Aliados

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Hotel Aliados was my friend from Porto’s number one recommendation for lodging, and it was a good one. The Avenida dos Aliados (avenue of the allies,) in the heart of Porto, is also home to City Hall and the mayor’s office. I was within easy walking distance of Clérigos, Ribeira, Crystal Palace, Mercado Bolhao, and much more.

aliados hotel avenida das porto portugal ribeira 3rdarm arthur mullen

This historic hotel has been modernized and is well cared for: the shower’s water pressure was strong, the wi-fi internet was fast, the breakfast was worth the 5 euros.

Senhora Da Luz

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The Lady of Light (“Farol da Senhora da Luz,” in Portuguese,) was the first lighthouse on the coast of Portugal, constructed in 1758. It is a two story hexagonal building, on the grounds of the Chapel of the Lady of Light.

Built on a granite outcrop on the “Mount of Light,” where its green lantern was protected from storms and waves, the Lady of Light guided ships to port for hundreds of years. In 1945, the lighthouse was retired, replaced by the modernized Felgueiras Lighthouse.

Foz Do Douro

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The Felgueiras Lighthouse is situated where the Douro River finds the Atlantic. Although no longer in operation, the mariners’ beacon continues to command respect more than 200 years after its construction.

foz do douro fortaleza felgueiras lighthouse praia do ourigo granite lady of light porto portugal 3rdarm

Giant ocean waves are known to slam the lighthouse’s jetty, making it a (careful!) must-see for photographers.

foz do douro fortaleza felgueiras lighthouse praia do ourigo granite lady of light porto portugal 3rdarm

The lighthouse’s historic neighborhood, Foz do Douro, one of Portugal’s most affluent enclaves, is well worth exploring: wave-washed granite at Ourigo Beach and the weathered walls of the Fort São João de Foz contextualize the lighthouse’s genesis.

Praia de Matosinhos

When I stepped outside the first cafe we’d snacked at, I took a deep breath. My nose was tingled by the salty sea. As one who grew up close to the ocean, I was compelled to go see the Atlantic from the other side. We headed to the Matosinhos Beach (known as Praia de Matosinhos in Portuguese.)

Praia de Matosinhos beach porto portugal surf 3rdarm widows fishermen statue

Matosinhos has historic ties to the ocean: through the ages, countless expeditions for cod have launched from town. My friend showed me a statue that commemorates the wives of fishermen who lost their lives at sea. The widows’ eyes endlessly scan the horizon, pleading with fate and churning waters to bring back their husbands.

Praia de Matosinhos beach porto portugal surf 3rdarm widows fishermen statue

The men’s bravery was not lost on me, as I stood spellbound (never scared…) watching the truly giant waves crashing off shore. The expanse of soft white sand was impressive and even in January I could easily imagine the mob scene of summer. It made me happy to see people were out enjoying the warmth of the sun.

Praia de Matosinhos beach porto portugal surf 3rdarm widows fishermen statue

There were folks relaxing with a glass of wine at the small cafes strung along the pedestrian pathway, dog walkers walking up, yoga-enthusiasts in downward dog… in the water were those brave souls in wetsuits who are a kind of modern corollary to the risk-facing fishermen of days past.

Praia de Matosinhos beach porto portugal surf 3rdarm widows fishermen statue

They do not just stand still as a statue, staring dead-eyed with awe at the pounding surf: they swim out and they ride it.

Pérola do Mar

pastel de nata Pérola do Mar matosinhos porto portugal 3rdarm coffee cafe

When I arrived from Chicago, my friend brought me immediately to a cafe called Pérola do Mar. She is smart: I needed sweet treats and caffeine ASAP. There were too many to choose from behind the old school display counters. I deferred to my friend, who ordered for both of us. She got toasted bread with butter.

I loved my first experience with Portuguese coffee and pastel de nata. The creamy egg yolk custard in layers of flaky pastry was topped with burnt sugar: so good. The coffee was richly aromatic and small (European style) but an excellent accompaniment.

Pérola do Mar is a cozy neighborhood bakery with beautiful breads, pastries and coffee, and if I was a local I would enjoy it too much.

Frankfurt

lufthansa porto 3rdarm airplane bridge view scenic douro river

Frankfurt is a big airport, important hub for Lufthansa, where I connected from Chicago to Portugal. Frankfurt is also something like the Philadelphia airport of Europe, well run but perhaps lacking in design for its size, leading to some WTF headscratchaz.
The upshot at Frankfurt: pretzels and hotdogs!

