North of Portugal: love at first sight

When Ryan and Gabriella Opaz met Northern Portugal they decided to move to Porto and raise their newborn son there.

It was love at first sight. When Ryan and Gabriella Opaz met Northern Portugal they decided to move to Porto and raise their newborn son there. These Americans, authors of the international award-winning food and wine blog Catavino, are now the perfect ambassadors of the region and had a chat with Event Point.

How did the Catavino project come to life?

In 2005, we moved to Spain on a whim - life is short! While Gabriella taught English in local businesses, Ryan looked for work in the wine industry. When he couldn’t find any, he decided to take the blog we had at the time, and make it more substantial, more “real” as it were. The goal was to allow him to stay current with wine, while continuing to hit the pavement looking for work. In time, it grew in readership, and eventually included Gabriella full-time. Today, we not only write about wine, but also food, culture, history and Iberian life.

What do you love the most about your work?

We adore a good challenge, and if there is anything this work provides, it’s exactly that! Plus, it’s an incredible way to meet interesting, dynamic people from around the world!

Can you describe us your first contact with Portugal, and with northern Portugal in particular?

In 2005, Gabriella and I spent 3 weeks backpacking through Portugal, enjoying the vast landscapes, incredible food and amazing people. A considerable amount of time was spent in the North of Portugal, as a result of friends and family, but the entire country left a long lasting impression on us. Put it this way, we could have chosen any number of countries in Europe to move to, but Porto provided a homey, familiar feeling - a feeling where a budding family wants to raise their newborn and start a new life.

Why did you decide to live in Porto? What city ingredients made you make that decision?

Its people and natural beauty. We love being near the Douro, and we love the people, food and textures that Porto offers. Sprinkle a healthy dose of amazing friends and you have the perfect reason to settle in.

How do you see the North of Portugal in terms of tourism, events and travel incentives?

Between the historical and charming lodges of Gaia, to the quaint and charming city of Porto, it’s no wonder why people are flooding in from around the world. And this doesn’t even cover the vast and diverse natural parks, the friendly and hospitable people and the insanely delicious cuisine. It’s totally uncharted territory for much of the world, and is only now starting to be appreciated!

As foreigners living in Portugal, what characteristics do you appreciate in the Portuguese people?

Caring. Genuine. Loving. Open-hearted. Food focused. Generous. Thoughtful. The list is long!!

What arguments would you use to persuade someone to come to Portugal?

The food, wine and people. When those are in balance, there is nothing better.

Flash questions 

Favourite Portuguese food?

Too many to list. Simple pleasures include Frango from the Churrasqueiras. So cheap, so good, so simple.

Favourite place to hang out?

The Douro Valley, Geres, Serra do Estrela, etc. We love nature and the way the people relate to it.

Perfect sunset?

The Douro River

When abroad, what do you miss the most about Portugal?

The Portuguese!

Favourite word or expression?

Saudades...there isn’t a translation in English. It’s just a feeling we all know.^

What Portuguese traditions have you adopted?

Impromptu meals with families surrounded by good food and great conversation. Part of our attraction to Portugal is the idea that a meal is a time shared with everyone; hence a meal originally planned with one couple, suddenly becomes a “cast of millions” with several of their friends and kids! We love this coming together time!


Tags: Wine, Tourism