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Around the World in 210 Days

Sipping Porto on the port of Porto, Portugal

PORTUGAL | Tuesday, 30 October 2007 | Views [1023] | Comments [11]

After a very early morning, we happily arrived in Porto and found ourselves on the Porto transportation system. We had attempted to buy two single tickets, and instead bought two journeys for one person. Andrew was completely nonchalant about this state of affairs, while I peered fearfully at each stop for the controllers who would come take us to ticket hell. Surprisingly, we weren't arrested. After getting off at a stop about 15 minutes from our hotel, I was very happy that I had the rolling bag. Andrew on the other hand, was beginning to understand why polygamy is so popular around the world--more people to carry the bags. We rolled up to our hotel...the Residencial Rex, no less. And I don't use the words "rolled up" lightly. In going from the subway to the hotel, we went up at least four hills. We trudged into the hotel, and again I began to worry. After our four star dive in Marseille, you can imaging that the transition from molding to moulding caught me by surprise. Andrew however was not in the mood to question further. We were told we could pay the bill in the morning. We were given our key (which resembled something from an agatha christie movie in the 60's, we let ourselves into the room, and gasped. I tried to keep Andrew from sitting on the bed. I was certain, this was not the right hotel room. We had paid 36 Euro, and the room had a TV, WITH ENGLISH movies, AND, it had its own bathroom, replete with sink, bidet, shower, tub, and toilet, and the entire room had 15 foot high moulded ceilings. I sent Andrew on a mission to make sure we were in the right hotel. When we checked in, the hotel clerk had pretended they were full. We weren't sure they knew who we were. Andrew came back from his mission, glumly, the clerk had assured him he could pay in the morning. I was dreading the next morning, but what are you going to do? Watch a movie of course...we plopped down on the bed, and turned on the first English TV we had seen in over a month. An hour or so later, after we had our second wind, we turned over our hotel key (a requirement at this hotel/renovated mansion) and walked down the road in search of the free port we had heard of. We weren't worried about losing anything, as the pillows cost more than our luggage. It goes to show you what we will do for free wine, Andrew and I thought Port was a dry red wine, something both of us dislike. Nevertheless we were entranced with the town which appeared to be sleeping. Few occupants were outside in the sun (which was brighter than any we had seen before, although not hot), and we were tramping down alleyways filled with clean clothing flapping above us, in beautiful reds and blues. The buildings were like none we had ever seen before, their facade was not the brick or wood we were accustomed to, rather tiles in vibrant yellows, and blues. It was like being in a bathroom (Not one in Marseille, but somewhere else).
We started down free-wine alley and stopped at any wine house that had the words gratuit or libert in front of the wine tasting. The first house we stopped in, had tables made of old wine casks. We happily asked for a free wine tasting and sat down to a lunch of wine samples and stale crackers. We were so happy when we discovered that 1) there was white port, and 2) port was sweet. We toasted it in fact, and thanked the proprietor kindlly. I forgot to mention that we walked down a very steep set of hills to get to the wine house, we assumed that we would drink enough port that going up wouldn't be a problem. Anyhow, we continued on to the next wine houses and went on a free english language tour. There we learned the following fascinating facts:

1) Basic Ruby port--mixture of several harvests is left in a big barrel for about four years, and is dark red in color as most of its contact comes from the other wine, rather than the barrel. It can be drunk immediately

2) Port is then separated and either bottled, where it can continue to age for up to 4-6 years which is called long bottle vintage. (This can come with sediment (unfiltered) or without (filtered).

3. Tawny -- named because of its color. This is also mixed with other port before being barreled for 4-40 years wherein the continuous contact with the barrel causes its color to lighten. It is not from a single harvest.

4)White Port -- is like Ruby port, except it comes from basically white grapes, and is used as an apertif.

5) Colheitas -- these are the fancy ports, from a single harvest which could be kept for hundreds of years, and surprisingly aren't on the free tasting menus. Therefore we have no way of vouching for their quality.

Ok that's all we learned in Porto, oh and that you don't quite get enough free port to make up for the walk back home.

