Trying the port wine in Portugal
I have been away for the last week traveling as much as I can. Unfortunately the weather in UK has been so bad that you need some days off somewhere sunny in order to get back to normality and remember how summer must be.
I was looking for a place to combine it with sun, good food and nice sea for scuba diving. So after a lot of consideration and double checking on ticket prices, Portugal was the place.
My trip involved Porto and Lisbon, the capital and the second biggest city of Portugal. Arriving in Porto I thought I would see a big city. Well, it was a big city but it wasn’t one that you will get lost at it. It manages to keep its character and you think it’s a small village rather than the second biggest city of the country.
A big part for that plays the river of Douro that splits the city in two and gathers all the life of the city around its shores. There you can find all the bars and restaurants you want and have a nice glass of wine under the sun next to the river.
You can understand by getting into the city that the river divides the city also to the side that consumes the wine, and the side that makes it as there are lots of signs indicating the winery’s that you can see them from far away. On the southern side of the city you have Vila Nova De Gaia where all the important wineries have their offices. You can easily go there and they will show you around and explain how they make their wine, that special Port wine. Obviously you can taste the wine from each winery for 3€-5€ in most of them which combining with the sun can be heaven. Trust me i managed to go to three of them and then it was pretty difficult to find my way home…
I tried Taylors winery and Burmester… amongst others.. Yeah Yeah I know, Taylor’s is an English name, that’s what I thought also when I first saw that sign in Porto. Nevertheless, it is one of the oldest winery’s and one of the best I have ever tried. Then again, if i want to be honest, i would love any wine over there under the hot sun…
As far as food is concerned I should speak about A GRADE (Rua de S. Nicolau, 9), one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten behind the church of St Nicolau near the river
Obviously the food was great and you should try any of the fish plates they have but it’s the family atmosphere that makes it so special. The father is on the bar and the mother is cooking right just next to you. They only have 4 tables inside so you will always feel that you are in a family food party rather than a restaurant. So you will get extra attention always with a smile.
Personally I had the cod and the mix salad which was great but I have heard that I should have tried the octopus in the oven. Well, next time I will. All in all, it was a great restaurant to try something local without a lot of fuss.
Travelling down to Lisbon my main target was to make some scuba diving on the shores of Sezimbra which is a little bit more to the south. Making scuba is a magnificent experience and if you haven’t done it I highly recommend it. Diving and enjoying the underwater life over there is an experience that is hard to explain. I am still waiting for the photos from the dive center…hopefully ill have them soon…
Lisbon on the other hand is as beautiful as they say, a huge city that you need days to explore on its full. The castle even if its not one of the biggest I have seen but it has been there for a while, against all kinds of enemies. Also the views that you get from there of the city are simple staggering.
One of the must see places in Lisbon is the monastery of Jeronimos which is simply huge and a magnificent achievement that has been declared a UNESCO national heritage. Don’t miss it as well as getting lost on the streets of Alfama.
The Alfama district of Lisbon is the place of the city where you can go and walk endlessly in small streets and find hidden pasteries waiting for you. I am not sure if at the time when I was over there they had any sort of celebration but the locals had a constant party. The people made their backyards restaurants where you could taste local food and listen to live music.
All in all Portugal was a great country to be with so many things to see that you need certainly more than 6 days… Coming back to London I was always thinking the sweet combination of the port wine with the cod that I tried in Porto but that’s how holidays are.
The good old rainy weather of London welcomed me back to reality.
Next time you come to Porto, just drop me a not, I’ll give you a list of the best (and cheap) Porto typical restaurants. As a local, I know what I’m talking about :p