Jun 15, 2019

You must drink Port in Porto

During our first full day here in Porto, I walked over seven miles.  Despite the very cool 56F day, we started the day with an excellent free walking tour with ‘simply b UNIQUE’ which is different in that the tour is held to a maximum of 12 people and you are free to ask questions about anything you want including information on other buildings you are interested in and given many recommendations as well as not to do certain things as it is a waste of time or money.  We ended up taking Juliana’s advice on where to go for lunch as well as a port cellar tour.

One of the main squares we met at to start the tour.

This is the Sao Bento train station, a major train hub in the middle of Porto and considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.  There are over 22,000 blue tiles (colored with cyanide and magnesium – the artists did not live long ) that are individually painted than individually  baked.  It took five years to put this jig saw puzzle of tiles together.  They have been here one hundred years and depict different scenarios of Portuguese history and lifestyle.

The first McDonalds in Porto is in the business district and was not wanted. They eventually made a deal in 1995, for 30 years, to take over the prestigious Imperial Cafe which had gone broke.  They were finally allowed to lease the location provided they did not change the exterior ( other than adding a sign ) nor the interior.  So it still has chandeliers and stained glass windows.  It is very elegant.  What will happen in five years?  Chances are that it will revert back to a high end cafe.

Gold filigree is an art here and this is called the heart of Venice, Portugal and is a prominent piece of jewelry design in the country.  The oldest daughter in a family is given gifts of gold all her life and then passes that onto her eldest daughter and so on.  The other daughters receive nothing.

The inside of one of the poor churches. One of the churches has one ton of gold in its displays.  You can visit for 5  Euro, we did not.

I think the name of this shop might be Portuguese Edibles ???  A brother who was a chef and a sister who was an artist collaborated and came up with the idea of putting jam in a paint tube!  However the sweet is mixed with fruits, spices like chili and ginger, chocolate, honey and more.  We got to sample over a dozen, wonderful to taste but we could not see ourselves purchasing this to top cheeses, pancakes, nor ice cream or whatever.  Great concept. Julianna, our tour guide is in the red.

The city is most photogenic.

Taken from the middle of the bridge.

…and from across the Douro River in Gaia.

We crossed on the lower level of the bridge.  You can also cross on the top level but then you have to walk down, which is easier than walking up.

After the tour we walked along the Ribeira waterfront and walked over the Ponte de Luis 1 on the lower level to Gaia. Colin was in his element with so much to photograph. It slowly warmed up and eventually my jacket came off and finally my socks. I kept my sweater on all day. We stopped for lunch at one of the many restaurants, Bacalhoeiro (you can check it out on Trip Advisor ), along what I called the malecon. Our plan was to enjoy a lovely bottle of Portuguese wine along with two different preparations of the Bacalao/codfish, one of the main dishes that Porto is known for.  We relaxed with the wine enjoying the views and were overwhelmed when our meals arrived, hence no photos. The food was served in two hot casseroles from which we served ourselves. We were able to easily share and enjoy the cuisine. The fish was good but chewy at times. It is prepared from dry salted cod. Our tour guide told us that she has never tasted fresh cod. Colin said he would try it again but if I did it would be a shredded cod in a different presentation.

This bottle of wine was only ten Euro and is one of the best wines we have enjoyed to date.

The servings were large and we were unable to eat it all. Feeling very full we walked to the other end of the water front, then decided to take a port tour. There are many cellars to chose from. Our host had suggested Graham’s, Taylor’s or Ferreira which was the port we had purchased the night prior. We happened to be right there and went in. There are different levels of tasting from the classic tour with two tastings for 12  Euro or three for 16 Euro with the option of spending more money for up to five tastings at 22 Euro. The next English tour was not for another hour and there was no place to sit, so we left.

As we kept walking to find our port tasting we saw this patio restaurant that offered five tastings for only five Euro. We made note of the location with plans to return.

Our tour guide had suggested Ramos Pinto, one of the few original Portuguese port cellars, so we walked there. The tour was in 30 minutes and for 12 Euro it included two tastings.  They also sold various ports by the glass from 2 Euro and up. Colin was told ( I was already sitting down in the interesting wait area – resting) that two of the three 2EUR ports were the ones in the tasting and that the third choice, the ruby was the lesser of the three. So he made an executive decision and ordered two glasses of the ten year old port at 4EUR each to enjoy as we waited. It was wonderful but I would not suggest that you do this until after you have had your two tastings. They were no where near as rich as the ten year old port of which we still remembered the smell and the taste.

This is the entrance to Ramos Pinto, the building is from 1708 and the port wine cellar started in 1880.

Pre tour we enjoyed the RP10, a tawny port made with grapes coming from Quinta de Ervamoira, a blend with an average of 10 years. It has hints of  the Orient and spices as well as exotic aromas.

The tour started with the museum in which we were not allowed to take photos. I asked why not and the guide, Danielle had no idea why and told us to take a few photos if we wanted to. The owner had three passions, wine, art and the female body. It was unheard of back in 1880 to have photos like this in an office.  He also has posters of his bottle labels which were not appropriate back in the day. We saw that main office with all of the original pieces of furniture and equipement, his office and so many very neat things that makes the tour well worth the price.

A fun time in the cellars.

The Tawny port is aged in these casks and aged from between five to thirty years and then blended together with an average age of ten years.  The white and ruby ports age for less time and also in much larger casks and in this case in another area off these premises.

We are relaxing after the tour with our white port and tawny port tastings.

In order to celebrate its 135 years, Ramos Pinto decided to make public three historic bottles.  Show here is first the harvest of 1880, when the company was established and is offered at 5000EUR/5,619.00USD and the 1935 harvest is selling at 3000EUR. The third bottle is from the 1924 vintage and is offered at 3500EUR. They have to be really great ports at those prices.

By then I really was tired and needed to get back home so we walked back to the bridge where the taxi stand was and paid 3.5 EUR to be driven up the steep hill to the metro station.  Home was only seven minutes away. Neither of us needed nor wanted dinner after such a large lunch.  So we relaxed with some wine and a bit more port before bed.

This photo was taken as we were landing in Porto.  Pretty neat logo.

Actually the Europeans do many unique things that set them apart from the US and Canada.  They are to be commended.

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “You must drink Port in Porto”

  1. Maxx Trails says:

    That is a nice McDonalds, I’m glad they made them keep it that way.

  2. Beautiful city – I did love the white port you can get in Portugal. Salt cod is not my favorite dish there, was quite gross. If you go to the supermarket you can see it dried stacked up ready for purchase.

  3. George Yates says:

    Interesting train station and a fun tour, those wines sure sound interesting. And should be for the price.

  4. Kathryn Tycho says:

    Really enjoyed your day with you!

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