Exploring The Douro Wine Region and Aveiro
After a few days exploring Porto and getting my daily steps in, I decided to do a little exploring outside of the city. The Douro valley is a one and a half hour drive from Porto.
This wine region is known for it's production of port wine and a very nice selection of white and red wines. It's beautiful landscape makes it even more inviting to visit. Different from the wine regions of the US, the Douro valley vineyards sit on steep, terraced hills that slop down to the banks of the Douro River. The river meanders through the middle of these hills and mountains. I booked a tour for this adventure that included pickup from my hotel, a couple wine tastings, a river cruise, and lunch.
It is a full day tour starting early in the morning and returning to my hotel early evening. This is a great way to visit the region if you are short on time. I would love to rent a car one day and spend more time exploring this tranquil area with the beautiful landscape, delicious food and of course sampling the wines!
The boat cruise was on a small boat called Rabelo which were originally used to carry the port wine down the river to Porto before roads were available. Lazily winding down the Douro River with the sun hitting the slopes of these terraced vineyards , sipping on a glass of port wine was well worth the trip!
Another side trip I took was to the small city of Aveiro. Just an hour train ride from Porto, Aveiro is often referred as the Venice of Portugal because of it's winding canals and gondola-like-boats called Moliceiros.
These Moliceiros were originally used to harvest seaweed back in the nineteenth century when Aveiro was an influential trading city. Small and colorful, these boats have drawings on their bow and stern representing historical facts, religion, local life, and even some erotic images. Now used as tourist vessels you can travel down the canals of the city.
Many of the old buildings in Aveiro are decorated with the traditional azulejo tiles. The most notable building is the old train station you see when you arrive into the city. It's a beautiful display of blue and white tiles telling tales of Aveiro' s historical past.
The city is also known for it's salt production and exportation to the rest of Europe. I did buy a few souvenirs of some herb infused salts!
Aveiro is a walk-able city and can actually be covered in three hours if you just do the historical part of the city.
I would actually like to return and visit some of the beach areas such as Costa Nova which is known for its striped beach houses and beautiful beach.