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Enjoying My Last Days in the Beco

Updated: Apr 8

The Wonderful Alfama Rio!

In week 47, as my final days in my beloved beco were coming to a close, I spent time enjoying the neighborhood I had grown to love.  

Discovering a York Burger Substitute

Before I left my home in the beco, I wanted to spend some more time in my favorite Alfama spots. Rudely and with concern only for themselves, the brothers of York Burger closed for holidays for two weeks. Sure Carlos and Duarte work long hours 6 days a week the rest of the year. What’s two more weeks? While unfathomable to me at the time, this might have been a good thing as it led me to Alfama Rio.

While I’d passed Aflama Rio many times, I was never inspired to go inside. It is located along the waterfront and the decor is a little cheeky at first glance. It screamed “tourist trap” to me. With my beloved York closed, I passed Alfama Rio one night and noticed several TVs inside showing the game I wanted to watch. I did not have it in me to walk across town to the sports bar so I headed inside. 

I was quite delighted. Outside of a cheeky parrot hanging near the door, the place is quite nice inside with bar tables up front and 5 tables in the back for dining. When I said I’d like to watch the game, I was shown into the dining area where the biggest TV is, and told to have a seat. I resisted, saying I did not want to take up a table, and was fine in the bar area. They would hear nothing of that so I settled in and ordered a drink. 

While I was watching the game, a cute, age-appropriate, Portuguese man came in and sat at a table next to mine. We started chatting and swapped stories about our favorite football teams while watching the game. When the match ended, he said it was nice to meet me and we must watch the next local game together. As he was leaving another good looking, age-appropriate man came in and sat at the other table next to me. We began to chat so I ordered another drink. 

Thank you so much universe, for sending two lovely prospects as I am on my way out of Lisbon. Timing can be such a cruel opponent. 

Alfama Dorothy Receiving Her Mail at the Café

The Dorothy of the Alfama

Frequently seen in my local cafe and around the neighborhood, is a tall, silver-haired, big-boned woman who I’ve begun to call the “Dorothy of the Alfama”, due to her strong resemblance to the character from the “The Golden Girls”. While most of the older ladies of the neighborhood greet me with smiles and bom dias, she prefers to scowl at me like I bought her favorite restaurant and took away her senior discount. So, I persist in greeting her with a hearty “bom dia” and a smile and she continues to work on enhancing her frown lines, knowing deep down that she adores me and finds me a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

On my way home, I usually pass a restaurant in the heart of the Alfama, at the intersection of two small alleys. On weekend nights, it turns into more of a bar, and the locals fill the tables in the narrow alleys. Sometimes I’ll join them, just soaking up the atmosphere as I try to understand the Portuguese words flying around me.

One night as I was standing at the counter ordering my drink, she said something to me in Portuguese and delivered it in a tone that matched her usual disdain for my continued presence. She became even more frustrated when I could not understand her question, and asked the counter girl to translate. “She wants to know when you are going back to your country” she said while throwing a disapproving glance at Alfama Dorothy. I smiled sweetly and proudly said “I am not.  I live here now.”   

After the counter girl translated for Alfama Dorothy, she threw up her hands and walked out, defeated. 

Tis: 18  Alfama Dorothy: 0

Saturday Night Card Game

Saturday night as I was looking for a place for a nightcap on my way home, I noticed the usually busy wine bar had some free tables. I was about to settle into one when I noticed a woman I always saw and sometimes sat with at my favorite café. I asked if I could join her so as not to take up a table for just me. She agreed and pulled out a deck of cards.

While I understand some Portuguese, I could not comprehend the rules of the game she was trying to teach me. We solicited the help of the bi-lingual waitress who explained the game, which was similar to High-Lo but pulled in the local football teams Sporting and Benfica. We played a couple rounds, splitting most of the wins. 

Next she modified the game and got the waitress to translate the changes. Of course, after a few rounds she was crushing me, and wanted to add a wager to the game, suggesting 5 euros.  I pointed out that she was beating me and I don’t typically like to set my money on fire. I politely declined. She did talk me into buying a raffle ticket for something. I knew it was pointless as I was leaving before the results, but I appreciate a good hustle and was already feeling nostalgic for the people of my neighborhood. 

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