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Saturday, 12 March 2016

Cruise and Land Tour in Portugal - July 6th/15....

The Mar de Ar Muralhas hotel offered a buffet breakfast  - the hot selections did not interest me.

The first activity of the day was to drive to Castelo de Vide.  There seems to be a lot of hilltop castles and towns in Portugal, which is more scenic and picturesque than I thought it would be.  Castelo de Vide is a small town where we stopped for coffee and a snack.  Our tour guide had another treat for us -  a pastry using unleavened dough.  It was topped with apples and cinnamon and baked, cut into squares, and was very tasty.

For lunch, we stopped at a modern shopping mall in Castelo Branco.  At one of the food booths, I ordered a chicken soup with orzo type pasta; it tasted like home-made soup. I also had a vegetable crepe and a coke.

Viseu’s history spans millennia and has been a major crossroads since the time of the Romans - during the Middle Ages, the city often served as the court for various Visigoth nobles. The city and region are famous for its Dao Wine - fruity reds for younger drinking; and fresh, dry whites and deeper, richer reds which retain their fruit with age.

We did not get a guided tour, but we had time to walk around on our own.  There is a nice, rather large central park area with two fountains.  There is also an impressive ajulejos, painted ceramic tiles, presenting a history of Viseu.

We stayed at another nice hotel, the Hotel Grao Vasco, named after one of Portugal’s great 16th century artists. 

In the evening, we had an Optional Excursion for a visit to the Casa do Insua Palace for dinner at a price of €45.   It is presently a hotel, which is famous for its gardens and gourmet dinners.   We received a guided tour of the gardens - very impressive.  We entered the manor house for a tour and then we entered a courtyard where we had sparkling wine. Then we were seated in a dining room for one of their famous gourmet meals.  Based on my memory, the dinner was excellent and included Red and white Dao wines, which were among the best that we had on the trip.

Photos belong to Phil Bianco 

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