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An encounter on the lower Douro

In which a Samizdatista wanders approximately along the northern road to Santiago and beyond, views some industry and some magnificent rugged coastal country, tries some regional cuisine, watches some football, and encounters an interesting individual while drinking port in Vila Nova de Gaia

In August I took a summer holiday starting out at San Sebastian and Pamplona more or less on the Spanish/French border, working my way west across pretty much the entire Atlantic coast of Spain, and then spending several days in Porto in northern Portugal. For some reason an urge to visit that part of the country had been developing in my head for quite a few months, and I wanted to get it out of my system by going there. Sometimes I will visit a place because there is one thing there that I feel I must see, but more often the reasons resemble the reasons why I choose to read a particular book. If I find that I find two or more unrelated recommendations of a book in places and unconnected as possible, even slight or in passing recommendations, then this will encourage me to read it more than a single, stronger, recommendation, or two recommendations from the same place. And going to northern Spain and Portugal was like this.


One thing was that I went to Cornwall in England last year and had a wonderful time. And Cantabrica and the Asturias and Galicia are in a way the Cornwalls of Spain – the last parts of Spain to become Spanish, places that are less well integrated than many other parts, places that are still at least a little bit Celtic, and places that retain a distinct regional character. Or so I was told. (And Spanish food is said to retain more regional culture than most places). And like Cornwall, there is lots of rugged and beautiful coast to see.

But while Cornwall has always been a remote and economically relatively poor part of England, the Atlantic coast of Spain is something else, because when Spain conquered and ruled America, this is where the ships sailed from. And the industrial heartland of Spain came into being in this area as well. And of course this is the base of the massive and much maligned Spanish fishing industry, at least by the people of Cornwall and parts of Canada. (And of course this is the fishing industry that may have reached North America well before Columbus sailed to the Carribean).

I was curious about another thing, possibly more trivial. One of Spain’s greatest and most famous football teams is Deportivo La Coruña, which comes from the city of La Coruña in Galicia, a city with a population of only 230 000. This makes La Coruña into almost the Green Bay, Wisconsin of Europe – a major sporting team in a seemingly minor city. I was curious about this, too, so I thought I would go and have a look. Football, culture, and nationalism are incredibly mixed up wherever you go in Europe, but in Spain this is as extreme as anywhere. For decades the great club Real Madrid were basically an arm of General Franco’s fascist government (and some would perhaps crudely argue that they are basically an arm of the Madrid government today) and cheering an opposing football team was often one of the few public ways of protesting the government that was available, and passions for football clubs in ethnic minority regions can often be extreme.

And there was the city of Santiago de Compostela, the destination of the great pilgrimage to the supposed burial place of the apostle St James, that was once a point through which Christians amongst other things demonstrated resistance to muslim rule of Spain.

And there was another question that vexed me. Spain officially has three minority languages: Catalan, Basque, and Galician. The nationalist issues that go with Catalan and Basque are well known (and I had been to both places before), but the Galicians have a lower profile. Alas, I am not a linguist, but at least some people had told me that Galician is mutually intelligible with Portuguese, so that Galicia is essentially the Portuguese speaking part of Spain. And I was curious about this, and whether Galicia felt Spanish or Portuguese. So I thought I would visit Galicia and northern Portugal and compare the two places.

And I had heard that Porto is a stunningly beautiful city, and I thought I would go and look for myself. And I am a big fan of the great fortified wine that both comes from and is named after the city of Porto.

