Earlier this month we made our most recent trip to Europe. Our destination was Portugal to see the cities of Porto and Lisbon, as well as the wine regions of the Douro Valley and Alentejo. We decided on Portugal for a few reasons, initially we were drawn to the fact there are many new hotels focused specifically on wine tourism. Another reason was the relative affordability. Even with the Euro exchange rate higher than the Greenback, the relative affordability of the country was very favorable. Traveling to Portugal from New Jersey gave us the option to fly to and from either Porto or Lisbon. This allowed us to efficiently move to each destination without having to waste time going back to our starting place to fly home. That being said we flew to Porto, took the train to the Douro Valley, drove to Alentejo and drove again to our departure city of Lisbon.
Part I – Porto
|The Ponte Dona Maria (constructed by Gustave Eifel) connecting Porto to Villa Nova de Gaia|
We flew overnight on a Friday so we would land on Saturday morning and enjoy the entire day with no further travel. We booked a tour guide for the first 3 parts of our trip and I can’t recommend more to do the same if you ever travel to Portugal. Miguel Leal, the CEO and founder of ML Private Tours, was our guide and met us at the gate when we arrived. Like any gentleman he took Lisa’s bags and led us to his sharp and sleek Audi A5 four door luxury sedan which would be our ride for the next 6 days. Little did we know at the time that Miguel would be a great new friend by the end of those 6 days.
|The sun setting over Porto from our balcony at the Yeatman in Villa Nova de Gaia|
|The decanter shaped infinity pool at The Yeatman, the Ponte Dona Maria and Porto in the background|
|Above the Douro river looking west towards Pinhoa, the heart of the Douro Valley|
|My favorite photo of the trip taken with an iPhone above the Pintas Vineyard in the Douro Valley|
|In the infinity pool at the fantastic Quinta do Crasto before dinner there at the Quinta on our last evening in the Douro|
Part III – Alentejo
|The vineyards at Herdade do Esporao in Alentejo|
Sad to leave the Douro but excited for Alentejo, we departed Wednesday morning heading south and then east to Alentejo in the far southeast part of the country. We cut the drive in half with a stop at Fatima for lunch. Fatima is famous for 2 things. The first being a holy site of the Roman Catholic Church where 3 local children witnessed revelations of the Virgin Mary’s spirit in 1917. The second is Tia Alice, a local restaurant serving some of the country’s best versions of classical Portuguese dishes like Acorda.
|Lunch at Tia Alice in Fatima|
Part IV – Lisbon
|High above Lisbon from the Castelo de Sao Jorge|
|The original family home at the winery Jose Maria de Fonseca in Setabul.|
In Lisbon we parted ways with our good friend and guide Miguel. Miguel is a consummate professional, a passionate Portuguese who loves his country, a fantastic guide and a great companion on the road. The trip would definitely not have been as good without him and his expertise. We had a private tour at almost every location we stopped at with our own interpreter (where needed, which was not much in the north), how can one ask for anything better?
|The 25 de Abril Bridge spanning the Tejo river from Lisbon, with Jesus overlooking from Almada south of Lisbon.|
We enjoyed our journey of discovery in Portugal and can’t wait to get back. We want to head deeper into the Douro, stay longer in Port, and maybe check out other wine regions like the Dao, Vinho Verde or the island of Madeira. We also want to head back to Alentejo for a longer stay and then hit the southern coast beaches.