Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wine and sulfites

Portuguese Salt

There is still quite a lot of interest in salt in Portugal and quite a bit on the internet.
"Famed for its fishing routes, fishing has been going on down here in Setubal since Roman times! They combined fishing with the salt fishing process/handy salt pans nearby. Setubal remained a small fishing centre up until the 19th century, when industrialization brought boom times."

Portuguese Tile

Almost every image of every place along this river includes a tile panoramic view.  I love this art of tiles




"Another type of azulejo composition, called aves e ramagens ('birds and branches'), came into vogue between 1650 and 1680. They were influenced by the representations on printed textiles that were imported from India: Hindu symbols, flowers, animals and birds."



"These tiles have a long history going back to the Moorish occupation, incorporating influences from Spain, with the blue theme imported from Delft, Holland. They became a standard facing material in construction up until about a generation ago. What we discovered in Porto were several churches and public buildings wonderfully overlaid with these stunning blue tiles."
There is a photo of a tiled house on this blog

Tour Itinerary




Porto, or Oporto to give it its native Portuguese name, is one of the last undiscovered European cities… but this is rapidly changing with an influx of modern architecture and shifting cultural landscape raising its profile and attracting a new wave of tourists. As a UNESCO Heritage site, Oporto is an ancient port teeming with stories of tradition, lineage and heritage. Take its monuments built by famed architects such as Gustave Eiffel’s Ponte Dona Maria, Nicolau Nasoni’s Clerigos Tower, Rem Koolhaas’ Casa da Musica, or Siza Vieira’s Serralves Museum. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, Oporto was the muse that enticed J.K. Rowling into her internationally acclaimed series, most especially the Lello bookstore with its windy wooden staircase and sky high bookshelves. In lieu of soft lines and tiled walls, you can experience some of the most modern design in Porto, including: the Casa da Musica, La Boheme entre Amis Bar or the Vidalgo Palace Spa.


& Pinhão
Great views are here

Barca d’Alva
Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.

Salamanca & Vega de Terrón



The mark founded in the landscape, in the lives of men and the system of relationships, more than its economic importance, to the region and the country, made the Port Wine a cultural fact, a Portuguese cultural patrimony, a universal wine. It is this generous wine, with singular characteristics, old, sweet and aromatic, completed centuries of experience, of work, of knowledge and art, of solidarity and conflicts. Complimented by nature, with united exceptional conditions on the flanks of schist along the Douro valley, the wine of Porto is, like many of the great wines, a human product. Of the Dourense, clearly, but also too the businessmen of Porto, the English, the poor of the Cold Lands of Trás-os-Montes and Beira, the careers of the people of Minho and Galicia...Here, in the demarcated region of wines, that are considered the oldest in the world (1756), in the contemporary sense a denomination of origin, the history of the peoples and vineyards advance, along the centuries and roads parallel.quote text
—Gaspar Martins Pereira, (2000) Memória do Rio. Para uma história da navegação no Douro. Edições

There are only two streets of note – the riverfront avenue with the boat quay and the long town main street which runs parallel, one block inland. On the former is the Museu do Douro, which tells the history of the river and its people, rather than just rehearsing the port wine story. For this you need the Solar do Vinho do Porto, housed in a converted warehouse on the main street. This is the Douro Wine Institute’s showcase centre, offering not just wine tastings but also thematic exhibitions and events about port wine and the Douro. A little way further down is the imposing granite Casa do Douro, the headquarters of the port wine growers’ organization – duck inside to see the enormous medieval-style stained-glass window depicting the port trade.

Read more: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/portugal/porto-rio-douro/peso-da-regua/#ixzz2mGWOiu7L
Afrontamento. Porto

Grapes of interest



from Salt of Portugal (see favorite links)

"Most port-wine houses offer tours of their cellars. The tour guides teach you to distinguish between tawny, ruby, late-bottled vintage, and vintage port. They also regale you with interesting stories and facts about port-wine production. You’ll learn, for example, that the “share of the angels” is the fraction of the wine stored that is lost to evaporation. At the end of the tour you are invited to a port-wine tasting, so you’ll also get a share of this precious nectar.
Sandman’s and Taylor’s are two of the most popular cellars to visit."

Food Pairings


Shistose or shistous

Soil made up of slate.  It cracks easily so the vines can go as deep as sixty feet looking for water.  

Places we will not visit this trip


 Aveiro was the leading producer of salt from the 10th century for hundreds of years until

Septuval took over that job.



Near Lisbon Obidos

Letter to Viking as yet unanswered

Here is the letter Elizabeth sent after being invited by Viking to send one.  Seems wasted effort. 

We are Dewey Hill and Elizabeth Reid...  We have a trip booked on
Viking our second river cruise for Dec 10th.. starting in Lisbon.
Dewey put a complaint up on Cruise Critic because our flight to Lisbon
turned out to be three legs and much longer than we hoped.  Because of
the holiday time scheduling we could not get custom air.(we knew this
from our agent and Viking when we booked as we requested custom

Traveling is daunting for us as it is for many older travelers.  We
are actually driving from Albany our summer home to Tampa our winter
home between dec 5th and dec 10th.. when we saw that our flight
includes a stop in Washington DC... we wanted to drop the first leg of
our flight from Tampa to DC..  (not possible given airline

We wished that given we were not eligible for custom air ...we had
been given a heads up prior to booking by Viking of the flights they
planned to book for us...  I realize there were few choices because of
the season, but dropping the first leg of the trip would have been a
choice if the ticketing had been discussed with us.

