Diário - Bristol-Oporto Association Website

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Diário is the newsletter of both the Bristol-Oporto Association and the Foundation. It is produced three or four times a year. It lists future events, reports on past activities and contains a miscellany of articles about Porto, both current and historical - and anything else either relevant or that might be of interest.

Bristol Oporto Association Newsletter
Twenty one members recently visited Porto and stayed in the city from 19th to 23rd September.
The specially tailored programme had been arranged for us as ever by our sister organisation and in particular Peter and Anabela Evens to whom we send a huge thank you.
We enjoyed the company of our twinning members in Porto throughout and in particular ‘members’ dinners’ in their own homes.
Our fellow travellers have been invited to pass on their comments – not in a day by day format and as a diary of events but to highlight any personal observations and episodes.
They make interesting reading and I would like to thank those who have contributed both words and photos.

From Susan Meadows

You ask for one highlight; what a hard task!
The hotel was ideally situated for the riverside bars and restaurants, worth the trek to the coach. Breakfast in the hotel, was superb plenty of fresh fruit, poached whole apples, and whole pears poached in red wine. The hot food selection was different everyday as were the little tarts of egg and different types of cold meat or mushrooms. A variety of local cakes were also available.
Another high point was to be with Marie Louise who was able to accompany us on most of our outings who was always to be found at lunchtime sharing a table with Bristol members.
Not to forget the magical garden at Aveleda winery with its lake, swans, rustic bridge and little house, and including the abundance of very large acorns underfoot.
Our first day to Guimarães involved a visit to the ancient castle and walk through the old town with a guide. This was followed by lunch at the 12thC monastery of Santa Marinha, now a beautiful Pousada.

Guimarães - film crew at the castle site
Heart of the old town
Walking through the old town area (above)
Pousada de Santa Marinha
Followed by a garden visit and wine tasting at the Quinta de Aveleda
From Jane Bragge - I hope that this little piece provides a ‘snapshot’ of our visit. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It must have been a sight to behold – a reasonably spritely but elderly lady carrying a beautiful display of flowers up high at shoulder height in the right hand and with a large feather being carried in the left. A feather rescued by me from being trampled on by tourists in Rua de Rosas, a very old part of central Oporto. But the display of flowers made up in the famous Bolhão market was gradually being damaged. They had been laid down by the seller of vintage port at a kind of kiosk with barrels for seats outside where I had been invited by Richard, Susan and Val to sample his vintage port, and his sardines (found out to be tinned). I picked up the slightly damaged flower display that was gradually becoming more damaged, for one reason or another, during my walk down the Portuguese paved streets; sometimes beautiful often steep paths that required excellent manoeuvrability to prevent slipping.
Why the display? We were all invited to eat at Oporto-Bristol members’ houses that evening and the flowers were to be a special thank you, but had contained lilies that I hadn’t realised would be so fragile. All I hoped was that in the half light of the evening, my very gentle hostess would not notice some fragile damaged blooms.
Why the feather? Feathers abound on the streets of Oporto. They are of all sizes and degrees of wear and tear and possibly should be left where they fall, but that week I had a romantic notion about them and found myself collecting some. Call me mad! It must have been the glasses of Port that were always appearing for us to drink. Oporto is a very romantic city. Here is a photo to show just how superb it is, especially at sunset.

From Sue Davies (and Chris of course) - Memories and images I will have forever of this trip fall into various categories - Never again; Magical; Most enjoyable, and Comical!
Injuring my leg on my very first step out of the plane on arrival is up there in the 'never again please' category, but looking back makes me laugh at the craziness of spiral steps and no lift into the airport; being left on the runway; being considerately escorted on a large vehicle and then being deposited alone into a vast empty concourse. Then the sheer kindness of everyone who offered pain-killers, sticks, knee supports; helping hands and sympathy! And big thanks to Chris for bearing with my groans and bearing me up! Arriving at the hotel (which was perfect and in a great location) was daunting when faced with a steep downhill cobbled street; with a three legged stick and no idea how to use one, and no Chris to support me as he was struggling with all the luggage. The next day - "The walking tour of the town will take about two hours!" we were told. Daunted but determined I wouldn't hold up the group I was gratified to see sticks, shooting sticks; foot injuries and other slow walkers. I so wish we had a video of us all stumbling down the cobbled windy roads and tessellated pavements of Portugal. My comical memories!
Guimarães after walking up to the castle
Guimarães – traditional and palatial style
My magical moments were - the stunning University at Coimbra with the unbelievable library and its wonderful unique traditions of which I had heard nothing before - and - after another crazy downwards raggle-taggle stagger of us all tumbling down the hill - the unforgettable glamorous and romantic young men and the Fado performance. Of course visiting Harry's Bar on the 'tween deck' is not to be forgotten. After uncounted gins I had no pain that night!
Listening to our guide at Coimbra University
The most enjoyable - a wonderful evening with Isabel, Marie Louise and friends, at her beautiful home; the fantastic lunches I cannot believe how much food we were given on Saturday, (canapes/2 starters/fish and a family sized portion of rice/the stickiest chocolatiest dessert possible) or how we still eat it all!
As to the never again - hopefully - a two hour delay at the airport and an hour's wait for a taxi at Bristol and bed at 4.30am - and up for charity Treasure Hunt in Bath on the Sunday raising £560. Thank you Liz and Roger not only for the wonderful trip but joining us on the Sunday which was above and beyond! Sorry you didn't win.

