Pinhão: Rainy Day One

(Morning notes) I slept soundly and woke up to the sound of steady rain. This is the first day since arriving in Portugal that it’s rained consistently. It’s actually a pleasant change, although I’ll have to shelve the morning bike ride since it’s forecasted to last through the early afternoon.

The proprietor left a covered basket with breakfast outside the door, containing an enormous bottle of some fruit juice, a beaker of milk, what I thought was a hard boiled egg, meat and cheese, and fresh rolls and butter. The suite features a coffee maker, which a close friend likes to call a “drip-o-lator”. I brewed a half pot with the coffee provided and was treated to the most tasteless cup I’ve ever had. Should I see if there’s a decent espresso place in the village?

So, my visit to a cafe down the street was disappointing. I’ve come to accept that outside of Lisbon and hotel machines, the locals simply have no idea how to make a proper cappuccino. At least I was fully caffeinated!

As it turned out, when I cracked the egg it was a raw one! Oops! I bought a half dozen fresh eggs from the market that morning for €1 and scrambled three of them for breakfast.

The rain abated and I headed out for a long hike/walk through the mountainside vineyards and olive groves. The weather was cloudy and overcast, so perfect weather, since the summers here can be brutal. The rain held off until I returned to Pinhão, so I lucked out. The area is stunning and the chance to walk 5+ miles without seeing anyone was wonderful. In town, people walk at a funereal pace. I lost the trail once and had to scale a rocky wall. I recalled the time in Cinqueterra in the spring of 2004 when I was walking along a similar mountain trail and accidentally toppled an ancient wall. Fortunately, the wall I climbed stayed whole and I didn’t suffer the Martyrdom of St Stephen redux!

When I started my mountainside vineyard hike around noon at Quinta da Foz, the manager, Christophe, advised that I climb up the mountain behind their quinta because it connected with the road back down into town. The tasting room didn’t open until 4:00 pm, so I promised to come by then.

I headed over to the Quinta as the skies started to clear and met some winsome and quite fit middle-aged American women on a trekking tour. I took their pictures on the pedestrian bridge. Around 4:30, I arrived at the Quinta. I sprinted up the stone steps and met Christophe and Joana at the top. They were so impressed that they gave me a glass of red (vinho tinto) and invited me to walk around the winery, which was full of crushed grapes.

When I walked into the tasting room, I chatted with a group of young Germans, who are uniformly delightful people. Then it was just me and I did a full tasting as Joana described the various selections, which ranged from a dry white aged in mahogany barrels through four reds aged progressively in Portuguese, Hungarian and French oak, to the finale, a surprisingly semi-dry ruby port.

Needless to say, I was a bit tipsy afterwards. Although this may sound like hyperbole, many of the people I’ve met in Portugal seem suffused with joy. I suppose when you see vistas like this after a rainy morning, it’s hard to feel otherwise.

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