Where Have I been?!

We have had quite a few visitors from the states in the past few months.
And from our galavanting around town like touristas, we both got sick.
Ugh. The first time in three and a half years. It was so awesome to be sickness free for so long.
The upside to Covid, staying home kept us healthy.
After several weeks of feeling like crap, we finally feel good again.

The benefit of showing visitors around town is that you get to see sites that are new to us as well.

Falcon outside of McDonald´s with its handler.


Two places I have wanted to see are McDonald´s in what used to be an Art Deco club and Clerigos Tower.
Unexpected bonus outside of said McD´s: A woman with a falcon.
The raptor was on the job keeping the pigeons away. Very cool and so ingenious.
The interior of the building is classic Art Deco. Very beautiful. It is a shame that it is inhabited by such a dreadful American burger place.
At least it is preserved and can be seen by the public.

Clerigos Tower.

Clerigos tower is a great way to get some steps in. And the views from the top are worth the effort.
Once visits to historic landmarks are accomplished, it is time for a drink and a nosh!
Cross the bridge and get ye to Vila Nova de Gaia!

The view from Vila Nova de Gaia to Porto. And the Offley port house rabelo boat.


Quevedo is a fabulous Portuguese family-owned winery that also makes fantastic gins. The tasting room is spacious and homey, and the snacks are superb! They have an array of great food and drink to choose from.

Gins and snacks at Quevedo.

And no trip to Porto would be complete without a visit to a Port house.
We chose Cockburn´s. They are the only local port purveyor that has an in-house cooperage. The art of barrel making is fascinating.
The only dilemma regarding the port houses is which ones to visit. There are so many, and they are all great and unique in their own way.

So much to see and do in Porto but so little time!

New World Order, take 2.

It seems that people in the US continue to show more and more epic levels of stupidity. (Thanks, Jordan Keppler. Or not, it is horrifying to watch.)
Meanwhile, here in Portugal, we have just celebrated the feasts of the popular saints. St. Anthony in Lisbon and St. John here in Porto.

Lights for São João 2019. Notice the do not enter sign below the letters. The sign of things that were to come.

When we first arrived, I had heard many stories about São João and the attendant epic party that overtook the city to celebrate it.
I couldn´t wait to experience it, grilled sardines, fireworks, and just an epic good time to be had by all.
Back in 2019, we had to be in another city on that day, so we missed it.
And then the party was canceled due to the pandemic.

Enter 2022, and the party is on!
And here is where the New World Order comes in. (Besides even more stupidity in the US with rampant idiocracy). Since Covid, I don´t want anything to do with people. Much less hordes of people in a packed environment. Can you say super spreader?

Sardine salad and a Douro red wine. All you need for São João.
Meio Escudo 17º red wine from the Douro. 17º because it is 17 percent alcohol! Almost port, but drinks like an unfortified red wine. Dangerously delicious!

So, we stayed home, ate sardine salad, and had an excellent Douro wine to celebrate instead. We watched local fireworks from our balconies and saw our neighbors launch Chinese lantern balloons. It was quiet and enjoyable. And we avoided all the potential diseases we would have been exposed to due to proximity to huge numbers of people.
Sad but true, my days of attending any event with lots of people are over.

And in 2019, had we been in Porto, I would not have thought twice about joining the throngs to celebrate the day of São João.
A lot has changed since then. Sadly.
I guess I am lucky to be older because I would rather stay at home now anyway.

Because you know what? It is not worth the risk.

Milestones and The Weather Part 2.

Featured
Snow in Denver, Colorado. Do not miss it!

I have slept through January and most of February.
When it is cold, I prefer to stay in bed and hibernate.
Having followed the sun to Portugal, I have been following the sun into my bedroom as well.
The rays do not hit the windows until between ten and ten-thirty AM.
That is when I start to consider raising the shutters.
We have added curtains and two heat and A/C units to our place. These additions have helped immensely with temperature control.

Our new curtains. Even Jiva likes them. 😉


I guess I should just stop trying to be like my Portuguese neighbors and admit my failings as an American; we like things to be easy and comfortable.

And, happily, this has been the warmest and driest winter in Portugal since 2000.
This is good and bad, of course. It has put the entire country into a drought situation.
That pesky climate change thing again. Yesterday it was 70+ degrees in Porto.
Most unusual for this time of year.

And yesterday was a milestone for us.
The third anniversary of our arrival in Portugal.
It is hard to believe it has been three years already. We have never looked back and are so thankful because life is so much better here.

I still have to laugh that Portugal was never on our radar as a possible place to live until it was pointed out to us. And it has turned out to be the best possible place to live!
There is no comparison to the states because everything is so superior.

Meats and Cheese board with some local wines at Mercado Bom Succeso, Porto.


The quality of the food and wine alone is worth moving for. Not to mention the great weather and low cost of living. The country itself is spectacular.
Covid notwithstanding, I could be content to spend the rest of my days traveling through Portugal alone. It is tiny but so packed with eye-popping beauty.


As much as I love wines from other countries, it is hard to drink anything other than the local wines.
They are so good and can be had for a fraction of the price. Anything you could want can be had here. If you like Burgundy, get a Jaen (red) or Encruzado (white) from the Dão. Bordeaux? A red or white from the Douro. California? Alentejo, Tejo, or Sétubal has drops that compare. Champagne? Bairrada has you covered.
Fabulous sparkling wines, in general, can be had from any wine region in Portugal.

And it does not stop there, dessert wines?
Porto, Madeira, and, Sétubal all have a unique diversity of sweet wines.

Quinta do Tedo award winning tawny Port.

The fun never stops, as I like to say.