So all these things came together, and had been making me want to visit. Finding myself with a couple of weeks before starting a new job, I bought a ticket to Bilbao and flew off. Now despite the cultural richness of the destination, this journey was quite substantially off the regular tourist circuit – at least that traversed by English speakers and northern Europeans. I am at heart a low budget, independent traveler, and I usually carry a backpack, but in taste I am more what Neal Stephenson describes as the “hacker tourist” than a backpacker. (And if you have never read his 1996 essay “Mother Earth Motherboard”, go read it now). But I am not quite one of these either. He describes a transitory existence of expatriates in airport bars and business hotels, and while I am an expatriate, and I have at times certainly found myself in transit lounge bars in Asian airports talking to such people, that one is not quite me either. When I travel I do it on a relatively low budget. I stay in cheap hotels or hostels or I go camping. I probably started doing it because I was compelled by financial pressures, but these days I do simply because I like it. One meets more interesting people, in my opinion.

This is a style of travel particularly suited to single men travelling alone I think. And I suspect I shall not always be one of these. I understand that if I ever cease being single and have someone else with me, I shall probably have to give up camping and hostels and stay in nice hotels, and I will probably only be indulged with a small amount of time to go and look at the container ports and aluminium smelters of the world. (Unless I can find one of those few wonderful women out there who like going on camping holidays and seeing interesting and eclectic things. I can dream)

But while I enjoy low budget travel, one tiresome thing is that within that, one finds what might be described as the “politically correct backpacker”. These are people who claim to disdain mass tourism, and often reject the very word “tourist” (usually preferring to refer to themselves as “travellers”), would not dread of eating at a McDonald’s or going to a Starbucks, and usually travel for long periods at a time. They are often Australian or English or German or Scandinavian. Despite disdaining “tourists”, they have this curious tendency to all travel to exactly the same places, eat the exact same things in the exact same places, and see exactly the same things as one another, which is the same precise type of behaviour they disdain in “tourists”.

Sadly, one thing about them is that they have infiltrated the guidebook business. Fifteen years ago, most independent tourists in Europe were carrying “Let’s Go” guidebooks, which were written mostly by Harvard students taking summers in Europe. These days, they are dominated mostly by the “Lonely Planet” guidebooks, which were founded and are run by some independent travellers from Melbourne, Australia. These do have the advantage of being pretty comprehensive and quite good for finding things like train times, cheap accommodation, and restaurants, so I usually carry one, but their editorial tone is deeply tiresome. The “Lonely Planet Spain” guidebook I was carrying managed to contain such gems as the following.

“Fortunately, Spain is not yet ‘blessed’ with too many motorways……”

(Very good. You managed to sneer at the prospect of Spain having decent roads on which to get around twice in the one sentence. Presumably you are also arguing that the fact that my bus journey from Gijón to La Coruna took six hours and then left me with severe motion sickness that then turned into a full blown migraine that left me completely debilitated for the next 12 hours was a good thing, whereas if I had arrived in three hours perfectly well that would have been a bad thing).

“The ten worst things about Spain: 9. Heavy industry around Bilbao”

(Yes, okay, I realise I am in a minority in that I go to look at industrial sights when I travel, but the most interesting architectural trend in the world is what is being done with decaying industrial structures, and how they are being rebuilt with modern materials and modern design to become commercial and residential centres. The result has a tendency to look like monsters with spider webs growing on them. Bilbao as a whole is maybe the best and most fascinating example of this kind of thing in the world. The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao works architecturally because it understands this and complements the rather brutal architecture around it – not because it is some gem surrounded by a sea of effluent (as most guidebooks seem to suggest). Don’t tell me you have missed this trend entirely? Yes. You have missed it entirely).

And don’t try using any such guidebook if you are interested in finding anything of historical interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or economics. It is entirely pointless.

In any event, I preferred the day when the standard guidebooks were written by rather more open minded American college students. They weren’t always as comprehensive, but the editorial line was a little more welcoming to people who did not share their biases.

But anyway, as I said, the tiresome breed of backpacker tend to all go to the same places, and the Atlantic coast of Spain (with the exception of San Sebastian, which is backpacker central) is not that place. And for that matter, English and German package holiday tourists don’t go there either. Spanish package holiday resorts are on the Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands. The north coast is a destination for Spanish tourists, but not for foreigners.

