Portugal was very rainy and windy. Our first contact with the local culture was with their culinary. When we arrived in Povoa de Varzim, we went out to nearby restaurant. There we ate Francesinha - made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato with beer sauce, it`s typically served with French fries. Also we tried Pastel de nata which is a Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon. On that day we found out about a nice place- Theatro, where we found a large choice of Portuguese wines. At the dinner was our first meeting with the others teams, who quickly became our friends.
The second day began with a trip to Ponte de Lima. The name of this city comes from the spectacular bridge over the River Lima. There we saw the Torre da Cadeia Velha – a prison for the people who were trying to poison the water of the nearby fountain and it had been a part of the entrances wall of the city.
Our next stop was Viana do Castelo. It`s one of most ancient cities in Portugal. There we saw the Basilica of Santa Luzia which offers the third best beautiful view in the world according to Discovery Channel. The symbol of the city is The heart of Viana, who had been the most beautiful girl in the city, it represents of 3 hearts- the biggest one is symbolizing the love of God and the two other smaller hearts- the love between the women and the man.
On the third day, we started our training wine courses. We learned a lot for the wine from the region- Vinho verde. After lectures we visited Barcelos. There we saw Teplo de Bom Jesus da Cruz, which is a civil parish, the bridge between Barcelos and Barcelinhos (means the smaller Barcelos). The symbol of Barselos is a rooster. There is a legend for the love between their beautiful princess and a poor boy. They had decided to go away, but after the princess`s father knew about their plan, he was very angry and decided to punish the boy. When they captured the boy, he said that a rooster would crow three times if his is innocent. In the next day it has happened, the rooster was crowing three times, the boy was released as a symbol of love`s victory.
On the fourth day, we visited Esposende. It`s a small town where we met a mayor of the city and learned a lot about the tourism, the economics, the nature and the wine production in that part of the country.
The fifth day we`ve had the most precious experience during our stay. After the lecture we made professional evaluation of twelve wines. After that we visited Porto. It is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. There we visited Palácio da Bolsa, Livraria Lello- a bookstore with extraordinary atmosphere and historical and architectural value, had been inspired J.K. Rowling when she was writing the first book in the Harry Potter series. There we saw also the original book of “Le petit prince”.
The other interesting place was Porto bridge climb which offers the best view over the city and we could see the two coasts of the River Douro (means Golden).
On the one of the coasts they produce many brands of Porto wine. We visited one of them - Sandeman. This is a brand of Porto wine founded in 1790 by George and Davin Sandeman. We learned a lot about the production of Porto wine and tasted five different wines of their recent production – Vintage (from special crops), Ruby, Tawny and White wine- sweet and high alcoholic wines. They are the pride of the city.
This experience was very inspiring for me and I think I've learned a lot about the Portuguese wine production and culture.