01.03.2017 - 04.03.2017
The whole of this area we had travelled across is famous for producing the wines that port is made from and we saw many of the names we recognised from our time in Porto last year; Calem, Cruz Porto, Sandeman and so on but there is also hundreds of smaller Quinta that either produce their own port or take the harvest to a number of coops around the region. There are also locals with small holding, allotments or their back gardens that grow vines for their own consumption, the whole area is so full of vines there is little space left. Large new planting are going on here, making new terraces with JCB's but I suspect the vast majority of the preparation of the stepped landscape has been manual over hundreds of years.
At the aire we met some brits, kiwis and a springbok lady on her own, too much wine again but it's the only way to find out stuff. The British chap was walking really badly and it turns out the NHS removed his knee caps at 15! This didn't deter him from life, chasing a lost love who's father sent her to a kibbutz in Israel because Mike was not suitable; he bought a Hillman Minx convertible and drove across Europe to find her just after the 6 Day war. He stayed a while and became the kibbutz sniper! They married, had children and unfortunately she died in her 30's. Mike had several careers including free lance finance arranger for such deals as aircraft purchases from eastern block individuals after the break up of the communist power base.
You couldn't make it up, I gave him our email address and told him not to contact us until he had written his book.
We spent some time with the kiwi couple and Lesley, the springbok, really just enjoying the views for a couple of days. Wednesday morning I went for a jog as the river promenade was lovely and saw a market and excitedly told Jacqui, turned out it was just horticultural stalls.
Jacqui managed a bit of girly shopping with Andrea and there was also a real market in town that was just closing when they got there. They saw an advert to celebrate World Women's Day, so the next night we went along to the best hotel in the town, to their Douro view restaurant and for €18 had a very pleasant evening including white sangria and a bottle of Douro red for me. Only thing was Geoff, who looks like a retired Hulk Hogan and I were the only chaps! Traditional pasty type starters and dried ham, bacaloa and lots of salads, stuffed pork or a fish bake with garlic potatoes and pudding was loads of fluffy things.
Next day after a good walk into town we left and drove away from the Douro but still very much in the same sort of country and spent 2 hours doing 55 miles on wiggerly roads again.