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What is Port wine?

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What is Port wine ?

What is Port wine and how do you start by understating how to choose a Port to buy is what you will find in this post.

Port wine is probably one of the most know products from Portugal.

Is kind of a Portuguese icon.

Some people like it, some people don’t. What about you? Do you like it?

The truth is, there are so many kinds of this particular wine that you might never have tasted the one you love.

Maybe you tasted a Ruby with no idea there was a Tawny port or even a white.

Let’s map port wine so you can have a better understanding of this lovely wine.

You can call port wine or just Port.

Tawny, LBV, Ruby, Vintage, … these are some of the names that will see on the bottles.

What is the Port?

In the research I did, the definition of port wine that pleased me most is on Wikipedia and says “Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto,…, and often simply Port) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.” (link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_wine)

Is Port so different from a regular table wine? If so, why is that?

Good … very simple, just drink one and drink the other and you will see big differences.

Port is sweeter and has higher alcohol content than table wine.

Regular red table wine has around 14% alcohol and a red Port around 20 or 22% alcohol.

As you already know, Port can only be produced in the region of the Douro Valley.

To produce Port or Douro table wine the same types of grapes are used. The production method is what makes the big difference between the two wines.

The whole process of picking and treading the grapes is equal to Port and table. The difference starts during the fermentation period.

To produce Port there will be a shorter fermentation period of 2 or 3 days and to produce table wine a regular fermentation period of 6 or 7 days.

Then, in the case of Port, to stop the fermentation process a certain quantity of wine spirits is added to fortify the wine.

As a result, we will get a sweeter wine because not all the sugar was transformed into alcohol and this wine will have a higher alcohol content because it was added wine spirits.

These wine spirits are neutral, colorless, with a 77% alcoholic content, it is generally added at the rate of approximately 115 liters of spirits per 435 liters of wine in fermentation, although this ratio can vary.

In relation to the types of Port, let us start by understanding how do they to relate to each other and then we will see some details of each category.

Are there several types of Port?

Yes, there are several types of Port.

Are they so different to the point of a regular person to feel the differences?

Ooohhh Yes.

Between the various categories, there are significant differences.

Nothing better than drinking different categories and feel the differences – this is the best part, naturally.

My intention is only to give a general idea about Port and help those who want to choose a bottle to take home or offer.

However, it is always good to taste them all – eheheheheh – that is the true choice of the knowledgeable.

What kind of categories for Port? 

Red – on the red’s you can find two different families:
Ruby and here you can find: Ruby, Recently, LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) and Vintage;
Tawny and you will find: Tawny, Tawny Reserve X number of years (10, 20, 30 or 40) and Harvesting

White – rated in accordance with its sweetener lever:  very sweet called “Lágrima”, “Sweet”, “Dry” and “Extra dry.

Rosé – with only one classification

In a future post, I will give you some insight about each kind of Port  I mentioned above.

There are a lot of pieces of information on the Internet about this subject but the biggest problem is to choose what to read.

I strongly recommend consulting the website https://www.ivdp.pt/ .

The IVDP is the Port and Douro Wines Institute and there you will find very good information.

To learn more in detail about the various categories of port wine can go directly to https://www.ivdp.pt/pagina.asp?codPag=64&codSeccao=2&idioma=1

Now it’s time to stop writing about it and go drink port wine.

I will drink a Tawny 10 years of Quinta de La Rosa, anyone with me?

“Saúde” (means health in Portuguese)

David Monteiro

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Fuseta closer to Nature, Algarve, Portugal

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Fuseta closer to Nature, Algarve, Portugal

Fuseta is a perfect location to combine birdwatching and some quiet beach time.

Fuseta is a small village by the sea and marshlands where you can do some birdwatching in the Algarve.

Is still a generally forgotten destination when planning to visit the Algarve but it shouldn’t be.

When at Fuseta you can visit Armona Island, a white-sand island with cristal clear waters.

One of the local attractions is the “ria” (1) and all the sea-life you can enjoy when taking a boat tour there.

I enjoy visiting the “Moinho das Marés” (2), a local lodging with direct access to the marshlands.

By being lodged there you have access to the area where flamingos spend most of their life.

