Austerity Bites

To Porto (for a tasting of Cockburn’s vintage Port back to 1896 – see Port pages), then to the Douro for the weekend. It is striking whilst travelling through Portugal just how many construction projects have come to a complete standstill. The motorway tunnel being built under the Serra do Marão has come to a halt leaving some spectacular half-finished bridges. There are also plenty of small turismo projects which are left half built, the owners having run out of finance. Yesterday there were demonstrations in Lisbon and Porto against the new austerity measures being imposed by the Government and the so-called Troika. The ‘manif’ in Porto was the largest in the city’s history, larger even than during the revolution thirty-eight years ago. There is a real sense of anger here and a feeling that things will get worse before they get better. Vintage starts in the Douro tomorrow and at least the benefício has been raised after last year: some comfort for small growers.