So I made my way along the coast. I saw a variety of container, bulk materials and fishing ports. I did a number of really magnificent coastal walks through rugged and magnificent country (particularly near Santander and Gijón ), and found some monuments to great mariners of history. I visited a couple of beautiful beaches. I visited the cathedral in Santiago (I couldn’t go to mass without having my bag placed through an X-Ray machine and having to walk through a metal detector. The fact that I was at least in some sense at a point of historical conflict between Christianity and Islam was presumably not unnoticed). I found out something about the conventions that apply with respect to Galician ham sandwiches when Real Madrid games are on the television. I enjoyed quite a lot of regional Spanish cuisine. Spanish restaurants are a bargain, often providing three large courses, wine, and bread for less than €10) But the downside of all this was that I didn’t meet many English speaking people, and I had to do without interesting conversations for most of the trip. And as one of these monolingual Anglophones, there was not so much I could do about that. I managed to catch a Deportivo game in La Coruna, and as the opposition was Irish, I managed to find some people with who to speak English for a day or so. And I enjoyed the hilarious spectacle of watching twentysomething male Irish football fans be taunted by sixtysomething Spanish grandmothers in football colours. Now there is something I wouldn’t see in England. (And the full name of the football club is Real Club Deportivo de la Coruna. Spanish clubs have the best names, and one wouldn’t see that in England either. Royal Arsenal anyone? Perhaps we will see Imperial Czar’s Chelsea at some point though)


But eventually I got to Portugal, and Porto. Given the cultural and linguistic links between Galicia and Portugal, I was curious to see to what extent the two places felt like they were in different countries.

The answer was, enormously. For a start, there are only two trains a day between Vigo in Spain and Porto. Whereas there are lots of trains between Porto and places just the other side of the border. “You want a ticket from Vigo to Portugal? Here is the ticket to the border, and here is the ticket from the border to Porto. An integrated ticketing system? You must be joking. Yes, I know there are no border controls and a single currency”. And even on those two trains a day, there were very few passengers on the section actually crossing the border, although there were lots of passengers travelling internally within Portugal.

And then you get to Porto. The city is beautiful and magnificent. It is quite a large city – over a million people – and is I think for many people just about the last undiscovered great city of Europe. Some cities on rivers are dominated by the river. (The Danube through Budapest is a fine example). Some are not. (The Danube through Vienna is an example of that). Porto is a city with a chasm through the middle of it, through which flows the magnificent Douro river crossed by wonderful bridges built during the 20th century. (Never was there a better location for twin deck steel arch bridges. But I digress).


The architecture is different to that in Spain. Customs in restaurants are entirely different. (While in Spain everything is included in the price including the wine, in Portugal you pay separately for everything, even the things they place on the table that you did not order). There is often a shift in customs and conventions when you cross a border, and the one between Spain and Portugal, even from Galicia to Portugal, is more jarring than most. It may be that both countries were dictatorships and fairly closed until just two or three decades ago. Or it may be more than that. Even though the least integrated parts of Spain, the parts near the Atlantic have received their largest cultural influences from Spain, and when not that from France. But many of Portugal’s came from somewhere else.

And the most famous product of Porto, port wine, may be a clue to this. Port is of course an “English” wine, in that its modern form came into being out of trade with England. As England spent much of the 17th century at war with France, supplies of red wine from Bordeaux were unavailable, and the wine drinking classes of England had to obtain their wine from somewhere else. As relations with Portugal were good, they started importing wine from the Douro valley in Portugal. (Even in those days, England had long been the traditional trading partner of Portugal, the two countries having signed a treaty of “perpetual friendship” in 1373). Initially, the English were initially unhappy with the quality of of the wine imported, and therefore they set about improving the quality themselves, and a number of English port houses were founded in Porto (or, more correctly in Vila Nova de Gaia on the south side of the river, which is to this day still officially a separate city). Nobody is quite sure when port became a sweet wine. The practice of adding brandy to the wine to stabilise the quite astringent wine apparently started quite early, but adding it prior to the fermentation of much of the sugar apparently did not come until the 18th century. One probably apocryphal story is that a shipment was prepared this way by accident, and that people in London liked it that way and asked for more.