You can get close enough to the flamingo’s to photograph even not being a nature or birds photographer with expensive gear.

There are other birds than flamingos although I’m not an expert to tell you their names.

The lodging itself is quite nice. Simple, functional, clean and it will cover more than your basic needs.

Mosquitos will be an issue because you are surrounded by water.

However, in the rooms, you will be safe because they have mosquito nets on the windows.

Anyway, I will suggest you have bugs spray when you go outside especially during sunset.

All in all, is a wonderful place to stay.

Have fun,

David Monteiro

(1) Ria: is like river (rio in Portuguese) but with seawater.

(2) Moinho das Marés: the translation for “moinho de maré” is tide mill, Moinho das Marés is the name of the lodging and it refers to an old tide mill existing at the place.

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Panoramic view at Tavira, Portugal

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Panoramic view at Tavira, Portugal

After a day of walking, join the company of a gin tonic and let the sunset working its magic at this rooftop in the upper part of Tavira.

After a day of walking, join the company of a gin tonic and let the sunset working its magic at this rooftop in the upper part of Tavira.

You might have spent your day walking or biking and, at the end of the day, you are looking for a place to chill out.

Tavira is a nice town and along the river Gilão you will find a lot of bars.

As you can guess, during high season, most of the bars downtown will be quite crowded.

Not at the center of Tavira but still, at walkable distance, you can find the panoramic bar of the Maria Nova Lounge Hotel.

If you are a photographer, I can say this is a must-go place to shoot.

During summer, the sunset is quite late and usually with warmer colors.

Off-season you can get an earlier sunset and additionally the town is more illuminated because there is still some commercial activity.

Because is a rooftop bar, it stands higher up and you can enjoy the light breeze of warm summer nights.

If gin is your drink, take a chance on that.
During the last years, a set of new Portuguese gin brands appeared in the market.

Portuguese gin, who could have thought about that?

One brand, in particular, is quite different and I like it: Gin Nao

Gin Nao has some taste and aroma from port wine barrels, lovely.

With a slightly sophisticated but relaxed environment, this bar is one of the best bars in Tavira.

Try it and let me know.

David Monteiro

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July 2017 – Trekking tour in the Pyrenees, Aigüestortes National Park, Spain

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Trekking tour in the Pyrenees, Aigüestortes National Park, Spain

Trekking tour in the Pyrenees, Aigüestortes National Park, Spain

Trekking tour in the Pyrenees, Aigüestortes National Park, Spain

Moderate/Challenging Level – level 3 in 5 max
7 days of moderate hiking, 6 nights in mountain huts + 2 optional nights in Barcelona (hotels)
Tours in 2017: 1st Jul 2017 – Reservation Deadline: 15th May 2017
or gather your group and select your own schedule

Check our photo gallery from previous tours (click on one photo to enlarge):

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David MOnteiro

Aigüestortes National Park (Spanish Pyrenees)

Aiguestortes National Park is located in the central area of the Spanish Pyrenees and is the only national park in Catalonia.

Its territory is divided between the municipalities of Vall d’Aran, Pallars Sobirá, Alta Ribagorça and Pallars Jussà, about 200 km’s West of Andorra.

Was created in 1955 and today covers an area of approximately 40,000 hectares also considering the peripheral protected areas.

Is a natural space of great beauty where both water and granite appears in their maximum splendor in surprising combinations.

With a high concentration of ridges often around 3,000 m high, as is the Punta Alta (3,015 m) and the Contraix (2,960 m), you will find a high contrast with the deep green valleys where streams flow with crystal clear waters.

The trail

The trail is approximately 75 km long and is divided into 7 journeys/days.Carros de Foc

Is a 7 days long loop trail which goes through hills and valleys where you will find crystal clear water lakes that reflects the silhouettes of impressive granitic mountains.

The average elevation of the route lies on the quota of 2,500 m, sometimes reaching very close to 3,000 m.

During the course the hike you will have the opportunity to visit 8 mountain refuges among which 6 we will use to spend the night and dine.

The use of mountain huts allows you to do not have to carry excessive weight in your backpacks because there you will find very good food, shower and a place to sleep. More than that, these huts are also a meeting point for travelers from various points of the globe and the talking and exchange of experiences creates unforgettable moments.

