Tag Archive: food

We originally tried to get to Portugal a bit earlier back in December, but due to family reasons, we were unable to make it. This time our trip was almost canceled as well because of an error made by TAP. I would suggest always double checking your bookings when flying with TAP since their online system is sub-par and leaves no room for error. Anyway, we made it to Porto and embarked on our weekend.

“the Sandwich”

Still amazed we never made it to Portugal earlier, but it’s not exactly the easiest place to get to, but none the less I booked these cheap tickets after I drank about 15 beers. Yes, when I’m tipsy, I book plane tickets. Landed in Porto, walked around town a bit since it was late and not much to see, and ended up getting one of those famous sandwiches called the¬†Francesinha. It’s considered one of the top 10 sandwiches in the world, and Porto is the only place you can find it, at least a real one. It was tasty, but then again anything would be at 1am when you’re starving. Crashed for the night, and started our weekend.

Croft Tasting Room

While in Porto, of course you have to do what else, port tastings. Annemarie is pregnant of course, but did that stop me…no! I think I hit about 5, and ended up bringing home a bottle from Croft, which was my favorite. Completely different from wine tasting, and gets you loopy just a tad faster. We had quite a good time, definitely more me than her, but we can’t win them all. We proceed to walk around the area, Villa Nova de Gaia, for the rest of the day. It’s actually a different town than Porto, but they stare at each other with only the Douro River separating them. I honestly think most tourist spend most of their time sitting on either side of the river staring at each other, since it’s prettiest part of Porto by far. We followed suit, and spent the rest of the day sitting at a cafe with beanbags, and just relaxed with drinks staring that river and the bridge that you can’t ignore.

The best way to enjoy Porto

Our trip to Porto was quite short, only about 40 hours, but I drank enough port to have a reason to visit again, and hopefully travel down the coast to Lisbon as well.

Original Porto Homes

On to the next country as always…Norway!


There are few words that sit at the tip of my tongue. I can tell you after being with family in Cianciana for one day, four words are now permanently in my vocabulary: Buongiorno, Si, Grazie and Ciao! If we could have logged how many times those words were spoken over the 13 hour family fest we had yesterday, I’m not sure we would believe it. So I’ll break this down a little for you. Annemarie’s roots start in this little agricultural town in Sicily, called Cianciana. You would pronounce this “chin-chon-uh.” Now that we have that base covered, let’s jump straight into the day.

Official Town Sign

Annemarie has wanted to visit Sicily ever since we started traveling heavily back in 2004. As she would put it, I never really “found room” to fit it in to any trip we took….in the past 6 years. Well now that I have visited, I’ll be the first to say that I regret holding out so long. Cianciana was nothing like either of us expected, and is now near the top of the list to be visited again the next time we’re in Europe. Before we headed up, we decided that we should get a translator for the day, since we knew that most of the family didn’t speak much English. Well that ended up being the best decision we made….other than visiting in the first place. The man we hired is actually connected to the family in a 6 degrees of separation kind of way, which is too confusing to get into, but let’s just say he’s family….since he is. His name is Alfie Orlando, and he’s below:

Our tour guide, and new friend, Alfie

Alfie is so full of life, it’s hard not to like the guy. And he knows more about Sicily than probably anyone on the planet, and seems to thrive on gaining new knowledge about the island. Safe to say, our day wouldn’t have been the same without him there. Anyway, onto the madness of the day. So we roll into town I’d say around 10:30am and immediately we are drawn back by how beautiful this place is. It’s set up in the mountains, and stuck in between the mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea, which allows a cool breeze to constantly flow through the town. I would say the early settlers picked the perfect location, as we couldn’t find a bad view from any vantage point we found. As soon as we roll into town, we are immediately greeted by family members…and more family members….and MORE family members. They were multiplying almost like clones, coming from every corner. I was kissed on the cheek more in this one day than I have been in the previous 32 years of my life. It was quite a bit to take in.

As soon as we got to town, we of course wanted to see the house that Annemarie’s mother and grandparents lived in years ago. I actually had spotted a preview of the house on Google Maps. Yes, Google has even done StreetView for this tiny town in the middle of Sicily. Anyway, it looked exactly how I remembered it, and here is real thing that we saw yesterday:

The Antinoro Home in Cianciana

I think Annemarie was quite shocked that she actually was in Cianciana, and staring at the house that her mother grew up in until she was about 10 years old. I’m not exactly sure how old this building is, but I can say there are other buildings in town that are almost 400 years old. This town has quite a bit of history, and it’s amazing that so much of Annemarie’s family is part of that history, and continues to keep making it today, as so many of them continue to reside there. So after we saw the house, the family walked us all over town, showing us everything they possibly could in a few hours. We found out later they did this because they knew we’d only be in town for one day, and wanted to stuff as much in as they could. Their typical visitor would stay for about a month, so we were quite the challenge to them I think.

First shot of some family...

Second shot with some family on the town steps...

And then we have Annemarie with two of her distant cousins….same height, 15 year age difference!

Annemarie, Claudia and Elisa

After touring around town for a few hours, we noticed the whole town had pretty disappeared. Honestly, around 2pm, Cianciana had turned into a ghost town. Why? It was lunch time, and all the businesses shut down for the most part so everyone can go home and enjoy lunch…..for a few hours! We had been invited to join the family at a family run restaurant, that actually was an old house that had been restored into a restaurant, and was once owned by a distant relative of who else…Annemarie. After hearing that, I truly believe that every person, dog, and building in town has some connection to my wife, which is pretty incredible. So onto dinner, which was 7 courses of heaven. And since I can’t describe it in words, I’ll let the pictures do the talking for a couple of the courses…

Anti-Pasta: Course 1

The pasta, that also had swordfish with it....Course 2

The Meat Course

Course 4: Prawns

Course 7: Shots of Amora, a digestive

Surprise Course 8: More Amora, guess you are supposed to sip it!

So safe to say we had more than enough to eat, quite a bit of homemade wine, and then shots of Amora to top it off. We then were taken to a few family homes, where we did some more “digestives” as they would call them. The family likes to have a good time, and I had no problem participating.

We ended the day hanging out on a rooftop terrazzo that was owned by one of Annemarie’s distant cousins, and had some great views of the town and the mountains. This is the area where the family hangs out most of the time, as they always like to be outdoors. On top of that, a random couple came by that was doing some hunting into their family roots, and had found this particular house with the help of a local. Now it isn’t confirmed yet, but I have a solid $100 bet with many family members that these two random people, who were from North Carolina, end up being related to everyone we hung out with that day. And whether that is true or not, you could see the warmth of the family as soon as they arrived in regards to treating strangers. Within minutes this couple had cookies and drinks, kicked back and chatted with the family for over an hour. It was a sight to see. I’m sure we’ll see them again soon.

Safe to say, our trip to Cianciana was very memorable, and we’ll be back as soon as we can to visit again to spend more time with our extended family…and hopefully know how to speak quite a bit more Sicilian by then. The day flew by, and we wished we had more time to hang out, but as everyone knows, we move quick, and have lots more to see. I’ll report next about Agrigento and Marsala while we are on layover in Madrid waiting to fly to Johannesburg. Until then, Ciao!

Pictures from Cianciana