Monday, December 19, 2005

Yes we are still out there!!

Wow things time just flew there for a bit and I totally forgot to post pictures and stuff from our Thanksgiving trip. OOPS! Soooo here goes!!!!

Porto, Portugal

We spent the Thankgiving holiday weekend in Portugal. Our first day there, Thanksgiving Day was the only day it didn't rain and the last time we saw blue skies for a long long time. Porto is Portugal's 2nd largest city and is known for it's famous Port wine. The town is nestled right up to the edge of the river and one of it's landmarks is the huge steel bridge. If it reminds you of the Eiffel tower it is no coincidence since it was designed by Eiffel himself. The picturesque flat bottomed "rabelos" docked on the banks of the Douro river are how the wine used to be transported to the city from the vineyards. Porto is a busy "working" town, in fact there is an old saying that goes "Coimbra sings, Braga prays, Lisbon shows off and Porto works." This is clearly the case, and quite an interesting contrast to walk the narrow streets and alleys and find the homes and apartments of the people with their laundry hanging outside framing the facades of beautiful churches.

There were many amazing churches and a cathedral in Porto. I was fascinated with the beautiful "azulegos" (painted tiles, usually blue) that some of them were decorated with. We also made sure we went inside the Church of Sao Francisco, it seems that every available surface inside is covered in gold leaf and is said to be one of the country's most incredible displays of Baroque and Rococo gilt decoration.

You may wonder what we ate while we were in Porto. Well we always try to sample what ever kind of food a region is known for, but this time we were a bit hesitant. The people of the Port region are known as "The Tripe Eaters". It seems that in 1415 Henry the Navigator was preparing to sail to Morocco and the citizens donated all the best meat to him and kept the rest for themselves. When we went to Scotland we sampled Haggis and were pleasantly surprised, so we were brave and ordered a bowl of tripe stew along with our lunch. I must say that cow's stomach stew will not be finding it's way onto our table again any time soon. It was not totally inedible, but it was indeed a challenge.
Tomorrow I will tell you about the wonderful place we found to use as our home away from home this weekend.