From Rosalie & Terry Walker - There were many memorable sights and trips .One I shall never forget was Coimbra University which is a world heritage site of beauty and interest.
Coimbra University
View from University to the river & town
I remember sharing a very good 20 year old port with a few of us sitting on a landing of the hotel where we were
staying thanks to the generosity of Jane Bragge. For ‘members' dinners’ we had a good evening at Peter Evens
lovely flat where we had a delicious meal and more excellent port. Thanks to Peter and Anabella.
Portugal is a hospitable country and Oporto is now more lively than ever due to an increase in the tourist trade
amongst other businesses that seem to be thriving.
We had a lovely time on our travels. I promise to try and learn another song as I suspect that my rendering
of ‘Summertime’ is getting boring in the unlikely event that I will be asked to sing on the bus again. Thanks to all
who helped to organise the Oporto visit.

From Richard Pople – a short summary of the excursion I did with Val and Sue on the cable car in Porto. Fascinating to hear their knowledge of port wine.
The day started with pasteis de nata bought in a shop where you can see them being made.
The three of us then launched into a cable car which was a great way to see the independent Port wine merchants on the banks of the Douro river. The views were breathtaking with spectacular photo opportunities of shop owners selling their wares and people relaxed on restaurant terraces.
Sue and Val's commentary was fascinating with their stories of the port wine vendors from Grahams, who were on the lookout for a wine which could easily be shipped on long journeys without spoiling, so added a little brandy to stabilize the wine.
Originally, Port was not a fortified wine, but as the as time went by, the style of wine changed, port as we know it today is a fortified wine of approximately 20% alcohol. Whilst Taylor’s is one of the dominant port wine brands in Porto, not least because of its amazing luxury Yeatman Hotel, overlooking the city of Porto from Vila Nova de Gaia.
Next in view was the the wide-brimmed Spanish caballero’s hat and Portuguese black cape of Sandemans which is one of the most legendary undisputed international symbols which Port lovers around the world have associated with quality port wine.
This was followed by Kopke, a favourite of Sue and Val’s and is recognised universally as the oldest port house still in existence today. Kopke commands a focus on tawny ports, maintaining stocks of over 100 years old. The Kopke port bottles are hand stencilled expressing the traditional artisan quality and nostalgic appeal long associated with the enjoyment of the finest ports.
The cable car came unhurried to the departing platform and we three hopped off. Val and Sue with no hesitation said let’s go to our old favourite Kopke for a taste of 20 year port wine and chocolates.
Our time in Porto was nothing short of fantastic.

AVEIRO – with Keith & Gill (on their ‘free day’)
We decided to take an early train to Aveiro - having mastered the timetables and obtaining OAP discounted tickets and we enjoyed the 60 minutes journey south from Porto (32 miles) along the coast. Our carriage had several university students returning to the 20,000 strong Aveiro University - they looked splendid in their black cloaks.
Aveiro has grown around its lagoon; until 1575 it was an important port but then it became cut off from the ocean following a violent storm when a sand bar formed creating a large lagoon. To enable ships to enter the port, a canal was dug and the smart modern town now has several canals going through the town and out to the port.
We enjoyed a trip around the town and the University campus on a little tourist train with commentary in English, followed by an hour on a canal trip, including a visit to the lagoon's salt pans. As well as fishing, the local boats collect a special seaweed for use as a fertilizer.
After this we enjoyed coffees and lunch by canals and a walk through the very modern shopping centre (containing many household names) with a fascinating roof garden and views over the city and its canals.
It was a splendid visit.

Finally from our ‘French connection’ Marie-Christine & Regis
Our ‘International members’ had previously attended a BOA Summer BBQ which encouraged them to join us in making this their first visit to Porto.
“Thank you very much to have allowed us to spend five wonderful days with you and the group; we found the members lovely, eccentric at times (but we adore that) and always cheerful, which is such a good quality! I asked Regis to select a few pictures (out of the 1,000 he took). Our faces were unknown to most of you. We appreciated to be so rapidly integrated and thank you for your beautiful sense of humour.
We will keep in mind the improvised parties on the 1st and 2nd floors of the hotel and the numerous drinks, chats and laughs we shared together. We are also grateful to the Portuguese members who organized our visit so very well; it was a very varied programme.
We look forward to receiving news from you. If ever you come to Lyon it would be our pleasure to have you for lunch or dinner and to show you around our city”.
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