On the day of my arrival in Porto (from Lisbon, by train) I was so tired, I struggled for two hours to fall asleep, then decided to go for a little walk, it was about 2am and I did not expect any bars to be open in the proximity to my hotel.
But what do you know, I bumped into one of the most fun bars I had been to in years: “Goa Bicafe, cafe, snack, bilhares” in Rua de Fernandes Tomás (close to corner with Campo 24 de Agosto and 2 minutes walk from 24 de Agosto tube station). The owner, whose name I can’t seem to remember by the life of my mother, was serving behind the bar and a few regulars were finishing up their beers.
They were clearly set to close shop for the day, but the friendly owner started a lively conversation with me and one of the other regulars, whose name I also do not remember, a part-time pensioner, part-time artist, who spends a few months abroad each year, lastly in Paris. It started with the obvious topic: “Why.. how.. what’s this decoration about here?”.
I found out that the owner had gotten his hands on a set of the original chairs in the old Porto football stadium (and decided to do the obvious thing: transplant them from a giant stadium into his little bar) and some other memorabilia, so the conversation took off from there to touch on football in Porto, Germany (where I’m from), London (where I live), and before we could ask him not to inconvenience himself, he had set a traditional sausage aflame on a grid on a ceramic dish and served some of the best cheese I’ve had in Portugal (and I love my cheese).
At times one or two of the other regulars joined our conversation as well, cracked some jokes, and generally everyone made me feel like family. It was past 3am, when we thanked the publord, wished each other a good night, and went our ways. I had no trouble falling asleep when back at the hotel. (It was more the getting up the next morning that posed certain challenges.)