Friday, April 24, 2015

Bus tour includes obligatory port tasting

On our second day in Porto we clambered back on the yellow bus, this time following the ‘historic’ route through Porto. Perhaps the best part was along the waterfront with its fishing boats and restaurants before crossing one of the six bridges across the Douro to the town of Gaia. This is a very important spot as it is the centre of the port trade. By port, I mean the port you drink. Sandemans, Taylor's and Cockburns figured prominently just to name a few. Along the front were wine tasting ‘caves’, restaurants and some of the vessels once used to transport the port barrels. Larger, motorized versions of these boats now take tourists for river cruises.

We picked a spot right on the water to have our lunch. Looking back on Porto it can only be described as picture perfect. This time I had dorado — sea bream — served once again with cabbage, potatoes and rock salt. Not to complain as the fish was very good, although I don't like crunching on rock salt.

After thoroughly exploring the waterfront we headed up a very long hill to the Cockburn's Port Lodge or Caves as the Portuguese call it. We were ushered into an area of huge French oak barrels, where the port is aged. The smell was amazing. Depending on the type of port, after eighteen months it may be bottled or transferred to smaller barrels. Some port remains in the barrel for twenty years. During this time the vintner taps the port and dates the tasting date on the outside of the barrel. Our tour finished with a tasting of two kinds of port. One was quite nice while the other was a bit strong for my taste.

Now it was time to head back to the guest house for a much needed nap. 

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