Blogs from Portugal, Europe


Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto March 8th 2021 7th March - A Liberal Heart and 20,000 Unique Tiles - Porto My first virtual tour with Sara in Porto. We started in Avenida dos Aliados in front of the City Hall. The name of this boulevard translates as "Avenue of the Allies" and this refers to the treaty between Portugal and the United Kingdom in the 14th century. Still in place, the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty is the oldest alliance in the world which is still in force. Flanked by ornate buildings in a range of architectural styles, from neoclassical to French Beaux-arts, this avenue was built to impress. As such it is home to some of the city's most prestigious hotels along with a number of banks. The wide, somewhat short avenue was not always the grand statement it is today. In fact it has ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto February 24th 2021

I love a good port, so here is a good introduction for you. 1961: Vintage of the latest release by Taylor Fladgate of Single Harvest Vintage Port. Only 65 cases of this extraordinary 60-year-old Port are available in the U.S. for $395 per bottle. To put the age of this Port into perspective, it was made from a single year’s harvest as the first man in the world went into space, and it has been aging in oak casks ever since. Besides Vintage Ports, Taylor Fladgate also holds some of the most substantial reserves of aging Tawny Ports in the world. So, let's define Port for those of you who are either new to Port or unwilling to give it a try. Let's use Wine Folly as our expert navigators.Port: ... read more
Let's head to Porto!
Love the Taylor ports

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto February 21st 2021

Per Winespeed: As most wine drinkers know, wine can taste pleasantly salty—even when there’s no actual sodium chloride in it. Certain grape varieties, for example, can taste a bit salty (sangiovese is one), and wines made from grapes growing near a sea coast can, too. So maybe it was only a matter of time, but several winemakers in France and Portugal are now experimenting with adding salt to their wines, a practice that was described in ancient Roman texts. In particular, adding seawater was typical since it helped preserve the perishable beverage, in the same way that salt was used to preserve meat. Contemporary vintner Hervé Durand’s family estate, Mas des Tourelles, in the southern Rhône Valley, stands atop the remains of a Gallo-Roman winery. Known for his “Archeological Roman Wines,” Durand makes a version of ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Óbidos February 20th 2021 20th February - Óbidos, the Medieval Queen's Village in Portugal The mediaeval town of Óbidos is one of the most picturesque and well preserved in Portugal. Just 70kms from Lisbon. Our guide Igor grew up in the area & was very passionate to show us this ancient town despite the rain pouring down. Located on high ground near the Atlantic coast Óbidos has had a strategic importance & had already been settled prior to the Romans’ arrival in the Iberian Peninsula. The town prospered after being chosen by the royal family. King Dinis offered it to his wife, Queen Isabel, in the 13th century, and it became part of Casa das Rainhas (Queens’ Estate).This is one of the main reasons for the high concentration of churches in this small place. The start of the tour ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Lisbon February 17th 2021 17th February - A ride on tram 28 - Lisbon Lisbon’s trams are an integral part of the public transport network, and cover many of the areas of the city where there is no access to the metro. There are two distinct types of trams, the historic “Remodelado” trams or the modern Siemens “Articulado” trams. The delightful Remodelado trams date from the 1930s, and in any other city they would be housed in a museum, but not here in Lisbon as we take Tram 28 with Igor, our virtual guide today. The entire route of Tram 28 is from Martim Moniz to Campo de Ourique / Prazeres & takes approximately one hour. Today we travelled with the locals for about 20 minutes. So all aboard ! The tram rattled along, it was difficult to remember ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto February 8th 2021

We are talking about Port wine, not a port in the storm, or a cruise. My love for Port wine blossomed when I was golfing in Portugal some years ago. Each day, after a round of golf on the beautiful Algarve, Mr. Mike and I went hunting for vintage Ports. We found many, but the prices were rather shocking. So, as I have told you numerous times, we had to get creative. Here is a great insight into Port wine from Winespeed: The only Ports that need decanting are those that throw a sediment. These include two of the major styles: Vintage Port and Single-Quinta Vintage Port. None of the other major styles (Tawny, Reserve, or Late-Vintage Bottled) throw a sufficient sediment. Vintage Port is made only in exceptional years when Port shippers “declare” a vintage. ... read more
My favorite a 97 Quinto do Noval

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Lisbon January 20th 2021

15th December 2020 Chiado district Lisbon Home to the theatres, the cafés and the oldest bookstore still active in the world, Chiado is the location for today’s tour with Ines our guide. We travelled back in time to the 19th century Chiado district. The district is named after, António Ribeiro, a Franciscan monk who left the order to become a satirical poet and actor. António’s distinctive style was his shrill and high voice, which gave him the nickname Screech (Chiado in Portuguese). The statue of Fernando Pessoa depicts him drinking coffee outside the Café A Brasileira. The Art Deco interior of the Cafe a Brasileira has remained unchanged since opening in 1905, with wooden booths, mirrored walls, brass fittings, and a long oak bar. The Elevador de Santa Justa is one of the truly unique tourist ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Lisbon December 31st 2020

November 8, 2019 Today was our second, and last day in Lisbon. I woke early to be able to photograph the city and learn more about its history. Yesterday’s long day of touring made Dave too tired to join me in the three hour morning walking tour of Lisbon. Fellow passengers Rosemary and Dick, who ironically live less than five miles from our home, were going to accompany me on this tour, also decided they were too worn out. No problem, I left the ship alone at 9:30am to find a tuk tuk (a three seated, covered motorbike-taxi) to take me to Rossio Square at the Dom Pedro IV statue where at 10am, I met Ricardo, today’s tour guide from Viator. We were a friendly, small group of eight who were assembled and eager to learn ... read more
Base of the statue of Pedro IV in Rossio Square one of four marble allegorical female figures representing Justice, Wisdom, Strength and Constraint, qualities attributed to Dom Pedro IV
Bell tower of the 12th century Lisbon Cathedral
Sao Jorge Castle

Europe » Portugal » Lisbon & Tagus Valley » Sintra December 19th 2020

November 7, 2019 Our ship sailed in towards Lisbon around 9am on the brackish River Tagus which meets the ocean at the lighthouse. I was surprised to learn that Lisbon is not on the ocean. Seeing things first hand is a constant history and geography lesson. As we entered the river we passed under their iconic 25th of April Bridge, a replica of our own iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The bright red 25th of April Bridge is named for the celebration of the end of dictatorship and day of liberty (April 25, 1974). It is the longest suspension bridge in Europe. The Bridge has two levels, one for cars and the other for a train on the lower level. We were told there are frequent traffic jams. Unlike the bridge in San Francisco, ... read more
Christo Rei, Lisbon
First glimpses of beautiful Lisbon
Aguas Livres Aqueduct taken from the bus

Europe » Portugal » Northern » Porto » Paredes July 18th 2020

Once upon a time, in a land not far away, I became a port wine sipper. Perhaps it was the golf trip to Portugal after 9-11 with my golf buddy, Mike. Or maybe it was the port gently washing down the dark chocolate in a family run bistro in Vilamoura. Whatever it was, the two of us chased down hardy and wholly, to find vintage bottles of port on the Algarve and beyond. It was a search where the journey was just as rewarding as the destination. How often can you say that? The proper terminology for port wine is Vinho do Porto, but commonly called Port. It is a fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern area of Portugal. Most of the time, it is ... read more

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