" Does this path have a heart"?
John Brierley used the above quote from The Teachings of Don Juan and commented that if the path does then it is all good; if it doesn't, it is of no use. I guess that was our sense of the highway trek into Porto yesterday. Porto itself definitely has a heart; a vibrant, authentic, historic one, a city of use and of value.
Our Rest and Rehab day in Porto started with a late and lazy breakfast and then we went out to explore the offerings of this city on the river of gold - el Rio Douro. Our first stop and tour was of the Torres dos Clérigos, The Clergymen's Tower, an 18th century baroque tower that, at 75 metres high, is the city's main landmark. We paid €3.00 each to wind our way up the steep spiral staircase to experience the 360 degree view of the city. It was a wee bit claustrophobic going up the narrow 238 step staircase but that was trumped by the vertigo at the top. However, yay me, I did it.
Porto has a long history of being a vibrant and economically flourishing city. In the 12th century, Portugal took its name from the city of Porto, the city of Port wine, a major reason that the city's economy was flourishing. We did what we could to help that economy continue flourishing. Crossing the Ponte de D. Luis I bridge to the south side of the River Duoro, we found winery after winery of Port wine. All the wineries were overbooked with group tours but we were not really interested in the tours anyway, just the wine tasting. We went to both the Kopke and the Croft winery to educate our Port pallet and enjoyed a variety of dry white, rosé, Ruby, Lagrima and Tawny port wines. They were served with a variety of white, milk and dark chocolate and almonds. Not being a chocolate or Port wine connoisseur, these were all a new taste sensations for me.
We wove our way back over the bridge, the weaving probably all because of the Port imbibing, and found a great tapas bar for lunch, for wine and for sitting in the sun.
Retracing our steps back to the river, we ended our day in Porto with a unique and wonderful dining experience at Jimão, a wine and tapas restaurant. We had reserved for their first seating which might have seemed a bit Canadian and a bit gauche but turned out to be a bonus for us as the owner, Carmen, gave us her undivided and overly attentive attention. She guided our choices to the more unique items on her menu and it was all so fresh and flavourful. We started off with the traditional bread, olive and sheep's cheese platter which gave new meaning to fresh. This was accompanied by a lovely dry red Douro wine. Dayton had mussels with pickled red and green peppers and Iberian ham covered in Brie and a tomato jam on toast while I had a tasty sun-dried tomato and onion tart and some 'batatas bravas', potatoes with an olive oil/paprika tapenade. Dayton finished the meal off with a smooth 10 year old special reserve Ruby port - which he shared. Definitely a memorable occasion. The two kilometre hike uphill back to our hotel made us think that we were in some way forgiven for this culinary indulgence. If not, who cares?
Tomorrow the plan is to take transportation to the coastal town of Matosinhos where we will start to walk 22kms to Vila do Conde. We will see how the swollen ankles, tendinitis and blistered feet do. We are having fun.
Porto at night.
The "Fado" boys.
Porto from the Torres dos Clérigos.
Climbing the tower.