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Alicia Through the Looking Glass

Bright and early out of the hotel to CDG.  Terminal train transit two stops to Terminal 2.  Checked in at 2F.  Boarding pass, processed luggage, went to pass security, then informed I was meant to check-in at 2G.  If it’s not one thing it’s another.  Exited 2G, took the bus to the outer limits of CDG, same terminal we flew CDG to Seville last year, hints of déjà vu, but no champagne on ice in the lounge this time round…

Prompt boarding at 9:15 for a 9:45 flight; seat 1F in a four-year-old Embrauer 190.  No complaints, lovely service, edible breakfast, Pommery on the cart, plenty of leg room.  Stephen arrived at Porto less than half an hour before me so we met at the luggage carrels.  The only thing missing was the dog.  Awwwww.  Cab into the centre.

Flight into Porto

We scored an upgrade at the hotel, Torel 1884.  So what our cosy room was really like, the one I booked, well I don’t know, but what we landed upon was grand and spacious with ceilings as high as a three-meter diving board.  The hotel had been a grand mansion in the 1800s.  Then it was a bank.  Then, believe it or not, a disco.  Now it’s a hotel.  Just a baby, four years old hotel.


The key for the room is a skeleton key.  It’s so big you leave it at the front desk like people left keys at hotel reception in the mid-1900s.  And the door stays locked with the key inside it.  If you take the key out, you can peep through, Alice in Wonderland style, Peeping Tom style, and see everything.

The room wasn’t ready midday, so we dumped our luggage and embarked upon a walkathon.  We went downhill to the river Douro, we went up and down along the river, we crossed a bridge, we climbed up steep hills to the Serra do Pilar, a fortress with a monastery.  Then we climbed downhill to a “wine spot” where most of the renown port houses have warehouses and tours (Graham’s, Kopke, Sandeman, Crofts, Taylor’s, Cockburns, etc., etc.).  We walked away from the centre, towards the Atlantic, then back.  We took a gondola uphill.  We walked across another bridge.  We went to the cathedral Se de Porto, which dates to the 12th century in a Romanesque style, renovated in the Gothic style in the 17th century, and now hosts influencers of all sorts except, I suppose, the AI sort, and boasts perhaps the finest views this side of the Douro, whatever that means.


We had all the weathers.

Cans of fish.  Lots and lots and lots of cans of fish.  Decrepit home with a cat in a puddle.  Monday is laundry day.

Above, the cathedral.  Below, views from the tower.

That was several hours walking so we returned to the hotel to check-in, unpack, relax and catch up on the last week apart.


We had arbitrarily chosen a restaurant recommended in Bon Appetit and that just happened to be, literally, 50 meters down the road.  It was packed out, and we had a wonderful meal of rich starters followed by a very good Thai curry and a local cod and rice dish.

Monastery at Serra do Pilar, the fortress on the high bank of the river
The neighbourhood…
Peeking through the keyhole

The author of Here Hare has traveled to over 45 countries on six continents, and has lived in Canada, the UK and Australia.

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