I arrived in Porto, Portugal (or Oporto, depending on where you hail from) late Friday night and was greeted with a giant hug from Charlie and Sofia upon exiting the train. I met this pair two years ago on an airplane from Zurich to Prague, and we kept in touch via Facebook ever since. We began out tour of Porto by heading to the riverside for a bite of food and a little drink before heading home. The next day, we bagan out tour of Porto and a larger part of Portugal. We headed out to the Douro Valley, where the the rolling hill are covered with vineyards
The Douro River flows through the bottom.
Charlie took us to a look out point that had a nearly 360 degree view of the valley.
That valley and myself.
A church sat at the top of this hill. Also, this was a place of inspiration from a famous Portugese writer. The main highway running through the valley. A small village in the hills.
After we toured the wine country, we went to a restaurant run by a vineyard owner. You don't have to ask for a nice house wine, because it comes with the meal. We had several courses and lots of wine! One of the dishes was lamb that had been braised in wine, giving it a dark red hue. We began and ender this massive meal with a small glass of port wine, the wine most dearly produced in and around Porto.
Next we came back to the city center of Porto to see the old town. Many churches and old public buildings have these beautiful portraits painted on the porcelain walls in blue ink.
An old street leading down to the the Douro river that empties into the Atlantic Ocean just down stream. On our way to a perch that overlooked the city of Porto, I found these beautiful flowers and little friend. Looking north to Porto. The old boats that the vineyards would use to ship the wine barrels from the vineyards to the cellars for storage. Sofia and Charlie. Aren't they cute?
An unknown building near the look out point. The old areas of Porto. Charlie ruined his candid photos, so he had to pose. Offely, one of the wine cellars in Porto. At the conclusion of day one, we ended at Charlie and Sofia's house to watch the Portugal vs. Germany. Sadly, Portugal lost, but Charlie, a huge soccer fan, kept his disappointment contained.
For lunch on the second day, we went to Sofia's parent's house. They had a wonderful meal for us, complete with plenty of wine and conversation. Afterwards, Charlie, Sofia's father and I jammed out to some classic American songs. How cool! Thank you Sofia for the wonderful photo.
Further along our tour, Charlie wanted to show me their dancing skills.
The ceiling inside the Portugese Photography museum, which occupies a building that once was a prison. Charlie wanted to me to see the city from the top of an old tower in the old area of Porto, but it was only open for 5 more minutes when we got there. We paid the guard and ran 150 steps to the top of the tower, testing our physical abilities! The guard said he would lock us inside if we didn't make it down in five minutes...we did make it out in time!
One view from the tower. Another view. The tower itself. Another church with the beautiful painted walls. We stumbled across this delicacy which was a cherry liqueur that you pour into a chocolate cup. You drink half of the liquid, them eat the cup with the rest of the juice inside. It tasted just like the chocolate covered cherries that everyone sells around Christmas time. Very yummy!
A pretty house near a park
We met up with Sofia's cousin and continued seeing all that Porto has to offer. This art is right next to the ocean and is a massive fishing net over the center of a round about.
The Atlantic Ocean.
The sunset was beautiful!
Part of the beachfront promenade.
More of the sunset.
Charlie, Sofia, and Sofia's cousin.
One of the many larges houses found along the beachfront in Porto.
The next day, Charlie was busy in the morning so Sofia took me to a different area of the beach. There was a chapel right in the ocean! Further down, I found some nice rocks that the ocean was raging against. I got a little too close to them to get a good shot. This was right before my camera and I got blasted with ocean water! Good thing are both weather proof!
Back in Porto, one of the wine transport boats up close with the mouth of the Douro river in background.
This gentleman (and his cute puppy) had been on the road for over a year. He started in England and worked his way down to Iberia, stopping during the winter to work and wait for better weather. What a trooper!
To finish off my visit before catching an outbound train, we visited the Calem wine cellar. This was my first wine cellar experience and it was really cool! I can't wait to go visit some of the vineyards and wineries in the Hill Country.
These bottles are 1870, 1920, and 2000, respectively. That' ought to be some good wine in those bottles!
Some of these barrels are massive! The gauges on the front are used to show how much liquid is inside, and how many smaller barrels will be needed to house the wine inside. Charlie and I at our tasting at the conclusion of our tour! Porto was great! I want to thank Charlie and Sofia for being amazing hosts. They drove me all over Portugal to see their country. They fed me, entertained me, showed me their home and so much more. Thank you very much for all you did!
After Porto, I headed to Madrid for a few hours and then to the southern coast of Spain to Algeciras to begin my trek to Africa! I'll have a blog on that soon!