Portugal
Jardim Municipal do Horto das Virtudes

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9 travelers at this place:

  • Day31

    Are These Hills Getting Steeper?

    September 30, 2015 in Portugal

    The city of Porto is divided by the Douro river with the Ribeira and City Center districts on the north bank and the Port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia on the south.

    On Monday we walked down to the waterfront and over the Luis 1 bridge to do our pilgrimage to the Port houses.Unlike most tourists, after crossing the bridge, we took the high road on the south bank, which brought us to the wineries located at the top of the hill. As a result we had only to roll down the slopes as we went from tasting to tasting.

    The first signpost we saw was for "Yeatman", a port neither of us had ever heard of before. It was an ultra-modern looking facility with two huge clay amphorae decorating the lawn at the entrance. It was only when we went through the front door did we wake up to the fact that we were standing in the lobby of a five star hotel, not a winery. D'oh! Not wanting to look too foolish, we walked in like we owned the place, admired the view from the balcony overlooking the river and the north shore and then sauntered off appearing unimpressed. I'm not sure they bought our act.

    Just a few meters down the hill from The Yeatman was Taylor's, which we knew for sure to be one of our desired destinations. We decided against doing their tour and tasting since their products are readily available at home. Onward down the hill we went and arrived at Offley who had a tour and tasting starting in 15 minutes. Our guide was a young Portuguese woman who spoke perfect English and French, and probably a couple of other languages. She gave a good informative description of the port making process, from vineyard to barrel, as well as an explanation of the differences between the various types of Port.

    The tasting at Offley consisted of an off dry white Port, a Tawny and a Ruby. The pours were generous and, with a 20% alcohol content, our already good moods improved considerably. To make matters worse, we then tried a fourth glass of Cachuca, an aged white Port that is only available at the winery or, of all places, at the SAQ in Quebec! It was quite delicious and I may pick up a bottle when we get home.

    We then set off to find a house whose products we hadn't tried before and stumbled on to Ramos & Pinto who had a very interesting selection of Port to taste. We decided to splurge on the €15.00 tasting that had an LBV, a 2007 Vintage, a 10 year old Tawny, a 20 year old Tawny and a 30 year old Tawny! They were successively more and more delicious and the 30 year old was liquid gold.

    Holding onto walls, railings and each other for support, we slowly descended the ever steepening hill to the south bank waterfront and headed back towards the bridge that would lead us back to our apartment.

    After a brief Port induced nap, we went out for dinner at a place that specialized in a local sandwich called a Franceschina. Mine had various vegan "meats" piled between two slices of bread and topped with a slice of melted cheese and a curry sauce. Just what the doctor ordered. Brenda was more reasonable and had a Seitan steak and salad.

    We may go back to the south bank for more tastings before we leave, but, if we do, we'll definitely pace ourselves a little better next time.
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  • Day30

    Porto, Day One

    September 29, 2015 in Portugal

    Despite leaving Ottawa nearly one hour late, we landed in Porto only ten minutes later than scheduled. After flying to Southeast Asia last year, the six hour flight to Europe went by in the blink of an eye. We flew over on Sata airlines in an Airbus 330 whose space had been configured for maximum passenger capacity and minimum passenger comfort. In other words, my knees were literally pushed against the seat back in front of me. Fortunately, the aircraft was about half empty and Brenda and I were able to grab seats in the bulkhead row, where I could almost stretch out. I nonetheless only managed about 30 minutes sleep with my mind working non-stop imagining the adventure before us.

    As we approached the Portuguese coast, we could see mountaintops peeking through the cloud cover. Thinking ahead to our bike ride down the coast to Lisbon, I began to fear we were going to be in for a very difficult trek. Then the plane descended into the clouds and almost immediately touched down onto a tarmac completely engulfed in a blanket of fog. So, it looks like once again, I made mountains out of molehills.

    We took the Metro into the city and stored our backpacks in a locker as we set off to explore the city at about 10:30 until we could check into our room at 3:00 PM. As we set out walking with our bikes, we realized two things: 1) nobody bikes in Porto and 2) with very uneven cobbled streets and extremely steep hills, nobody wants to bike in Porto. We found a spot to park our bikes and continued our exploration on foot.

    Porto is a beautiful city with blue and white tiled buildings, ancient churches and impressive architecture everywhere. I was not, however, prepared for how hilly it is. Not just hilly, but also really steeply hilly. While we were walking with our bikes, on the steepest descents, there were times we had to apply their brakes to help maintain control. And we're talking rolling hills, you know the kind, you go up, you go down, you go up and you go down, etc, etc... It'll be good training for the cycling that lies ahead of us.

    Unfortunately, arriving on Sunday meant that most of the businesses and restaurants were closed. Nonetheless, not long after we arrived, the fog lifted and we were welcomed with a sunny, but coolish day that allowed us to get our bearings and enjoy the sites without any crowds.

