Porto is the second largest city in Portugal. We enjoyed our leisurely stay here; walking along the riverfront and tasting the drink of the region. Portugal is makes many very good varieties of wine but they are most famous for Port wine. True Port only comes from this region in Portugal and was originally produced to so that the wine could make the journey to England. England had been in a war with France and they needed another place to get wine; they added bandy in the wine to halt the fermentation process. The British grew fond of this type of wine and the market was born. Every other shop on the riverfront seemed to be selling Port. Our favorite were the shops selling port in thimble size chocolate cups.
We also toured the old stock exchange palace with elaborately decorated rooms which highlighted the resources acquired from countries Portugal had explored. Directly beside the palace, the San Francisco church was overwhelming and dripping with gold. I have been to Assisi, Italy were St. Francis called home; In Assisi the monastery and his belongings demonstrated a humble, unmaterialistic way of living. I could not help but think that St. Francis would not have been very happy about the gold added to this monastery. However, when visiting the church it was easy to see that Portugal, as well as Spain, became exceeding rich in their explorations of the sea.
Porto would be the starting point for our trip up the Douro Valley which provided one of our most memorable experiences. However, first I need to let you know of a wine called Vino Verde or green wine. This type of wine is only found in Portugal. It is a very refreshing wine and has some type of carbonation or bubbles. It is a very crisp wine and if you have a chance to try this wine I would recommend it. Next up, the Douro Valley.