or called Oporto.
Unsurprisingly the second largest city in the country, inspite of the size of the country with an even humbler population (~ 10 mil).
With a averagely pleasant weather throughout the year, Portugal never exceed 35 degree celcius in the summer nor drop below 0 degree celcius during the coldest winter, usually averaging at 10-15 degree celcius; after visits to the much colder counterparts in the region, Portugal climate was a delight.
Instead of spending the rest of the day visiting more of the old part of the town and this historical spots, I crossed the bridge over River Douro and over to the other side of the town to pay a visit to couple of Porto's prides.
Where there's Porto, there's port; and where there's port, there're wine cellars. :D
On the other side
I got a little bit lost in the windy narrow stony grey houses in the area, climbing the stairs down and down close to the river level, stumbling across some chubby street cats and floor-sweeping old man; going up the driveway but turned around and took a left into an alley after realizing I could probably be on the wrong road.
Rushing against the closing hour of the cellar, I hasten my steps. Till I finally came to a wall with this sign on it.
Yes! I was on the right track.
The road up to Taylor's was a hilly road, as one of the oldest of the founding Port houses, dated back to 1692 (that's over three centuries ago!), the journey to the cellar felt nostalgic, a walk down memory lane back to the 1700's of Portugal.
I arrived at the cellar door just in time for a tour. As tourists gathered around tasting some port in the majestic lobby while waiting for the guide to show up, I rested my aching feet on a stool with my very own sweet white port, staring at the decorative Christmas tree that was set up for festive season already.
Then I wandered around to look around the cellar door, stopping myself in front of a case of port wine bottles design over the years; some of the bottles were ancient.
Then a character from Happy Potter popped up and guided us out of the cellar door. "To Hogwarts?" mind-joked I.
Fancy uniform you got there.
And so the tour began with, of course, the history.
And then the cellar
Jesus these port wine barrels were MASSIVE! I didn't think I've ever seen a barrel that big, other than a distillery, but then again that's a whole different thing.
Instead of cracking open the barrel like how you would do with most wine, Taylor's mega barrel has a tap attached to the front where you can just tap out the port into bottles before being kept away.
As you would have seen it, the barrels were so big human could climb into them.
And that was how the barrels were cleaned, with a human into scraping away the to layer coated around the inside of the barrel. With a barrel that size, I could be calling it a man-cave.
process process process
the mother of all port wine barrel, Mother of God.
The wine remains at the winery in these barrels to settle until the following year when spring comes and then it was taken to other lodges to mature, be blend and bottled.
The oldest wineries are in Douro Valley close to the river because in the olden days, barrels of port wines were transported in wooden boats down the Douro River, the only means of transportations for port wines back then.
and she flipped her robe to reveal the traditional method to make port by Portugese. lol
The perfect gift, deemed by the Portugese, is a bottle of Vintage Port, which can be kept and which value can appreaciate over the years.
Taylor's wine cellar has a beautiful restaurant next to the cellar with access to the view of Douro Valley and river.
Given the chance, I would take my time to sit down and wine and dine my evening away, it would be the perfect evening to end my Portugal trip.
But then I still have time so I rushed to another winery nearby for another tour before the day ends.
This time, Croft.
oh yes, more port please.
bring them on
Croft has a smaller and more cozy bar-themed cellar door, where everyone sit around to enjoy a glass of port by the fireplace, perfect to just laze on a cold winter.
They also have a smaller cellar compared to Taylor's
The sun set by the time I got out from Croft, a little tipsy and fluttery; happily filled with sweet port, I walked and skipped and danced back to my guesthouse. Back up the hill and onto the bridge crossing to the my side of the town.
And then... whilst on the bridge, and slightly dazed... I saw this.
"God, Porto, you are so beautiful" I cooed.