Douro Valley, Portugal

At the Porto airport, a Sixt rental agent was trying to upsell us a Mercedes-Benz. It’s only 42€/day she claimed – 18€ more than the Smart car we booked off Expedia – and it would come in handy when you drive those mountain roads. She almost had us, that is, until we reviewed the total amount and realized that, contrary to our understanding, the daily rate had now jumped to 66€ (almost tripled the amount we had initially signed up for) and we were going to be driving for 9 days. We politely declined her offer and kept our Smart.

40096952_1693091377486508_805858155333419008_o.jpg

An uneventful two hours later, we arrived at Quinta do Vallado, a 300 year old winery and hotel near Peso da Régua.

40049150_1693096907485955_4890127764679557120_o.jpg

Upon arrival, we were each greeted with a glass of white Port – semi-sweet and semi-dry, it’s easily one the best Ports we’ve ever tasted.

40094491_1693091864153126_8597423739358937088_o.jpg

Our room was fitted with modern and tasteful decor

40037116_1693093840819595_5892395904035454976_o.jpg

including a chic retro-style radio

40100038_1693091917486454_5790995608827330560_o.jpg

and complimentary fruit and wine

IMG_2202.JPG

Our balcony had a view of the valley and the vineyards.

40084264_1693090150819964_8874728783861514240_o.jpg

It was one of those languid afternoons under the blinding sun. A light breeze drifted in, carried with it sweet scent of the orange blossoms in the air. We dropped everything (we had planned for that hour) and savored the moment of bliss.

40116306_1693088797486766_1193854471378042880_o.jpg

It was almost four o’clock when we headed back out for a short drive to Pinhão

40058956_1693095960819383_1303589416912027648_o.jpg

Taking in views of the wine terraces along the banks of the Douro River.

32116170_1540279539434360_6131395131657420800_n

We made it back at five just in time for our complimentary winery tour.

40084273_1693093087486337_8316787161739296768_o.jpg

During which we visited the modern facilities

40053784_1693091840819795_4820486935854186496_o.jpg

The pit where the grapes are stomped in the autumn – which as we were told, are a convivial affair brimming with music and festivity

40143867_1693095784152734_6984561230769815552_o.jpg

We also toured a large wine cellar

40049665_1693094074152905_2319247773943201792_o.jpg

and a smaller one with old Port barrels.

40080818_1693092857486360_4441104309865676800_o.jpg

The tour concluded at the tasting room with a view

40036465_1693092894153023_4823946759644381184_o.jpg

where we tasted five different wines

40094919_1693089577486688_4391089432883625984_o.jpg

taking note of their characteristics and our personal preference.

40045454_1693091444153168_8254867984032464896_o.jpg

With alcohol, we didn’t want to venture out for dinner. So we stayed on the estate and had dinner at the hotel. The food was nothing to write home about – The scallop was fresh. The octopus was soft and tender but large in portion, the duck was very chewy and almost hard to swallow. The caramel fondant, of all things, was surprisingly palatable and I don’t normally like caramels.

40014232_1693093297486316_9121698281078915072_o.jpg

I did however enjoy the cheese selection and sampling the lesser-known cheeses of Portugal.

40152209_1693096660819313_8745362801242931200_o.jpg

After dinner I took a walk towards the old manor house. It was quiet and peaceful.

40137833_1693096387486007_1537361948507635712_o.jpg

Tomorrow we would drive to the mountaintop village of Marvão, stopping by other idyllic villages along the way.

Note: Driving in Portugal, we soon learned, is not much different than driving in the United States, barring that:

1) The left lane is strictly used for passing, and most drivers cut right in front of you after switching the lanes.

2) You exit the roundabout from the right-hand lane only, and you MUST stay to the left until then.

3) Depends on where you travel, toll roads in Portugal could be costly, which could be the reason why most locals don’t seem to use them. But if time is of the essence and you must use the toll road, I highly recommend paying the extra for a Via Verde transponder, available at most car rental companies in Portugal.

Coming up next in the Travel section: The Mountain Villages of Portugal

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “Douro Valley, Portugal

  1. OMG!
    I loved your post!
    I’m portuguese, but from the Azores islands (in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean)… and I’m always happy when I find turists’ reviews about their trips around our country.
    So, this post was another of that kind of posts I love! And, specially, because it’s from Douro Valley, and I have it on my list of places to visit in Portugal (mainland).

    It was really nice to read it!
    From what I saw, the negative surprise was the food, am I correct?
    It’s a shame, because I had that hotel on my mind like a top hotel…

    Regards,
    Nuno

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nuno for your kind comments. The food was not bad, just not very special as the Portuguese food we’ve had elsewhere. It’s still very convenient for not having to drive after wine-tasting! I’ve never been to the Azores. Will pin it on my map!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s