26 May 2017:
Oporto, Portugal:
Let Us Raise a Toast

By Corey Sandler

Porto, which may not the most famous of places in Portugal, unless you have a particular affinity for a particular form of liquefied grape.

Porto is, literally, the Second City of Portugal, its second-most-populous place with 1.8 million people in the metropolitan area.

Porto has always been a mercantile city, and this is evident in the style of the buildings lining the Avenida dos Aliados, the core of the downtown area.

Today we went for a walk through the old city of Porto (also called Oporto). Among the places we sought out: the old  Igreja do Carmo, the Carmelite Church of 1756 and the spectacular Estação Ferroviária de Porto – São Bento, the 1896 train station which is decorated floor to ceiling with fabulous tiles telling the story of Portugal.

And we also stopped by the famous Livraria Lello Porto bookstore where J.K. Rowling, an impoverished teacher at the time, hand-wrote the first three chapters of the first book of the Harry Potter series.

PORTO MAY 26, 2017

Igreja do Carmo

Estação Ferroviária de Porto – São Bento

Livraria Lello Porto

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Porto, well, it’s a place of broad shoulders and hard work, in some ways the economic heart of the country.

They say:

“Porto works, Braga Prays, Coimbra, studies, and Lisbon gets the money.”


We’ll celebrate tonight with a glass of fine Port after dinner.

Port Wine is named for Porto, and in particular the caves of Vila Nova de Gaia.

The reaches of the valley of the Douro River have a microclimate that is optimal for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes.

Vinho do Porto is a fortified wine, typically a sweet red wine although there are also dry, semi-dry, and white varieties.

The wine is fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit known as aguardente in order to stop the fermentation, leaving residual sugar in the wine, and to boost the alcohol content, usually to about 19 to 23 percent.

The Douro valley where port wine is produced was defined and established as a protected region, or appellation in 1756, making it by some measures the oldest defined and protected wine region in the world.

Text and images copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.