En Route to Porto

Trip Start Mar 01, 2014
Trip End Apr 05, 2014

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Flag of Portugal  , Northern Portugal,
Friday, March 28, 2014

The sun was shining when we left for Porto this morning around 9:00 a.m. and decided to take the "slower" route, more scenic and Tony had discovered about half way, there would be the best place for roast suckling pig. He was so excited about his lunch stop and rightfully so. 

The drive was very pleasant, lots of little villages along the way, some larger cities, all with their own special character. Rolling pastures, lots of sheep, industrial areas where anything made of clay is made, wind farms along side old fashioned windmills - I like the old fashioned ones better - lots of used car lots in the cities, crazy drivers and gardening centres. It was very interesting with a little bit of everything. For the first time we encountered an accident, surprising to us, our first.

We also discovered traffic jams, a few. I think the reasons for this varied. One because the traffic lights were out of sync. In some areas lights are used to control the traffic going through the smaller towns and give locals the opportunity to get about. Truly the IC2 has disrupted some city life, not just because of the tourists but I believe because of the many trucks that pass this way. I think they are avoiding the toll roads as they are expensive and toll booths are at the oddest mileage points. One other reason was because we got behind a city bus. I did not mind this as I loved watching the people get off. Backpacks, grocery bags, shopping bags, lunch boxes, children, everyone was carrying something as they were making their way home at the end of the day.

When we got to Mealhada there were signs on both sides of the road for Tony's favourite pork delight. Recommended was Pedro's a family business for over fifty years. A lot of people travel to Pedro's and we now know why. The waitresses are all in uniform, including white collars, aprons and sensible white shoes just like Mel's Diner, pencil behind their ear or in the pocket, loved it! It is a happening place and the "girls" know a lot of the customers names. We order the roast and the waitress knows exactly how much we need, it is sold by the kilo so every order is weighed before it is brought to your table. The roast was succulent, the skin crispy and the seasoning subtle and just right. Needless to say we knew this would be dinner as well. With the roast, warm homemade chips and a crisp fresh salad we were done. Yummy again!

Off we go still on the back roads route. After a wrong turn we take a little bit of a detour through Porto before reaching our accommodation. (Apparently "go here and pointing" isn't specific enough, one has to say out loud, turn right). Could have been worse.....we arrive to another beautiful city located on the Douro River, we are greeted with big smiles, a warm welcome and a glass of Port. After all we are in Porto.  

We are staying in a Pousada. They are a special type of lodging that come in four categories: historic, historic design, charm and nature. Historic Pousadas are housed in converted castles, convents or palaces. They are known for excellent service and luxury accommodation. We are in the Pousada Do Porto Freixo Palace, dated from 1742, and declared a National Monument in 1910. It is outstanding, our suite is luxurious and I am feeling like a very spoiled princess. It is a very important monument in the city of Porto and one of the most beautiful examples of Baroque. There are turrets in each of the four corners, all with a different facade. Tomorrow we will explore the grounds and I will take some photos. It is too late when we arrive to explore outside! We were having too much fun exploring our suite.

The first thing I see when the door opens is a gorgeous bouquet of tulips and freesia from Debbie and Mike. Thank you. The interiors of the guest rooms are modern, kind of funky and cool considering the age of the palace. We love it. The view outside our balcony is of the Douro River overlooking the gardens. There is an entrance to the balcony from the living room and another from the bedroom. We unpack because this will be our home for five sleeps. After checking all of this out we decide to head downstairs for a drink - there is a knock at the door. Did we forget something?

Chocolate fondue, strawberries and champagne. What more can I say? We added a banana we brought with us and enjoyed what was a great dessert and a fine toast to this week. Tony is now watching an old Superman movie and I have the tv on in the bedroom. We are unwinding and yes we are even laughing over the detours we have taken today.

We arrived here in sunshine and we have tonight, experienced a brief rain with a slamming thunder and vivid lightening show over the Douro River. Amazing! The flashing of the lightening fills up our view from the floor to ceiling windows and the shadow of the palace hovers over the garden and the river below. I feel like I am in a movie waiting to hear the pounding hooves of horses carrying my prince back home after some battle. Oh wait, he is here! 

As you can tell, I get lost in my thoughts. While I have a nice hot bath I will think about tomorrow...
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Karen on

All I can say is WOW!

Katie on

Wow is right, sounds like a great start to your next adventure!!

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