Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Having been enchanted by Ponte de Lima - and wanting to enjoy the fresh trout and vinho verde in the Ecanada Restaurant - we decided to stay over and were happy to find our quiet room was available for a second night. I say 'quiet' but the room (named Chocolate for no apparent reason) was only metres away from a church bell which chimed on both the hour and half-hour. Happily, it took a break between 10pm and 9am.

Coffee machine. I did think I wasn't going to be able to test my theory it'd be the most bitter I've ever suffered. I spent ten minutes at 8.30 trying to find out how it worked. Even checking the plug in the wall. Finally it was my friend, Mike, who discovered that, apart from the press-switch on the front, there was also an on-off switch at the back. Access to which meant that pulling the machine away from the wall. Anyway, having got it going, I was able to confirm the coffee was too bitter to drink. For me, at least. Mike found it quite palatable.

Health & Safety?: After our visit to the Terceiros Museum, we repaired to the main square for a coffee I could stomach. As I opened my laptop and moved backwards to access the wi-fi kindly provided by the municipality, one of my chair-legs fell several inches into a narrow rivulet between the granite slabs. Holding my laptop aloft, I beseeched Mike to take it from me as I put one hand out to stop myself falling flat on my back. As he dallied to ponder taking a foto, I was manhandled out of the drain by not one but two Portuguese gentlemen who'd rushed from the table behind us. Another pleasant memory of Ponte de Lima.

Noise: At lunch today, we were flanked by at least twenty Portuguese diners. None of them spoke much above a whisper. I was reminded of a lunch in Oporto a few years ago, when a Spanish foursome entered, took the only remaining table and proceeded to make more noise than all sixty Portuguese diners put together.

Local Amenities: The town is, for the most part, undeniably pretty and, as I've intimated, it's serenely calm and quiet. There are, however, certain aspects of Spain that it lacks. Most obviously, the massed ranks of pretty young women one is accustomed to seeing in Pontevedra. Where shorts and high heels are currently the fashion de rigeur. None of this nonsense down in Port de Lima. And so it is that I continue my search for Portugal's only pretty woman. Which could take years yet.

But it's not all bouquets of roses . . .

Lunch: As planned, this was at the Encanada restaurant, on the terrace overlooking the river. The Menu - which used to be a two-sided bit of cardboard - was now a leather-bound, multi-page, A4 booklet of some quality. And the drinks now included Champagne. But what the Menu didn't have was fresh trout, once the place's speciality. Though it still had vegetable soup and cabrito(kid). And the local vinho verde was still good. And came in its own little jacket. The dessert menu, though, was still the same cheap list of proprietary ice creams, with the home-made stuff hidden at the back.

Muzak: I was going to write that the music piped to the lampposts was pleasant and never intrusive but tonight they turned to pop and upped the volume. A double blow. And an inexplicable one.

Finally . . . Our room, we were told today, was called 'Chocolate' because various parts of the furnishings reminded one of a bar of the stuff. Yes, well . . .

Talking of names and labels . . . I told Mike today that I was planning to see a physiotherapist on Friday. I needed to do this because of a lingering pain in my shoulder. I wanted to do this because I'd been told she looked like Penelope Cruz. Thinking I'd said 'Penelope Keith', Mike asked whether she wouldn't be getting on a bit by now.


Bill said...

When making coffee (using either bought ground coffee or coffee I have ground myself) I always add a very small quantity of salt to the grounds (say 1/4 teaspoon for a 6-cup jug) to reduce the 'wershness' (*) of the coffee.

(*) I learned this trick many many years ago from my late mother who always added salt - 'wersh' is a Scots word meaning roughly sour or bitter, can also mean tasteless or insipid in some usages.

I don't use fancy coffee-making equipment (did in the past, but too complicated) - I now use either a jug with plunge-filter or a stove-top espresso machine (stainless steel, not aluminium).

James Atkinson said...

Colin When you get to Porto, do please mention the traffic. Has it improved? We were there sometime around 2000. There wasn't a metro then, and after around 5pm it was honestly quicker to walk anywhere within the inner city, it really was gridlock. I fell over in Porto, luckily as it was February I was wearing gloves, and was helped up by a couple of locals who (we deduced) blamed the bad state of the pavement.
I love the portuguese, but the always look so sad. Its not uncommon we noticed to see them sitting on there own in cafes either.

Colin said...

@Bill. Thanks for the salt tip, Bill. Will try it tomorrow morning. First time for 'wersh' for me. I use a cafetiere and plunger.

@James. Didn't make it to Porto in the end,having decided to stay in PdL. My friend Mike did but only en route to the airport. You are so right, they do look so sad most of the time, which was one of the reasons I changed my retirement plans from Portugal to Spain.

Azra said...

Sounds like you're having a good Summer :)

Colin said...

@Azra. Well, so far so good, though the weather could be a lot better. Not hot today. And rainy today in Ponters, just as it was down in Ponte de Lima. Still, my mother's just told me that it's far worse in the UK. She is housebound because of the rain tomorrow.

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