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September 17 - Visit to Porto and Transit to Mesao Frio
We drove today to Porto (Oporto) and went directly into town to a hotel where we would have a lecture and lunch. The lecture was by a young girl who was doing it for the first time. It was not very good but when she answered questions about her life and times it improved dramatically. She was talking about Porto and about the Douro river valley and its demarcated wine region. We would see this valley in the next several days. Then we had lunch at the hotel. a very good buffet. After that we went to the Palaciao del Bolsa, built in 1842 as the stock exchange but now more like a chamber of commerce building for ceremonial events. We saw a number of rooms on the second floor surrounding an atrium. Fig 265 is a meeting room and the prize of the lot is the Arabian room (266), which is magnificent. Then we went across the river to the Sandeman warehouse and tourist center (268 - 271) where we took the standard tour, had our pictures taken, and had a wine tasting. Best was a 20 year old vintage tawny port.

This was also an opportunity to take photos. I got a good panoramic (267) of Porto across the river with the (obsolete) wine boats in the foreground and a couple of others in the vicinity (272, 273). After that we headed east into the rugged hills of the Douro valley to our next Pousada, Solar da Rede at Masao Frio, in the hills overlooking the river. This was also very luxurious with many people put up in rooms in small houses on the hill and accessed by minivan. We were in the main house, since we are evidently considered more ancient than some, but on the third floor in a relatively small but pleasant room. Evidently this time they did the alphabet backwards. In the courtyard and in the formal garden in front of it, the views of the river and the hills were spectacular. For dinner we had a buffet with turkey as the main dish.

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