Tag Archives: wine

Walking Wine

On September 18, 2012, Ivan and I had the free breakfast at the hotel.  We left the hotel at 11 am headed to Portugal.

The roads seemed even quieter than driving through Spain.  Seems like the Portuguese hate driving even more than the Spanish do! We arrived at Portugal at 1:45 pm.  Ivan drove us further on and arrived in Porto at 3:30 pm.

We met the Airbnb guy and put our luggage down in the room.  We had a room to ourselves.  The room had cute red and pink wallpaper.

Later, we went into town and parked it in a parking garage.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to Bar Porto com Arte to check out the Sunset Wine & Food.  The bartender said he wasn’t sure how many people were going to attend.  Ivan asked about the walking tour since it’s run through the same company – he wanted to know if it might be too late to join since the tour starts at 5:30 pm.  He said you have plenty of time.  Ivan said no, it’s almost 5:30.  The guy said it was 4:30 pm.  Portugal is an hour behind from Spain which neither of us knew.

We didn’t have much for lunch, so we stopped at a restaurant to have shrimp wok which was a nice change from tapas.

It was time for the Pancho tours free walking tour which meets at Praça da Liberdade.  Our guide was a friendly Portuguese girl named Mia. 

We went to many places like the University, train station, Santa Catarina street, the clock tower and the National Theatre. 

Some of the buildings in Porto have beautiful tiles on them.  They do this to make the building look prettier.  Since Portugal is a poor country, they use tiles.  The churches and the train station have the prettiest tiles.

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It was interesting to find out why pastries are popular in Porto.  The nuns used egg whites to make their outfits stiff.  They didn’t want to waste the rest of the egg so they started making pastries. 

The group stopped at Livraria Lello which is the 3rd best bookstore in the world. 

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Mia said we shouldn’t take pictures.  Ivan took one and the guy upstairs went mental.  He told him to erase it and Ivan pretended like he did.  The guy god mad and started pushing Ivan.  I told him to stop hitting him.  We went downstairs and Ivan took another picture.  The guy was still following us.  The guy at the cashier came outside.  Ivan said I can take pictures outside.  The guy said no, this is my house.  Ivan said this is a business not your house.  The guy who pushed Ivan started chasing after him.  Ivan was worried he was going to grab the camera.  A Portuguese guy kept staring at Ivan.  I said What? He’s the one who got hit.  Go away!  which he did. 

Mia said that it’s a beautiful place but the customer service is really bad.. which was pretty obvious after what happened.  Mia said that J.K. Rowling got inspiration from the bookstore for Harry Potter.  Supposedly she wrote the first Harry Potter book in Portugal.  But, we’ve heard otherwise that she wrote it in a café in Edinburgh, Scotland.

We stopped by a pastry shop and tried a few pastries.. the apple one tasted good.

We also found out that some of the college kids wear black capes.  You don’t have to wear it.  It looks really hot and makes them look like wizards.  The kids who wear the capes all wear black.  Ivan said he would make it funny by wearing a tie and carry a wand just like the kids in Harry Potter.  Go here if you want to see a picture of the kids in capes.

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We got a nice view of the city from one of the six bridges in Porto.

Porto is very hilly so we were walking up and down. 

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It’s a pretty city. 

I definitely recommend this free walking tour. 

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Hopefully, you get Mia as your guide since she’s cool and very interesting.

For dinner, we went to ODE Porto Wine House.  The guy who served us was very nice.  He told us that the restaurant didn’t use microwaves and didn’t fry anything.  It’s recommended that dinner is 2 1/2 hours long. 

The appetizers were served at a community table that had a big wooden table and lots of bottles of wine in shelves.  Ivan and I started off with an unpasteurized sheeps milk cheese with an ODE cocktail (porto secco with lime and sparkling water).  The cocktail was refreshing.  The cheese was stinky, but tasted terrific.

The rest of the dinner was upstairs.  Five tables were in this room.  The food was delicious.  We got a great salad, sardines, vegetable soup and octopus that was grilled for 4 to 5 hours.  Our meal was enjoyed with a lovely red wine.

For dessert, we got the wonderful sleeping volcano nearby a tangerine glacier.

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It was a cake with chocolate inside and a tangerine ice cream.  What a wonderful meal!!

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Cheese Segway

On August  10, 2012, Ivan, Lil Dave and I headed out to the Old Town at noon.

We were planning to go to a cheese and wine but were starving and so wanted to get a quick snack to line our stomachs so to speak, so we could actually enjoy the cheese rather than just swallow the entire block whole,due to our hunger pains! We found a little paste place called Kogo.  Ivan and I shared a gnocchi with a  nice veggie mix.  Lil Dave got a pasta with banana and chicken.

It was time for wine and cheese at Paradox…(isn’t it ALWAYS time for wine and cheese though?!)

