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Portugal

 
 
We knew that Portugal produced beautiful pottery and dishes, but we didn't realize it would be as cheap as it is. Unfortunately, I have a trunk full of boxes now!
 
We watched them working with the clay and painting.
 
The 7,000 year old Almendres is located just outside of the town of √Čvora. It contains over 100 stones placed in a horseshoe shape by Megalithic people 2,000 years before Stonehenge. It sits out in a field with no protection!   The entire central region of Portugal
seems to be planted with cork trees.
 
Bullfighting in Portugal is totally different than in Spain. The fighters line up to challenge the bull,
with their own bodies - no capes!
  One guy (who must have drawn the short straw) wears a jester's style cap. He's first in line and when the bull charges, he grabs both horns and rides the bull's head!
 
Sometimes it doesn't work very well. But the same person has to try again and again. We saw one guy get charged by the bull four times. OUCH!   Once he's on the bull, the rest of the crew gather around (and under and behind) the bull
to try to get it to stop charging.
 
One fighter grabs the tail and the rest of them scatter. The bull, of course, sees him and charges
while he hangs on for dear life. After a while, the bull gets tired and the guy lets go.
Finally, everyone - including the bull - leaves the ring alive, but a little worse for wear.
 
We loved the free entertainment so many of the cities held in the evenings. This Fado concert
(traditional music played by men wearing black capes)
was held in front of the Cathedral in Coimbra.
  The Barcelos market is the largest open air market in Portugal. Guess what? More pottery!
 
Barrels of port wine were in nearly every boat coming down the river into Porto.   On the riverfront, a folk group played
traditional music at a festival.
 
We were able to tour the Croft Port Wine Cellars - and took a lesson on choosing a good port wine.
 
Our favorite Portugues pastries were the little pasteis de nata (phillo dough filled with custard). We met the owner/baker and he shared some of his secrets with me.   Lunch at La Posada de Sanabria was a faba bean and clam soup, grilled lubina with shrimp and gulas (baby eels) and wine from the Duero River valley.