July 2011
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A Douro Anniversary

July 6, 2011

For our 10 year anniversary we wanted to reset with a little adventure for ourselves. So today Patricia and Luis took the boys and we took the train up the valley.

The first part of the train trip was nothing special, it travelled the edge of the Douro river and through suburbs of Porto, but the second half of the train ride was gorgeous. The homes dwindled in numbers and the farm land grew and then transformed into vineyards which stretched up almost every hill from the rivers edge.

We finally reached our stop, about an hour and a half up the line, in Régua. All around us we could see Vinhas (vineyards) stretching out from the town - but not having a tour booked we headed down the street to see what we could find.

After a browse through the Museu do Douro (Museum of Douro) and based on their recommendations we took a taxi across the river to the Quinta de Pacheca. We caught lunch first, another delicious feast, and then took the tour. Pacheca crushes all their red wines by foot (machines will crush the seeds and make the wine bitter) though not until October so music and dancing today - can only imagine what a sight it is. And after a wine tasting (they have some wonderful port wines) we escaped into the vineyard.

A wonderful day to cap ten wonderful years. Happy Anniversary!

Posted by csb at 6:39 PM


On a journey to Portugal in July 2011, in SINTRA, we found your wallet. Thank you to communicate your postal address to us. Cordially.


Posted by: ARSEGUEL at July 22, 2011 12:52 AM

More from Porto

July 5, 2011

While it wasn't our last day in town, it was our last chance to explore the city of Porto. So we climbed to the highest heights and took a look around.

Posted by csb at 3:32 AM


The Portuguese Bull Fight

July 3, 2011

With our trip well over half way over, so sad, it was our turn to get out and get some of the non-tourist tourist things out of the way. We hit the mall, Ikea, and McDonald's for a little taste of the normal in a non-normal way - oh, and we did it without the comfort of our tour guides. So, as much as things we different - they really were the same. The highlight of today was seeing Ines, another of our Portuguese friends, who met up with us for dinner. We are looking at doing a night out again on Tuesday if we can.

So for today I wanted to share with you a little about the traditional past time of Portuguese-style Bullfighting. A sport that is more a niche tradition that a sport with popularity. And while Luis and Patricia don't care for it much we did catch it on one of their national TV channels the other evening so they thought that a good time to introduce it.

Aspects are similar to what we know from the more spanish-style sport, they use "knights" that play with the bull while spearing the back with hooks. The common understanding is that the spear (which is not a true spear, more like a spear with fish hook) is to hit just above the shoulder blades where there is a lot of fat and not many nerves - thus it is not suppose to cause any pain. What it is designed to do is weaken the animal a little. While this part was interesting as for some of the horse maneuvers they used - it was obviously not a fair fight. Again, designed more to tire the bull than anything else.

First the taunt - yes this is how they do it.

Next is where the magic of the portuguese bull fight starts to show. And by magic I mean insanity. A group of guys, cavaleiros, lines up in single file and starts taunting the bull until the bull makes a charge. These guys wear only regular cloths with a basic comber bun, no real padding and no weapons - though, at least today, the bull has pads over the points of the horns. The idea ... get the bull to charge into the first guy in the line striking the head to the man's stomach. The guys needs to grab in around the neck and hang on while the bull charges over each guy in line - with each trying to grab and slow the bull down. If the first guys fails to get a good grab or gets thrown during the charge - they have to do it again. If they get the bull to stop, the men win.

Then the grab! Hey, where is the rest of my team?

In the "games" we saw, the first group managed to stop the bull in the first charge, while the second groups failed completely - bull won. In both cases the bull became someone's lunch, but in the second the cavaleiros were pretty beat up.

There seemed to be a lot of history and tradition tied up in how the whole process worked - at times it seemed almost Roman in how things were done. And while I can say that I would not be a fan of the sport, it was not what I was expecting. A lot of that is due to how the Portuguese have put these cavaleiros (the guys who stare down the charge of a bull) as the main focus - as apposed to the spanish which star the matadores.

More of what is making this trip so interesting.

Posted by csb at 6:37 PM


Vianna and Homemade Bread

July 3, 2011

Today we headed up to spend some time in the vila of Vianna do Castelo. We went up first to see the church dedicated to Saint Luzia and to get a view of the area. There we found a man taking old black and white photos using one of the older camera's, apparently he has been doing this for over 40 years.

After which Patricia and Luis took the boys and left Melissa and I to explore the city alone. So, we do what every couple married for 10 years does ... go looking for linen. Actually, it was quite fun to see all the hand made table cloths, napkins, bread bags, etc.

After four hours in the centro, we found our way to Luis' fathers place for dinner. Pork ribs, grilled sardines, sausage, and homemade bread. Oh, and of course wine.

One thing we are learning is the the Portuguese love their wine and find new and interesting ways to consume it. We had glasses of wine, bowls of wine, and soup of wine which is wine + sugar + bread. We have wine for lunch, wine for snack, wine for dinner, and wine before bed. I think we are in wine country :)

After a good family dinner we enjoy some play time. Badminton, Fuse-ball, and just good conversation - well, broken conversation :) But what fun and amazing company. After which we had a café and more Aguardente before heading home for the evening.

Did I mention the homemade bread. Yes, baked during dinner in their stone oven.

It was actually very interesting to see how bread was made in traditional fashion. When we arrived they were just finishing up heating the oven, which is done just by having a fire going inside. They then clean out the burnt wood, which was moved to the grill to cook the ribs and sardines.

We then placed bread "cakes" in the over which took about 10 minutes to cook. These we enjoyed before and during dinner while the actual bread was being baked. After the cakes were done we placed the bread in the oven and they sealed the door with some of the bread dough. This is what they would check regularly to see if the bread was done, as you can't open the door without "killing the bread".

An interesting side note, they use to use cow dung to seal the door as they could not afford to waste any of the bread.

After the bread is done, we break the over door and let the bread cool. Oh, and then eat it. Homemade ... how it is suppose to be done. Think I need a stone oven in my home :)

Posted by csb at 6:00 AM



July 1, 2011

Sexta-feira [Friday] was another of our relaxation days, we took just a quick trip up the road to Esposende where Patricia's grew up. We enjoyed the morning at the beach with Patricia's father and sister.

For a guy that has been basking in the Florida sunshine for 8 years, this ocean water was COLD!! Melissa, however, was once again in her element and once she got over the shock she was back playing in the water.

Note: we are about the same latitude as Victoria

Joe, mean-while, had the trip finally catch up with him. One too many days walking the stairs of castles and getting in-and-out of the car.

After a couple hours at the beach we re-joined Patricia's family for an excellent lunch. Joe and Owen played with Patricia's cousins kids while we enjoyed some wine and another glass of Aguardiente - this time with some that had been aged in oak barrels.

After a few hours of letting that sit in, we hit an old town that actually pre-dates the romans who expanded upon it when they arrived. We also saw some of the old Roman aqueducts near the motorway on our travels.

Chronology points to occupation around 3rd and 2nd century before Christ

These foundations are from 27-19 b.C.

If you can't beat em, join em

So, after a light day with another large and tasty lunch we headed home for an early bedtime.

Posted by csb at 5:57 PM