What a week I've had, and we've done so much that it seems much longer than a week. After a weekend exploring Porto on foot, on Monday we headed to the Pinhao in the Douro Valley by train. The journey took just over two hours and the further along we went, the more picturesque the views became.
When we arrived at Pinhao we were struck by two things. One was the heat, it was even warmer here than in Porto with temperatures regularly reaching thirty two degrees, something that everyone kept telling us wasn't normal. It was nice to feel the sun but it was hard work and I was glad the bike hire didn't work out!
The second thing was the prettiness of Pinhao station. The tiles were a tourist attraction in their own right and in the short time we spent there during our stay coach parties arrived, snapped photos and went again and it was a great people watching space. I'll share more of those photos soon, but here's a taster until then.
Our hotel was a thirteen minute walk away so we opted to walk rather than take a taxi. We soon discovered that the majority of those thirteen minutes were a vertical walk. In the heat. With our luggage. But thankfully we only had one large bag and MOH was in charge of that. Once we got there the view was spectacular, but everything we needed was down in the town.
But the view and the pool made up for it.
We weren't expecting to have much pool time this holiday but with the temperatures there was some and some time with a good book was much welcomed. We also branched out, as well as tasting more port (well, when in Portugal) we also tasted some of the Douro wines. I've always said they taste sweeter than French wines, and on this holiday we found out why. The grapes here are smaller and sweeter and that flavour comes through into the wines, and there I was thinking I didn't have much of a sense of taste...
After spending most of the week exploring the small town of Pinhao on Friday we headed back to Porto by train, and I couldn't help but be pleased by the lower temperatures. They continued to fall throughout the afternoon, so much so, that there was fog. We wandered around a different part of Porto and I discovered a shop selling cabbage leaf tableware. These have been on my purchase list for a while and usually on our trips we'll bring back something as a memory of the place, but perhaps not the usual souvenir.
We ummed and ahhed and I chose the shallow dish I thought would be most useful and we decided to come back the next day rather than carry it around for the rest of the day and all of the following day. That was our downfall. It turns out quite a few of the shops only open Saturday mornings in Porto, and we missed it by twenty minutes or so. We assumed it was closed for lunch, but checking our days more carefully we realised there would be no cabbage plate purchase.
Ah well another time, I'm sure. And maybe we'll just have to go back!
We spent our last night in Portugal a little way out of town and in our restaurant of choice we were presented with these starters. Asking for further information we learnt they were the "specials" and one was chicken gizzards, the other mushrooms. For five euros I remained suspicious and the starters remained uneaten. Quite an odd choice we thought, but I'm sure
Quite an odd choice we thought, but I'm sure the waiting staff had a good giggle at the English couple eyeing up these starters suspiciously. The last laugh was on us though when we got them to taken them off the bill. We're not quite that green, although I feel I may have been if I'd attempted them.
I was back to work today and that was pretty full on. As usual there's a lot going on, but I'm also sure I'm still on Portuguese timescales as you so often are when you come back from a relaxing, but busy week away.
I'm sure that's also the prompt to book some more time off, and actually that's a very good point...
Excuse me while I check my calendar!