Today we left Viseu and drove up and up and then down again from lovely blobby granite hillsides into the amazing green of the Douro Valley.The Douro river meanders all the way from Spain and then carves itself a niche through this cradle of green which is perfect for growing grapes of all varieties. It seems that there are the perfect conditions for creating the micro-climates necessary for growing the grapes they use in making port wine.It was in the 17th C that it was established that the valley was the only place that was allowed to produce wine for port – and any vineyards outside the granite markers that were set up to mark the designated areas were not included, which really annoyed quite a few people. I think Pedro called it the Revolution of the Drunken Man.
It was an amazing drive. We stopped at a lock and watched the river for a while, a brilliant photo op. Pedro had some port for the region, which he poured a little taste of for all of us. We even had the fortune to watch a cruise ship go through the lock.
And I caught a lucky picture of one of the little trucks filled with grapes!
Our next stop was Mateus. Mateus was the spot where Mateus wine was originally produced, which really blew the mind of one of our our members. He had fond memories of it’s distinctive round bottle.
The last time we were here, it was spring, so it had been filled with lupins and other spring flowers. Now, the roses were just finishing and everything was sill in full green. The big reflecting pond was full of frogs and frogs who still had their tails.
Our next stop was Guimarães which has an old quarter filled with beautiful tiled houses. The centre square was full of flowers. Mom didn’t want a lunch so we compromised (again) with ice cream and wandered around looking at all the pretty buildings, the old squares and the monuments to the stations of the cross that were embedded in walls and buildings throughout the city. I’m kicking myself or not taking proper pictures of them while they were open. I really like this city. We bought chocolates in a little shop that Pedro recommended to us. I hope J likes them.
Then we drove the last little way to Porto, which I think is one of my more favourite spots. We only had a short time between the drop off at the hotel and the pick up time for our included dinner on the Atlantic side of Porto because there was a game in the stadium next to our hotel that night.
This same game made it an adventure for our driver, João to get us back that evening. People had parked EVERYWHERE; on sidewalks, double parked, under stop signs, you name it, so that he had to loop through some interesting back roads to get us home because the space on the street was so shockingly constricted. He got some applause after that!
Our dinner was several courses, as usual, with two wines and an odd lemony dessert. Our view was of the sun setting over the ocean and mom and I went to put our feet in the Atlantic, as is tradition, before our trek home.