After a wonderful time in Copenhagen, it was off to Portugal for some warm weather and wine. Our first stop was Porto, the largest city in Northern Portugal, and the birthplace of Port wine. Our airbnb was in a perfect location, right were the Douro River and Atlantic Ocean meet on the coast.
Our host Jorge (on the right) was born and raised in Porto, and gave us the best spots to go in the city.
To get from his house to the main street, we walked through a maze of small cobblestoned streets that were hundreds of years old.
Once we got into the downtown, it was time to try some of the famous port wine to get things started. We each had a glass and a chocolate filled with port.
The day was perfect for a picnic, so we went to a local market and got cheese, bread, and salami for super cheap! We kicked off our shoes and a park downtown with a nice view of the river.
After our picnic, it was getting closer to sunset. We went to a local hangout recommended by Jorge with some great views, and a ton of young people hanging out with music, and cheap beers. The view of the city was awesome from this spot. Elevated on a large hill, it looked down on the whole city and river.
The streets of porto feel alive, and have tons of character. Many of the streets are filled with art and graffiti, and it feels like a blend of old and new.
The sunset was incredible.
Here is a typical meal in Porto, cod and potatoes fried together with beans on the side.
After a nice few days in porto, it was time to venture inland to the Douro Valley. The Douro Valley is home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world, and is the only place where Port wine is produced. The three hour journey was also the first time we really got to drive the car we had leased for the trip! Driving in Portugal is intense and fun, the idea of a speed limit does not seem to exist here.
Arriving in the Douro Valley in the early afternoon, we were greeted by our next host Antonio Jose. He gave us the keys to our airbnb right on the edge of the Douro River, and made us feel at home.
The airbnb was in a great spot, and very cozy to stay inside and read during our stay.
The locals in our town were extremely friendly. At the grocery store, a random old man told us to follow him. He spoke only Portuguese, but we trusted his good nature as he led us into his private garage to taste his personal supply of port wine he had made. It tasted incredible and was a completely random and unique experience that showed us the joy of the locals and their love of good port wines.
The next day we visited some of the famous wineries spread throughout the valley. Our favorite was Sandeman Winery. It was located way up in the hills, with beautiful views of the city and river below, and excellent wines to taste.
Our final day in the Douro Valley turned out to be our favorite. We were invited by Antonio to visit a property he had been renovating to be a bed and breakfast. It was where his family has grown and produced port wine for five generations. We were surrounded by his vineyards and a small river that ran through the land.
This was a unique chance to try his families’ oldest wines that could not be purchased in any store. We sampled a port wine his family had produced in 1959, and a brandy that was over 80 years old!
The older port wines were rich and thick. Antonio taught us to chew the wine instead of drinking it. This would cause the ports to turn to caramel in your mouth after chewing them for a few seconds.
After a few more glasses of port, Antonio drove us back to our place where we caught one last Douro sunset before heading to dinner.
We capped our last night off with an excellent dinner at a small intimate restaurant called Tasca de Quinta. There were only five tables in restaurant which felt like we were eating in someone’s home. We shared the roast pork and a bottle of wine. The pork had been slow roasted for over four hours, and fell off the bone with ease and incredible flavor. This was the most delicious meal we had in Northern Portugal.
Off to Lisbon!