Today is the first day of my sabbatical.
Or, at least, that is what I have taken to calling it.
Three months of flexibility, exploration, and re-connecting after 5 years away from home.
I plan to make good use of the time, and write more about my Rome.
But first I have a few things to get off my bucket list.
Portugal has been the at the top of my Travel To Do List for years, and so 8 days ago, I bought a ticket to Porto. And yesterday morning, before my flight, I finally booked a hotel and tried to figure out what I was going to do once I got here.
It turns out that one of the best things to do on a Monday in Porto is taste a bit of Port.
I headed to Cálem, a cellar that was established in 1859. Back then, the owner was really only interested in exporting the stuff to Brazil so that he could get some tropical wood in exchange.
Cálem turned that wood into furniture and made a fortune. He made enough to establish his own fleet of ships and really get into the Port game.
You see, it was that shipping that really made Port what it is today. The wine kept spoiling on its voyage to England and beyond, so the Portuguese fortified it — adding extra alcohol to keep it from going bad so quickly.
Port barrels are constructed in the cellar and can be used for up to 150 years. Then, they burn them and sell the wood to the Scots to help with whiskey-making.
I won’t spoil the whole tour because if you are in Porto, have an hour to kill and 6 euro in your pocket, you should swing by Cálem for a taste of white and tawny port.