Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Rainy day in Porto….

On Saturday morning we awoke to rainy skies and lots of plans so we donned our raincoats and headed out anyway.  Since we had watched the bus make the trip easily the night before, we decided to be daring and take the car into the city.  We found a parking garage close to the main bridge, set it into the GPS and headed out.  It only took about 35 minutes to get there and we happily embarked on our day’s journey.

The clouds made for subdued lighting which made the colors of the houses stand out even more…….


This little clump of flowers was hanging over the edge of a wall and caught both of our eyes…..DSC07489

It was fun looking into a store named “Hats and Cats”…..


I get the hats but cant quite figure out where the cats come into it!!!

Wayne and Kathie posed for a photo in the shadow of the Ponte Luis bridge that was built by Gustave Eiffel….DSC07495

…..and then Michael took one of Kathie and I climbing the steps to reach the bridge……


We crossed the bridge, narrowly avoiding the mirrors of the LARGE buses that were crossing VERY close to us…DSC07499

….and entered the town of Vila Nova De Gaia.   

The views across the Douro River to Porto were magnificent….IMG_4619

I especially liked looking thru the bridge supports to see the city on the opposite side……


We passed a storage area which held many, many scull boats, with one having just come off of the water ……DSC07504

As we watched, two young women hoisted another boat out of the water and carefully walked it across the road at the crosswalk.  There are two things to note in this photo…..


….the bicyclist had just had to swerve around the end of the boat and the older woman was about to be impaled by the point of the boat.   The girl in front actually whistled at her to get her attention and get her to move!!!

Then as we continued to watch, four guys rowed in on their boat, unloading at the dock…..


I laughed as the back oarsman pulled a gel seat cover off as he left the boat….his own personal cushion!!!

The four then walked their craft across the street as the cars patiently waited…..


All along the river, there were replicas of the boats that were used to haul the barrels of port…..


We waited while Wayne and Kathie booked a Douro river cruise for Monday.  As the booking process was drawing to a close, Michael walked on ahead to scout out a place for us to eat.  At the same time, the Cruise salesman suggested a local cafe and, lo and behold, it was the same one that Michael had found!!!    When we walked in, you could tell that it was a local place which is our favorite kind of restaurant!!!

Each of us ordered a “half dose” of pork chops and ended up with a HUGE plate of food.  

There was a cute letter framed in the restaurant, extoling the chef…..


After eating, we started slowly walking along the  main road again, heading ultimately for a Port tasting scheduled for 2:00 pm.

While idling for time, we found a small area where boats were being built or refurbished. ….


I would love to come back and spend time watching them work on this one!!

We arrived at the Ferreira Winery at 2:00 and started a tour of the cellars, followed by a port tasting.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and patiently taught us about he making of Port wine.

Port is made exclusively from grapes grown in the Douro Valley region around Porto.   It is called a “fortified wine” because it has a large dose of pure alcohol added to it during the fermentation process.   It was first produced in the 1700’s when the British people wanted wine from Portugal, but it would ruin during the long sea voyage.  By fortifying it, they could easily transport it without it going bad.

Today there are several different types of Port, including White, Ruby and Tawny.     The White port is made from white grapes and is my favorite.   It is great as an aperitif before a good meal!!    Ruby and Tawny Ports are made from red grapes but are handled differently in the fermentation process.   To keep the Ruby port clearer, it is fermented in HUGE barrels where it doesn’t have as much contact with the wood of the barrel……


The Tawny Ports are fermented in smaller barrels which allows the wood to interact more with the liquid, changing the color and taste of the wine…..


I was interested to learn that there are several types of Port, included blended,  dated and Vintage.   The dated port is made from a single year’s grapes and will bear the year on the bottle.   Blended Ports are made from a lot of different aged grape pressings  that may have been grown in many different years.   If a bottle shows an age (say 20 year old Port), it is really the average age of all of the pressings that have been used.  A  “Dated” Port will continue to age in the bottle whereas a “Blended” Port will taste the same whenever it is drunk.

The last type, Vintage, has to be given that designation by an outside panel of experts.

Interestingly, the price of a bottle of Port is based on the number of bottles of that particular type that were  produced.  I always thought that it had more to do with the flavor of the grapes in a particular year.

Finally, any evaporation that takes place during the process is called the “Angel’s Share”.   I thought that was cute!!!

We ended the tour with a tasting of five different Ports……


The placemat had numbered circles on it that were the same size as the base of the glasses so that you could keep track of which ones you liked best. 

On the front row was a White Port, Tawny Port, and a Ruby Port.  The back row contained a 20 year old Port and a Date Port (2011).  Both Michael and I enjoyed the 20 year old best……IMG_4662

…although Michael didn’t get to drink much of his since he still had to drive us home!!

Wayne and Kathie had a hard time picking their favorite although they had a FUN time tasting them……


We left Porto and headed back to Vila Do Conde with the idea that we were finished for the evening.  But then we decided to go out to dinner at another local restaurant (Paira Mar).  This one had been suggested by Jose on the first day and Wayne and Kathie had been there the night before and loved it.  SO, we had to give it a try.

Each couple ordered a “Half Dose” of a grilled steak and this is what we were given….DSC07530

….along with Rice and Black Beans!!   And remember, this was HALF of the order!!!

We waddled back to the apartment and fell happily into bed.    Our sleep that night was a bit disrupted by impromptu drag races going on outside of our window…..boys will be boys!!!   I was sure glad that our car wasn’t parked on the street!!!

2 thoughts on “Rainy day in Porto….

  1. The bridge is stunning and I liked seeing the rowing sculls being taken across the road.I think there was a film named Angel's Share based on that idea. I will have to check that one.

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