Blogs from Porto, Northern, Portugal, Europe

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Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto » Santo Tirso November 11th 2022

Rather than explore all of the wines and regions of Portugal, I will focus on the Douro Valley, home of the most famous Portuguese wine, port, and more recently some enticing red wines. In fact, my trip up to Porto from Lisob is designed to do just that. Focus on ports and red wine. Do not be alarmed if you know very little or nothing about Portuguese wine. I was the same way back in 2001 on my first trip here. My golf buddy and travel mate, Mr. Mike made sure I got a deep and informative introduction into Portuguese wines, particularly vintage ports. We spent most afternoons, after 18 holes of golf, tracking down vintage ports. The two names you may be familiar with are port (of course) and Vinho Verde. But Portugal has 14 ... read more
My all time favorite
Beautiful Porto nights

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto November 11th 2022

First some wine basics for the region: DOC (or DOP): DOC stands for Denominação de Origem Controlada and means the wine comes from a strictly defined geographical area with recommended and permitted grapes and maximum vine yields (to control quality). Technically there are 31 DOCs in Portugal, although 3 of them overlap, making it seem more like 28.... read more
Sandeman
Taylor Fladgate

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto » Paredes November 10th 2022

Here is the secret to eating in Portugal: Portugal’s cuisine has long resisted the encroachments of fusion or molecular gastronomy. Hearty to a fault, family-run restaurants churn out satisfying variants of bacalhau (salted cod), piri-piri chicken, and ultra-sweet cakes. Another reason, Portugal is relatively cheap, and we are told by travel experts and foodies to forget about counting calories here. Local wines are fairly priced, and very underrated. A word to the wise when dressing up for dinner: do not wear heels. Why? the hilly streets are steep, cobblestoned, and are known as "heel eaters" for lack of a better term. And dinner does not usuall... read more
Love the food here!
Great octopus salad, times eight!!!

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto » Sao Mamede de Infesta November 9th 2022

Having been here once before, I can tell you that Portugal is a very underrated place to visit. The weather is great, the food is both hearty and interesting, the wines are inventive, and the people are friendly. Portugal is pricier than a super cheap getaway to the Southern United States, but compared to the rest of Europe, it's very economical, which is one reason why so many Americans are retiring here. With the dollar about even to the euro, you can expect to pay around $75 for a mid-range hotel and $20 for a three-course meal with drinks. That's quite a bargain for some of the world's best cuisine. One fact I did not know: Portugal has the oldest (1139) borders in Europe. Portugal is situated at the south-west point of Europe and also includes ... read more
Porto streetcar
Love this city

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto » Lousada November 9th 2022

From Taylor Fladgate: So what is Port wine? Port is a fortified wine. Fortified wines are made by adding a proportion of grape spirit, or brandy, to the wine at some point during the production process. Port is arguably the greatest of all fortified wines and its paramount expression, Vintage Port, ranks alongside the finest produce of Bordeaux or Burgundy as one of the great iconic wines of the world. In the case of Port, the addition of the brandy takes place before the wine has finished fermenting. This means that the wine retains some of the natural sweetness of the grape, making it rich, round and smooth on the palate. One of the fascinating aspects of Port wine is its variety of different styles, each with its own characteristic flavours, from the intense berry fruit ... read more
And Taylor Fladgate
My vintage ports

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto November 8th 2022

Today we got to have Francisco and Vanessa as tour guides, to show us around Porto. They picked us up at 9:30 to drive into the city. They manage several short term apartment rentals, so they showed them to us. Then we did a walk around the city, down to the river, and then to a restaurant for lunch. We had franceszinhos, which are these huge stacked sandwiches (normally with meat, but there was a vegetarian option), topped with an egg, smothered in cheese and sauce. Super filling! After lunch, we walked to a park with beautiful views of the city, and then headed back to Espinho, stopped at an Intermarche to pick up my favourite double chocolate ice cream bars, and then back to home as the sun went down. Unfortunately, they head south for ... read more
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Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto October 23rd 2022

I spent less than two days in Porto so I got no more than the barest flavour of the city. After almost two weeks cycling on quiet roads and tracks through open country, sleepy villages and laid back towns, Porto was a full on people experience everywhere from the moment I exited São Bento station. The city is full of tourists. I pushed the bike through the crowds and arrived in a street with a lot of cafes. As I passed Mercantor a couple vacated their table just inside the open front of the cafe. I claimed it and there was just room by a brightly coloured, larger than life figure of superman (belonging to the shop nextdoor) for the bike. Over a coffee I hooked into the WiFi and looked at accommodation options. It discovered ... read more
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street scene
cormorant by the river

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto October 9th 2022

Close to Porto and getting closer. Overnight at Pinchoa, I think the spelling is correct but it doesn’t matter because Portuguese pronunciation is full of hard sounds, eow, tricks and traps. As long as I have my 2 words and then expresso and nata (those delicious Portuguese custard tarts) I will be OK. Again the Burcher muesli was absent at breakfast so I had to make do with orange juice and sparkling wine. Well after 2 of those I was over it but evidently someone with more influence than me must have asked for some because muesli suddenly appeared. So after 2 sparkling, some muesli, a pancake, 2 small croissants and coffee it was time to make Lee her take-away breakfast. I thought she may like a sparkling start to her day as well and because ... read more
Gardens of the Mateus’ Palace.
Something important.
Tiny topiary at the Mateus’ Palace.

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto October 4th 2022

Well Gaia technically. The oppos of the river to Porto. Ahoy mateys. Hoist the mainsail and heave away the anchor. Dangerous precedent but being on the water sets the naughty, nautical talk in motion. Disregard the fact we don’t sail until tomorrow morning and then even when we do we sail on a calm, tranquil river. Obviously we are on board but we 30 minutes or so early so we are on the sun deck, by the pool and with 10 or 12 other early birds. Hopefully we are not in the same category as most of them, as the majority are already asleep (or even worse!) or if they are awake they look pretty terrible. Lee has been saying for the last couple of days that tourists here look tired, fatigued and out of breath ... read more
Always happy about a good map.
Loui Bridge from the gondola.
Delightful view of Porto from the gondola.

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto October 2nd 2022

Déjà vu, instant replay or here we go again. I’m up had brekkie, it’s brekkie if I make it and it’s muesli, banana and yogurt with some coffee. It’s breakfast if someone else makes anything! Made a cup of tea for Lee, she doesn’t call that brekkie or breakfast as it’s really only a precursor to starting to wake up. Then it’s off to another walking tour. Different company, different itinerary but same sort of deal. This one concentrated significantly more on the old town and the river quarter which is fine as the details and information content is what I thrive on. Run by Porto Walking Tours this one was conducted by a native ‘tripe eater’ unlike yesterday’s tour which was lead by an Irishman! The tours usually touch on food, language, culture and history ... read more
From St Luis Bridge overlooking the Douro.
Back in St Bento Station. Still lovely. The ‘non-jousting’ battle.
Majestic Cafe, but closed on Sunday.




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