Europe Trip – Portugal – Porto and the Douro Region


We entered Porto at dusk and the hair-raising drop from the highway exit of the new bridge to the river was an indication of the steep hills and streets of the town. We found a nice campersite (a dedicated place for campers, often with basic amenities like water and chemical toilet dump) with a view on the river Douro and the lit-up town at night. The next morning we headed out on the city walk, first following the river with all the fishermen sitting next to their lines, and then the city unfolding to us. We walked through the port-making district and then made our way up the Funicular (always great for the kids) to the top of the Dom Luis I bridge, designed by a student of Eiffel. As the weather got worse, we visited the train station with remarkable azulejos, a grand avenue with the likes of one in Buenos Aires and the Torre with an astonishing viewpoint. We ended up sheltering in one of the beautiful azulejo-covered churches, Igreja do Carmen, where a service was ending, and all the older people coming out wanted to touch Kyle on the cheeks.
We followed the streets steep down towards the Igreja de Sao Francisco, one of Portugal’s most dazzling displays of baroque finery with the whole inside of the church smothered with more than 100 kilos/220 pounds of gold leaf. Going through the riverfront Ribeira nucleus with all the restaurants and the mandatory chestnut sellers, we made it across the lower part of the bridge back to the port houses. There we tasted a few nice ports while the kids played in empty barrels.

We followed the Douro river upstream through the Alto Douro Unesco World Heritage Site, with terraced vineyards on every hillside. The different whitewashed villages were perched high above the river, and the drive through this area was a true delight (despite the sharp curves, small roads, steep ascents and descents).

The town of Lamego,  with our campsite at the end of a road with more than 17% inclination, is one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites. The Igreja de Nossa Senhore dos Remedios has a fantastic interior (no photographs however) , but it also has an astonishing baroque stairway, decorated with urns, fountains and azulejos. Eating warm chestnuts and the view over town in the setting sun, was great and relaxing.

Going through the Planalto we visited the nicest villages of the region. One of them was Penedono, with the splendid Castelo Roquiero. The afternoon warm sun gave this place something special and the torture devices inside were an eerie reminder of what man is capable of doing.  Another little village was Marialva, a small place empty of young people and with just a few elderly women, making their own wine and knitting in the sun. The village lies at the bottom of a dominating 12th-century castle. Climbing over the walls and visiting this site was a great adventure for the kids. The 1.5 euro entrance price is more than worth this pleasant surprise with great views over the surrounding plain.

Heading further east, we are going to cross over to Spain for a side-trip.


0 Responses to “Europe Trip – Portugal – Porto and the Douro Region”

  1. Leave a Comment

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

Blog Categories

Blog Dates

November 2013
« Oct   Dec »

%d bloggers like this: