Sol Verde is a wellness centre so you see lots of people wandering around in whote terrycloth robes, from algae wraps (ugh) to salt water pool to a bracing dip in the Atlantic – it’s all converging at this place.
We decided to tour one of the original port winemaker’s cellars, followed by a personal indulgence in a pedicure, a sunset boardwalk and then our final relaxing day would be celebrated over a salt cod buffet (Portuguese specialty).
Taylor’s Port Wine facility is actually located in Vila Nova de Gaia (on the south side of the Douro River). It’s a bit of a hair raising event anytime you need to navigate through the tiny city streets via limitless roundabouts – exit 1,2,3 – you count them holding your breath. However, kudos to My Beloved because his cartography is second to none.
Taylor’s has a gorgeous city view and yet you feel nestled like a Niagra winery. We enjoyed tasting different ports and a personal tour with an excellent guide. Established originally in 1692, the British have had an incredible influence on port wine making in the world. I always thought of port as the drink of choice in cigar rooms of gentlemen’s clubs in the 1920’s – and although I’m not that far off, port wine will be my appetizer or dessert wine of choice in the future. The rubies, tawnies and whites are beautiful and all ever so delicious. As we were leaving, we took a number of photos – its such an oasis in the city – we noticed a very friendly peacock posing in a tree. He gave us many angles for the camera as if he were an experienced model. He came close and hung out performing as we laughed out loud. Another bonue in the well valued Portuguese market. What a send off! We took a deep breath started the car and bolted up the hill (a stick shift in traffic is very stressful).
My Beloved and I are a formidable navigational team. Whatever happens inside the car (quips and nips in the moment), is understood not to be intentional but said under duress. With our new knowledge of port, we made our way to our favorite ‘hyper mercado’ Continente to make some additional purchases at reasonable prices – we feel quite smug with our deal shopping on top of our navigating. HUGE high five in the parking lot, once back at Sol Verde and offwe go to lunch and spa treatment. Once pampered and rested, we are feeling so strong after two weeks on foot in Portugal, that we courageously decided to walk the boardwalk – (total one way distance 15 kilometres) – we walk one hour in one direction and returned to watch the sunset on the stone steps where we will luxuriate in the best short film – Sunset Over The Atlantic. Off we go dodging determined exercisers – glad once again of my decision to bring sensible Naturalizer walking sandals – not pretty – but ever so useful. Before we knew it about 16 kilometres – 9 out and 7 back to the Gaia stone steps, we sat and silently watched the setting sun. Five minutes of inexplicable drama watching fire sink in the Atlantic and then watching it send out orange flares as if to communicate it will return tomorrow. More stairs and 2 kilometres to complete – we finish this trek and then we freshened up and started to wind down from this delicious adventure in the north of Portugal. The dining room was elegant, again, and even the ever present children on holiday with their indulgent parents seemed to have sought other fare.
We dined, we celebrated, we rejoiced in God’s goodness in providing this trip to the beautiful Douro (5 hours north of the Algarve). It was like a precious pause before the final piece in the symphony will begin.