    At 3:00 we checked into our accommodations, a lovely studio apartment that Brenda found online for about 30 Euros/day. It's located between the Ribeira (the riverfront) and the City Center on an extremely steep street. Fortunately, when we ride out of Porto, we'll go down to the waterfront so we won't have to push our bikes and carry our packs back up.

    Once we were settled in, we had a €0.60 glass of wine in a popular little local watering hole and then went for a delicious mushroom, bean and coconut curry in a Mozambican restaurant. After dinner, we rolled downhill, back to our apartment, read for 5 minutes and passed out with the lights still on. I woke up 11 hours later, rested and ready to take on the new day.
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  • Day1

    ... in Porto

    April 11, 2016 in Portugal

    Estelle and I arrived this afternoon. We are staying in a small apartment in the old town. It is fantastic. This will be our base for the next five days before I set off on the Caminho Portuguese to Santiago.
    We did a short walk around Porto. It is a lovely place. We stopped in a few bars before ending up in a small bar around the corner from our apartment. We met two German guys from near Stuttgard who are beginning their Camino tomorrow. Their map was something printed off Google earth. We really enjoyed their company and sharing stories. An excellent day.Read more

  • Day1

    Casa da Horta

    September 30, 2015 in Portugal

    Today for lunch we went to "Casa da Horta", a cultural and environmental association that also serves vegan and vegetarian food. The menu changes daily depending on who's cooking and or volunteering in the kitchen. Today's menu was vegetable soup followed by lentil burgers served with rice and salad. The highlight was definitely the vegetable soup - so flavourful. This soup was definitely not made with OXO cubes! The lentil burger was good but we both found it a little heavy on thyme. The price could not be beat. 12.50€ for the both of us, including a glass of kombucha each.

    Dinner once again featured fresh figs amongst a selection of other fruits. The prices for fruit was generally better at the local grocers then the big Mercado. One of our favourite merchants was "Casa Oriental" close to Torre dos Clérigos. Some typical prices:
    Figs: 2.95€/kilo
    Bananas: 0.79€/kilo
    Persimmons: 2.45€/kilo
    Grapes: 1.79€/kilo
    Mangoes: 3.25€/kilo
    Peaches: 1.59€/kilo
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  • Day1

    Arrival in Oporto

    September 30, 2015 in Portugal

    I decided to set up this blog as an afterthought, a companion to Roch's "Less Cheese" blog which chronicles our travel adventures. I, however, only want to write about "food", and what we as vegans are eating on our cycling journey.

    We arrived in Oporto September 27, 2015, a Sunday, which meant a lot of things were closed. We were happy to sit out in a sunny piazza and munch on some mandarin oranges and bananas that we had bought for lunch.

    For dinner, we decided to go to Espaco Compasso. Although they were open, the chef was unfortunately sick that day. We asked the kind young man who greeted us if he could recommend another restaurant and per his suggestion, we ended up at Tia Orlando, a Mozambic restaurant where we had a delicious mushroom and bean dish done in a coconut curry sauce. Yes, I know, not very Portuguese but it sure made our tastebuds and bellies happy. 17.90€ for the both of us and that included a local beer for Roch.
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  • Day1

    Black Mamba

    September 30, 2015 in Portugal

    On Monday, many establishments were still closed but Tuesday, everything was open. Porto was like a new city.

    We decided to go to the market today. Yesterday's trek to Mercado Ferreira Borges proved fruitless since it's no longer a farmer's market. The Mercado had been converted to a cultural centre of sorts and we enjoyed an interesting photo exhibit but no fruits.

    Today, we walked up to Mercado do Bolhao but found it rather disappointing. It had none of the typical hustle and bustle that we love about a market and frankly, the prices were quite high. We left the market with just a small cherimoya for 1.30 euro.

    For lunch, we went to "Black Mamba - Burgers & Records", a totally vegan burger joint that also sells vinyl records. I had read some reviews where people were put off by the hard metal/punk rock music that the restaurant plays but we found the music was not very loud and as a result, not very intrusive.

    We both decided to order the "666" burgers. The patties were made with potatoes and leek and they came topped with lettuce, tomato and a slice of vegan cheese. I was even able to get a gluten-free sesame seed bun for an extra 1.50€. The burgers were scrumptious and the pan fries were perfectly seasoned and nice and crispy. 4€ for a burger, 2€ for pan fries, 1.50€ for a beer for Roch.

    As much as we were tempted to order a crumble or brownie for dessert, we wisely left and bought some figs from the little grocer down the street instead. We got about 20 oh-so-sweet green figs for 1.30 euro. We stopped at another fruit stand on the way home and bought 6 beautifully ripe persimmons for just over 3 euros. Add in some bananas, some white peaches and we had a feast for dinner.
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Jardim Municipal do Horto das Virtudes

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