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The first WTF moment was in passport control, which began with 4 active agents and then arbitrarily dropped to 3, and then 2, creating an hour plus long bottleneck (but hey, could always be worse.) The second headscratcha, the one that spiritually tied Frankfurt to Philadelphia, utilized Philly’s signature move: the shuttle bus.

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It was already a cold gray afternoon when it started to rain, leading to a small delay at the gate. The airline reps finally began scanning tickets. To my surprise, instead of a sky bridge to the plane, we were herded downstairs to the subterranean basement, to board a shuttle bus. I was not very trusting of this: after all, I had bought a plane ticket to Portugal, not a bus ticket.

I grew concerned that I had F’ed up somehow (typical of me.) But the shuttle bus eventually got us rolling, under and around two terminals, and out onto the tarmac. We disembarked in the rain, choosing between stairs at the head and tail of the plane. Everyone climbed aboard.

Goodbye Tigerman

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Still, horribly, from everything a little remains,
under the rhythmic waves
under the clouds and the wind
under the bridges and under the tunnels
under the flames and under the sarcasm
under the phlegm and under the vomit
under the cry from the dungeon, the guy they forgot
under the spectacle and under the scarlet death
under the libraries, asylums, victorious churches
under yourself and under your feet already hard
under the ties of family, the ties of class,
from everything a little always remains.
Sometimes a button. Sometimes a rat.

-from the poem, Residue, by Carlos Drummond de Andrade

Joy Machine

 roly poly cat chicago west town sunrise dawn december new 3rdarm years 
COLBERT: I started off as an improviser in Chicago. And so, to me — I learned — and this is what I really enjoy — is I like discovery more than invention. Any discovery I can make is always going to be superior to an invention because discovery you don’t know what you’re going to find, whereas invention you are just presenting to the audience something you’ve already made. Discovery is always superior to invention.  
   

roly poly cat chicago west town sunrise dawn december new 3rdarm years DICKERSON: What would you have asked the pope?

COLBERT: I would have asked the pope about joy, you know, we call the show “the joy machine” and — because if — unless you do it with joy, it’s just a machine. And in less than five minutes a week, it will grind you up and spit you out and there have been nights.

But I would have asked him about joy and where he finds his joy, like how did he become St. Peter?

 roly poly cat chicago west town sunrise dawn december new 3rdarm years 
DICKERSON: I’m a downer.

COLBERT: You’re not a downer. You’re not a downer.

DICKERSON: You know, the other thing about comedy, though, is we need to acknowledge this horrible thing that happened, we also need the catharsis of the comedy to get us back on the road to controlling what seems like a time of total chaos.

COLBERT: You can’t laugh and be afraid at the same time. It’s like physiologically impossible to laugh and be afraid at the same time.

-excerpt of John Dickerson’s interview with Stephen Colbert from December 27 episode of CBS Face the Nation

Sun Stands Still

 winter solstice chicago arthur mullen west town photography xoco 3rdarm clouds skyline 
Round-up of Notable Social Media Mentions from the past few days:  
Tom Sietsema, food critic for the Washington Post who visited us this past June, tweeted, “Lessons from eating across U.S.: best fast food Xoco (@xocochicago by @rick_bayless)”

 winter solstice chicago arthur mullen west town photography xoco 3rdarm clouds skyline 
Fabio Viviani, of Top Chef and the Italian accent, tweeted, “CUBANA from @XocoChicago is unreal! SO good, buddy!”

 winter solstice chicago arthur mullen west town photography xoco 3rdarm clouds skyline 
Meanwhile on Instagram, @foodiewidabooty dropped the mic after saying, “If you’re eating any other sandwich I feel bad for you son, cuz I’ve got this Torta Ahogada and you’ve got none.”

Gibs on Ice

 gibs on ice rocket arena quake2 tastyspleen ra2 ra2map q2 reefer 3rdarm giblets railgun 
“Fool didn’t pay up, so he had to get iced.” gibs on ice rocket arena quake2 tastyspleen ra2 ra2map q2 reefer 3rdarm giblets railgun 
ra2map6  Arena 6  “Gibs on Ice” 

 gibs on ice rocket arena quake2 tastyspleen ra2 ra2map q2 reefer 3rdarm giblets railgun 
I recommend we play this 1v1 arena map more. Moving fast on ice it’s like yoga for my wrist. It gets the blood to the right place for my railz man.

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