The comfortable pace and moderate distances make this an accessible hike to most trekkers, even with little experience.

The map image above gives you an idea of the trail we will walk where the each colour corresponds to each journey/day.

The 1st and 8th nights will be spent in hotel on the outskirts of Barcelona Airport.
The remaining nights will be spent in mountain huts in Aiguestortes National Park, in the Spanish Pyrenees.

In each hut is possible to sleep and they will provide dinner, breakfast and the lunch for the next day.

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Questions & Answers

How does it works?

You can join me for a pre set tour or gather your own group and establish your own schedule.

Reservation forms and respective payment will be received until Reservation Deadline.

Reservations are only considered effective with the respective payment.

I will provide all required information’s in order to help client’s to prepare their travel.

Clients will be meet at the Barcelona Airport upon their arrival and, at the end of the tour, they will be taken to the airport as well. Different arrangements (ex: pick up and drop off at a certain hotel) can be agreed case-by-case.

Accommodations and meals

The included six nights will be spent in mountain huts during the trekking tour.

Extra/optional nights in Barcelona, or any other location, can be agreed. Please contact us for more details.

In the mountain huts you will find a place to sleep, ward style, where you will get a mattress, a pillow and blankets. We suggest you to bring your own light sleeping bag.

In these huts you will be served with very good meals. You can have both breakfast and dinner in the hut and lunch is provided early in the morning, picnic style for you to carry in your backpack.

From Day 1 dinner to Day 7 lunch you will have all three meals per day included in the base price.

Luggage and backpack

Each client has a volume/weight luggage quota of 60 liters and/or 30Kg.

During the walk you will carry your backpack with only what you will need for the duration of the hike.

Your remaining luggage can be left in the town’s lockers.

Clothing, footwear and other individual items

We will be glad to provide you all the information you may need to help you to better prepare your travel.

Transfers during the tour

There will be a logistical support vehicle allocated to the tour.

The transfer Barcelona/Tour/Barcelona is included in the price.

Detailed Program

The Detailed Program is part of the documentation that the participant receives when the tour is confirmed.

Plane flights

You can purchase directly your plane flights.

Please bear in mind: last minute reservations can result in increased costs and booking difficulties.

Mountain huts

There are many kinds of mountain huts and the experiences we have had in some places are not necessarily equal to the experiences we will have in Aigüestortes National Park.

In the context of mountain huts at an European level, we will find a set of huts with very good conditions, very good management and very well attended.

Some are stone and masonry construction, with wooden interior for greater comfort level and most of them providing warm water for showers.

With capacities to between 20 and 70 people, depending on their size, they offer a set of miscellaneous services not losing their mountaineer charisma.

Each hut has its own management so you can find small differences in the rules. These rules are extremely important when so many different people get together in small places.

The photographs here used can give an idea of the appearance of some of the huts used during this tour. To those that do not have previous experiences using mountain huts, this is an excellent opportunity to start.

We can provide you all informative support to help you to in the preparation of your travel.

Those who already have other experiences will be probably pleased with the conditions they will find here.

Cell Phone: +351 914 794 553 (also in WhatsApp)

Skype: monteiro.david

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Pinhão, the heart of Port wine

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Pinhão, the heart of Port wine

A wooden boat ride and Port wine tasting? I can get used to it 🙂

In a previous article, I was describing some suggestions about how to visit Porto in one day, what to do and what to see there.

Now I will be focusing in a suggestion as to what to do on a second day while staying lodge at Porto, like you, only had two days to visit the area.

Before carrying on with this subject, please bear in mind that this is a suggestion and I do not believe one can really know Porto and surroundings in two days, not a chance.

But … life is what it is and you may only have two days so you better do the best you can with the time you have.

If you spent one day in town so why not visit a place outside? And, in this case, taking a train to Pinhão, the heart of Port wine.

Well, let me describe to you a possible plan.

09:10 – Take the train at São Bento Train Station towards Pinhão
If you did the suggested walk of the previous post you know already where the São Bento train station is, if you don’t so please download the map and look for number 1.

