Portugal : Porto & Douro Valley

Portugal : Porto & Douro Valley

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Porto was the last stop in my itinerary. Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal.  This place was the origin of port wine. It is also famous for its iconic bridges. In fact it is the only city in Europe which has 6 bridges. I stayed in Porto for 2 days. Weather was not at its best but there were intermittent clear sky.

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Douro River

There are few unique charm to this city, Lello Bookshop with its amazing neo-gothic interiors (Harry Potter shooting happened here, it was Hogwarts library) . Then there is São Bento railway station to see the 20,000 tiles that decorate its walls. The old town still has its medieval charm with its narrow cobbled streets wind past merchants’ houses and cafes.

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Porto Cathedral
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Dom Luís Bridge

Dom Luís Bridge is the iconic landmark of Porto.  Gustave Eiffel was initially involved with the project. At the time of construction it was the longest double-deck metal arch bridge.

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Dom Luís bridge at night

Porto is also the food and wine capital of Portugal. Variety of wine testing menus available in most of the eateries.  Among the new things I tried there was Polvo Lagareiro  (Grilled Octopus with potatoes) and Veal meat. Another speciality is francesinha, a gut-busting monster of an open sandwich made with linguiça (garlicky smoked pork sausage), roast meat and ham, topped with cheese and a fried egg and drenched in rich beer sauce.

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Pinhão

Next day my plan was to visit Douro valley. Douro valley is the main port wine producing region of Portugal. The valley is in the north of Portugal extending from Porto to its eastern border. Many farms are located both side of Douro river and its tributaries are the main source port wines.

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There are regular though infrequent train services to Douro valley. I left Porto at early morning to Pinhão . I took a boat trip from Pinhão to Tua and back at 9.30 which lasted about 3.5 hours.  This section of Douro valley is very beautiful with vineyards both sides of the river along the slopes. This was late spring so vineyards are slowly turning to lush green. Also this time of the year flowering Almond trees can be seen in abundant. We were given port wine to test on our way back. After coming back I had my launch at a local restaurant and then roamed around for few hours before catching my train to Pocinho.

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Pocinho is furthest point that can be reached by train. Linha Do Douro terminates here. Train journey offers excellent view of higher reaches of the Douro river, dams, vineyards and unspoiled country. I took return train back late afternoon and reached Porto late at night.

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