Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wonderful day and night exploring Porto!!

This is being written from our home in Mexico, somehow our time in Portugal was go, go, go and we didn't keep up with our Blog!  But for our sake we are going to do some catch up and going to edit what we've already written so we'll have a nice memory for the future (heck, for now too, I've already forgotten a lot and we've only been home for 5 days)!!

Dinning Room
June 13th - Arrived in Porto last night, walked to a grocery store and bought some Wine, cheese & crackers to eat in our room, too tired to go out exploring.   This morning we went down for breakfast, what a beautiful DR and LR room this Castle has.  Breakfast appeared abundant but when you got down to it, it wasn't much. The same old breakfast rolls, ham and cheese slices, very little fruit and the coffee nothing to write home about.  We can't wait to get back to Mexico, we sure do eat well there!  I noticed that the other guests from all parts of Europe didn't greet the staff with Bom Dia (Portuguese) but with 'Morning'.  I found that odd but I guess its Universal.

We walked down our street heading towards the Historic Area, beautiful, old charm in an old city!  In our wanderings we walked right to the Train Station, this was good because we were meeting Peggy and Eric here tonight, now we know where it is! The lobby of the Station was filled with beautiful tiles showing the history of Portugal.  Found the T.I. and picked up a map then sat in an outside cafe for a cup of coffee and do a little planning. Of course Howard had a Pastel de Nata with his coffee, he is addicted. I wanted to see 2 things...the bookstore Lellos and the fanciest McDonald's ever.  We had both circled on our map and headed out to explore the city.  We found Mc'D's easy, it was very elegant because it took the place of the Imperial Cafe, fun to see.

We wandered around Avenida dos Aliados, many beautiful, old buildings surrounded this street and at the top was the City Hall.  From here we wandered thru the many little winding streets in search of the bookstore, Lellos.  It has been written up for the beautiful building that its in.  Unfortunately, I think that fame has gotten to the owners and photos are no longer allowed to be taken ;(.  We enjoyed a short visit there and almost bought a beautiful, coffee table book about Portugal and its Wine Country.  From here we wandered towards a Church we had noticed and found the Igreja dos Carmelita's, another beautiful church to admire.  We enjoyed wandering thru the neighborhoods and parks, people watching and always in AWE of the gorgeous, old architecture.

We were getting hungry and decided to head towards 'La Ribeira', the waterfront.  We enjoyed the walk (it was all downhill) and sat outside for lunch and a beer.  Much to our amusement a couple of musicians were playing the accordion and singing "Besame Mucho", a favorite here in Mexico!    We had beautiful views from our table of the many bridges in Porto, the boats, Gaia, across the river .....

From here we walked across the bridge and went to Vila Nova de Gaia where most of the Port makers have their Showrooms and Tours.  We went into Calem and waited for the next tour.  The tour was very interesting and of course ended with tastings.  We discovered that we liked the White Port, not sure we'll find it in Mexico or the U.S.
We were meeting Peggy and Eric for dinner tonight so we decided we better head back and rest a little before heading out again.  Luckily for us there was a Funicular on the other side of the bridge that would take us back up to the top of town ;).  Plus Howard loves taking all the different kinds of transportation they have here.  Once at the top, an old fashioned trolley was waiting for us, why not, we took it around town one full circle then got off to walk back to our 'Castle'.

Who is this handsome guy on the trolley??

On our way we saw a Metro station (hadn't tried that yet in Porto) so we went down the stairs and down some more to find our line.  We had to transfer lines to get to our closest station but eventually we ended up at the Metro closest to us. It was fun but not sure it saved any time, we probably could have walked there in the same amount (or less) of time.  But my honey was happy and if he's happy, I'm happy!!  BTW, all this public transport on one ticket, about $1.50!!  One of the few deals we found in Spain/Portugal!
Back at our 'Castle', we sat in the Garden and relaxed, the grounds were very pretty.

Soon it was time to head out again and meet our Blogging Friends, Peggy and Eric.  They are from MN. and have lived in Northern Portugal, Braga, for the last 9 1/2 months.  Eric is on sabbatical and Peggy as his kept woman/wife has kept a blog of all their travels (actually so did Eric).  I found their blog once we decided to go to Portugal and have been following their adventures.  Because of them we decided to come to Northern Portugal and they were kind enough to meet us for dinner here in Porto.  We left for the Train Station, thinking we knew were it was!  But first we stopped at a tiny, little Bar just down the street from our 'Castle' for a quick drink.  The owner had a fabulous collection of bottles and many, different tropical things hanging everywhere from the ceiling.

Unfortunately our memory, from this morning, didn't serve us well and we found ourselves blocks from the Train Station just minutes from when we were supposed to be there.  I ran ahead so we wouldn't be too late, didn't want them to think we weren't coming and found them in the lobby.  I felt like they were old friends, I've read so much about them.  Once Howard arrived we started walking to the restaurant.  It was fun talking to them and sharing our experiences.   They had chosen a restaurant that they frequented when they were in Porto, Braga is an 60 minute train ride away.   We chatted and ate a wonderful meal, drank Vinho Verde out of the barrel (at the table it was in a glass Jug) and enjoyed the very friendly owner/chef.  She and her daughter's own and run the restaurant.   The Mother enjoyed chatting with us, in Portuguese. I think that Peggy and Eric understood enough and she knew that they were going back to MN so it was a sad night for them.  She ended up giving us a tour of  the 300 year old building next door.  On the 3rd level she had an apt. remolded, it was wonderful, very modern and beautiful views. A wonderful experience, the whole night!

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