09:10 / 11:41 – The train ride São Bento until Pinhão
It’s the same train from the beginning till the end, you will not need to change trains, it will cost you 10,95€ (Feb 2017) and yes it will take you 2h31m to get there but it will worth your time, the train goes mostly along the Douro river and it’s a lovely ride.

11:41 – You should leave at Pinhão.
12:00 / 14:00 – Rabelo boat ride
Rabelo boats are the traditional wooden boats that used to transport Port wine along the river to Porto or Gaia. Nowadays they are used for touristic rides and it can be a great experience. You can book in advance your ride at Magnífico Douro a local small company at Pinhão that does this kind of tours and that I recommend.

14:30 / 16:30 – Port wine tasting
After your boat ride, it’s time to taste a few Port wines and learn about the differences between a Ruby and a Tawny or what kind of white Port’s there are. You can book your visit at Quinta do Bonfim or Quinta de La Rosa. Two very different wine farms at a walkable distance from the boat.

18:19 / 20:45 – It’s time to return to Porto and you can take the train back to town.
Please verify the train schedule and prices at www.cp.pt

I know I didn’t mention a place to have lunch or even described the differences between the wine farms. That will be a matter for another post.

Stay tuned and have fun.

David Monteiro

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Porto walking tour map legend

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Porto walking tour map legend

A suggested walk through the most iconic places of Porto possible in one day.

Hi.

In the previous post I shared a map from Porto, Portugal, with self-guided walking tour suggestion that will allow you to know some of the most iconic places of the town.

Please download the map.

In this post my intention is to share the above mentioned map’s legend so you can know what to look for and what the map’s number means.

On the following list you can find numbers from 1 to 14 and each number has the name of the respective site and a link that will lead you to a site that can give some background about the place.

Wikipedia plays an important role here and if you need you will jump to other information sources as you pleased. Also, you will find some information in Portuguese and you may need to have some help from Google translator if you do not speak the language.

1 – Estação de São Bento / São Bento Train Station

2 – Avenida dos Aliados / Aliado’s Avenue

3 – Mercado do Bolhão (Bulhão’s Market)

4 – A Pérola do Bolhão (Bolhão grocery store) 

5 – Café Majestic

6 – Teatro Nacional São João (theater)

7 – Igreja de Santa Clara (church)

8 – D. Luiz I bridge upper deck

9 – Mosteiro Senhora do Pilar (monastery)

10 – Caves Vinho do Porto (Port wine cellar)

11 – Ribeira (Ribeira’s neighborhood)

12 – Sé do Porto (See/Cathedral)

13 – Livraria Lello (Book store)

14 – Torre dos Clérigos (church tower)

This walk has around 6,5Km or 4mi and is planned to be done in one morning or one afternoon. Naturally you can do it at your own pace and take as much time as you like.

Have fun and let me know if you enjoy doing it.

David Monteiro

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What to do and what to visit at Porto in one day?

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What to do and what to visit at Porto in one day?

The most common answer you will have when asking such question to a “tripeiro” is: “you can’t”.

“tripeiro” – the natives of Porto are known in Portuguese as “tripeiros”

You will understand that the answer results from loving too much the city and when you will visit it you will easily get the reason why, it’s a gorgeous city, very photogenic in fact.

However, sometimes the reality is that we only have one day so we will have to cook with the potatoes we have.

By reducing the time to just one day we will have to select only a few places to go in a wide variety of interesting sites.

My suggestion for you is: a morning walk, a lunch with products from a local market and a monument/museum visit during the afternoon.

Does it seems like a plan?

Yes, it will be a busy day.

Morning walk in Porto:

Please download a map that will guide you on a walk where you can visit some of the most iconic sites in Porto. Please print the map in an A3 format or use it in your smartphone as a pdf.

Is a 6,5Km (4mi) stroll, perfect for a sunny morning and it will leave you enough time to stop for pictures and a coffee on the way.

The suggested walk will take you to several spots where you can take panoramic photos from Porto.

In a future post, I will describe what can you see during this walk by identifying the numbers you can see written on the map.

Lunch with products from a local market:

During your morning walk, you can visit a market identified as number 3 on the map, is the Bulhão market.

