There’s a nickname for the people of Porto: tripeiros. Taken literally, it means “person who eats tripe”, which may sound a little insulting. But in fact it’s a reference to the 15th century, when Porto’s inhabitants gladly gave up all their meat for sailors heading off on their conquests, leaving only tripe for the locals to eat.
Today, this selflessness still survives in the residents of Porto (even if the culinary choices have thankfully become more varied). Wander the vertiginous streets winding upwards from the banks of the River Douro and you can’t fail to notice the generosity and fine manners of the Portuenses (that’s a slightly less colloquial term for the locals).
Places to go, people to see
On your SmoothRed wine tour to Porto we can introduce you to some of our favourite Porto sights and locals, like the lovely people at Sandeman’s with whom our history goes way back. Indeed we still have one of their vintage port price lists from 1945. If only we still had some of the vintage port left too.
You’ll find their cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, the district running along the southern banks of the Douro. As well as old port lodges, the Gaia (as the locals call it) also boasts 17 beaches along 17km of coast.
Further inland the district of Ribeira has buzzing streets in abundance and stunning views across the Dom Luis bridge (built by a student of Gustave Eiffel no less). Stop by one of the endless cafes or bars for a drop of the local speciality and a chance to soak up the local atmosphere.
Elsewhere in the city there are endless opportunities to stop and gawp. Like the Baixa district’s magnificent Lello bookshop with its spiral Art Nouveau staircase; the 20,000 blue and white tiles depicting historic scenes in São Bento railway station; and the vast glass-and-steel Casa da Música designed by Rem Koolhaas.
Did we mention the generosity of the people of Porto? Well it extends to their food and drink too. Throughout the city you can enjoy hearty portions of local dishes, from rich meats, hams and sausages to fish dishes like grilled sardines and the famous salt cod (bacalhão).
For a taste of the local fast food you just have to try a francesinha. Just be prepared for a gut buster. This gargantuan toasted sandwich includes layers of pork, steak, ham, sausage and cheese, all slathered in an oozy, boozy tomato sauce.
What to drink in Porto
Of course, you’ll come for the port. And there’s certainly enough varieties to keep you amazed and amused throughout your stay.
Around the Douro, a huge selection of grape varieties are grown. Visit some of the older vineyards to admire their impressively gnarled vines and see how dozens of grape varieties are often mixed together to make port (and some unfortified wines too).
On the more modern vineyards you’ll see how vines are planted separately, maintaining the distinction between the top five grapes for port: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão.
Throughout your stay you’ll also get an insight into the history of port. Like the fact that the small chapels along the banks of the Douro were originally built to bless the sailors transporting port, lest they come a cropper in the treacherous waters. And that the local schist soil regulates the vine temperatures and help port grapes grow so successfully.
Contact us to discuss your perfect Porto wine tasting holiday.
We have a range of Porto wine tours and self-drive tours available. And we can also create your ideal trip from scratch.
Call us on 020 8877 4940 or email email@example.com and we’ll be more than happy to help.