Ian and Danielle are heading off for 6 glorious weeks - leaving Angus in charge (questionable) of Coco, the house and himself!
  • Day40

    Porto to London

    October 13 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    We woke to rain this morning and lots of it. Ian gave his dad a call to wish him a happy birthday which he was surprised but pleased to hear from him, he was off to an Indian dinner with Malcolm and Alex.

    We finished packing and then headed down to the foyer of our apartment building to wait for our driver, we waited and waited and waited. I tried calling the host without luck so at 9.15 we headed up to the taxi rank to get a taxi to the airport - not happy Jan! Just as we were getting to the rank Diana the host called us and said she would get onto the driver. We waited 5 minutes and when we had heard nothing we got in the cab. A minute later the driver called to say he was on his way and I told him that wasn’t good enough and he wasn’t required, he didn’t even bother apologising or giving any kind of excuse! I then rang Diana back and told her I wasn’t happy and wanted a full refund, she was very apologetic.

    We got to the airport in about 20 minutes and then joined the line to drop off our bags. Initially the line moved quite slowly but then a few more check in counters were opened and it went quite quickly. Even though it had started raining at 6am it stopped when we were outside waiting for our driver and getting a taxi and again when we boarded the plane, which was quite delayed, but they somehow made up the time and e of phone so we landed at London City Airport about 5 minutes late.

    We then had to locate our driver who we had organised to take us to the Sofitel at Heathrow. I had paid an additional £5 to have a driver meet us inside, but that didn’t happen and we finally found him at the pick up area after a couple of phone calls. I was pissed off to start with - not with the driver but with the company we booked with but decided to let it drop. Our drive across to Heathrow took us right through the centre of London and it was nice to revisit some of the areas we had explored in September. There was a bit of traffic because there had been a rally/protest which had only recently ended, so some streets were still closed off.

    We got to our hotel just after 4pm, we settled in, then went and has afternoon tea before walking over to terminal 5 to check out what we would need to do in the morning and also to top up the Oyster cards Sue and Ross had lent us.

    We had dinner in the hotel restaurant which was very nice and a great sleep in the wonderfully comfortable beds at the Sofitel. The trip ahead is a long one and we are in economy on the way home. Sitting next to us was a lovely young lady from Perth who had been in Europe at a professional swim meet - she swims for the US, a Washington team. Her name is Brianna Throssell and she was in the 200 metre Butterfly final in Rio and hopes to represent Australia again at the next Olympic Games in 2020.
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  • Day39

    Last dinner in Portugal

    October 12 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    For our last dinner in Porto we went to the third restaurant that was recommended by Rui our guide from earlier in the week. Again, the staff were lovely and engaging and we had a delicious dinner once more. I had octopus and Ian had the grilled Sea Bass - both very fresh - but no dessert as we had been spoilt by the desserts at TapaBento.Read more

  • Day39

    Late afternnon wanderings

    October 12 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    As we were pretty sure the way home was mainly flat or downhill and it wasn’t raining we decided to walk back to the apartment and wandered down streets and areas we had not yet seen. We even spotted some street art by My Name is SAM.

  • Day39

    Museu Nac. Soares dos Reis

    October 12 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    After our delicious lunch we headed off to one last Art Museum. We caught the bus there which didn’t take too long at all. We saw a temporary exhibition by Graça Morris titled The Metamorphoses of Mankind. The focus of this series of works is the human being and the human condition. The key subjects of her work are the victims of global turmoil, the millions of migrants who leave their home and country and walk while being pushed towards an uncertain future, often fleeing hunger, poverty, war, violence and death. The set of drawings and paintings were very haunting but also drew you in.

    There was a school group there so not all of the Museum was available - we were able to look through their paintings and artefacts areas. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon and then we decided to walk back to the apartment which was downhill with hundreds of steps and steep and narrow paths and roads to navigate.
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  • Day39

    Lunch at TapaBento #2

    October 12 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    We had booked a table so there was no waiting this time. We ordered some similar dishes to yesterday and a couple of different ones. We were not disappointed. We met a couple from Melbourne who had been driving around Portugal for a couple of weeks and still had a couple to go. This restaurant had been recommended to them by their travel agent. We also decided to treat ourselves to dessert again and they were amazing, I had the walnut and chocolate brownie with red fruits and Ian had the Irish Whiskey II and a couple from Paris sitting near us ordered the same desserts as us. They were both fantastic but the brownie like the citrus from yesterday was a real work of art. We really enjoyed this restaurant and when we return to Porto we will visit it again.Read more

  • Day39

    Time to taste port

    October 12 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We decided on a slightly later start today as the Estate we planned to visit didn’t open till 10am. We walked down to the funicular again and caught it up to the top to walk across the bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia. Here we caught the light rail a couple of stops, and then made our way to the cellar of Real Companhia Velha, which had been recommended to us by our host Paola. It was a good call as it was a fabulous.

    We first saw a video, giving some history of the Real Companhia Velha - it was the oldest wine company in Portugal, set up originally by the King and Prime Minister. It is now an amalgamation of a number of vineyards that have been acquired over time. We then did the English tour of the cellars with Pedro and, as Ian had selected the premium tasting, once the tour of the cellars was completed we were asked to wait in the cellars while the rest of the group was taken off to the tasting room. When he came back, Pedro gave us special treatment as he knew we were from Melbourne.

    Pedro was a wonderful advocate for the company and was especially excited to talk to us about the Melbourne Grand Prix, as he is a GP fan and Melbourne is his favourite circuit and race. We had to confess that we don’t attend this event and aren’t particular interested in car racing, but he didn’t seem to mind. We were given more of a tour of the cellars, seeing some special port barrels signed by celebrities, including Ayrton Senna, Pierre Cardin, Andie McDowell, and General Franco (Spanish Dictator).

    Pedro also took us on a tour of the owners personal cellar that contains some very rare and precious vintages. Once we finished our special tour we headed to the tasting room where we combined a classic and premium tasting that gave us eight ports to try - lucky neither of us had to drive! Pedro spent a lot of time with us educating us about ports, and I feel I now have a much better appreciation of port. I discovered that I am quite partial to white and rosé port, both of which are nice with tonic water and mint or on the rocks. Pedro is hoping to get to Melbourne for the Grand Prix in 2021, so we gave him our email and told him to contact us if he makes it over, and we would show him around and take him out to dinner. We finally finished our tasting when Pedro’s boss came over and told him he needed to have a lunch break - I think he would have talked to us for another hour or so if he wasn't interrupted.

    We left the estate and made our way back to the light rail to head into Porto for lunch at TapaBento again.
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  • Day38

    Dinner at Adega S. Nicolau

    October 11 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Again, this is a recommendation from Rui. Every evening when we pass by this place there is a huge line of people waiting, to avoid this we made a reservation. We had some Cod croquettes to start and then I had the grilled tiger prawns and Ian chose a veal dish. We also chose a nice red from the Douro to accompany our meal. We had a lovely evening and had a really good waiter who was interesting and spoke to us about wines from the area.Read more

  • Day38

    More street art from the walk

    October 11 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    There was so much wonderful street art to see it didn’t all fit in one entry. The city of Porto held a competition for an artist to paint the side of an abandoned building that is very visible from the Ponte de D. Luis I, and the guy who won it was an architect called Frederick Draw. His winning piece was a painting of his grandfather - Afonso said the painting looks like a typical Portuguese grandfather and is very welcoming, and I would agree.Read more