Porto Caves, Portugal

Portugal is Bridget’s 52nd country and largely new to me. The drive down to Porto from Vigo was short but interesting. Lots of tree covered mountains, but unfortunately speckled with forest fires. Conditions are seriously dry and there are notices everywhere warning people to take care, but still the fires occur.

Arriving in the city of Porto, not Oporto as inaccurately entitled by the British, I was struck by the wide avenues, plentiful statues and unfortunately the disrepair of many buildings. Once again, the financial crisis is evident although some regeneration is under way in Porto.

My priorities were set and I visited the Port wine producers as soon as I had checked into a hotel. As the world centre for the production of port all the big names are here and all have visitor centres. I was recommended to choose Sandeman as the first which I did and was fascinated by the production process. However the disposal methods were far more fun. I was relieved to be told that once a bottle was opened it should be emptied within 24 hours. I have yet to find a bottle to last that long. I couldn’t help noting however, that they did not mention at any stage the ‘bad head’ effect of the product.

Although set on a path to discover all of Porto’s history I fell into disruptive company during the first evening and never really recovered. Two charming young ladies, Jenny from Toronto and Barbara from Berne, shared a drink, or two, over dinner at an Italian restaurant and that was the end of my strictly tourist exploration of Porto.

From Porto we drove down to Setubal, 30 kilometres south east of Lisbon. Although everyone has told me that Lisbon is a lovely city, and I believe that, I just couldn’t face another big city. We stayed overnight and then struck out for El Rompido, just across the Spanish border.

I have made the decision to take Bridget to the Canary Isles for winter. We are booked on a ferry from Cadiz to Gran Canaria leaving on Tuesday 10th September.

El Rompido is one of those purpose built sun and golf holiday resorts. Not my usual choice, but occasionally it’s good to have a change. Once again I have noticed the effect of the economic climate, this time on the big company clothing industry. It is obvious that the bikini manufacturers have run seriously low on stocks of material for production and this results in tiny bikini’s. The young ladies are obviously embarrassed by the situation but when that is all that is available…..

Personally, I think we should return to the all-woollen, single piece, neck to knee bathing costumes so popular when I was a youngster! Iran has the right idea with segregated bathing beaches; people are so much more relaxed.


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