I used to say that I could spend the rest of my life exploring Italy, another wine mecca.
Now, I know that I will spend the rest of my life exploring Portugal. Hopefully, I can revisit Italy too. 😉
Meanwhile, viva Portugal!
Sáude.

And Now This…

Portuguese wine and spirits.  Because, I love me some wine and spirits!

Wine is a deep subject. There is no end to it once you start to study it. American wines are probably the most straightforward, but that doesn’t mean they are easy by any means. Then there are French wines, Italian, German and Austrian, and Portuguese, to name a few. Each one is a study in itself and, the approachability descends with each country listed!

I have been a student of wine and spirits for over ten years, and the learning curve continues to challenge me. So, in an attempt to educate myself and hopefully shed some light on the subject, I am going to write here about Portuguese wines and the derivatives thereof.
It would be a waste not to strive for expertise in the subject when I have the supreme good fortune to be living in Portugal! So, here goes!  Bring on the Vinhos Portugueses!(See previous post, Got Wine?)

Check out this little number! Pacheca Rosé Reserva. Now that the weather has started to heat up, it’s rosé all-day season! It is an herbaceous and complex rose made up of 100% Touriga Nacional, the premier grape of Portugal. With brambly red and black fruit flavors, it is outstanding, refreshing, and goes with just about anything. Think of it as the little black dress of wine!  Saúde!

Got Wine?

Portuguese wine is a world unto itself.  The geography of the country makes it more isolated than most. It is easier for Portugal to keep to itself more than many countries since its only neighbors are Spain to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.   

As a result of its relative isolation, the wines of Portugal have traditionally stayed mostly at home.  Port wine is the one exception.  Britain and Portugal have had a close relationship for centuries, and Port wine is one of the reasons.  The British have been port lovers since the 1700s, and this unique fortified wine comes from the Douro wine region in northern Portugal. The Douro was the first demarcated wine region in the world. The Marquis de Pombal made it so in 1756.  He knew a good thing when he saw it, and real port wine can only come from Portugal.  And while Port wine is one of the country’s many claims to fame, the table wines are the unsung heroes of the wine show in Portugal.  

Portugal has over 250 different indigenous grape varieties.  It is second only to Italy in this respect.  (Italy has over 1,000 different native grape varieties!)  Any self-respecting wine drinker knows the big names in Italian grapes.  (Nebbiolo, Sangiovese…anyone?  Anyone?)  Portuguese wine grapes?  Not so much. 

Here’s a hint, for reds, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and, Tinto Roriz (aka Tempranillo in Spain) are big names.  For whites, Alvarinho (same as Spanish Albarino, just spelled differently), Arinto, and, Antao Vaz.   

Porrais Douro Valley Red Wine

Traditionally both the red and white table wines have been blends of various grapes.   Single varietal wines are becoming more common as winemakers find the best grapes to vinify on their own.  Touriga Nacional is the star of the red grapes, while Alvarinho is the leading white grape.   

Here’s the thing, they are all so good! (To quote from the movie Bottle Shock.)   

Poeira Dusty Red Wine from the Douro Valley with local choriço and cheese.

When we first arrived on the Iberian Peninsula, we were excited to try the local wines.  So, the fact that 98% of the wines in the stores are local mattered not.  A year later, we are still trying all local vinhos and loving them all!  Even better, the Portuguese wines cost a fraction of what we were paying for wines in the states.  It is fun and exciting to try so many great wines that aren’t available outside the country. All of the drink in Portugal is deserving of a much bigger place on the world stage. Now that we live here, we will continue to enjoy them and look for opportunities to spread the word about them abroad. Viva Portugal! 

Vila Paraíso Sparkling Red Wine from the Beira Atlantico.

 

New World Order

How about that Covid-19 virus?! 

This means you!

Here’s some of what I’ve been reading in the news from the states:  38% of Americans are avoiding Corona Mexican beer because of the name!  Also, people are avoiding Chinese food because of the connection between the virus and its country of origin.  WOW! 

Some of the things I’ve seen online have only reinforced the contention that the level of stupidity has gone off the charts stateside.  Here are a couple more headlines out there right now: Why America’s Virus Response Looks Like a Patchwork, this from the New York Times, mind you.  Well, Captain Obvious, could it be that America is a patchwork of states that all have different rules?  And if you don’t know this, you might want to go back and study your American history.  Just saying. 

Also, Infected People Without Symptoms Might be Driving the Spread of the Corona Virus.  This one from CNN.  Yup, you heard right.  Now, I am not a science type by any stretch of the imagination but, if I was a betting person, I would bet big that people who are infected and not showing symptoms are driving the spread of this new virus. 

Think about your basic cold viruses. Just from personal experience, I know that when I start coming down with a common cold, I am in denial about it.  Oh, I’m just tired…   Meanwhile, I’m out and about probably infecting every other person with which I come into contact.  I guess only time will tell if this is the case and the big CV is transmitted similarly. 

In the meantime, people are reacting like the dumb, panicky, dangerous animals that they are. Buying out basics at the grocery store so that people who might really need said basics can’t get them.  Amazing and sad, but true to form, people are reacting with a panicked herd mentality. 

Important Safety Tip!

But enough of CV-19 and the blatant stupidity that is a rampant contagion worse than the virus.  It is funny how ahead of the curve we are, already working from home.  We have been homeworkers for over a year now. And have become used to our own company for the most part.  We still have to walk the dog but now taking walks is our main entertainment outside the house.  It’s not so bad, really.  It helps if you have a hermit kind of mentality, to begin with, I guess, which I do. 

Wisteria Blooming in Canidelo, Vila Nova de Gaia.

It is almost spring, and all of the trees are blooming here in the Porto area, and the air is redolent of the white Jasmine that grows in the area.  Nature says, silly humans, life goes on.  And so should we, albeit with the utmost caution. Stay well, everyone!