Portugal 2008: Minho/Douro

Sunday, 5 October 2008

From Peterborough (Ontario) to Quinta da Boa Viagem (very near Viana do Castelo) in 13 hours. The place here is very lovely. José Queiroz (the owner) is a descendant of the man who first established the estate in 1512. On Senhor Queiroz’s recommendation, we had lunch in town at O Pescador where we shared a whole robalho do mar grelhado with a bottle of vinho verde branco da casa. The meal was absolutely delicious – a great start to our visit.


The airplane that will take us to Portugal.
The airplane that will take us to Portugal.

Porto's airport. We landed here after a pleasant, direct and uneventful flight on SATA.
Porto’s airport. We landed here after a pleasant, direct and uneventful flight on SATA.

We are staying here for four nights.  The grounds are lovely.
We are staying here for four nights. The grounds are lovely.

Owner's house and office (early 16th century).
Owner’s house and office (early 16th century).

We are staying in a suite just to the left of the left-most arch.
We are staying in a suite just to the left of the left-most arch.

The extensive gardens include these two lions, modelled after those found in China during the "Discoveries" by the current owner's ancestor.
The extensive gardens include these two lions, modelled after those found in China during the “Discoveries” by the current owner’s ancestor.

A very peaceful place.
A very peaceful place.

Part of the local ornamentation.
Part of the local ornamentation.

Capela da Boa Viagem. On the road to Santiago de Compostela.
Capela da Boa Viagem. On the road to Santiago de Compostela.


Monday, 6 October 2008

We drove along the Rio Lima from Viana do Castelo to Ponte da Barca on the south shore (following N203) and returned on the north shore (on N202). It is a beautiful, scenic drive – highly recommended! Not to mention a superb lunch at O Matadouro, just outside the town of Arcos de Valdevez. After sharing excellent pataniscas de bacalhau, Steve had arroz do tamboril and Susan had espetada de lulas com gambas. Everything was accompanied by a perfectly acceptable vinho verde branco da casa.


Vines · kale · maize. This is everywhere here.  Again, the colours are stunning - the photograph does not even come close to doing them justice.
Vines · kale · maize. This is everywhere here. Again, the colours are stunning – the photograph does not even come close to doing them justice.

Typical scene along the Rio  Lima (kale and vines).
Typical scene along the Rio Lima (kale and vines).

Orphaned.
Orphaned.

Kale and vines.
Kale and vines.

Left behind.
Left behind.


Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The day (and previous night) started out badly, with heavy rain and wind. News reports headlined the mau tempo in the northwest. But, by 10am, the rain had stopped, so we drove up to Monção, on the Rio Minho (almost as far north as you can go in Portugal). By the time we reached there, the sun was shining. Back to Vila Nova de Cerveira for a nice lunch at O Cantinho dos Amigos (more grilled fish and vinho verde – darn!). Since the weather had turned (in the morning we thought the day was a write-off!), we set off cross-country (which is our preferred way to travel) to Ponte de Lima, where we had stopped briefly the previous day. Ponte de Lima is the oldest town in Portugal. And, it is lovely. We spent the rest of the afternoon there, enjoying the gardens.


Part  of the ponte at Ponte de Lima. This portion is part of the medieval section, finished in 1370. The Roman portion (see later photographs) was built in the 1st century, CE.
Part of the ponte at Ponte de Lima. This portion is part of the medieval section, finished in 1370. The Roman portion (see later photographs) was built in the 1st century, CE.

Garden city.
Garden city.

Teresa, Countess  of Portugal, after  signing the town's charter (the oldest in  Portugal) on 4 March 1125.
Teresa, Countess of Portugal, after signing the town’s charter (the oldest in Portugal) on 4 March 1125.

Ponte documentation.
Ponte documentation.

Part of the original Roman bridge, about 2000 years old.
Part of the original Roman bridge, about 2000 years old.

Capela do Anjo da Guarda.
Capela do Anjo da Guarda.

Capela do Anjo da Guarda, probably built  in the late 13th century CE.
Capela do Anjo da Guarda, probably built in the late 13th century CE.

