Hilly Portugal

We return to Portugal and stroll the historical streets of Evora in the early evening light. We had been here some years ago, so now we spend our time unveiling memories along the narrow cobbled streets and the proud columns of the ancient Roman temple.

Our next stop is Coimbra, the University city by excellence in Portugal, rising its compact profile by the shores of the Mondego river.

The old town is a maze of steep and narrow streets, flanked by little bars, restaurants, fado locals and souvenir shops that lead to the Old Cathedral and to the University.

The University of Coimbra is more than 500 years old and definitively marks the dynamic character of the city. The archaic walls of the campus exude the memories of a million secret student stories, the inner rooms are a little bit rancid, but in a solemn way.

Porto, anchored by right shore of the peaceful Douro river has so many delightful corners as steep streets. The magnificent Dom Luis I bridge, designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel, unites the city to Vila Nova de Gaia, on the other shore, where most of the Port Wine cellars are located and also some good traditional restaurants. Of course we enjoy sampling both.

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Dom Luis I bridge – Porto

This shore also has the advantage that it has great views of the city itself on the other shore, its hilly streets, its colourful houses, the boats that used to carry the Port wine from the Douro valley.

Adorned with the night lights, it is pure magic.

The city, experienced from within, is cosy and full of history dust. Little old houses, baroque churches and also classic Portuguese facades.

And then there’s also the train station decorated with beautiful Portuguese tiles, and the surrounding neighbourhoods, decorated with inspired graffitis.

After a few days enjoying the city, we leave it behind following the river upstream and we get to the Douro valley. For many kilometres the steep sides of the river are carpeted with vineyards. For the first night we establish our base in Peso de Regua, which is quite an ugly town, but it has a nice site for campers right next to the river, at the end of a long promenade that runs next to the water across the whole town. Also there we manage to get a map of the region and the kind personnel of the Museo do Douro gives us information about their favourite places and wineries.

The first one is Quinta do Tedo (http://www.quintadotedo.com), which is nicely located between two rivers, the Douro and the Tedo. It’s quite a special place since it has a couple of walking paths amongst the vineyards, from which you can enjoy the landscape and spot a number of birds. Unfortunately we didn’t spot many, probably it was the wrong time of the day.

We soon forget about it, as we start to taste some of their nice ports and red wines, with the insightful explanations of the friendly personal of the vineyard, who are also kind enough to guide us through the art exhibition from local artists that they are hosting in the tasting room, and give us a brief tour of the facilities where the grapes are still traditionally tread. All in all a great experience.

The only town per se that we visit in the area is Lamego, where we climb the impressive barroque staircase that leads to Nossa Senhora dos Remedios Church. The rest of the town looks quite neat and prosperous, with another handful of architectonical landmarks.

After a nice lunch we drive through narrow winding roads to the small municipality of Tabuaco, where we have heard of a winery that has some space for campers. It’s called Quinta da Padrela (http://www.quintadapadrela.com/en/). Jose, the Manager, is the most wonderful host, who invites us to stay for as long as we want, and also gives us a very informative tour of the property and invites us to a wine tasting, in this case reds and whites, accompanied by some local cured meats and cheese. A truly delightful experience.