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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

With a little help from (our) friends

As we have mentioned previously, Anthony’s ex-colleagues at the University of Central Lancashire kindly gave him a wad of euros as a leaving gift which we have been spending over the past 11 months; treating ourselves to a meal out every month or so. In Porto, we had our ninth and last meal out on the staff and it was a memorable one.

Porto is a magnificent city; set on the sunny, south facing steep banks of the River Douro, it cannot help but be picturesque. On the cooler, north facing bank is a separate city, Vila Nova de Gaia; joined by some spectacular bridges, the two have a Newcastle: Gateshead relationship. Vila Nova de Gaia is the city where all the Port wine is produced by one of the many caves or cellars; Porto just got the name.

Porto is the more picturesque of the two cities, with tall, colourful houses around narrow cobbled streets; it is best seen from Vila Nova de Gaia, or from a boat cruise on the Douro. We chose Taylor’s for our Port wine tour and tasting as it has impressive views over the river to Porto. We arrived at lunch time and having walked up the steep hill, we were pleased to find that the restaurant menu had not just vegetarian options, but vegan main meals. The Taylor’s Restaurant is very posh; silver service from attentive waiting staff, heavy white fabric napkins and a panoramic view. It is, of course, accustomed to tourists and they didn’t bat an eye-lid at two scruffy travellers, although all the other guests were in very smart attire. We had an excellent meal and toasted the University staff with an aperitif glass of dry, white Port, called Chip Dry.

Back at the camp site we watched other campers returning from their own trips to taste the local nectar; laden with bags from Cockburn, Croft, Sandeman and others.

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