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Published: October 25th 2010
The next day we flew to Porto. Now, I have flown within the Schengen zone before (Amsterdam to the Canary Islands) but the no passport check back then that didn’t make sense to me now does. Flying within the Schengen zone is like taking a domestic flight which we found out when we went to the immigration window and need not have had our passports checked, nor should we enter the ‘international zone’. Our flight was a small 57 seater - 1.5 hours to the lovely Porto.
After a long walk to our hotel, we rested for a while and ventured out to the river whilst stopping many times along the way for photos of the beautiful old buildings. After along long time walking we reached to beautiful Douro river and had dinner there with my favourite Wine in Portugal so far ‘vinho Verde’ which is green wine, picked before its ripened, the green, young grape gives a fish, crisp and slightly acidic wine much like a wine cooler and is much lower in alcohol content (9% average). We took the funicular train back to the top of the hill which was fast and fun.
The next day we explored the city. We had purchased our Porto card and had free access to the transport system so we navigated the metro system. There was a military museum so of course Bill wanted to go. So we got there and the exhibition was of toy miniature soldiers, horses and what not and very rude Napoleon getting it on with a fair maiden. Ok we think, at least we only had to pay 1 euro for this. But downstairs there was guns, uniforms etc., and out the back there was a shed full of military stuff. We had lunch at the other side of the river, which is the city of Gaia, and where all the wine houses are where they age the port. We had lunch at the oldest Port house.
After our day of exploring us, feeling cheap and tired, bought cheap wine and bread and junk and had a night in.
The next day we went on a full day tour of the Douro valley which I am really glad we did. Our guide and driver was a hip, cheerful and fun lady, and we had a Brazilian woman and French Canadian guy also on the full day tour. Our first stop was Lamego, where we visited some beautiful churches (Baroque they were but not too Baroque). We then climbed over 600 stairs to another church (well me, Bill and the Canadian guy did) which was dedicated to St Stefania. After that we stopped at a local shop for some Port, cured ham and cheese tasting before our fantastic lunch at an upscale restaurant. Very yummy indeed and where they just kept pouring the wine After lunch we headed to Pinhao to the vineyards of Fonesca Guimaraens and out on our audio guide headsets and ventured out into the zigzagging vineyards overlooking the rivers and hills of the Douro Valley. Magnificent views and lovely photos. Afterwards we got a tasting of white port and ruby port. Now I’ve only tried port when I was young and I didn’t like it, but I guess as I’ve gotten older my taste buds have changed. Obviously port is drunken as either an appetiser or dessert, but it is quite nice for every now and again. We also paid for a tasting of the 20 yr. old port which was even lovelier, but we bought a bottle of the ruby port. So afterwards, we went to Amarente, which is on the way back to Porto to visit a shrine of a Saint whose tomb lies within the church. Legend has it he used to throw parties for old spinsters and his tomb is said to be lucky for older women to find a husband. A few rituals and bing bang boom, the woman is said to find a husband within a year (just as I suspected the Brazilian woman did this little ritual!). After a wonderful day, we headed back to Porto. Our money was well spent and we then had dinner at probably the only Lonely Planet restaurant I have found in my extensive travels to be exquisitely picked on price, value, service and food (so good we went there again last night lol).
Yesterday we pretty much spent the day shopping, and had a long rest in the afternoon at the hotel watching Oprah, Dr Oz and other trash before taking a metro to the other side of the river (city of Gaia) and walked across the bridge taking pictures and video along the way of the Douro at night before going to our favourite Porto restaurant again only to dine at the same table!
We are now nearly at Lisbon and we will then get on an urban train to our next destination, UNESCO world heritage listed town of Sintra.
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