Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Church of Gold and a Francesinha

On our last day in Port, I strolled down cobblestone streets through the gritty, colorful Ribeira District on our way to the San Francisco church, which I'd recommend to any visitor.  Although photographs are not permitted within the church itself, no one can soon forget the stunning interior that amply justifies calling San Francisco The Church of Gold.  The lavish, cavernous space drips with gilded woodwork that lines the columns, pillars, and ceiling.  Beautiful carvings, of flowers and cherubs and animals, abound.  The small museum is interesting, as are the hushed catacombs. 

From the church, we walked along the quay and the assorted taverns, restaurants, and souvenir kiosks.  A light drizzle began as we crossed a bridge over the Douro on our way to the Gaia and the Krohn port houses.  Krohn, founded in 1865, distributes only in Europe and is one of the relatively few houses that was founded by a German.  The pleasant tasting room is positioned on a mezzanine that overlooks row after row of wooden casks. 

After our visit to Krohn's, we stopped for lunch at a small snack shop, or Tascas, for a beer and a popular Porto sandwich.  The Francesinha, as it is known, translates as "little French" and, whatever it might be called, it is delicious.  It consists of layers of beef, ham, sausage, and Swiss cheese between two layers of bread, over which a mildly spicy red sauce is ladled.  Accompanied by a "Super Bock" Portuguese beer (okay, two of them) the Francesinha is a delicious treat.  And, I believe, it contains no calories. 

We spent the afternoon packing and relaxing, ready for an early morning departure.  Our last evening in Portugal was spent in the bar at the Yeatman, recounting our adventures over one last amarguinha con limao as the River Duoro shone in the fading light. 

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