Porto and surroundings

Though this company is called “Lisbon Stories” I’ll be spending the next week quite far from Lisbon: I’ll be doing a tour in Porto and it’s surrounding areas, visiting Barcelos, Guimarães, Aveiro, Viana do Castelo, Régua and Douro valley.

All those who know me fairly well know about my passion for the North of Portugal. Porto, the main city and 2nd Portuguese city is now becoming a fancy “outsiders” destination and won several travel awards. Why is this city so special? Some say it’s because of Douro river; others mention the port wine, aging in its oak barrels not far from the city, many mention the baroque style carved on the granite stone, or even the famous sandwich “francesinha”. I have another reason: the laid-back personality of the inhabitants and the city itself couldn’t care less about this sudden popularity and didn’t change its character.

Being there it worths to pick a car and drive around this green region, discovering “Minho” area. Here you’ll find small scale agriculture, the catle raising and untouched Natural Parks (like Gerês), for the wild life, small rivers, lovely views from its mountains and also for the Green Wine. As for towns to visit, I specially love Barcelos and Guimarães. Guimarães was declared World Heritage by Unesco for its lovely historical center. Barcelos is also worth visiting, specially on Thursdays when its traditional framers market happens and a visit won’t be complete without passing by its open-air archaeological museum, one of my favorite museums in the whole country.

I could keep writing about this region forever, but, it’s time to pack my things and get ready for this trip. Thank you Kristin for booking this tour!

Vinho Verde – Green wine

After my last article about grilled sardines, I definitely have to talk about the wine that should be drunk with them: the green wine. “Vinho Verde” is produced in “Minho” region, a DOC region in the north of Portugal, known for its cold, rainy weather and fertile lands with granite soils. Due to the scarcity of the land and the frozen rime that falls during the night, these vines are cultivated in height, in tunnels or being used as fences.

Green wine is known for being be light, crisp, aromatic, with a light prickle of fizz and sometimes with a touch of sweetness. Should be served chilly and accompanies grilled fish, salads, chicken dishes and seafood. It’s perfect for those warm days when you just feel good when sitting outside, chatting with friends, when you’d normally have a beer.

 Despite its lightness, don’t let it trick you: this wine doesn’t go down, goes straight up to your head and you’ll only feel its effect when you try to stand up. Don’t worry though: it just makes you feel happy and alive, with no headaches nor hangovers. «

This wine is called “green” because the grapes are harvested before they’re done. Though everyone associates Green wine with a white wine, in the north the most popular is the red one, made of red grapes from Green wine casts. It’s confusing, I know. Personally, I like the white “Vinho Verde” better.

Regarding the prices, it’s very reasonable. In a normal restaurant a bottle costs from 10 to 18 euros, and can be bought for a lot cheaper in a supermarket. Since it’s not a “noble” wine no wine expert would ever say that its favorite wine is a green. Glad I’m not an expert: I simply LOVE it!

The stamp that all Green Wine bottles must have to proof its qualityShare your thoughts with me and this post with your friends!

 

My Easter holidays

After such a long time of pause, it’s fair enough that I start telling you a little bit of my last-week holidays.

Though I love travelling abroad, this time I decided to stay in my own country, going to the north and enjoying Minho region. If there is something that I love about Portugal, is it’s variety. In the range of few kilometres the landscape can change a lot, just like if you were in a different country.

Minho region is not an exception and despite loving my whole vacation, my favourite part was the National Park of Peneda-Gerês. During the same day I visited a 13th century castle, a park with 50 granaries or so, walked by the river and found a 12th century monastery, crossed a Roman bridge, caressed wild horses and discovered an old village, submerged by a dam, in the 70s.

Great food at a ridiculous price was also a constant, and the wine… How could I miss the light, fresh and slightly sparkling green wine, exclusive to this region?!

I just love every minute that I spend in the North of Portugal. Just hope that one day a little dream that might come true (in one or two decades): to create a “Porto Stories”! Sshhh, it’s still a secret!