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Ivan and I got two cheeses which came with two jams, anchovies (which came with free sun dried tomatoes) and two wines to start with.  Lil Dave enjoyed his own banana and a banana juice.  The cheeses were hard cow’s cheese from Pag Island and hard sheep’s cheese with rosmary from Krk, island, Croatia with the wines  Grand Cuvee Bokinac 2009 and Mlvazija Bastina Cuj 2008.  The Mlvazija Bastina Cuj was recommended by the waitress – after first we didn’t like it, but then we thought it was more complex after drinking it more and eating it with the cheese, anchovies and bread.

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Ivan thought we should do more wines.  We ordered the rose and Prosek Tomic wines.  The waitress said good choice.  I smiled like I knew all about wines.. which I really don’t know much.  I just know that I like it, it tastes good and gets me drunk.

It was a great time sitting there drinking the various wines and eating the very tasty food!

Afterwards, Ivan and I got some frozen yogurt at Chill.

I was checking out the shoe shops.  I saw some cute shoes that two girls were wearing (different print but same style) and I wanted to buy a pair.  I didn’t have any luck finding it though. 

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We walked around Old Town.  I really this cool building.

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Ivan had a surprise for me.  We walked to the meeting point before 4 pm.  It was time to go on a Segway Tour of Split.  I was happy since I’ve always wanted to do one.  The Segway had to be lowered since I’m so short. We got to practice riding around in the big square.  It was a little tricky at first but didn’t take long to master. Ivan was like an old pro as we had a Segway in Vegas once for a few months and he rode it a lot then. 

Since the big event (bunch of famous dj’s playing) was happening later tonight, the Rive street was closed off.  So, we would be going different places than usual. 

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Our guide Boris took us up a big hill with amazing views. The group consisted of another couple, two teenagers (one was a bubbly English girl and one as an American who never seemed to smile), us and one monkey.

We stopped at a Catholic church for a break.  The couple and I followed Boris to the 15th century church.  It’s only used for weddings on Saturdays. 

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We couldn’t go inside the church though.  There’s a secret area that’s locked – only the church can enter.  Boris wants to go in there.  He said he heard it was very cave-like inside.  I wanted to check it out.  Too bad I have no opening lock skills… if only it was so easy like in the movies!

We reached the top of the hill which was the highest point of Split. 

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It was so very lovely up there.  I love riding the Segway.. it’s so much fun!  I want one back home now.  I bet they’re expensive though.

The group started heading down the hill.  We stopped for a break and we got a free drink.  Ivan and I got a Apple Somserby (Boo, they didn’t have the tastier Pear in stock) and Lil Dave got a banana and strawberry juice. The views from the café were amazing.

It was a great day for a Segway tour.  At first it was weird controlling the Segway, but I got used to it.  Ivan and I were usually head of the pack…Which makes a change really coz usually on tours we are at the back! (like on cycling ones or kayaking).

Later, we had dinner at Pizzeria Karaka down by the sea near our apartment (we were too tired to walk into the old town, plus it would have been REALLY busy there tonight due to the big event happening on the Riva .  Ivan and I shared an octopus salad for a starter.  Lil Dave got a banana pizza and a banana crepe for dessert.  Ivan got a tuna steak while I had a spaghetti frutti di mare.  The food was good.

We were all so very tired, so we called it an early night.

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Nova Postcard

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 9:30 am on August 3, 2012. 

We checked out of Vila Panonija. 

Lunch was at Caffe Che Nova? 

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It was great eating lunch in a such a lovely setting.  Lil Dave had banana pasta. 

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Ivan and I shared a delicious prawn & tomato stuffed squid and an average salmon risotto.

Our backpacks were left at storage at the hotel – so we picked them up and headed to Old Town.

I put a few postcards in the post box.

It was almost time to leave, so we walked to the bus station.  Everything seems so much farther when you have heavy backpacks on and you’re walking in the hot sun. But we don’t mind too much, as we think of the extra weight as ‘exercise’!

Sometimes you’re not assigned as seat as this was the case.  Ivan put our big backpacks in storage while I grabbed good seats.  We got lucky with a table all to ourselves.  Lil Dave was happy since he got his own window seat!

The bus arrived at the Montenegran Immigration at 4:20 pm.  The bus went into the bus lane and it took 30 minutes.  Ivan and I forgot again about the next Immigration for the Croatian side.  There was a really long line.  We were done there around 5:40 pm.  Thank goodness the bus was air-conditioned and we had cold water – otherwise the wait would have been a bit unbearable.

We arrived in Dubrovnik, Croatia at 6:30 pm and got a taxi to the Old Town.

The place we stayed at was called Dubrovnik Rooms Seka.  It’s run by a friendly red-headed Croatian lady. 

She asked for our passports and said did we want alcohol or coffee.  Ivan asked what the alcohol was and she said rakia.  I said we love rakia.  It was a lovely homemade (made by her!) rakia welcome shot.  She did a shot as well – not as big as the ones she poured out for us.  She didn’t speak much English, but she was super friendly.

Unfortunately, there was no free wi-fi like as it was advertised…..but it had a lovely view and was so close to the Old Town. The picture below was of the view from our window.

