My best friend from high school, Laura, and her husband, arrived on Thursday afternoon. We've been busy catching up and enjoying food, wine and sites.
Last night, as we dined at a Fado club, Laura commented on Portugal by saying, "I knew Portugal was nice because I had read your blog and seen so many pictures. I just didn't know it would be this nice." Her husband had also mentioned that there were a few people he talked to, prior to the trip, who had went on a European cruise and stopped in Portugal. It was their favorite spot. I am under the impression that most Americans know little about Portugal and, therefore, have no desire to visit. Paris, Rome, Barcelona and London top their lists of European vacations. I see that; understand it a bit and was guilty myself (guilty isn't the right word I'm looking for-I still want to go to Rome and London! But, I now consider Portugal a "must-see" to any European itinerary). However, I hope that readers to this blog will remember Portugal when they plan their trip to Europe. Some consider it a "best-kept travel secret." The British and Northern Europeans already look to Portugal for their "holidays."
We spent the first few evenings of Laura and Lee's trip here dining out and introducing them to the cuisine and wine of Portugal. During our trip to Germany, I was reminded how expensive wine is in the States (I was shopping for wine at the PX on Post). German wine was shockingly expensive too. Here in Portugal, good wine is cheap. As in, 4 Euro a bottle (Approx., $6) for enjoyable wine and 8-Euro a bottle for very good wine (according to my palate). Therefore, I was shocked to find that the 4-Euro bottle of wine Matt and I typically drink at home, was 22-Euro at a restaurant. That's over 5X's what I buy it for at the local grocery store. Usually, at a restaurant, Matt and I consume the inexpensive "house wine." Of course, we didn't purchase wine at a restaurant with our friends that I knew was so much cheaper elsewhere. Instead, we purchased a bottle here or there that came highly recommended by the staff, albeit, quite pricey, only to later find out that those too were marked up 4-5x's as much. I think we'll stick to the house wine at a restaurant from now on! Though, I did discover a couple of new wines that I love and can purchase inexpensively at the local supermarket. So, the price tag at the restaurant didn't equate to a total loss.
If you're interested in trying out the wines we're enjoying currently, click the links in the "Now Drinking" section on my sidebar and see if you can find them locally. I don't think Portuguese wines, aside from Port wine, are well known in the US, however, they are worth trying out.
Laura and Lee have headed to Porto to tour Port Wine country for a few days. They'll return at the end of the week for a few more days. We're having such a great time. Laura and I have been friends for nearly two decades and still enjoy each other's company! She and her husband traveling here is such a wonderful treat!