Upon arrival in Munich, going through passport control was a breeze. We showed only our passports and boarding passes to Porto. We were in transit so we don’t know if what we experienced applies when entering Germany. N95 masks are required in the airport. I had to switch from my daily blues.

When we boarded our flight to Porto, we had to wait in a line for our documents to be checked AGAIN. My advice is to keep every piece of paper at the ready. With papers in hand when arriving in Porto, the unexpected happened. Since we went through passport control in Munich, we were waved through.

Keeping eyes forward, we picked up our bags, paid for our metro tickets (2,60 E). Within 45 minutes, we were walking to our hotel in central Porto in pouring rain. We made it though not on dry land.

After unpacking, Laird and I carefully walked on slippery cobblestone downhill to Porto’s riverwalk. You’ll see Laird standing in front of Sao Nicolau Church just out the rain. Remember the Morton’s Salt slogan? ”When it rains it pours.”

We moved on across the street to Sao Francisco – the local home of the Franciscans dating from the 14th C. Sharon and I toured the church before. I was still struck by the ornateness of the Baroque style on this second visit.

I had forgotten the sculpture below of Mary above the alter of the side chapel. I cannot recall ever seeing an image of Mary with swords piercing her. Can you state the title of this depiction of Mary? (Answer at the end of this entry.)

We finished our tour in the basement known as the catacombs that started in the 1830’s. What you don’t see are the remains buried under the floor, a large cavernous chamber littered with clusters of remains.

It was time to live in the present. Up a block towards our hotel was the conveniently located Institute of Port. Besides housing an informative exhibit, a tasting room awaited with a range of offerings. We tried a dry white, a 10 and 30 year tawny. The pours were just enough to restore our good spirits. Note Laird’s expression before the first taste – perhaps he was thinking about Mary whose name is yet to be revealed to you.

The Tasting Room

Smiles restored, we freshened up for dinner at a local restaurant, the Infante, right in our neighborhood. It was open at 7:30 with one couple dining. Laird had the sea bass while I could not resist the sardines – delicious and what I considered very basic, down home Portuguese cooking. We ended with a dessert pairing that the owner suggested. When we left at 9:15, the restaurant was filled with locals and a few fellow tourists. I surmised that the fellows on the walls were Infante, sons of some long ago King of Portugal.

Answer: Our Lady of Sorrow. After all of these centuries, perhaps we should add Perpetual.

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