Day 40: East to the Alto DouroMarch 27, 2017 in Portugal
Time to leave Porto for our last couple of days in Portugal! We were heading eastwards to the Alto Douro wine growing region (so named because it's around the Douro River), where they grow and manufacture the port wine that Portugal is famous for. In a two-for-one deal, it was also a UNESCO World Heritage site, since wine has been grown here since Roman times, and the sides of the canyons around the river have been turned into thousands of terraces.
We left Porto around 11am and headed east, first on the freeway and then soon afterwards following the course of the river. Arrived in the first of several towns along the river at around 1pm and had a light lunch of sandwiches and wraps before checking out the museum dedicated to wine-making and port in general. Quite interesting, and some good info I'll be able to use in my video of the area!
Drove further along the river and checked out a couple of view-points before eventually deciding to stop at a winery. We recognised the name Sandeman from one of the port caves in Porto, so we drove up their comically long driveway and had a look. Did the tour which was good, interesting to see that because the terraces are so narrow their grapes are all still hand-picked, though the process of crushing is now done with robots rather than human feet.
Then of course came the tasting which was the best part. Had a good chat with the Canadian retirees who were on our tour, though had to cut it a bit short when we realised our Airbnb host Antonio was waiting for us in a carpark about 30 minutes drive away. We'd missed a previous message from him, though were still in the wrong as we said we'd be arriving between 3 and 5pm, and it was now just before 5pm. Whoops.
Drove back in a very safe hurry, met him with no problems (he gave no indication he was at all put out by the delay) and then followed him up the hills to our accommodation. We're staying in the downstairs floor of his house, where I think port was once produced. They still have a small vineyard out the front and produce a few hundred bottles each year. He gave us a welcome drink from the 1959 vintage! It's apparently family tradition that you drink the previous-but-one generation's port. So he drinks his grandfather's port, while his son drinks his father's port. And one day his (eventual) grandson will drink his port.
He was very clear that the 1959 bottle was for tasting only, though we were welcome to shell out 95 euros for a bottle if we wanted! He also had vintages available going back to 1910!! We politely declined, though it was very nice.
Decided against going into town for dinner since we'd only just arrived and we don't like leaving Schnitzel in totally unfamiliar places. So I popped down to the supermarket and picked up supplies - pizza and egg tarts, naturally. Early start tomorrow, as we have a 2 hour drive to our next world heritage site! Though we're staying here again tomorrow night.Read more