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  • Day8

    A Peek at Portugal Past

    April 22, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    The Viking Sea landed in Porto, Portugal at about 8 o'clock in the morning. The first thing I noticed was the elegant, new white passenger cruise ship terminal. It is not quite finished, but when it opens, it will be a lovely first sight in Porto. It resembles a glistening, white, uncoiling ribbon.

    We got on the bus with our guide George and went to Coimbra. Before the ascendance of Lisbon as a seaport, Coimbra was the medieval capital of the country. There we saw the University of Coimbra, the small towns surrounding it, and had time for shopping. Students expecting to graduate next week were there to give us flowers. We were able to snatch a few shots of them as their graduation photos were being made by a professional photographer. Next we traveled to Aveiro and enjoyed the use of the canal and the gondolas. Glenda got for me a soft egg pastry, a local delicacy, that was sweet, creamy and delicious. I had some reservations, however, about eating anything made of a raw egg, unpasteurized at that!

    George our guide put us to sleep with his talking. Unfortunately, he was often unable to finish his sentences, and would end them in a nervous laugh. I felt sorry for him; as a tour guide, he was in way over his head. In Coimbra we had some free time for shopping. I went to photograph a parish church that I found. After I had returned to the guide he mentioned to me that at the end of the street was a church for the first three kings of Portugal are buried. I did not have time to go back and photograph them.

    Our lunch was served at a lovely traditional restaurant. The food was delicious, and a male duet offered an selection of Fado music after we ate. Songs were interspersed with knowledgeable explanations of this local musical tradition.

    Porto, which happens to be the town from which both the nation and the sweet wine take their names, is a charming place. I adore this town. Whole blocks of it look as though they have been lifted from the pages of a renaissance painting. There are many parts of the town that are quiet, lovely, neoclassical, and look as though they have been asleep since the middle ages.

    Back on the ship we had dinner in Manfredi’s with Frank and Libby Justice. I had the Bistecca Florentine, a cut of meat marinated for 72 hours before it was served.
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