This is as good as a General Douglas MacArthur impersionation as you’ll ever get from me. After three weeks of touring most of central and northern Portugal, I’ve finally returned to the Bay Area.

The good news? I have many stories and photos to convey on the status and quality of espresso in Portugal as a point of comparison. While Portugal might not quite be Italy per se, it is a country that loves its espresso (and soccer … how could I not enjoy a nation with such priorities?). Whether it’s 2am revellers between clubs in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto, cape-wearing students holding late-night cramming sessions at the 13th century Universidade de Coimbra, or port wine ship captains heading down the Douro River to the Vila Nova de Gaia, it’s impossible to imagine this country functioning without decent espresso woven into the social fabric of daily life.

And while I did not encounter a single Starbucks or other known U.S. chain in the entire country, there were some European phenomena afoot — such as my discovery of an Illy Espressamente café located in the walls of the Praça de Touros do Campo Pequeno, a Moorish-styled bullring in the geographic center of Lisbon.

The bad news? I just caught a flight back from Lisbon at 8:30am this morning (that’s 12:30am local time). So my brain is a bit fried still, and it’s going to be several days before I can get my act back in order and post anything coherent here. But stay tuned for more on my past three weeks of espresso travels … as soon as I can dig out of all that life brings when you’re away for that long.