Dining with Mr Bean
This morning we visit the hilltop village of Castelo Rodrigo, one of the twelve historic villages of Portugal. The view from up top is wonderful. We enter through the “Dawn Gate” (no connection with Furlongs!) and walk along the narrow, mostly cobbled streets. In the past, Castelo Rodrigo was always a place where Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived in peace and harmony. The Rocamadour Church is worth a visit, and there are ruins of an old palace, a town cross, and an old Jewish Quarter with its cistern and mikvah. Near the entrance gate are two shops. Souvenir shops. Richard begins to get worried. One shop has a range of good quality gifts including cork handbags, cork shoes, cork this and cork that. On the other side of the street there is a shop selling local produce including wines, liqueurs, olive oil and almonds with every conceivable flavour added. Behind the almond shop there is a café and terrace and we are treated to yet another tasting. Chestnut liqueur, almond liqueur, cherry liqueur, red and white wines, vino verde, red and white port. Plus snacks and almonds, and figs! Needless to say we all tuck in.
On the way back to our ship we stop at a view point overlooking some rocky outcrops and we can see for miles across the vineyards. We’re spotting for the Egyptian Vultures and we’re successful! They are riding the thermals. Wonderful to see.
Back on board our ship we spend a quiet afternoon as we sail towards Pinhão. The Douro is beautiful, especially in this nice sunny weather we’re enjoying.
Before docking at Pinhão we gather in the lounge to watch a bottle of vintage port being opened in the traditional way. The bottle is laid almost horizontal. A pair of tongs is heated on a flame and then used to clamp around the neck of the bottle approximately half-way down the depth of the cork. This marks the bottle in a circle around the neck. Ice cold water is then poured over the neck and we hear the glass crack! The break is clean and the very top of the bottle with the complete cork is eased out. The port is decanted and there is a tremendous round of applause! And a surprise to come. We open two more bottles by the same method, this time two of our guests in charge … Ian and Peter do a grand job, and we are all treated to a glass of vintage port.
From Pinhão we join our three buses and take a drive up to the village of Favaios. The drive is absolutely stunning. If you are ever in the area please do not miss this road. The scenery and the views – amazing! Our destination is the Avessada Quinta. Owned by the Barros family for many generations, the current host, Mr Luis Barros greets us, complete with a band of musicians. Mr Barros is known for his Mr Bean style … and it is clear he is a born natural performer! Our typical local dinner is interspersed with music and little stories from Mr Barros. There’s plenty of wine included and it’s certainly a fun evening!