Jardim Romano.
Jardim Romano.

Steve studies  some documentation in the Jardim Romano.
Steve studies some documentation in the Jardim Romano.

Art shot.
Art shot.

In one  of the  many lovely gardens in Ponte de Lima.
In one of the many lovely gardens in Ponte de Lima.

This is a wonderful, peaceful place on the grounds of Quinta de Boa Viagem.  We enjoyed the ocean view and the sunset before dinner.
This is a wonderful, peaceful place on the grounds of Quinta de Boa Viagem. We enjoyed the ocean view and the sunset before dinner.

Grisca and Susan.
Grisca and Susan.


Wednesday, 8 October 2008

We spent the day in and around Viana do Castelo (we are staying just north of there). It is an interesting town, located where the Rio Lima empties into the Atlantic Ocean.


Igreja das Almas in Viana do Castelo.
Igreja das Almas in Viana do Castelo.

Templo de Santa Luzia.
Templo de Santa Luzia.

Two bridges span the Lima. A great view from he Templo de Santa Luzia (looking southeast).  The small city of Viana do Castelo is shown in part.
Two bridges span the Lima. A great view from he Templo de Santa Luzia (looking southeast). The small city of Viana do Castelo is shown in part.

Lima meets the Atlantic. Hazy, but worth remembering.  A great view from he Templo de Santa Luzia (looking southwest).  The small city of Viana do Castelo is shown in part.
Lima meets the Atlantic. Hazy, but worth remembering. A great view from he Templo de Santa Luzia (looking southwest). The small city of Viana do Castelo is shown in part.

At the Templo de Santa Luzia. Somehow appropriate :-)
At the Templo de Santa Luzia. Somehow appropriate 🙂


Thursday, 9 October 2008

A travel day, as we move from Viana do Castelo to the Douro (south of Penafiel).


Very interesting place that we stumbled upon  as we travelled south. Near Santo Tirso.
Very interesting place that we stumbled upon as we travelled south. Near Santo Tirso.

We are staying here for two nights.
We are staying here for two nights.


Friday, 10 October 2008

We didn’t do much except enjoy this beautiful day. Abôl de Baixa is a lovely, quiet spot with some great views. And, there are no other guests here (until Saturday, when we are leaving), so we have the entire place to ourselves. We did go out for lunch at Restaurante Dorna Velha (in Oldrões), which was disappointing. It wasn’t bad (we’ve only ever had one bad meal in Portugal that we can remember), but we’ve had better.


Abôl de Baixo. This building has three  apartments, a  huge common room, breakfast room,  kitchen, patio,  deck.  Beautifully  updated (the original building  is 200 years  old), with excellent WiFi. And, we have it all to  ourselves!
Abôl de Baixo. This building has three apartments, a huge common room, breakfast room, kitchen, patio, deck. Beautifully updated (the original building is 200 years old), with excellent WiFi. And, we have it all to ourselves!

N224 across the Douro. Just  south of  Penafiel.  Beautiful  spot, just  down the road  from where we are staying  (Abôl de  Baixo).  Yes, those are grape vines in the  foreground.
N224 across the Douro. Just south of Penafiel. Beautiful spot, just down the road from where we are staying (Abôl de Baixo). Yes, those are grape vines in the foreground.


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Another transition day, as we move from the Douro to the Tejo (perhaps the two greatest rivers in Portugal). Our initial drive went through some spectacular country, along the south side of the Douro to Cinfães and then southeast to Castro Daire (where we stopped and had lunch. After that, we picked up the autostrada and went east·south·west around the formidable Serra da Estrela to Quinta de Coalhos, where we have stayed several times.


Typical scene in this part of Portugal.
Typical scene in this part of Portugal.

Very nice carro - a Fiat Ibiza (diesel).
Very nice carro – a Fiat Ibiza (diesel).

It`s not all sunshine in Portugal!
It’s not all sunshine in Portugal!

Vinho verde needs to be served chilled, even on a picnic!
Vinho verde needs to be served chilled, even on a picnic!