|the bookstore in Porto that was the inspiration for the Harry Potter library|
|Michael and Jens in Germany|
We spent 4 days in Galicia, on the NW corner of Spain, after crossing the Bay of Biscay. It was a relief to be back in a Spanish speaking country. Mike has some French and German skills, limited ones mind you, but I have zero such skills, and it is frustrating to be in a country and not speak any of the language. You miss so much. Sure, more and more people speak English, but it seems so presumptuous to expect the locals to have to speak to you in a second language for them, in their own country. Anyway, we missed the small conversations that are much easier in an English or Spanish speaking country. Granted, my Spanish is not great, but I can get anything I want, get my point across in Spanish. Of course when I fail, Mike and his perfect Spanish usually save the situation, so for obvious reasons we love being back in Spain.
In Galicia the local specialty is boiled octopus, served in olive oil and paprika. Mike and I loved it, Zander tolerated it and Porter and Kena enjoyed taking the suckers off and sticking them to their faces! The boys bought an octopus trap, so even though they don’t like eating it, they really want to catch one. Octopus are very abundant here and they even have aquaculture farms to raise them. Considering the octopus is the smartest invertebrate and arguably smarter than many mammals, I warned the boys to watch their backs if they ever do catch one. I can just imagine an octopus wrestling a knife away from one of them!
From Galicia we spent a week in Portugal before heading back into Southern Spain. We spent most of that week in Porto. It was a lovely place to stop, but the weather was so nasty, we didn’t really have much choice in the matter. We crossed the river bar in Porto and tied up in a marina to rest and explore after our 24 overnight crossing. The weather deteriorated shortly after crossing and the port captain later closed the entrance to all boats due to the dangerous conditions. There are worse places to get “stuck”, but unfortunately it rained most of the week we were there and we had to time our excursions to take advantage of the drizzle and avoid the torrential downpours. Even it what the locals call the “sad” conditions, Porto is an interesting city to explore.
Porto is the second most important city in Portugal. The wine trade flourished here in the 18th century after English merchants began to lace the best of the local (Douro) wines with brandy. Today you can still visit the warehouses where the Port is stored and wine tasting is a favorite activity. We are, by no means, big drinkers, but you’d think from our visits we are alcoholics; The Guinness breweries in Ireland, Whiskey distilleries in Scotland, Calvados from Normandy, French reds and now Port from Porto. Our bilges are being packed with “souvenirs” from our visits. Five years from now we will still be nursing the Port we bought after touring the warehouses of Porto. And, the distilleries provide good science lesson for the kids in filtration, condensation, fermentation....any sacrifice to educate them! Making moonshine is still a job skill in some places in the US isn’t it! Anyway, Porto was fun to walk around, we wandered through the little alleyways and up through colorful markets. Portugal is still a developing country, so it is still a little gritty, but very charming.