The next morning the owner made breakfast for me and an Italian couple that was also there for the night. They complained about the place, and gave me an instant lack of desire for traveling to Italy. After breakfast I wandered up to the castle after stopping at a drugstore to buy more motrin and their version of Tylenol.
The above are pictures of the Convento de Cristo, the home to the legendary Knights Templar, a secret society charged with retaining the secrets and wealth of the church and bankrolling much of the voyages in the 1500s.
My next stop was Coimbra. The former capital of the country, Coimbra is home to the oldest and grandest University in Portugal. Although school was not in session you could definitely feel a younger vibe here. I walked around the university and through some ancient libraries.
The town is built on the side of a hill next to the Rio Mondego. After visiting the university at the top I worked my way down and across the river
Another night of cheese and bread and back to the house for an early sleep. I was starting to feel a bit better, going longer in-between pain medicine.
The next morning I stopped at the Palace Hotel do Bussaco. The luxury hotel, a former summer retreat for royalty, sits in the forest of the same name. I walked the grounds for a couple hours taking pictures before moving on to the town of Aveiro.
Aveiro is the Venice of Portugal with a canal through the city shuffling tourists in Gondola-like boats.
It was a brief stop over. On to the 2nd biggest city in Portugal, Porto. My arrival in Porto was a bit auspicious as I parked the car and rubbed wheel against curb and promptly blew the tire. The last time I traveled (New Zealand) I also blew a tire.
It was a bit embarrassing as I did it right outside a streetside café. I wanted to find a tire store, but it became complicated and I just went to local Hertz dealership where they gave me a new car and said they would just bill me later for the cost of replacing it. I knew that would be 3x what I could get at a tire store. Oh Well.
My Host was late in meeting me, but not a big deal I just sat and drank a few beers and he eventually showed. He lived above a craft beer place that he owned and operated. During the day we went to check out another craft beer place owned by some Americans. They were just getting into the microbrew craze here in Portugal.
I should say a word about Porto. It sits along the Rio Douro river where small boats would unload barrels of Port wine from the inland vineyards to be processed and shipped around the world. The wine gets its name from the city, not the other way around.
Below is a picture of one of Portugal’s claims to fame, Azulejo.It is a Form of Spanish and Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework. Azulejos are found on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary houses, schools, and nowadays, restaurants, bars and even railways or subway stations. They were not only used as an ornamental art form, but also had a specific functional capacity like temperature control in homes.
After dropping my bags off and taking a shower I wanted to walk down along the waterfront. I accidentally went the wrong direction and it took me a good couple hours to figure it out and head the right direction.
I finally found a table at a restaurant near the water had had my customary bottle of wine and seafood pasta
I crossed over the bridge on the to get some shots back toward the city
I was in town for 2 nights. The second day I got up and headed back across the river to do a tour of one of the Port distilleries. I chose Graham’s as it seemed to get the best reviews.
The tour was very informative with a sampling at the conclusion. Basically Port wines can only be grown in this region. There are 4 varieties: White, Rose, Ruby, and Tawny. Grahams focuses on Ruby and Tawny. Ruby are aged in huge vats, Tawny in Wood barrels and vintage (subset of Ruby) in regular wine bottles. The Wine master selects wines after the harvest and determines which are destined to be part of each group. One they are aged, an independent party samples and determines if they are indeed vintage quality. If not they are demoted to Late Bottle Vintage Ruby. These wines are very sweet and high in alcohol content. I was pretty tipsy just sampling a few.
I thought I would come back to Michigan and start drinking Ports and brag about my trip to Porto, but I could not handle a whole glass of this stuff.
I walked back across the bridge and caught the Metro train out to the Atlantic coast for a nice Sardine dinner
Coming back into the city I snapped some shots from on top the bridge
I did not stay out late.