The Douro Valley ...October 2 in Portugal
GRATITUDES: For our last day in Portugal we had booked an all day river cruise up the Douro Valley. The excursion included breakfast and lunch on the boat and then Port Wine Tasting at one of the many vineyards lining the Douro Valley. It was a long day though ... we had to be at the boat by 8:30am and didn't return until 9:15pm! 😴
GAFFAHS: Due to traffic, we were running behind ... and then ... as I was hurrying to get out of the taxi ... one of the metal rings on my theft-proof purse got attached to my seat belt somehow!! Seriously!! I am not making this up! And so... I couldn't get out of the cab until I freed my purse because my purse was slung over my body ... so there I was ... late for the boat and stuck in the cab!! 😟
GAH!! How do oddball things like this happen?? After wrestling with it ... I finally freed myself ... but ... I really didn't need the extra panic!!! 🤯
GRATEFULS AND GROANS: We got to the boat and got on in time ... but ...my fear about breakfast was realized. A real European breakfast. Buns and jam. No protein. 😥
GRATEFULS: Fortunately I had some protein bars in our bag ... thanks to my daughter! And we ended up with some lovely table mates who were also Canadian and had done part of the Camino trail last week! We enjoyed our conversation with them very much!
GROANS: It was darn cold on that boat. We had certainly expected it to be a bit chilly in the morning .... but the howling wind was adding a very unfavorable element to the cruising. 🌬🌬🌬
GRATITUDES: One of our new table mate friends offered me an extra jacket to cover my bare legs ... which was deeply appreciated!
GRINS: The sights were stunning along the river ... with the endless vineyards lining both sides of the valley with layered terraces of grape vines and oodles of olive trees! And the lunch made up for the breakfast ... it was excellent! And it warmed up eventually too!! ☀️
We also went through three locks which the old boy found very interesting. One of them took us up 85 feet!! Amazing if you think about how mankind has found ingenious ways to manipulate mother nature!
And then on our way home ... we stopped at one of the vineyards for some Port tasting! I declined but John tried the Rosé Port. He thought it was good ... not as strong as the tawny.
FUN FACTS: We learned that they are not permitted to irrigate by their governance board. They believe if they do, then the plants get lazy ... they want the roots to search deeply for the moisture. They will go down 20 feet to find a drink! They often plant sage between the vines as a way of determining whether they need to spray for bugs. If they can see them on the sage ... they spray the vines.
Oh ... they plant the vines vertically as long as the slope is not more than 45°. If it is steeper than that ... they build terraces ... which are all picked by hand ... AND ... the grapes are still stomped by feet. They still stomp with feet because feet won't break the seeds in the grapes. Oh ... and the terraces are made of shale to keep the moisture in and the heat more constant. It was so fascinating!
The grapes are teeny tiny ... like pearls! About the size of blueberries. And the grape vines that produce the Vintage Port are 100 years old. Vintage Port will keep for eternity ... it just keeps getting better with age. Other varieties need to be consumed within 10 years for optimal taste and color.🍇🍇🍇
It was a long day ... but a good day. And now ... we are hoping for a good sleep. We are travelling for the next three days. Porto to Paris tomorrow. Paris to Calgary the next day. And taking the Red Arrow home the day after that!
Looking forward to seeing you soon ... k&j
P.S. I keep forgetting to share some pics with you of the authentic lifestyle of the locals in this neighborhood. They do their laundry in a large open pit ... and ... cook on the wood coals on the streetside!Read more