Follow by Email

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Alijo and the Durou

The breakfast at the Pousada was similar to most we have been experiencing, with a nice difference. Eggs are made to order! We have been noticing that staff at these hotels work very long hours. The same waiter that said good night to us around 11pm greeted us at 9am.

Susanne at the front desk was a wonderful conceirge. She took time to help us chose destinations, called to ensure we had reservations and was very clear on how to navigate the map. Later that day when we couldn't find our lunch destination we phoned her and she helped us get where we were going.

We had three destinations today. First we were heading into the Douro Valley to a lookout point; then to a small town, Pinhao to take a one hour boat ride on the river and then finally to the Quinta do Portal, a local winery for lunch and a tasting.

Driving in the Valley was an adventure. The Douro is lined with a series of mountains, most which are covered with vineyards, olive and orange trees, all grown on terraces. The hills are very steep and it seems that this cultivation almost defies gravity. The roads also challenge the laws of physics. There is a switch back every 50 metres and only occasional barriers separating the road from oblivion. A few inches off the pavement would lead to a short ariel experience with disastrous results. We seldom exceeded 45 kilometres and occasionally came to screeching stops when a large truck full of grapes came barrelling around a blind curve. When possible we pulled off to the side to allow local drivers to stream passed us. They didn't seem to need to drive at our snail's pace.

The other reason for driving slow was to view the scenery. It was breathtaking! Our pictures only capture some of the magic of this beautiful oasis. Wonderful colours and dizzy vistas. This is the one place in all of Portugal we certainly would like to come back to. Two days in this region was not enough.

We found the vista and then the boat. It was a smallish vessel made in an ancient style. From here we got to see the same wonderful hills, but this time from the bottom up.

We then headed for a neighbouring town to find the Quinta Do Portal. This is where we got a bit "turned around". We actually found two entrances for the Quinta, but thought the first was just to their offices and then found the second "tasting centre" closed. Confused we headed into the local town and that's when we called Susanne and she saved the day. It was really helpful having a local SIM card for our phone.

We headed back to the first entrance that we had passed by and found a lovely dining room where we sat on the patio surrounded by the vineyards and ate some of the best food of the trip - perhaps the best lamb I ever had! And of course the wine pairing were superb. After lunch we did go to the tasting room and compared 30 and 40 year old Tawny Port. The 40 year old has come home with us.

By the time dinner time arrived we were still satiated from our late lunch so we had a light bite at the Poussado and then a pleasant time talking and sipping on the patio adjoining our room. Many thanks to Susanne and her colleagues for a lovely, albeit short stay in the Douro.

No comments:

Post a Comment