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We had dinner at a restaurant called Café Dubravka 1836.  We had a nice view of the castle walls.  Lil Dave got a banana soup and a banana lasagna.  Ivan and I shared a fish soup, tuna pizza and mussels in red sauce.  The fish soup was quite plain and tasted more like a boring chicken noodle soup.  The tuna pizza was very good.

We walked around the Old Town which has cobblestone streets.  Its truly a really magical place to walk around. I like all the cool souvenir shops and the restaurants playing music. 

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Dubrovnik is a lovely place especially at night.  I like the buildings with the green shutters.

Ivan thought we go check out D’Vino wine bar. 

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Ivan and I wanted to get the cheese platter, but we were stuffed from dinner.  Maybe next time.  We each got an espresso and chilled out.

It was great to check out the very cool postcards and the souvenirs in the shops.  I bought a bunch of postcards and we headed back to apartment at 11 pm.

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Wine Castle

I found Ivan already awake when I woke up at 9:30 am on July 28, 2012. We used the internet.

Ivan and I had toast which is included in the free breakfast at the hostel. We also had a peach from the fruit Ivan bought yesterday.

We walked down the hill and across the river to Hotel Mangalemi for lunch. Ivan and I knew it was good and didn’t really know any other restaurants to head to. We shared a bean salad, grilled vegetable salad and a beet salad. We also shared a raki (rakia) with oregano fragrance. This raki wasn’t as harsh as most of the rakis and the oregano lingered in your through for a short time after drinking it. The food was once again very tasty.

We walked to Berat Castle which involved trekking up a long steep hill. I’m glad Ivan stopped a few times to sit down and drink water. It was really hot out. Luckily the hill wasn’t quite as steep or as long as it looked from the bottom…actually what am I talking about!…it was JUST as steep as it looked from the bottom, if not steeper!

When we reached the top a guy asked Ivan where he was from. Ivan said England. The guy was a guide and he asked if we wanted to be shown around the big castle. He wanted a ridiculous amount of money at first, but Ivan talked him down to 1000 Lek (about $9 USD) for both of us.

Our guide was an Albanian guy named Tony – I bet it was something weird, but he chose an easier English name. He walked around and talked about the castle and Albania. There are 65,000 people living in Berat. There’s a university here which is the biggest building which looks more like a government building than a university.

I asked Tony if he liked raki and he said it was like fire.  He doesn’t like it much.  Ivan and I love raki. 

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We stopped at a bar with a nice view and had some sparkling water.  We love sparkling water since it’s so refreshing.  I wish they sold it for a reasonable price in the US.

Tony showed us many different things like a great views of the city including the Osumi River.  I asked why the river was so low.  He said it’s low in the summer and high in the winter.  We also saw St. George Church.  The second floor of this floor was built by the Nazis.  The people didn’t like the Nazis so they threw rocks at it.  It looks like they never renovated it.  It looks unused but it’s owned by the church now.

We also saw the highest point of Berat which is next to the Lord’s Fortress.

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Next, we saw Trinity Church which had a cool décor.  This 13th or 14th century (Tony said it was 13th 14th century) church is only used once a year.  Ivan asked Christmas? Tony said yes. Well done Ivan!!!

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We also a Constantine statue and an Onufre (an Albanian painter) statue.

Ivan asked if we could take a picture with Tony at the end of the tour.  He said No, I don’t want to.  He was a bit weird, but it was a good tour – we wouldn’t know what to see if we walked around ourselves.

We walked back down to the city.  Ivan and I were thinking of going to the winery.  Ivan found a taxi that would take us there and wait for us while we took the tour.  The driver drove us to Çobo Winery.  The guide didn’t speak English, she asked if we spoke Italian.  She showed us the big wine tanks and the barrels.  We looked around and took pictures of the barrels.

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Ivan attempted to ask her a question, but it appeared as though her English didn’t go beyond ‘You go upstairs now for drinking?’. This was okay with us, so we went up to the farmhouse and sat ourselves down.

Along with the wines we were given plates of cheese, olives and bread.

The first wine was a white wine named ‘Shesh’. I gave it 5/10 with comments of ‘mild-delicate, Grapey with a hint of berry’. Next up was another white E Bardha e Beratit. Ivan gave it 7/10 with comments of ‘complicated, mysterious, white-grapey’.

Next up was a red named ‘Sheshi-Zi’. We both really liked this one, with Ivan throwing out comments such as ‘mature, knowledgeable, intelligent, a wine you should show respect to!’. A well earned 9/10 from me!

Next up was a red named ‘Kashmir’. This was our favourite! Ivan said it was ‘Inviting, buff, and paranoid’.!!!! Yes I don’t know where on earth he was getting these words from either! I guess the wine inspired him!

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We were served a final drink of Raki with nuts (quite tasty) then jumped in the tax for the ride back to town. After using internet for bit we headed out again to Hotel Mangalemi. Firstly because every meal there had been great, but also because there didn’t really seem to be much else in town that looked half decent. This time, we had fish soup, grilled veg salad, casserole and stuffed peppers, washed down with some cherry raki, and topped off with a slice of baklava! Yet again, a fantastic meal!

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