Wednesday June 11 Porto
We ended up closing the glass doors in our room last night. We were getting bitten by some little bighting flying things. Why don’t places in Europe have window screens? We have stayed in many quite lovely modern places including this apartment but never a window screen to be had. We could still wake up to the sun over the river and what a wonderful way to start the day.
We had breakfast at home, bread, cheese, and very thinly sliced ham.
We had a short walk to where we would meet the driver and van for our day in the country. He was right on time and we made two other stops to pick people up. There were 8 of us, a full van. Our friends from the day included two women from the UK, two brothers from California, and a couple from Japan. The driver was thrilled because he only had to give the tour in English.
We drove for two hours into some extraordinary country side. We climbed a mountain and drove down the other side. We stopped in a small village to visit a bakery where a woman was hand making bread. She had done this for 50 years. Then we were off to our first winery. The grapes are grown on terraces. These terraces have been here for hundreds of years. The first place we were visiting grew grapes for making Muscatel. We had a lovely lunch and tasted great wines.
Next came a boat ride on the Doro River past the lovely terraced vineyards. Honestly I sleep through most of this. There was absolutely no narration to disturb my sleep. I felt like one of those old ladies who can sleep sitting up. Oh, wait; I am one of those old ladies.
We visited another Winery, this one was for Port. We had another tasting. We are getting hooked on Port. The entire process from growing the grapes and bottling the various types is very traditional and all actual Port has to come from this historic region of Portugal. The grounds here were stunning with lovely flowers everywhere. There are rose bushes at the end of each row of vines. This is true where ever you go. The roses are susceptible to the same mildew as the grapes. If the flowers die they have two weeks to save the vines.
The two hour ride home was much quieter. We went back on most of the same roads. When our driver was not filling our heads with facts about Portugal and Port, it was much easier to notice how fast we were going on twisty, one lane, and mountain roads. What would we do if we came up to a car coming the other way? I guess it never happened since we are still here. We drove through Magellan’s village and saw his statue. He is one of the few Portuguese heroes I actually knew before this trip.
We got home in time for a nap. Our driver dropped us off right in front of our house. It was after 6 and we were exhausted.
After our nap we went out to find a restaurant. We did not have reservations so we were turned away from the first place we tried. Then we went to a place suggested by our tour guide. It is very close to our apartment. It is called the Wine Box and specializes in Tapas.
The restaurant was lovely. There were shelves of full wine bottles from floor to ceiling. You could order wine here to be shipped anywhere in the world, for a price of course.
We started with two different cocktails made with white port. We did not taste this port but it seems it is used mostly in refreshing cocktails. They were both delicious. Mine was made with tonic water, ginger and rosemary.
Then I order a glass of Vinho Verde, I am really liking this wine. Neal had a lovely red. With the help of our very friendly waiter we ordered three dishes, clams with finely chopped green and red peppers in a light sauce, puffed pastry filled with jam and goat cheese, and a meat and cheese sort of casserole that is a very local dish. We had no room for dessert.
We walked the brief walk home and had another glass of port before climbing the stairs to bed.