The next morning, we ate our free breakfast, and sighed with relief that our bill was not higher than we expected. We happily bundled ourselves up, and headed down the hill to the trainstation. Three hours later we entered the city of Lisbon. but that as they say in the business of blog writing is for another blog.

Tags: Mountains




there will never be enough wine to be drank when having to return home uphill unless you are in a car or buggy. I am happy to hear that you guys had a wonderful room on your budget. what is the food like and did you every get a friendly shopping bag. i really thought about sending you the one i have that folds very flat and has wheels but alas i would have had to leave the camera out so although it was a tough choice you will get the camera. are you by any chance going to get down by gibraltar? if so will you get me a piece of the rock. i am afraid that with all the drinking you two are doing without pictures you really won't remember this trip very well. on the other hand is the drinking the reason the other camera got broke? i was really hoping that the transportation problem you two seem to have would have been left in france but i see it has followed you, maybe it will be your travel partner to show you parts of the world that you otherwise would miss, so is it a blessing or curse. thank you for letting us know that there is another blog to follow soon. love to you both mom

  mardi Oct 31, 2007 2:58 AM


uh I mean...
Great Post!

I am glad you guys are finally getting some sophistication.
I am a west Odessa oilfield trash kind of guy raised by Southern Baptists and even I knew Port is sweet!

PS - Alex I made a list for you of times when you should worry:

1. When "Andrew is completely nonchalant about this state of affairs"

2. see number one

  Richard King Oct 31, 2007 5:16 AM


I am just wondering.
Do they celebrate HELLoween in Portugal?
If they do I imagine you two will be going door to door looking for wine.

In the same way I was too lazy to walk to the library back in college I am now too lazy to check the Googly or wikipedia so let me know.
If you do not answer this you will probably wake up tomorrow to find toilet paper strewn all over your room.

Remember there are people in New York, Arlington VA, Washington DC, the Mojave Desert, Pennsylvania, Austin, greater Lubbock and other parts of West Texas and who knows where else just reading this everyday to learn about other cultures and to see how long Alex can put up with Andrew.

  Rrrrricardo Nov 1, 2007 12:40 AM


You guys have it made. Here in our part of the neighborhood instead of door-to door wine tasting we have door-to door theives. I'm guessing yours is the better deal...

not much new here - love you guys.

  Sandy Nov 1, 2007 2:48 AM


Bom dia,
Neat post, you learn something almost everyday.

  Lefty Nov 1, 2007 3:04 AM


happy halloween, i am so sorry your internet is down. so when it comes up here is a link you might like for a great game. will talk to you in two weeks richard keep up the nagging for the post i want a lot to read about when we get home.keep parker and i in your prayers as we fly off to africa. love to you all.

  mardi Nov 1, 2007 9:18 AM


So you guys are off the internet?
I am boycotting Micky D's until they get you back online.
Since Mardi left a link I will too.
I know you guys don't get to see many movies in English
and I know Andrew kind of likes the cinema arts to I am going to suggest this:

  Richard King Nov 1, 2007 11:43 PM


To the reading public:

No sooner than I posted the post above I got a call from Traveling Andy or Andrew as you guys know him. I learned this valuable info;
1. he was sitting in a McDonalds
2. Alex is over her cold
3. they are not broke yet

That is the total amount of info that I got.

  Richard Nov 2, 2007 4:21 AM


To whom it may concern (like the seventy plus people who have read this latest entry)

The word on the streets of Lubbock from our spies in Lisbon is there was a party that the two travelers attended on Halloween (or Reformation Day depending on your preference.)

They are going to report eventually but they are currently in mourning over a value added tax that was placed on a package they received. It contained their camera. The Postal people apparently thought it contained Gold, Silver, several kilos of weed and some Franincense and Myrhh. So they paid out a lot of Big Mac money.

  Rrrricardo Nov 3, 2007 5:00 AM


OR the above post did NOT happen but was a cruel hoax done by Andrew my former son.

  Richard Nov 3, 2007 5:21 AM


Here people.
The crazy laid back Kings never post so entertain yourself with these:



  Mystery Man Nov 4, 2007 6:00 AM

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