Thursday, 12 October 2017

Portugal - Porto IV

And finally we got to drive to the Douro wine region of Pinhão, 126km east of Porto.

Through winding roads next to slopes covered with grape vines we reached the picturesque town of Pinhao. On the banks of the Douro River, it's a quiet town, but due to it's location is essential to the transport of Port wine and a starting point for those who exploring the Douro valley by boat. 
It's also known for having one of the prettiest train stations in Portugal and also has a railway bridge that was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself in the 19th century.

Pinhão Train Station

The Douro landscapes are easily identified by the slopes which were built in the 1970's in a way that made it possible to plant terraced vineyards, with each terrace surrounded by shale walls. The area has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 2001.

Pinhao Train station, terraced vineyards

Tiled panels at Station

The train station, which opened in 1937 is famous for the 24 gorgeous panels of blue and white tiles (azulejos) depicting scenes from the harvesting of the grapes and daily life in rural areas.
We parked our car near the station, took photos, asked for recommendations for a restaurant for our lunch and then walked down to the river's edge.

Views of river from restaurant

We had lunch at Veladouro restaurant across the river beach - it was packed and service was slow, the food was reasonable, fish was fresh, but son in law ordered steak which was quite tough!
After lunch we drove uphill to Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman estate) to join a Port wine tour.

The 19th century bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel

View of village of Pinhao as we climbed to Sandeman estate, bridge designed by Eiffel (top left)

Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman estate)

Sandeman, is a brand of Port wines founded in 1790 by the Englishman George Sandeman. The logo features a caped man - Don - wearing a Portuguese student's black cape and a wide Spanish hat.
The company remained a family business until it was bought out by the drinks company Seagram in 1970 which then sold it to Sogrape in 2001. A descendant of the original Sandeman - George Thomas David Sandeman is a member of the board of Sogrape Vinhos (wines).

The tour guided by the Sandeman Don who explained the production process and the characteristics which make the Douro region so unique.
After the tour you can taste some Port wines  while enjoying the panoramic view of the valley and river.

A boat tour on the Douro

The train going past next to the Douro River

I just can't explain how beautiful the region is, and I don't think the photos convey that beauty and tranquility!
You can also take a train from Porto to this area and travel through some of the most beautiful scenery of Northern Portugal.

And it was time to return to Porto and prepare for dinner with our friends G & J who live there, the same ones with whom my daughter and I had coffee the day before.

While everyone got ready I took some photos from our terrace of the preparations going on on the Douro river for the Red Bull Air Race Championship that would be held there on the weekend (2nd & 3rd September). 

Dinner at Dona Porto/ Drinks at Hard Rock

And guess what?  They asked us to meet them at Dona Porto Restaurant (Rua Campo dos Mártires da Pátria 64) where they eat frequently. 
It was just a short walk for us, and the name sounded familiar, but it was only when we arrived there that we realized it was the same restaurant where we had our first lunch the day after our arrival in Porto.  Great dinner and once again I admired the decor and all the art they had on the walls, and even got an idea for a canvas with Portuguese azulejos ... (will show when I have done it).

Dona Porto restaurant

Image result for hard rock cafe, porto
Hard Rock Cafe - photo from net
After dinner we walked around the area to go and have a drink, but the places my friends knew were full even though it was a Thursday.
We finally settled on the Hard Rock Cafe at Rua do Almada, just off Avenida dos Aliados (Allied avenue) and sat outside. I had a Port Tonic (port wine & tonic water) - just one of the new cocktails made with Port Wine. It was nice, refreshing and not too alcoholic.

And it was after midnight when returned home. The next day we would be leaving Porto.


  1. O Douro vinhateiro, as paisagens únicas dessa região, esses socalcos que não têm paralelo no Mundo.

    1. Realmente e uma zona lindissima e impar Pedro!

  2. The hills are absolutely gorgeous. I was very impressed with your photos and the ones from the Sandeman estate were breathtaking. I enjoyed seeing the various homes and what I assumed were smaller wine hills surrounding the homes. I was super impressed and amazed at the beauty of the area.

    That Eiffel bridge was great, as well as the tiles at the station. I was so glad you shared this adventure with us. You really had a lovely well thought out time in Porto and surrounding area.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, that area is just breathtaking as you say! I really enjoyed our trip to Porto, as it had been over 15 years since I was last there, and I'd never been to that wine region before, so it was quite special.

  3. You have been to Lisbon and now to Porto and you are leaving the next day and you haven't travelled on the terrific trams in both cities!
    the valley you visited looks wonderful and the tiled panels at the train station are impressive. My partner was just saying today about much he loved Portugal, and we didn't even go down south to the English favourite part of Portugal. Well, maybe not my kind of place.

    1. I hadn't been to Lisbon yet Andrew, just one day in Cascais and then onto the center of Portugal, then Porto. But I actually didn't use a tram at all this time, I took the famous 28 tram on my visit to Lisbon last year. Yes, the Algarve is a favourite with the English. My sister owns a holiday apartment there and we used to go there every year when we lived in Portugal, but I do prefer it off-season.

  4. Uma região de uma beleza quase indescritível que eu não conheço.
    Mais um lindo passeio, Sami, bem delineado e bem contado.
    : )

    1. Obrigada Catarina. Foi a minha primeira visita aquela zona tambem e fiquei encantada!

  5. It doesn´t look like a train station, but is very, very beautiful indeed! As is the landscape.
    Looking forward to see the new canvas of yours!

    1. Thanks Iris, the station is very quaint indeed. My new work of art will probably take a while but I was inspired by all the tiles I saw.

  6. Esta viagem está na lista daquelas que um dia quero fazer. Já fizémos a das seis pontes e adorámos (em pleno Verão foi garantido o escaldão, para o qual não estávamos preparados). O Porto e arredores tem paisagens deslumbrantes.
    Obrigada por estes 4 posts que permitiram também uma "tryp down memory lane"!

    1. Obrigada Paula. Foi realmente uma viagem maravilhosa, e a zona do Alto Douro é belíssima!

  7. I loved travelling along with you Sami, that looks like a beautiful area. gosh those blue and white tiles are awesome. Isn't it wonderful to discover beauty like that that in a place like a train station? an unexpected pleasure. I am looking forward to seeing your work of art you are going to create.

    1. Thanks Gill, glad you are enjoying the tour. I need to start planning my work of art :)

  8. Spectacular scenery, wonderful shots of the tiered vineyards, I'm guessing the grapes are all still hand picked? You are an excellent holiday planner Sami, it could be a new career for you, holiday planner.. I'd hire you ☺

    1. Thanks Grace, the area was spectacular! I've thought about travel guide, something to do after I retire maybe.

  9. Dearest Sami,
    It is always the battle for not having enough time to really indulge in all the cultural beauty.
    Just went back to our Spain - Portugal trip but we drove from Salamanca to Coimbra and on to Fatima and last, to Lisbon before going to Sevilla etc. in Spain.
    So we really missed a lot of that Portuguese beauty.
    What a lovely stops you made here and the view over the river is spectacular. You manage to 'freeze' the memory in some great photos.
    Often, at home after all the hustle bustle, one is more relaxed to let it all sink in and to digest it.
    Thanks for sharing and oh, how much I loved those azulejos!

    1. Thanks Mariette, there's never enough time to see everything. It's been great looking at all the photos and think about all the great moments we had. Have a lovely weekend.

  10. Replies
    1. Concordo, e muito bonita esta zona. Obrigada Francisco.

  11. That looks a most beautiful area.
    Lovely selection of photographs again, thank you.

    All the best Jan


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