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Friday, 27 September 2013

The Road to Alijo

Our trip from Coimbra to Alijo was mostly on toll roads. While most of these are easy to understand - take a ticket - give up the ticket - pay; there are some toll highways without any stations. There is no way to pay. Since they send a bill based on your license plate, it is best to discuss this ahead of time with your rental agency.

We made only one stop along the way. Leaving Coimbra we continued North and decided to stop for a late lunch. We entered into Viseu, a mid sized modern town in the centre of the Dau wine producing area, found a parking spot and wandered into the older quarter. At the top of a long hill (always at the top) we found a visitors centre who explained all the religious sites that we could see - but thankfully they were all closed for lunch. We explored a warren of streets and finally decided on a busy restaurant that served the local speciality, drunken rabbit, that Monica found in the guide book. One draw back, even though were sitting outside, was the loud TV blaring sports. They agreed to turn it down, but not noticeably. Another patron half way through lunch took it upon himself to turn it down further. We were grateful.

Now drunken rabbit is made with a rabbit marinated in wine for several days and then roasted. Unfortunately Monica's rabbit was dry and tough. Joe's clams were a bit salty, but otherwise quite good. The service was surly and indifferent.

Now on our final leg we left the toll roads and approached Alijos along windy country roads. Alijos is a very small farming village. It was no problem finding the Pousada
Forrester in the centre of town. Our check-in was quick and friendly and our "suite" was modern and comfortable. While not actually a suite it did have a huge rooftop deck with a couch and two lounging chairs overlooking Alijo's local community pool, tennis courts and the Douro hills. It was a great place to sip wine and relax. But first we took a walk around town. It didn't take long and it was interesting to see groups of men everywhere just hanging out on the streets socializing. It was like going back in time.

Dinner our first night was at the Pousada. The food was traditional and very good. Monica ate Partridge and I had the local wild Boar. Both were brown and stewish. The local wines were quite good and the service was warm, friendly and very competent. There were 3 other couples dining with us from Ontario, BC and Holland. We struck up a conversation about wine and travel and all had a satisfying evening.

Before heading up to bed at 11pm we conferred with Susanne, the wonderfully helpful conceirge on our activities for the next day. She made great suggestions and promised to call and make reservations early the next morning. The staff here certainly work long hours.

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