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Calem Port Winery
Spain, Portugal and Basque France Adventure 2014

Parking, port and Porto!

Porto, Porto, Portugal
Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Today’s adventure started innocuously enough – sensible breakfast, van out of parking garage with no problem, GPS spot on to Calem Wineries across the bridge and big parking space on ground floor of parking garage at the bottom of a hill. Excellent port-tasting (more later) and then the exit from the garage that sobered us up very smartly!

Herb and I started following the one-way arrow exit quitenaturally, with his help I rounded the first narrow 45 degrees corner with a little backing up and maneuvering, we went around on the first, the second, the third floors and still no exit! So, he went searching for it on foot while I waited – no other car or person in sight. It turned out that the exit was on the NINTH floor at the top of the hill. When we finally made it, we had to crawl downhill round hairpin bends with mirrors and parked cars and trashcans. Phew!!

The port winery tour was excellent. The grapes are planted in horizontal rows in sandy soil on ultra-steep hills and hand-harvested by women. The ruby port is stored in HUGE barrels. After disuse are sold to Scotland’s whisky-makers! We tasted a white and a red port. Port grapes have a high sugar level and port has a high alcohol percentage. Be assured, I only had
a few sips before driving!

The Calem Winery is situated on the Douro river where the rabelos were getting ready for a race. These romantic broad flat-bottomed boats carry mostly barrels along the river. From where we were standing, we had an excellent view of Porto across the river and from next to the bridge. Porto was left intact in the huge earthquake in 1722 that flattened Lisbon.

We continued along the coast to Sintra, an elevated town in a forested area and a proclaimed World Heritage site. In bygone days, members of the Royal family favored Sintra as a summer escape. Lucia the GPS led us uphill and downhill to the narrow one-way (wrong-way!) bottom back entrance of the huge manor house where we were going to stay. Judy, Herb and I climbed the winding steps uphill in search of an entrance while Maryln waited at the van. It turned out that to reach the front entrance we needed a map because the one-way winds through town, along the railway station and around the mountainside, then down the narrow one-way where we parked. So, off we went while Judy mercifully waited at the roadside – just as well because we would never have found the exit road.

But, once settled in, we appreciated the beautiful surroundings of the Pena National Forest where the guest house was situated. Maryln went straight to bed while the three of us walked steep uphill to a fabulous local restaurant and had the recommended local Portuguese cuisine: fish dishes, bread and wine.. En route earlier, we sampled ‘belem’, a delicious Portuguese egg custard.

Porto Grande Hotel Breakfast room
Parking, port and Porto! Today’s adventure
Grande Hotel Porto
Calem Port Winery
Calem Port Winery
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