But the English influence on Porto is profound. It influences the architecture, the bridges across the river were built by English engineers, the trams have an English style about them (although there are no trams like that left in England), and the place just has a far less Latin feel about it somehow than Spain. There is even a “Crystal Palace” in the middle of a “Crystal Palace Park” on a hill overlooking the river. While it is nowhere near as large or ornate as the structure that once existed in south London, it is a nice touch.

And in a country that was and to some extent still is very poor by European standards (although much less so than even a few years ago – when I visited Lisbon in 1993 the city had slums of a kind that were absent in Porto this year) the city is clearly extremely proud of the world famous product that is produced there.

Which is why the names of the port houses light up the night on the south of the river. Each major port lodge has a large illuminated sign on the roof or wall of its building. There are no other illuminated signs south of the river. I don’t know if there is a law restricting them to the port lodges, but the effect is quite interesting, for the names are all very proper English or Scottish names. “Graham’s”. “Tayor’s”. “Warre”. “Cockburn”. “Smith-Woodhouse”. “Croft”. Most of the port houses are now Portuguese owned, but the English names remain. (Port wine is produced in the upper Douro valley and shipped downstream (these days by truck) to Porto, where is is “lodged” in the premises of the port house in question, hence the expression “port lodge”).


And more importantly for me given that I was visiting the city, like wine producers everywhere the port houses provide tasting rooms for visitors to sample the wares. So, I set about visiting a few of the port lodges to try some of the port. These are professional operations of large wine companies. If you are visiting winemakers, this is often a good thing, as the cellar door tasting room is in that case usually essentially a public relations operation. They hope that you will enjoy your visit and as a consequence buy their wine in a local shop due to the good feeling you got from the visit. (Small wineries often make their livings through cellar door sales, so there is more pressure to buy as well as taste, which can be a problem if you are carrying only a backpack and flying home on an aircraft). The port lodges in Porto have tours in multiple languages, audio-visual presentations, display cases with historic port memorabilia – all that kind of thing. Much of this is English memorabilia – such as an empty Port Bottle that was specially prepared and dispatched to Jesus College Cambridge in the early 18th century and similar memorabilia

Which gives me a little bit of a personal relationship with this place. Port was invented for a particular type of Englishman in the 17th and 18th centuries, and these certainly include the people who attended and became fellows of Oxford and Cambridge colleges. A lot of the best port ended up in the cellars of these colleges. And the colleges have a serious culture of port drinking to this day. And as it happens, I attended such a college – St John’s Cambridge – when I was doing my Ph.D. a few years back. Being served 25 year old vintage ports at formal dinners is an experience I have had once or twice. And I joined the college wine society, learned all about the different kinds of port (as well as other drinks) and generally had a fine time. I even started running tastings and giving lectures on wine myself – although only to the members of the graduate common room. I was a little too intimidated to give one to the college wine society itself. (In retrospect I look back and realise this was silly – they would have been very pleased if I had done so). So as it happens, I know quite a bit about port myself, which is quite unlike most of the other visitors to the port lodges, who seemed to be mostly Spanish, German or French, and who knew nothing about port at all.

In any event, after visiting a few tasting rooms, I ended up at Taylor’s at around midday on a Saturday. I tried a few more wines, and received another presentation on the history of the port industry and the Douro valley. Ahead of me were a couple who looked in their sixties. They were talking American accented English, which is always a good sign, as Americans are usually the friendliest and most welcoming of fellow travellers. So I walked up and introduced myself.

