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Published: November 8th 2013
Our bus loaded up at 8:30 this morning and we were off to learn about Portugal's nation product, Cork. Portugal is the largest producer of Cork in the world. Our tour today was centered in the town of Sao Bras de Alportel. We picked up our local tour guide, Sophia, in the center of town. She was a cute, bubbly tour guide who was very proud of her hometown. She took us to a famous manor house and taught us all about cork. Did you know that Cork is a eco friendly product? It is sustainable, because the Cork is actually the bark of the tree that is removed every 9 years and the tree is able to live on. Each cork oak tree lives for several hundred years, and continusly produces cork. Sophia took us to a traditional cork factory, where we were able to walk thru and see how the cork is processed, sorted, and made into flooring, insulation, wine stoppers, and clothing/accessories. I purchased a cork wallet to match the cork purse I previously purchased in Lisbon. Andrew, our tour guide warned us that today was going to be just as much about the food, as it was
about the cork. Our bus climbed to the top of the town, and we had a delicious lunch with a spectacular view. We were then taken to an artist's studio, where we had a chance to make a cork souvenir necklace. When Barack Obama was in Portugal for the NATO Summit, a local business owner from this town offered him a cork necktie and a cork dog collar, for Bo... his Portuguese water dog. Our dinner tonight included a lesson on how to make the famous CataPlana dish and Sangria. CataPlana is a dish of peppers, tomato, onion, pork and clams cooked in a copper covered pot. It doesn't sound very good, but I was pleasantly surprised that I really liked it. Portuguese traditional dinners normally last 3+ hrs and it is a very social custom. We ended our day with a bus ride back to our hotel in Lagos and packing our suitcase to depart our hotel.
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