Sunday, April 27, 2008

I Ate Cat Food in Porto

Well, not exactly cat food. I think. 'Pate do Sardinha.' Sardine Pate. Looked like catfood. Smelled like catfood. Even came in a small-ish tin like catfood. Kinda tasted what (I think) catfood tastes like.

Needless to say, this aspect of my lunch while in Porto on Saturday was very brief. The smoked oysters, cheeses, and fresh baguette-were however, simply amazing. And, this was just the appetiser that everyone gets. wow. Lunch actually consisted of grilled trout and fresh, boiled baby potatoes. yum. I had lunch at this cute cafe on the Duoro River. What a beautiful city. I'm getting ahead of myself...

I spent this past weekend in Porto, Portugal. A very quick weekend. Flew in Friday nite, and back to London Sunday morning. So, when all was said & done, I basically had one full day in Porto. Which is fine-it's so small, that a day is possible to hit the good stuff (read: port cellers).

My hotel, Grand Hotel de Paris was fantastic. Shabby, but quirky (note the toilet seat covers as wall decorations on the pic below). The weather was *perfect*-even if I didn't really pack for it. The jeans were too hot, and I didn't bring sunblock-so I got fried a bit. But, who cares? The weather was amazing!

My Saturday started with a late-ish (9a) breakfast-and what a breakfast!-for only 40 pounds a night, the spread was VERY impressive. I think I ate the equivalent to Vienna Sausages (for the first time in 25 years...), banana flambe, crepes, a fried egg, cheese, and tomatoes. Yum. After breakfast, I headed down to the Grand Cathedral-which was on the way down to the riverfront, and while there spied one of the local trolley's as it rode by. From here, I headed down to the riverfront for a stroll, and then crossed the bridge to the Villa Nova de Gaia-the town across the bridge where all of the port cellars are. The focus of my day. :)

I started out at Calem, where I got a tour, and the low-down on how to make port, where it's made, and the differences. Then the tasting began. It's barely 11a, and I'm the only person on the English speaking tour, so it's really just me and my guide 'hanging out' with a few glasses of Port. I've decided I'm not much of a fan of white port, and even though tawny is the only port I've had until this trip, it is also my favorite.

After Calem, I *hiked* a ways up to Taylor, where I had more port (including a new, pink variety. eh), and then decided I'd head further up the road to try just one more place. By now, it's getting to be close to 2p, and I'm starting to get tipsy. :) Last stop, Wiese & Krohn (Krohn is the only one I've ever heard or seen-or even tasted). All I can say is, yum. Really liked all the ones I tasted here-a white, a blend, and a tawny. Yum. Plus, the cute, 20-something who was fluent in 4 languages and had muscles out to *there* certainly didn't hurt....

After all the drinking, I head back across to the bridge to Porto, and eventually stop at one of the restaurants on the river where I have the afore mentioned cat food. By now, it's pushing 4p, and I've been trudging around since 9.30a. In jeans and easily 80 degree weather. Time to go drop off my purchases, change into something cooler, and take a few minutes to relax. Out again at 4.30 to head to the shopping district. Where, try as I might to find some fun clothes and shoes (the prices really are super cheap in Portugal, Carolyn!), the styles are just to 'European' for me. So, I settle for some perfume that I know is cheaper than duty free. By now, it's pushing 6p, and since stores close at 6p, it's time for me to leave. I stop at a cafe on the way back to the hotel for a beer. I'm still stuffed from dinner, so I figure the beer will be all I need for dinner, but I also decide to hit up the local bakery on the way back to the hotel to pick up 'dessert.' A mini-cream puff and mini -eclair. yum.

Back to the hotel around 7.30p, where by now, I'm soo pooped thanks to the combo of heat, full tummy, and alcohol that I pretty much hit the bed with a book, and only move to take a shower and pack.

All in all, it was like an extended me-day that just happened to be in a beautiful city. I can't complain!

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