Porto

Well, sadly, our time in Portugal is almost over. This morning we got up to catch the train to Porto and spend our last 2 days there. BUT what I didn’t expect was that we had an unexpectedly great dinner last night in Guimarães.

Zach noticed a tapas place -Manifestis Probatum – while we were wandering through the streets of the old town in the afternoon. So we went back to try it out for dinner and were pleasantly delighted. As we later discovered the restaurant had only been open for 4 months and was a newly renovated space in the old quarter. It was sleek, spacious, and modern with the right amount of cozy. Gabriel, the owner, seated us and took us through the menu of Portuguese tapas. We decided to order 5: a puff pastry with blood sausage and apple, roasted peppers stuffed with cream cheese, prawns, smoked octopus from a can, and marinated pork with veggies. Everything was awesome! Actually, the surprise winner was the roasted peppers! Wow!! We were both extremely disappointed when those ran out.

Dinner at Manifestis Probatum

One of the reasons Zach wanted to go back for dinner was because they had a selection of German beers – something other than the Super Bock and Sagres we’ve been drinking our entire trip. But when we started to order Erdinger and Franziskaner Gabriel asked if we wanted to try some artisanal Portuguese beer. YES! He brought out some adorable stout bottles of Sovina and throughout the night we tried each of the 5 types – Amber, Blonde, IPA, Hefeweizen, and Stout. They were really great and it was so refreshing to have real beer again!

Sovina – Portuguese craft beer!

We had dessert – lime cheesecake – and that would have been all, but somehow we launched into a long conversation with Gabriel that lasted until close to 2am. It was really wonderful chatting with him about everything – Portugal, the US, beer, wine, food, Bourdain – and it was great to meet someone so interesting. Hopefully our paths will cross again, maybe in Texas.

This morning we left for Porto, our final stop, and Greg must have jinxed us. We made it to our new temporary home, got to know the kitty, Gill, and began wandering Porto. But when we stepped into a cafe to eat a snack before going across the river to taste port, the weather was no longer on our side. It began raining and much to our chagrin we’d left our umbrellas at the apartment. So did we buy a new umbrella? No. We decided it wasn’t so bad and trekked in the rain. But after we passed all the umbrellas for sale, it began to rain harder (did I mention it was cold!!) and as we crossed the bridge over the Douro River the rain began to pelt us in the face. So we thought, we’ll just buy an umbrella on the other side. Nope. I guess they don’t like to sell umbrellas on that side of the river because there were none to be found. So we finally made it up the hill to the Croft cellars and warmed up (and dried off) by the heater in their tasting room.

Gill the kitty

Vila Nova de Gaia

Croft was worth the extra hike. It was only 3 euros for a tour and we were given 3 complimentary glasses of port to taste – a pink, a tawny 10 yr., and a reserve. The port was great, the tour was interesting, and we were able to buy a bottle quite cheaply. It was really nice. But then we had to step back into the rain, cross the bridge again in the pelting rain, and finally buy an umbrella.

Croft Port Tasting Room

In the cellar

After acquiring an umbrella we decided to walk around and do a little shopping. We also stopped by Livraria Lello – which we were not allowed to photograph so here is a nice piece on it with photos: http://portugalconfidential.com/2010/08/livraria-lello-a-bookstore-beyond-beautiful-in-porto/

We stopped in a restaurant that looked nice and eclectic. It was mostly dark save for the candles on the individual tables and on the surrounding walls there were antiques – toys, dolls, typewriters, sewing machines, you name it. We ordered some delicious food and a bottle of wine and were finishing up our surprisingly delicious plates when the music changed and the strobe lights began. For most of the time we’d been there, I’d noticed a man behind Zach who reminded me of a vampire. I thought, “Oh, well that’s why all the lights are out.” Boy, was I wrong! As I glanced over Zach’s shoulder, I saw the same vampire man with 5 or 6 cats on his body! And thus began the greatest (and only) cat show of our lives!!!

Having dinner pre- cat show

Cat show!

It was a delightful and immensely entertaining surprise. We couldn’t contain our giggles! He had about 7 cats in all, sitting on pedestals, and performing little tricks. It was amazing! The cat show really capped off our evening! We left and walked back in the rain (with our umbrella) to our temporary home to rest up for our final day.

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