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Randomness of Travel

Randomness of Travel

March 5, 2019 7:58 pmComments are Disabled

I love the randomness of travel, in particular the chance encounters with people and cultures and art that you don’t plan for but seem to always happen anyway.

Take Porto, my second day here. It has been drizzling all day but not hard enough to stop a day’s worth of sightseeing. But come nightfall, the skies opened up and we found ourselves debating where to go to dinner: across the street to the most convenient eats? Or should we journey out into the rainy night to find the really good food?

We ended up finding a restaurant close by that had good reviews, so we ventured out. Although every restaurant says it closes at midnight, it seemed that with the rain almost everywhere was closing early. The place we found was shuttered, as were the next 3-4 restaurants we passed by. It seemed that everyone in town knew something we didn’t.

And then we turned the corner and found O Fado, supposedly a restaurant that was still open. But they told us to wait to see if they had a table. When they finally came out to lead us back, we didn’t know what to expect.

We ducked into the dark dining room and immediately heard music. Two guitarists, one playing a ‘Spanish’ 6-string guitar and the other playing a Portuguese 12-string guitar, and a singer graced the room, performing traditional fado music, a genre that neither of us had ever heard about, let alone heard live. It turned into three separate acts, all soulful, emotional and authentic expressions of Portuguese heritage–albeit in a language we did not understand.

So, a full evening of live fado performances and fantastic traditional Portuguese food, brought to us by the fateful travel gods–always on hand to drop amazing and unique experiences into your lap if you are open to them.

It turns out that this restaurant is over 50 years old, and is known as one of the best fado houses in Porto. Even if we set out to find live music tonight, we probably would have ended up at a tourist trap with cardboard menus and a costumed trio of fado singers with a great view of the river and a 50% surcharge on the food. But the wonderful thing about travel is, if you don’t plan it, you end up finding great experiences like this all over.

Here’s to the next chance encounter in the unknown, wherever and whenever that may be.

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