After a little conversation I said something that suggested I knew more about port than I was letting on. This was queried, and I admitted to having done a Ph.D. at a Cambridge college that took its port seriously. Further enquiries discovered that I had a Ph.D. in fluid mechanics, and I was promptly informed that the person I was talking to was a retired American physicist who had grown up in Michigan, done some defence work at some point, worked at a University in Texas, and had retired to Provence in France. After a further chat, I find myself joining the Americans in the adjacent restaurant, having an enormously pleasant conversation over a long, large, and quite alcoholic lunch. A bottle of table wine was ordered which wasn’t very good, and as a consequence we kept drinking futher glasses of the white port that was intended as an aperitif instead. Always a bad decision (or good, depending on how you look at it). The conversation ranged from a discussion of the relative merits of differential and integral forms of the Navier Stokes equations to the merits of living in Provence (beautiful place, but the French state at this point is a disaster) to the merits of our various modes of travel. My description of my solo low budget approach and my €15 a night accommodation was the source of a certain amount of mirth, and the observation was made that if I had a partner I would be paying ten times that but “it has its compensations”. I explained that both sides of this bargain were things I was aware of, and that perhaps my time of solo travel would not last forever. (They were one of these obviously long and successfully married couples who could completely rely on one another and who could therefore be a little carefree over a long and alcoholic lunch in a foreign country, so I did see their point). I told them about my slightly itinerant life of recent years, and how I was about to return to the busy but well remunerated life of the financial markets a few days later. They told me about their children and tried to impart a little of the wisdom of long lives to a relatively young and inexperienced but hopefully interesting chap like me. We exchanged URLs and e-mail addresses. I gave them the address of my personal blog, and made the observation that “If you follow the links, there is a libertarian website I also write for”. Although Adriana and Gabriel might not like the description “libertarian”, it will do for me for now.

And it did in this context. For a funny thing happened. The gentleman gave me a look – the sort of look that might be described as a “He has the accent. ‘Tis a Gascon” look. The fact that I had declared myself to be a libertarian somehow went down very well. This gentleman was as pleased to find a young libertarian ex-physicist financier in a Porto port-lodge as I was to meet him.

But fine as it was, the lunch was eventually over. We shook hands warmly and went on our separate ways.

While I usually do have long interesting conversations with people I don’t otherwise meet when I travel, the off the beaten track of this particular trip had meant I hadn’t had one for a couple of weeks. But the quality of this one made up for it.

I love travelling. I can’t help it.

20 comments to An encounter on the lower Douro

  • Rachel

    Thanks for letting me enjoy your trip, both the journey itself and the links. (I found this completely by chance, by looking for a word in the blog glossary). I added the missing music in my mind, Misia , from Porto. I find that the Portuguese music is a very important part of the country’s special character, and not at all of Spanish influence.
    I haven’t been there yet really, only four days, but you remind me that I should visit Portugal thoroughly.

  • bandersnatch

    What a coincidence! I’m an occasional reader of this blog, and I live in La Coruña! I’m happy that you enjoyed travelling to Galicia.

  • Dale Amon

    Although I have never been there myself, it has a special place in my memories as an Irish woman who was a very dear friend of mine did her summer studies in Spanish poetry there about 20 years ago and I regularly received letters postmarked La Coruna.

    Your description of some of the backpackers reminded me of the description used by an Irish bass player I worked with (or mostly drank with to be totally honest): Vassins.

    “I vas in Galway, I vas in Doolin, I vas in Ennis, I vas in….”

    I also remember one night in a trad pub in Galway when I was standing at the bar while some friends were hard at it in the sessiun… a bus load of French tourists pulled up outside. They all came up the stairs single file, stood around for 20 minutes watching the musicians… then the all filed out down the stairs again.

    The barman told me not one of them had bought a drink.

    Well, it could have been worse. They could have bought pints of Guinness and left them behind. Now, *that* *IS* a sin.

  • 1327

    A very enjoyable and interesting post. Several times a year I fly over that area on my way to the Canary Islands. The aircraft always follows the same route over the Bay of Biscay and making land fall on that north west tip of Spain before flying down the length of Portugal. That part of Spain always looks so rugged and thinly populated that I keep saying I will have to visit it.

