(Tiles at the second Porto train station)
Still talking about Porto although we have moved further south. I am writing in a cafe, the rain is falling outside and there’s a television playing constant breaking news. Although I don’t speak or understand Portuguese it’s amazing what you can pick up from the pictures and the tone of the speakers.
And indeed the tone of the – up to that moment very quiet – cafe owner as he discussed loudly with a customer, what he was hearing on the tv. So at first it looked like a strike of tanker drivers and I was well able to ignore it but when I looked up and saw cars queuing outside petrol stations I got a bit more interested! At the moment we have plenty of diesel, enough to drive to Spain to get more… So back to Porto…
(Looking in the window at the pan of boiling hot spicy sauce in Congo)
After the fish cakes we went on another walk to a restaurant called Congo. They have been here for decades. They are famous for their spicy pork sandwich. The spicy sauce is called Piri Piri and it’s boiled in huge pans in the front window. Then the raw meat, which had been frozen and sliced with a meat slicer, is added to the boiling sauce. This was served in a bread bun with a glass of beer.
(Congo’s menu tells the story)
Just in case that doesn’t sound very tempting, let me tell you it’s really tasty. Since becoming vintage I am a little concerned about my stomach’s reaction to spicy food. No ill effects to report, this was very good and had the added benefit that the bottled water tasted magnificent!
(View from outside the train station)
Our group of seven was gelling nicely now and there was even an opportunity for a joke about Brexit but we had a long (not very long) walk ahead so we finished up and headed to the train station. Yes, the (second) train station of Porto is impressive. Tiles, tiles and more tiles with scenes from Portuguese history on every wall. There’s the war with Spain, well, one of the wars with Spain. The one where both sides were fed up losing so many soldiers in battle that they decided to have a competition instead. A kind of jousting competition. Portugal won. Oh and we didn’t take a train.
(From the left white port, tawny and port wine)
Back outside we walked downhill via jewelry and flowers street towards the river. We were going port tasting at Portologia with explanations about white port (which doesn’t look white), tawny port and port wine. Very interesting. Port is kinda like Champagne in that you can only call it port if the grapes are grown and the port is produced in the Douro valley near Porto city. Also, it tastes different as it ages. The whole vintage thing just gives and gives, doesn’t it?
(Vintage computer spotted in a shop window)
When everyone had finished their three types of port and I had finished my water that was the end of the tour, it had taken three hours and was really enjoyable. Everyone said goodbye to Isabel but not before doing the Portuguese kissing on each cheek. Then she left promising to (and she did) email us tips and recommendations for the rest of our time in Porto.
(Hope this picture gives you a sense of the steep hill we had to navigate)
We walked very slowly back up the steep hill to get the bus home. When we arrived at the gate (via the death defying footbridge) to the Parque Biológico de Gaia it was locked! Denis thought we could definitely scale the fence. Port wine gives you wings, bottled water makes you wise. We walked back down to road level again and made our way to the main gate. It was locked too… again Denis with the scaling. I pushed the invisible bell (invisible to some…) and the nice man let us in.
Thank you, Isabel, we loved our day in Porto, Mairead.
(Can you see the yellow dot? That’s Parque Biológico de Gaia, Porto. Parking, electricity, water, free entry to park €19)