We were up early as we were both excited to visit Porto. Chris went to Cafe Al Bacio to get us coffees and some pastries. The captain’s voice was heard in the hallway and we were disappointed to learn that our call in Vigo was cancelled due to a large storm approaching. It was sad because we had a lunch reservation at a Michelin star restaurant to celebrate our 50th birthdays but we knew this was the right decision for comfort and safety. We were both pleased the captain communicated it early and with lots of details regarding his decision. Chris was able to cancel the reservation without a 100 euro penalty. After getting ready for the day, we went to Luminae for breakfast. I wanted something lighter but also something to help absorb all the port wine that I knew was in my near future. I chose the baked oatmeal with berries and Chantilly cream although our waiter did not recommend it. Chris ordered the baked muesli with coconut cream. I should have listened to the waiter. The oatmeal itself was fine but the Chantilly cream tasted of cheese, specifically goat cheese which is not something I enjoy at all. It also had balsamic vinegar drizzle which I know can work with berries but this dish is just odd. Our waiter brought me some traditional oatmeal and banana though which was fine.
The port terminal was quite unique in shape and with beautiful tile work. We took the shuttle to the port entrance and ordered an Uber to take us to the Sandeman’s port house for our tour and tasting. We arrived with only about a 15 minute wait until our time but our tour did start a bit late. It was an intimate group of only three couples though and well worth the wait.
The tour began and our noses were treated to the most amazing aromas of port wine bring aged in barrels and vats. We worked our way through cellars learning about the process of making port wine as well as the history of Sandeman and their revolutionary marketing. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable and gave us so much information without being boring. Of course the highlight of the tour is the tasting. The tasting room was all set just for our group and was such an intimate venue. We were the only couple who opted for the aged tawny tasting and one couple inquired about ordering one of those to share in addition to the five more basic ports included on their tasting. We sipped on our ten year tawny while we learned about the ports the others were trying. The last one of their tasting would be the same as our first. In addition to the ten year, we sampled a 20, 30 and 40 year port. When asked by our guide as to our favorite, it was hard to chose between 20, 30 and 40 as all had different yet wonderful characteristics. After many sips of port, the conversation and laughs were flowing among our group and we enjoyed meeting the one young couple from Italy as well as the couple from California who both seemed shocked we were celebrating our 50th birthdays. Even the guide seemed surprised so I guess we don’t look as old as I think we do.
With all the delicious port we imbibed, we both agreed some food was in order. A short, yet lovely stroll along the Douro brought us to Cais do Bacalhau. We decided to each try port spritz which was so light and refreshing. I wanted to order some bread and olives to start and the waiter recommended the garlic shrimp which was absolutely delicious. We shared an entree of cod in a rich port wine sauce accompanied by turnip greens and chickpeas. It was the perfect meal after a phenomenal experience at Sandeman.
In our planning, we thought we might do a tasting at Kopke but we felt really great so we just went and purchased a bottle to bring home. Chris selected a 50 year in honor of our birthday tomorrow. It is going to be really tough to not crack it open before we get home. Will it make it back to Delaware?
We walked across the river to the Porto side to call for an Uber. I really think Porto is amazing and it is a place I wish to return to soon for possibly a river cruise. My eyes felt very heavy in the 20 minute car ride but I resisted falling asleep.
Upon returning, we went to Cafe Al Bacio for some coffees to take to trivia. They had very cute Halloween themed treats in the case. The Halloween theme continued with lots of decorations in the Constellation lounge. Visual trivia was first which was landmarks. We scored 29/30 for first place. For general trivia, we were joined by another passenger and scored 13/15 for I think second place. The prizes are very serious and life changing, meals at the Oceanview buffet.
After dressing for dinner, we had our pre-dinner drink in the Retreat Lounge and we met the lovely Jocelyn who is the bartender. She made us Negronis and plates of meats and cheeses to snack on. We had a very lovely chat with her. The lounge is very relaxing with refrigerators filled with waters, sodas and beers for quick service. They also had cookies out and an espresso machine.
Our dinner in Luminae started with a beet salad amuse bouche. Chris and I both tried the ginger crab cake and thought it was very good by cruise standards. We never compare a cruise crab cake to ones from Maryland! I had the seafood Veloute with poached oysters and caviar which was delicious. Chris had the quail from Blu and he enjoyed it but I thought it seemed like a huge portion. We both had the beetroot cured tuna ingot that was very tasty but also quite large for appetizer. In fact, even the crab cake was more entree sized that appetizer to us. For our entrees, I had the seared black bass that was in a flavorful mushroom consume and served with a shiitake dumpling. Chris had the guinea hen and a portion of the rigatoni to try. He thought both dishes were good and commented that the pastas have been very nice so far. We were too full for dessert so we skipped it.
The show didn’t peak our interest as it was another singer so we went to pub quiz. It was mostly Halloween themed questions and we did quite well scoring 14/15 for first place. Gigi gave us two hats for our win! A real prize tonight! We ended the evening watching the costume contest and some dancing. The music was rather boring for Halloween but we did learn that the ship is without a DJ and a crew member is filing in. I think Gigi had a much better Halloween playlist during trivia than the music at the party. After a quick visit to the casino, we headed off to bed. I was hoping for a better night’s sleep with less creaking and motion.
We love to travel and experience new places and cultures.