    Also from 30,000 feet Portugal seems to have more disused airfields than the UK. Can anyone explain why given the fact Protugal has stayed out of the big conflicts of the 20th century ?

  • I wish I’d gone to Portugal while the vintage English Electric and ALCO locomotives were still running on the Portuguese railways; I believe they’ve been retired now.

  • Tim: There were many very ancient English Electric trams in service in Lisbon when I was there in 1993. The tram I rode in Porto this year was ancient and I think the same make, but I am not certain. It was crowded when I rode it and I didn’t get a chance to look for a manufacturers plate anywhere, so I couldn’t say for sure.

  • What is the ‘Deportivo’ in the club name mean?

    The only place I have travelled to is New Zealand, and even though they speak English (well, sort of speak English), I was very concious of being ‘a stranger in a strange land’.

    However I am not sure if that is because of the mountains and the land, or the people.

    But I will admit there was one similarity. I grew up on Eyre Peninsular, and there is a custom there when you are driving to raise the index finger (NOT the middle finger) from the steering wheel, as a form of a wave to drivers as you whizz past them.

    I still tend to do this, as old habits die hard. And I was doing this all round New Zealand; what was really strange was that driving through the back-blocks of the Canterbury Plains, the local farmers did the same thing. A bizzare little cultural meme that evolved in the same way in two unrelated places.

    I wonder if such cultural memes like that evolve in different parts of the Iberian peninsular?

  • …the “politically correct backpacker”…

    I’ve noticed the same sort of thing. The most jaw-dropping was an eighty-year old backpacker, whom I met in Sydney a couple of years ago, who, in telling me about his trip to Israel, said that all the Palestinians had to fight with were sticks and stones. I decided to hold my tongue.

    Someone clearly needs to publish some guide books and open a chain of hostels targeted at the unashamed free-market backpackers. I hope there are more than two people in the market.

    The conversation ranged from a discussion of the relative merits of differential and integral forms of the Navier Stokes equations…

    Any interesting insights?


    The only place I have travelled to is New Zealand, and even though they speak English (well, sort of speak English), I was very concious of being ‘a stranger in a strange land’.

    Interesting. Apart from the weather, Australia didn’t seem foreign to me at all. I was always tempted to say to the locals, “You’re really British, aren’t you?” What finally confirmed it was when someone told me that traditional Australian food consisted of unappetising, stodgy meals like fish and chips, but the choice of food had greatly improved thanks to an influx of Asian immigrants.

  • Jacob

    Deportivo means sport (adj).
    “Club Deportivo” is sport club.

  • I enjoyed your piece, as I rode the Camino de Santiago last year, (which you can read about, if you’re bored, at http://homepage.mac.com/verbier7/index.htm.
    However, when Spain conquered and ruled America, ships actually sailed from Southern Spain, down the Guadalquivir from Seville. They may have returned to La Corunna, but their departure point was not from Northern Spain. See Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire from Columbus to Magellan by Hugh Thomas.

  • madne0

    Hey, i’m Portuguese, live in Porto (lived in Gaia for several years too) and am a big fan of Samizdata. How’s that for coincidences?
    Just a little nitpick. Porto doesn’t have a population of 1 million. The metropolitan area of Porto has close to 2 million inhabitants, but the city of Porto itself has only 180 thousand people. That’s right, 180.000.

    1327: Portugal participated in the 1st World War. Lost a few dozens of thousands of men there too. As for WW2, ask Salazar. He, and his fascist regime, were quite cozy with the nazis…

  • madne0: When I talk about the population of a “city” I tend to mean “metropolitan area” by default, as political definitions of cities are so different from case to case that giving populations on that basis isn’t an especially useful thing to do. And on that basis, I find that the most useful source on the web is here, which gives the population of the Porto metropolitan area as 1.325 million. So I don’t think it was unreasonable to say that the population of Porto is “more than a million” as I did. But of course, there is a certain arbitrariness to definitions of metropolitan area, too, and it probably is two million by some other perfectly sensible definition.

