|Subject: Re: Portugal in September/October|
Below are some other comments that I forgot to add to my previous post on Portugal...
Regarding Guimarães, Braga e Barcelos, if you have the time, I would suggest the first two.
Guimarães is the place where we start our Declaration of Independence, about 750 years before US! eh eh eh :-). Braga is a mid size interesting town. Both are nice cities to visit. Curiously I've never been in Barcelos, but it's the place where the Galo de Barcelos is made - alitlle handicraft statue of a cock. Well, not quiet handicraft anymore, actually, now that Galo the Barcelos is made by the zillions, and sold in every single touristic shop of Portugal (including the free shop at the airport). :-)
By the way, if you like local ceramics, at Caldas da Rainha you will find fantastic mugs... see for youself (those I'm telling you about are kind of obscene (yes, obscene), but they make huh, huh,... suprising gifts.
Regarding the spas - a friend of mine told me today that Curia and Caramulo are not so modern as one or other spa in Algarve (like the impressive one at Vila Vita: http://tinyurl.com/iu7i , but they are for sure less expensive. At Caldas I don't know the thermal spas. However, nearby (also nearby São Pedro de Muel) there is a little village - Monte Real that has some Termas (portuguese old name for a spa - nowadays everyone wants to say spa) where a friend of my father usually goes, and he is a man of good taste... http://www.termasdemontereal.pt/ (under construction) and http://tinyurl.com/iu71
I think the ones in Caramulo or Curia i've referred to before are better (not sure).
One thing - I don't know how are things in the US, but in Portugal some Termas (not all termas) are a little old and used. I don't think it is the case in Curia or Caramulo.
Vindima(s) is the harvesting of the grapes to make wine. Also see my website for some recomended portuguese wines. http://tinyurl.com/iu77 The Douro region is worth a visit. But just don't expect to much help from Casa do Douro (tourist office or something like that)...
Port wine is a thing apart. You should buy and take home with you a Vintage or a LBV Port. We portuguese drink not too much Port, but when comes to red wine, ooh boy... Regarding reds, I love those from the Douro (red wine, different from Port wine) and Alentejo regions.
One of my favorite is Quinta do Côtto 1997 .The bad news is that its price keeps increasing all years... Some mid price or cheap good red wines: Monte Velho, Esteva, Evel, Alandra (this one cheap and very good). Whites: Ponte de Lima, Ponte de Lima Loureiro, Alvarinho... (you may have heard of Mateus Rosé, but I personally don't like it, it's not quiet wine, it's not quiet water, is something in between...).
Regarding Espinho/Aveiro/Foz/Nazare: Aveiro is near the beaches of Costa Nova and Barra and I think it's a nice city to visit (for example my friends of Porto like to go there for a little weekend out). Espinho it's very, very crowded. Figueira da Foz - 1/2 afternooon is enough (for example after eating a very good Açorda at that Carrossel restaurant I told you). What is an Açorda, you may ask? http://tinyurl.com/iu7al Kind of light, yet powerful stew with bread in little pieces and with seafood.
By the way, one of my favorite starters just crossed my mind: Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato - clams bulhao pato....
Finally, hotels at Porto:
Some options within the 40 to 80 Eur price range, well located: http://tinyurl.com/iu7e - very well located and interesting hotel http://www.hoteldabolsa.com/ - don't know the price (maybe thea same as Grande Hotel do Porto), but lovely
Other, NOT in the Baixa and Ribeira Districts: The lovely Hotel da Boa-Vista I've refered - http://www.hotelboavista.com/ Youth hostel at Foz - http://tinyurl.com/iu7f Hotel Ibis Porto Gaia (Gaia is the city in the other margin of the river, but you can get from there to Baixa and Ribeira (Central Porto) in 20 minutes by car always driving along the margin of the river up to Ponte D. Luis (D. Luis Bridge). (Note: Hotel Ibis Porto Norte is very, very away from the city)
Regards, Ricardo http://pwp.netcabo.pt/ricardo-duarte/Pages/main.htm