Last stop for bob - Porto, Portugal

Trip Start Feb 02, 2011
Trip End Feb 25, 2011

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Flag of Portugal  , Northern Portugal,
Sunday, February 20, 2011

Friday - 100 miles north of Lisboa is Fatima, the famous pilgrimage site. The site was much larger than i expected - there is a 900 seat basilica and across a plaza larger than St. Peter's in Rome is a modern church seating over 9000 peoole. Luckily, we arrived at the basilica for the end of mass so we were able to receive communion which was a special treat.

We stopped in a beautiful little country restaurant in a small village for codfish in a potato and cream casserole which is a local speciality. Rice pudding and sometimes flan are often the dessert choices. Codfish is used in many dishes and seafood is much more common here than in Spain. they use dried salted codfish in  most dishes - you see large pieces hanging in grocery stores and markets. Apparently, it has to be soaked overnight before cooking but can be stored in the open air for a long time - but it is quite smelly.

Another long drive to the city of Porto in a driving rain storm. Porto is the second largest city  in Portugal, and the name Portugal is derived from the city of Porto. Many dilapidated buildings are present as is also true in many parts of Lisbon which is said to be the result of very strict rent controls (some long time tenants only pay about $150 per month when the going rate for a new tenant would be at least $1000 so landlords with long term tenants cannot afford to keep up the buildings.

Dinner at a local restaurant near the hotel. A so-called  half order of fried octopus, rice, salad and roast potatoes was about $10 and almost more than I could finish. Also had sardine pate with the rolls, each of which you pay for separately. You have to be careful because when you sit down at a table, the waiter will immediately bring a plate of cheese or salami and rolls and butter but you have to pay for each separately (including the butter). The food is really very good and inexpensive but then again the gasoline is $6 to $7 a gallon.

saturday - mostly sunny and the warmest day we have had - about 70 degrres F. Had a city tour of Porto, most of the time at the river front where Felipa, our guide, treated us to a boat ride on the Duro river almost to where it meets the Atlantic ocean. We  had lunch at the same cafe as the previous night - they were out of octopus so Shirley had calamari and I had a veal cutlet (like weiner schneitzel) and "tomato rice" which was really a thick soup.

farewell dinner tonight and very early wake up tomorrow  - Bob flies home tomorrow  and shirley goes on to the island of Madeira (part of portulgal) for 5 more days.

the city of Porto is famous for its tiled buildings - even the delapidated ones have beautiful tiled fronts - we went to one of 17 Port wine houses (private bottlers of port wine) that line the water front for a tour and a tasting - i did not know that there were white as well as red port wines - tawny is the youngest, then ruby, and vintage is the best apparently. We only got the cheap stuff to taste - it is really too sweet for me.

Bob (dictated) and Shirley (edited and "enhanced")
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Lisa Archer on

I've had white port at the winery in Napa (or Sonoma). It is quite good. We used this on one Christmas vacation to make a poached pears in port dish which was very tasty (although an expensive dish with the port we used). Enjoy!

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