    And fair enough Arthur. My mistake, although certainly a fair amount of Atlantic trade did take place from the northern coast of Spain (and still does).

  • lucklucky

    Nice you liked. I am from Lisbon area. Yes the Galiza and Portuguese are similar languages. Spanish government tries to limit the use of traditional Galiza language, i remember when i went there in 90’s some road signs in spanish were painted over by Galizia names.
    Northern Portugal and Galiza was a territory that was separated( XI century) between nobility by King of Leon & Castila . Condado(County) Portucalense was expanded to south fighting the Moors , the independence came in Battle of Ourique in 1139 when Prince Afonso Henriques fought and won against his mother troops from Leon.
    In short you can say that Galiza and Portugal were separated at birth…
    The Treaty with England is the longest alliance in History, with ups and downs, but it’s still in play.
    Well you have got your 5 o clock tea because a Portuguese Princess married with an English King.
    fought in 1WW, thousands died in Belgium La Lys Battle
    In 2WW Salazar made business with Germans when they were wining and rented the Azores Base to allies when the winds changed…

  • 1327

    My thanks to Luckylucky and Madne0 for explaining Portugal’s contribution to the Allied cause in WW1 which was something I didn’t know.

    I always look out for disused airfields while flying as that part of history fascinates me and they are easy to spot when you know what you are looking for.


  • You make my feet feel very itchy ….

  • Jacob

    A pity you don’t speak some Portugese. They are very friendly people. Visiting Portugal a couple of years ago I stopped at some outdoor cafe as I saw some guys watching a footbal game on the TV. They soon invited me to join their table, and bought me a beer. When I made some favorable remark about Luis Figo I was definitely accepted as a honorary member of the group, and several more rounds of beer were had by all until the game concluded. I was also introduced to the wives of the guys, which, respectfully, sat at another table, being less interested in footbal.
    Very nice experience.

  • Portuguese Soul


    A tricky from Portugal to you:

    The Vinho do Porto (Port Wine) is a good afrodisiac before a date with a girl or a boy. But, just a litle wine is enouph to have a good date. For girls and boys.

    And remember, don’t drive after drinking. Take a cab to yours fantasy land. 😉

  • Hey, is it just me or you forgot to write about the most important export and most internationally acclaimed product of Porto, the euro champs FC Porto? Couldn’t you realise it is the best reason for all the people there to feel proud? Anyway, congratulations for all the knowledge and for the accuracy on almost every remark.

  • Carlos

    If you visit the douro region, don’t forget this places:

    Côa Valley Archaeological Park (World Heritage site by the UNESCO.) link

    Marialva, a small historical medieval Portuguese village link

    And if you need a great place to stay, let me suggest this Hotels:

    Mesão Frio (18th century manor house) link

    Casa do Côro link

    pousada do marão link

  • Iago Cortinhas

    im very glad you have visited Galicia and to be precise the historical territory-land of Gallaecia (currently Autonomous Community of Galicia, Asturias and parts of Leon in the Spanish State and the Regiao Norte de Portugal which extends up between the rivers Douro and Minho in the Current Portuguese State), which went down into history books for being the first European kingdom-state after the Roman fall…Its language (known in the middle Ages as galego, for being the language originated in Gallaecia) was renamed afterwards as Galician-Portuguese, possibly down to the loss of influence of Galicia, colonised by Castile-Spain and the expansion of the Galician Condado Portucalense (origin of current Portugal) down to arabs land to the South as the Spanish-Castilians and the Catalans did on the centre and the east of the Hispanic-Iberian Peninsula.
    It’s a shame that political entanglements have blurred the common memory of Galicia and Northern Portugal..as if they treat each other as foreign…Unbelieavebly SAD…