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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Oporto Attained

We left Alijo and stopped just outside the town at the local Wine Museum which is owned and operated by a cooperative of vintners. They were quite busy handling a bus tour, but found time to give us a tour. Our guide was a young man originally from Mozambique with Rastafarian braids. He gave us a quick tour and then at our request took us to the tasting room to select wine for purchase. His colleague then took over and easily convinced us to buy a 1997 Tawny Colheita. Although usually more prudent we succumbed and without knowledge or research proceeded to pay 2.5 times the price we later found for this wine on the internet and in shops. We are revealing our embarrassing mistake on our blog to warn others to avoid this museum and to also have some idea of products and prices before paying large sums for wine in this area.

We left the museum, still proud of our purchase and headed toward Vila Real a nearby city with a famous monastery. We found it without any problem but found there were no English tours for several hours so continued on our way to Oporto.

The roads at this point were of good quality with those invisible tolls. They continued to be windy along the mountains, but now at highway speeds. Our little Fiat gave the driver many frights along this journey. We also found ourselves passing through several active forest fires. We first saw smoke in the distance and then found ourselves passing through it. There were fires on at least three different hills and fire trucks positioned along the way. But the road stayed open and we continue along our path.

When we arrived in Oporto it was easy to find the Pousada do Portal where we were happy to find that our suite was indeed a suite with lots of comforts. The hotel is situated right on the Douro river about 4 kilometres outside the city. It has two buildings that are attached. The older one which used to be a rich merchant's home contains the public rooms and restaurant. The second building has all of the guest rooms and used to be factory. Behind both buildings is a lovely pool on the river along with lots of deck chairs for lounging and a small bar with beverages and food. In the afternoon local young men climb up the supports of the deck so that they can then jump off into the river. At least they do this when the watchful manager is distracted.

Once we were check in we headed for the pool and spent several hours enjoying a swim and the warm sun. We have had amazing warm (30C+) weather with blue skies for every day of our trip until the last one. It's been great.

Then for dinner we had a wonderful time at Pedro Lemos which was reviewed earlier in our blog.

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