Life after lockdown in Porto: returning to my local cafe

With Portugal easing out of confinamento, the second city’s residents are enjoying cafes once again, but miss the tourists more than they were expecting‘Meia de leite, como sempre?” Sonia asked me, her mouth creasing with her tell-tale smile. “The usual, milky coffee?” Never did I think these five words – so habitual, so everyday – could resonate so powerfully or sing so sweetly. With Portugal further easing lockdown restrictions on 18 May, restaurants and cafes are beginning to reopen across Porto. Café Porta do Olival is among them. A cheerful neighbourhood joint directly outside my office in the city’s historic centre, it serves mostly locals. This is fortunate as there isn’t a tourist to be seen.The sparkle in Sonia’s eyes gives away her smile, which is hidden behind the mask that all cafe and restaurant staff are now obliged to wear. We chat briefly. She is elated to be back at work, she tells me; free of the confines of home and, more importantly, excited about the prospect of some money coming in again. Continue reading...

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