March 23-24. Days off – Viseu

Old Viseu is a beautiful, well-preserved medieval city. It is the kind of place we would have loved to linger in, exploring narrow cobbled streets and the city’s historical and architectural richness, not to mention the wonderful food and elegant Dão wines. We did visit the Sé (13thC cathedral), the 18thC Igreja da Misericórdia and the Museu Grão Vasco, which houses important works by Viseu’s own Vasco Fernandes (Grão Vasco). We also spent a lot of time in pastelarias, just trying to warm up!

Coffee in Portugal is a revelation! Wherever we have gone, we have had excellent espresso. Apparently, during the time of the Salazar dictatorship, most coffee came from the erstwhile colonies, such as Brazil, and the people gained a taste for a stronger, more bitter coffee. Delta coffee is, for example, available in even the smallest communities, where it is made with classic espresso machines with fine results.

We have also tasted many great Portuguese cheeses made from the milk of cows, sheep and goats. One of special note, Azeitão, is made from curds thickened with vegetable rennet derived from artichoke thistles (see photo).

Parkinson’s note: according to research by Dr Joachim Ferreira et al, the prevalence of PD in Portugal is in the order of 180/ 100,000 total population (2400/100,000 for those >50yrs). This is similar to the estimate for Canada of 1:500 people and seems to be in line with other estimates. Dr Ferreira and his colleagues thought that because of the high prevalence of the LRRK-2 gene in Portugal the prevalence might have been higher. This gene is prevalent in North Africa and its presence in Portugal may be related to the Moorish occupation of the country centuries ago. Given the length of time that those with PD are affected by symptoms, the prevalence of the disease is significant.

Artichoke thistle
Porta do Soar
Misericórdia Church
Catedral de Santa Maria de Viseu
Estátua D. Duarte

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