|Subject: Portugal 2003 Trip Report - The Douro Valley -|
- - the Douro Valley Area - -
We had considered taking a cruise along the Douro River, but after checking itineraries and tours offered, we opted to drive in order to take our time at any sites of interest plus any side trips of interest which might come up.
Stopping at the local tourist bureau, we were directed to the conveniently located Residencial Sao Paulo with underground parking included. It was very clean, marble staircases led up to the second level which was alsoaccessible via the lift in the garage. The weather was getting chilly and the bath heater came in handy; we didn't realize we could call the desk to turn on the room heater!
Lamego is a neat little town, the cultural capital of the Douro Valley; hilly alleys with shops and vendors of all kinds, along our way to the center warranted stops every now and again. We found Café Nova which specialized in the local pastry#called Lamegos, of course,and then visited the Se and the Museum. Later we dined at the recommended Tres da Se Restaurant and somehow wound up back at the Café for after dinner treats. The next day we walked up only 330 of the 686 steps at the impressive Remedios Church on high, looking over the town; can't imagine many walking those stairs (tho Linda and Don did!) but we saw several locals just taking their time meandering upwards.
Is directly on the Douro with many of the cigarette cruise boats docked while their passengers were bussed here and there. We took some photos and moved on.
Is a bit of a town, mainly one long main street along which the river runs and also the train station which features beautiful tile murals on its outside walls; really something to see#depicting various stages of the vindimas (grape harvest) and other regional events. We stopped to see the famed Vintage House in its grandeur but prompted by the woman/owner/chef harping her wares outside, opted to lunch at a local Residencial restaurant #
Ponto Grande - a good decision!
Our feast began with an apertif of the house port from its own vineyard # Quinta dos Pinheiros # followed by a $$ but scrumptous luncheon # squash and green bean soup, the best house wine, and outstanding feijoada. A definite recommendation! We learned too late that some of the larger quintas offer luncheon on certain days which could have convinced us to overnight here.
Next, we took the train from Pinhao for a leisurely trip up along the river (same view as the cruises) to the little village of Tua and walked around a bit before heading back.
Is the next small village on the way to our next stop#very winding and hilly roads with vineyards in view most of the way.
Would have stayed at the Hotel Miro Corgo with an indoor pool had we been properly directed there but we walked to it later and found it to be very modern and popular with underground parking just across from a free Internet service offered by the town, a unique concept.
Again, so what's new! we found a great pastelaria#Café Gomes.. where we enjoyed hot chocolate and#
The next morning we drove to the Mateus Palace to see its gardens#a bit of a ripoff, not very well groomed# but the bonus was that Dom found and picked bunches of the most delicious grapes that had been overlooked in the harvest!Believe me, this made it all worthwhile since he had been lamenting that we were out of season for some of the delicious fruits, grapes and figs.
The Palace itself is the one featured on Mateus wine bottle labels but the caretaker informed us that Mateus wine is no longer made with these grapes nor is the Palace owned by the family, due to some political problems. But, we do have some very good photos and can always remember that we've been there!