We were told ticketing would happen 3 weeks prior to the trip.  I
called 4 weeks ahead in hopes of a discussion...  and found that the
tickets were already booked and no notice had gone to my travel agent
of that fact...  In the end we will just do what we have to do, but
airline rigidity on these matters seems so unnecessary... and Viking
could add the courtesy of checking with passengers prior to booking
when custom air is not available.

Our first trip with Viking was great in all regards and we used and
loved custom air.  We are looking forward to this trip and know that
after the flight there we will be well taken care of.

Thanks for listening.   Dewey Hill and Elizabeth Reid

Monday, November 25, 2013


We are going to take a Viking River cruise to Portugal and so I thought I'd start a blog to record and celebrate the adventure.


One disappointment is that our plane rides make it a 24 hour trip from the time we leave Tampa until the time we arrive in Lisbon.  Perhaps we will sleep as the time over the ocean will be at night. 

We had such lousy flights because we booked them blind with Viking.  We were a bit too trusting that what they would book would accommodate us without our looking at the itinerary.  So the price was right, but the booking was really dumb.  And there really was nothing to do about it.

I complained on a discussion board, thinking it was a place where criticism was collected.  Actually, it was a collection of Viking fans, many of which were almost insulted that I would be so critical.  Some did not read what I wrote.  None seemed to get the distinction between custom air and booking a blind flight.  Viking wrote a fine note with an email address, but when Elizabeth wrote, she did not get an answer. 
All I really thought I was doing was tipping folks off who might do what we did.  I'm sure the post did that, and perhaps I'll just trip report what happens to us and perhaps include this blog.

Elizabeth did manage to get us good seats for most of the air journey and that is encouraging.  We only hope that our luggage will find us in Lisbon, immediately if possible, and within a couple days if they are misplaced.

And we hope that we won't get stranded in Washington, or Munich with winter weather.  On the way back it won't much matter.  We come back through Brussels so it might be a grand adventure to get stranded there for a few days if we don't have to sleep in the airport.

We need to get our heads around it like an adventure.  We need to think see it as earning a few hundred dollars by being inconvenienced.  We are working on that.  Some days it dominates my emotions.  But on days when my arthritis acts up and I'm not doing too well sleeping here, I get a bit anxious.  After all, I am not a young fellow anymore.

What is available from Viking is a thing called "custom air" but it was not available for our flight, probably because the timing coming back, so near Christmas, precluded flexibility. 

It should be a journey of old buildings, wine, and good seafood.  I am excited about all three.  There are only 140 people on the boat and that should make it a treat as well.  We loved the last trip, to France.  I think we will love this one as well.

Once we get on the boat, we are certain it will be just wonderful.  It suited us in France and this looks even more interesting with less religious history and more other sorts of stories.  We liked the Catholic background of the French towns, but we don't identify so much with that. 
Before the boat we have three days in Lisbon and have some good plans for that as well

Here are some suggestions:


Clara (Lisbon; tel. 21/885-30-53): This elegant citadel with its soft piano music is a refined dining room serving a remarkable Portuguese and international cuisine that has made it a favorite among serious palates. The chefs take special care with all their ingredients, and we sing their praise year after year for their impeccable offerings.

Gambrinus (Lisbon; tel. 21/342-14-66): It isn't as upscale as some of its competitors or the preferred rendezvous of the country's most distinguished aristocrats. Nonetheless, this is one of the hippest, best-managed seafood restaurants in Lisbon; the stand-up bar proffers an astonishing array of shellfish. Enjoy a glass of dry white port accompanied by some of the most exotic seafood in the Atlantic.

Casa da Comida (Lisbon; tel. 21/388-53-76): This restaurant is probably at its best on foggy evenings, when roaring fireplaces remove the damp chill from the air. Don't let the prosaic name fool you -- some visitors prefer its Portuguese-French cuisine over the food at any other restaurant in Lisbon. Portions are ample, and the ambience is bracing and healthful.

Conventual (Lisbon; tel. 21/390-92-46): The facade that shields this restaurant from the medieval square is as severe as that of a convent -- which, in fact, it used to be. Inside you're likely to find the prime minister of Portugal dining with assorted ministers. You'll always find a collection of panels from antique churches, and rich but refined cuisine based on the bourgeois traditions of Old Portugal.

Gambrinus is my first choice of these noted.  We'll see how the time goes and what more we learn.
Mateus is the wine from Porto that is best known to us with its distinctive bottle.  I remember enjoying it in Spain and then again here at home.  I think at one point I had a bottle with Frank when he visited us in Sand Lake.  I have that memory.
We wills see some of the boats that once carried the grapes from the Douro River to Porto.  They are a blend of Viking boats and gondolas and unique to this region.  They are not used anymore, but there are some that line the river just the same.


I am excited to get to see them. 

Food features plenty of fish.  Fish stew is everywhere and while it is laced with potato, I think I'll get enough to eat.  Grilled fish is common:  sardinas being a favorite as it was in Spain.

We will get into the Spanish section of the Douro River as well at Salamanca.