We've embraced the 'Slow' philosophy as a way of life - what's the hurry?. Taking time to smell the roses (usually on a glass of Viognier) is more our style. Having spent more then 3 years on the road, slow travel has become a way of life. We have revised our plans completely and now focus on quality, not quantity, slowly.
we went to Portugal, we honestly thought it would be the last. As we drank our
last Delta coffee and stuffed the last custard tart down our gullets, we said
our farewells to the land of Port. But, as it happens, we have just spent
another 2 days in this beguiling country.
it really is the last trip to Portugal (honestly).
From Tordesillas it is only 100kms to the border and there was a part of
Portugal we hadn’t seen, so we took our bright blue ice-cream van (aka the
hired Citroen Picasso) across to Miranda do Douro, where the Spanish Duero
becomes the Portuguese Douro. We checked into the Pousada and watched Egyptian
Vultures swooping in the deep gorge below us searching for easy prey.
View of Douro/Duero from our Pousada
there we drove to Braganҫa in north-east Portugal. The town
itself is unremarkable except for a wonderful castle / citadel on the hill that
is a joy to wander around. We found a brilliant little hotel – La Tulipa – for
45 euros a night including breakfast, free parking and Wifi.
surprise was the restaurant where we ate both nights. Serving delicious local
specialities, we were in foodie heaven – again! The real winner for us was the
wine collection. We could simply fossick amongst the wine shelves and decide
which local aged wine we would drink. The first night we had a 1998 Douro for 9
euros to accompany our meat fest. We both had so much meat on our plate it was
impossible to do it any justice. The second night we shared an entrée and main
course and chose another beautifully aged local wine. The entrée was an unusual
local sausage served with a mountain of baked potatoes. The main course was veal
loin cooked on a stone, served very rare, cooking slowly to perfection at your
table. The cost was around 35 euros (including wine) and still we could not eat
We spent a
fun half hour after dinner with a local English teacher helping her to
translate the menu into English. Most of you will know how tricky it is to
translate menus, and the results can be hilarious for the unwary. We’ve seen
some classic ‘Google Translate’ menus. As a reward the lovely hotel patron gave
us a bottle a wine as he could see that we were very keen on the regional wines.
We also persuaded
him to sell us some wines of the shelf and walked away with 4 bottles of aged
wine from ‘Douro’ and ‘Tras os Montes’ at an average of 10 euros per bottle.
Incredible value and worth so much more to us.
of funny translations, we were recently directed by a brochure to the ‘historic
helmet’ (Casco Historico) – or more commonly translated as the historic centre
a wonderful day driving in the very NE corner of the country and crossed into
Spain several times (mostly by accident). We drove through ancient villages
with tumbledown houses and crooked bridges, with snow capped sierra in the
background. We naturally found a taberna for
lunch serving wild boar and rice stew (we also had to buy some local goat cheese). It was the warmest day we’ve
had for a long time and I could walk about unencumbered by a puffy coat. In the
last month the thermometer has struggled to reach double figures.
NE Portugal looking across to Spain
Ancient Portuguese Village
Lunch in Gimonde Taberna
way back we stopped at Zamora in Spain to see some wonderful Romanesque
churches. We could only get into one – but it was perfectly preserved and
untouched by the gothic, baroque, renaissance ‘enhancements’.
also surprised us with the food. We meandered about hungry and aimless for a
while before we found the ‘restaurant district’. Of course, it was centred at
the Plaza Mayor where we wandered into a tapas bar. Oh boy! – those tapas were
some of the best we’ve eaten. Simply delicious and so cheap.
week, back in Ribera Del Duero we also had a wonderful meal at a winery- amazing
melt-in-the-mouth roast lamb with a bottle of their own wine. It was so good we
went back for a winery tour the next day.
we have managed to score a visit to Vega Sicilia. Most of you will know that
this is Spain’s most expensive and most celebrated wine. I’m keen to find out
why! I’m not sure if we’ll get to taste any of the revered nectar – but I sure
hope so. My next blog will be from Logrono, Rioja Baja, so will definitely
report on our success in this pursuit.
it’s time for the ‘vege and water’ diet again – has to happen soon.