There you will find fresh products like fruits and vegetables and around there you will also find some old traditional groceries shops. I’m sure you can get there plenty of items to arrange a snack for you.

Monument/museum visit:

During the afternoon I suggest you visit one of the following monuments/museums:

Museu Soares dos Reis, Palácio da Bolsa, Torre dos Clérigos, Museum and Gardens of Jardins de Serralves or Casa da Música.

Enjoy your day and do not hesitate to send me an email you case you need to exchange some ideas.

David Monteiro

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Escaroupim, some days are forever

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Escaroupim, some days are forever

A day at Escaroupim, Portugal, and you will feel that some days are forever.

Not too far from Lisbon, driving around 45 minutes north, you will find a tiny little village called Escaroupim.

It sits at the left bank of the river Tagus, Tejo in Portuguese.

Escaroupim is one of the several “aldeias avieiras” along the river. I guess you don’t know what an “aldeia avieira” is but in a later article I will explain.

At this traditional village, you can take a boat that will drive you through the several river channels where most of the birds go for their late afternoon bug meal … amazing scenario.

On top of all, we get to know more about the local birds with the entertaining explanations.

It really doesn’t matter if it’s cold or warm because the boats have covers that can be put on or off.

What it really matters is the time of the day and sunset is king.

A day to remember.

David Monteiro

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Photography tour in Lisbon

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Photography in Lisbon, I can assist you.

If you want to do some photography in Lisbon, I can assist you. Let me know about your photography style.

If you are really interested in doing some photography in Lisbon, time is a constraint and valuable asset for you.

You may have already an idea of what do you want to photograph or you may need some assistance, in both cases, I can help you.

This tour is not a fixed tour but a flexible one because it depends on your interests.

In case you don’t know exactly what do you want, it will depend on what we can agree to do.

I will have some suggestions for you based on my own experience and knowledge but in the end, it will be your decision.

In this website I will progressively publish some of my photos but please do not take them as the photos I want you to take.

My photos are only ideas of angles or subjects.

Naturally, in case you want to take those shots, I will be pleased to assist you, obviously.

Check my photography tour here.

David Monteiro

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Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, San Sebastian, Spain

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Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, San Sebastian, Spain

Initially was a private own palace and at a certain moment became an hospital, during one of the Carlists wars. During the beginning of the XX century was adapted to become an hotel.

Like in many other coastal towns, the origin of San Sebastian is related with fishing activities and the “La Concha” bay acting as a natural safe haven for traditional local fishing boats ultimately explains the success and prosperity of the town.

However, when we look around we mostly see buildings dated after the 1800’s and one can wonder why.

The reason, although not obvious, is not rare on this part of the world. After a siege that took place in 1813, where the combined Portuguese and English troops successfully fought against the Napoleon army, the city was almost completely destroyed by the winners.

As you can imagine, San Sebastian had to be rebuilt after that sad event.

It also happen that the Queen Maria Cristina had to spend some time in the city recommended by her doctor due to her health condition.

The queen enjoyed so much the town that started to spend more time around here and that alone attracted other aristocratic members and European wealthy people in general.

Was in this context that the building that today we know as the “Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra” was constructed in the middle of the XIX century.

Initially was a private own palace and at a certain moment became an hospital, during one of the Carlists wars.

During the beginning of the XX century was adapted to become an hotel.

Today we can find a hotel with an elegant classic decoration although very modern in all the ways you can think about.

The Hotel had many distinct guests until now. Anyway, in its long list there is one that, in my opinion, stands out and completely fits the hotel’s environment, I’m referring to the famous and mysterious spy Mata Hari.

The hotel rooms are very elegant and classy, the restaurant has an excellent service with very nice quality/price relation in what concerns dinner and lunches. Breakfast here is a treat, the proper way to start your day.

The best of the hotel is the their staff, no doubt about it.

In these years I’ve been staying here with guests, as you can imagine, many situations occurred that I needed their help … in fact at the end is always the guest that has the need and the hotel staff always faced the problems with a tender smile and a eager to help.

If you stayed in this hotel please let me know your opinion. My opinion is clear, is an excellent hotel.

David Monteiro