Wanderer

Sandeman tours and Midnight walks

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I think it important that everyone who visits Porto should go on at least one Port cellar tour and tasting. For a start, they are extremely cheap, generally around €5 for a tour and tasting (I believe Taylor’s tour is only €3). I personally went for Sandeman, which seemed to be one of the most popular, but the whole of Gaia’s river front is lined with well known brands; starting with Burmester and Calen as you cross the Ponte de D. Luis I, and ending with Ferreira and Graham’s (and those are just those shown on my map), and if you were to turn off the river front, you would find Taylor, Offley.. I could go on and on.

Of course, I recommend that you only choose a few, or perhaps one or two a day if you seriously like your port… but take it easy, it’s strong stuff at about 20%! And with two or three half glasses per tasting… that wouldn’t end well.

As I said, I chose Sandeman, with it’s €5 tour with two wine tastings. I overheard that for €9 you can taste three types of wine; red, tawny or white, or for €10 you can have three cellar tours (with 2 tastings each); Sandeman, Offley and Ferraria. I think I was mostly drawn to Sandeman because of it’s striking logo; no, it’s not Zorro, he’s called the Don.

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Image from here.

The tour took perhaps half an hour, including a ten minute video about the Douro region, where the vineyards are located. The tourguide even dresses as the Don, hence the rather ‘noir’ (according to Matt) photo below:Image

Of course the best part is always the tasting. I’ve never tried Port wine before, and while the  tawny was nice (very rich and fruity), I wouldn’t choose it again and I really couldn’t finish the white, which tasted quite coarse, nutty and spicy. Everyone else enjoyed it though, and I by no means pretend to be some sort of connoisseur.Image

Still, I’m glad that I can now tick it off my travel bucket list, and I learnt something new in the process; firstly, I don’t like port, and secondly, I learnt allll about the port making process, and the difference between the different ageing processes. Useless information no doubt, but I like to learn. Definitely worth €5! And the three cellar tour is definitely worth €10 too!Image

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In the evening, I went to see Porto at night with a friend. I admit I haven’t seen much of the city at night before; I’m always too exhausted from walking up and down hill after hill after hill (seriously, I’m a strong walker, despite having broken my foot in April, but those damn hills under the heat of the sun kill me!) I had to see a night time view of the city before I left though, and so me and Phelgo went for one last walk before I left for Lisbon.

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This is one of my favourite parts of travelling; the music. All across Europe, everywhere you turn there are people busking (and I am yet to come across a terrible musician *touch wood*), concerts, festivals, musicians entertaining people as they dine. In fact I love buying a meal at the supermarket and then seating myself on a step or bench near a fancy restaurant, the sort with a band or an accordion player. We’re listening to the same beautiful music, but while they are paying at least €20 for a meal, I’ve paid perhaps €5. Sneaky sneaky.

So last night’s walk was no exception; music everywhere. Everyone was laughing, dancing, I mean, it was a friday night, but it was very different to friday nights in England. People go out but there’s no crazy drunks slumped in doorways or lying face first in the street. Everyone just seems so much happier and less ‘I’ll just drown my sorrows and pretend I’m happy’.

Tonight I arrived in Lisbon, and while it hasn’t started amazingly well; taxi drivers running off with my change and hostels losing my reservation, for example, I’m excited to explore a new city in the morning. Let’s just hope the 40C heat doesn’t kill me…

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Wanderer

My Favourite Jazz bar in Paris

Firstly, I’m sorry for a quiet few weeks, I’ve been cut off from the internet since May, and I haven’t been able to easily get out of the house to seek internet until this week because my foot has been in a cast! But its fine now, internet is back, my foot is free, I can walk (well, limp) again!

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Image from here

Anyway… I’ve been to many Jazz bars in Paris, I love them, I’d much rather go and dance in a jazz bar with a glass of wine than go out clubbing! Lame as that may make me, its true. There is one bar that I only discovered a few months ago when I spent a few weeks in France with a friend, and I think I honestly fell in love.

Caveau de la Hutchette. Just south of Notre Dame and so very central in Paris, its tucked away down a quiet cobble street lined with dozens of equally quaint-looking bars of various sorts, each crying out to be explored (one day!) It was the history that caught my attention; tucked away in 500-year-old cellars, the bar was once a prison, a make-shift courthouse, an execution chamber, and a secret meeting place for the Templars and the Rosicrucians, It’s been a drinking house since 1789. You walk in and the whole place just reeks of history!

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Image from here.

Live jazz bands play every night, and there is plenty of room to get a jiggle on (and trust me, if you’re a woman/group of women alone, you will not be allowed to merely sit and enjoy the music, you will be coerced into dancing!)

I’ve never danced in my life, but I can honestly say this was one of the best nights of my life.

Now for the boring stuff: money. Entry is €12 Sunday-Thursday, €14 Friday & Saturday, and €10 for students. Drinks start at $5, if you want champagne, you’re looking at splashing out $90, but its so worth it! If you’re travelling on a budget, its easy enough to just pay entry fee and nothing more for the rest of the night; you don’t really get much chance to sit and drink anyway and I found that my glass of red pretty much went to waste! It was delicious, but the moment I sat down, I was up dancing moments later!

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