.: Exploring Porto :.

Oh so hard to return after the holidays! I just had one week in Portugal in Lisbon and Porto. It was also a good opportunity to be with friends and eat loads (more than I’m used to!). But one of the things I was quite keen on doing was to take him to a Port Wine Tour. If we had more space in our luggage we would have the house filled with Port Wine. Seriously!

Although September tends to be a good month to visit Portugal, there was actually a storm (red alert) with strong winds (more than 110km/h) and lots of rain. On the day we arrived it was raining cats and dogs, but fortunately it stopped, but it was quite cloudy the whole day, which ruins our photos. You want to recognize a good photographer? Make him shoot in shitty weather. So clearly you can see which category I fit in.

Our afternoon was on Gaia, where the caves are. We’ve only managed to visit 2 as we had a dinner with a friend. I wish the afternoon was longer to visit loads more.

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Calem

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I loved both the white “Old Friends” (which we’ve bought) and the tawny. So delicious!!! Next time I’ll bring some cheese and chocolate from home 😀

Next stop: Sandeman 

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The store is gorgeous! Love also the student cape, in terms of trademark it’s one of the best within Port. I didn’t really loved the ones we’ve tried so we didn’t bought any. But there was still another visit left “Quinta do Noval”. We loved the LBV and the “Black” (Tawny). But as the LBV needs to be consumed within 2 days, we’ve decided to take the Tawny, as it’s also easier to drik and share with friends.

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Then it was time for dinner and chat with friends. It was an amazing visit and really looking forward to get back, hopefully with good weather!

.: White Houses – Alentejo, Portugal :.

For those of you that are following me for a while you will know that one of my favourite regions in the world is Alentejo, Portugal! Before I left Portugal back in 2010, I used to wake up early in the morning and explore a different corner of Alentejo.

.: The Food :.

Carne de Porco Alentejana

Amejoas a bolhao pato

Arroz de Marisco – seafood rice

.: The wine :.

Alentejo is one of the most wine regions in Portugal, I guess second to “Douro”, the birthplace of Port wine. But for an honest wine to drink among friends I can’t resist Alentejo wine. Unpretentious, dry and strong

Adega de Borba

Antão Vaz da Peceguina Branco

Esporao reserva

One of my favourite

Monte Velho

.: The landscape :.

I would say this is the best part of it all. After the amazing food and wines, it’s a gorgeous natural landscape

There’s also the coast! Imagine Rhossili Bay, Wales, but even more unique!

.: An experience @ Alentejo :.

It’s all about turning off your phone – but leaving your camera on for some amazing photos – shutting down and just relax!

Some examples below

Casas da Lupa

House on alentejo shore

Monte do Zambujeiro

For more inspirations and places to stay check here.

Looking forward to go! Tempted to go as well?

.: Exploring Lille on a rainy day :.

Yap, it was raining cats & dogs. In fact it was even snowing on Saturday morning in Surrey, as we were leaving UK! While it has been snowing quite a lot in north of the island, not so much in the south, so we were quite surprised to see the snow. Surrey looks quite beautiful in white 🙂

Crapy photo from my phone

The journey from London to Lille wasn’t that bad actually. We drove all the way from home to Dover, which took us around 2h (there was a lot of traffic on the m25 after 3 accidents in a row!), but you can also use the Eurostart from London Kings Cross to Lille (roughly 1h). Then we took the ferry, which we’ve booked in advance. If you want to cross the channel by car check the Eurotunnel, if there’s nothing available you can check the ferrys here. If I had booked a bit in advance I could have saved £40. Oh well! It took us 1h30 by ferry, but… because you need to go through passport control and security (which is really really quick) and the boarding starts 30m prior to departure, means you need to reach the port roughly 40/45m before departure.

Once we’ve reached Calais was only 1h10 to reach our hotel (L’Hermitage Gartois – I’ll do a different post to review the hotel and our meals). After we left our car and the bags, we went for a walk into the city centre.

I have to say we were a bit unlucky as it was raining cats & dogs, seriously! We managed to take the first pictures and suddenly we had to go indoors somewhere. I almost managed to ruin my camera and some of the photos look really foggy.

You know what they say right? If a place looks beautiful in the rain, it will look even better if it was sunny. And I’ve really enjoyed my short stay in Lille. Oh, I have to mention the stores. Gosh, the stores are so beautiful and brilliantly decorated (Maybe I’ve been living for London for too long!) I wanted to buy everything!

Grand Palace – this area is so beautiful!!!

The first store we’ve visited was called La Chambreaux Confitures. Gorgeous and really unique! You can buy chocolate cream, marmalades, and different sauces for both meat, cheese and anything else you can imagine! They also have these gorgeous candles!

Sweet sauces for cheese! Can I have them all?

I love the fact that they have small bottles. It’s perfect for me as I tend not to finish the big ones.

Why don’t we have stores like this in UK? We do, but it’s hard to find them, overall the cities don’t have the same presentation as in Europe, especially in France

Next stop, Meert! Look at all these happy calories smiling at me

 

The Moelleaux au chocolat is their signature sweet

I didn’t manage to find a table at Meert. Even just to buy something there was a queue. But I was willing not go give up without my cake

Le Vin – We’ve actually returned to this store to buy some wine

Because it’s quite close to Belgium, it’s also very easy to find really good beer in Lille.

In the old part of the city, all the houses have these cute little doors

This is how dreams are made 🙂

Cathedral

A Vespa in the rain

Beautiful colour isn’t it?

 

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The old town is beautiful!

Lady in the rain

More details

Oui! J’adore le fromage!

More cheese

Looks so creamy and yummy!

Shopping: Wine, Cheese, Marmalades and a cake

Silhouette a la Sherlock in London 🙂

Something in the sky

Morning snack

Have you been in Lille before? Any thoughts you would like to share? What was your favourite place?