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Port of Call

The second stage of our trip took us to Porto, in northern Portugal, where I was to host a wine cruise on the Douro River for about a hundred wine lovers from the USA. Porto has undergone a transformation over the past twenty-five years, and what was once a rather cold and dreary city has become a vibrant waterside community with great food, great wines, and a wonderful sense of joie de vivre. That's a panorama of the city from our hotel room, below.


We started our adventure in Porto, but had to take a short side-trip because Iberia lost M's luggage. That left her with few options, and a week of traveling ahead. We spent about 75 minutes at a shopping mall, racing from store to store, and managed to buy five days of clothes in a frantic effort to get up to speed. While M tried on clothes, I raced ahead to reconnoiter the next shops. And once she had something she liked, I stayed and paid for it while she followed my advice to the next stop. Amazingly, it worked. And when her bag arrived two days later, we were even happier.


The Douro is one of the truly magnificent wine regions of the world, with landscapes and scenery that are simply astounding. Teh vineyards are terraced up the sides of the valley so steeply that many are just a row or two of vines wide. Until it was dammed and controlled, all the wine from this region had to be shipped down in boats through the rapids, which were large and dangerous. Today those small ships carry tourists on evening cruises on the serene river.



And this was a wine cruise, after all, so we fit in visits to local wine estates, a palace or two, and a lunch hosted by a countess. We like to travel in style! That's the outdoor luncheon she organized for us, with fabulous food and views over the local valley near the town of Lamego that were memorable!.


Here is a view off that luncheon terrace.




By the time we were back in Porto, it was time to see our friend Claudia and Nuno one more time,.where she cooked the best meal of our trip--and stumbled off to catch planes the next morning--me to Cape Town, M to our house in Napa.


But first, a short video of sailing on the Douro in Porto:




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