Travel
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Porto

Today is for just wandering around without any real plans, soak up a bit of the city vibe and go with the flow. That is after Rachael went for a run along the river. I was sacrificing my exercise routine and doing the prep work for the day, i.e. Sleeping!!    Breakfast next door with the old Nonna serving up croissants, coffee & Portuguese pastry called ‘Pastel de Nata’, an egg tart custard pastry. Dee-licious!     To work off the calories we headed up the road to look at books, in the fanciest book shop in Portugal, called Livrarian Lello & Irmao. Lonely Planet classified it as the third best bookstore in the world, and it would be hard put to find any better.    The place was packed, so much so we didn’t bother going in at first, but walked around for 30 minutes hoping the tours would have eased. Yep, this place is an institution and tours roll through it like a flood. Not sure how any books get sold…they should charge admission.    JK Rowlings inspiration for Harry Potter is said to have fermented after a visit. The building is about 150 years old, and centred around an incredible wooden staircase and stained glass ceiling.    There are even railway tracks on the floor to move books around.    It was a great place to just potter about….get it??    There are plenty of cool stores to wander into, all displaying old nicknacks and curiosities on the walls.      From there we went down to the Douro River, along the Zona Ribeirinha which is filled with outdoor restaurants and all they entail…touts hawking for business! What was once port caves for storage, and transport down the river is now a haven of mediocrity. Pity, it does look good from a distance.    We headed over the Ponte Luis bridge to the other side of the river, home to all the old port houses still operating.    A quick lunch, which just happened to have pastel de nata as part of the meal deal, and back over the bridge for more exploring.    When we go on our travels we like to bring home a momento of our time away, something of significance to remind us of all the great memories, and an appreciation of all we have achieved to make our travels possible.    We never know what it will be until we see something, and today we saw what will represent our time away, especially in Portugal. We bought a Portuguese Mandolin, freshly strung left-handed for me, so no excuses not to learn to play it. It’s a beautifully made instrument, which looks (and sounds) great, and will take pride of place in our house.    We’re in Porto, so time for a port tasting! We went to a small port cave, and were lead through a flight of different port styles by the very passionate attendant. First up two ‘blanco’ ports, then two ‘tinho’ ports, then two ruby ports, one of which was a vintage. We’d never tried white port before, and Rachael hadn’t tried vintage, so it was a great experience for us both. More old ports came out as comparisons, and by the end we had tried about ten different styles, all interesting, some excellent. More weight in the bag with a bottle purchased!    Redemption was required after last nights dinner abomination, and suitably attained when we dined at a fabulous little wine bar, eating the freshest produce of our trip so far.  A final sangria before bed at a traditional style bar, then off to our apartment down the lane to what looked like a nightclub. Crowds snaking around the corner of a non descript white building with no signage. Had secret bars come to Porto? The Stones playing one of their famous warm up gigs under an assumed name? The Bieber in town? No….it’s a gelato shop! Obviously a very successful gelato shop.    Santini gelato to be exact! Santini is wildly popular elsewhere in Spain, and this new store must have just opened. Think Krispy Kreme’s when they first came out! The place was packed! The biggest queue in Portugal, bigger than outside the Sagrada! Too big to join, so off to bed.

2 Comments

  1. Caitlin Cochrane says

    Umm what’s with the Moo Moo Rachael😳 I reckon we’d travel well together Hugh, no running or exercise, the odd ailment, lots of good food, great wines, beers etc and walking everywhere and not to mention the odd “comment”about something Rachael says or does 😜

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  2. Rachael says

    Moo moo??? It’s hot, damn hot and that dress made the day bearable, Kate leant it to me with a few others which have been great. Hugh says ur tolerance is much lower than mine so he’s not sure he would survive travelling with u in one piece 😳

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