May 29, 2024

Douro Valley

The train ride started peacefully enough. However when the conductor came to check our tickets the guy across the aisle was unresponsive. Like does he have a pulse? Unresponsive! A couple of stops later the EMTs got on the train and managed to get him awake. Soon after he was off the train. As usual the paperwork took longer than anything and we were soon 20 minutes behind.

We had thought that the train ride would be fun, with four seats facing each other, maybe a table to play Euchre or Qwertle. But the train was a “historic” train. No tables, no electricity to recharge devices. But the scenery was very nice. We got off the train in Pinhão to visit the Quinto Do Jollata winery, high above the city. We needed to either Uber or take a taxi. The Uber was advertising the ride for 5 euros, but no drivers were taking us up. There was a taxi with a feisty Portuguese woman driver. She told us 15 euros. When we said we were told that it would be 5 she slammed the car door shut in a huff. Then probably swore at us. We agreed to her 15 and got in for the ride. By the time we arrived we all thought that 15 was probably appropriate! The views from the winery were spectacular!

The tasting area was also beautiful.

There was a trail from the winery down to the city, and we had decided ahead of time to walk down. The host at the winery said to follow the dirt road to the end of their property then to climb over the fence to their neighbors, and continue to walk toward the bridge. By the time we got to the fence, one of us had had it! LOL.

Once back in the city we boarded a boat for a ride to Tua. More beauty but this time from the river!

In Tua we had a bit of an adventure finding the train station. We didn’t have a lot of time, and in our haste ended up away from the station, but deciding that the most expedient way forward was to simply walk the tracks, listening carefully for an approaching train!

We arrived safely! As it turned out the train to Porto was at the station but the train to Pocinho was not there yet. We looked for a conductor to see if we could just hop on and go back to Porto, and I finally found one, but just as I was asking him the question the train to Pocinho pulled in and he said if we wanted to go to Porto we had to get on right now. We dithered for a second to long and thus were committed to riding to the end of the line. In the end we all agreed we should have jumped on the train back when we had the chance.

The ride back to Porto was fine, but long, and at times VERY crowded. Speaking of crowded that is the only way to describe Time Out! Finding a place to sit took a couple of trips up and back, but we did eventually find a place for the four of us to sit. Jane and Holly saved our spots while Brian and I braved the ravenous hoards to gather our dinner. Jane had the duck rice which was kind of like a layer of rice with duck over the top covered in a thick layer of cheese. It was delicious. I had the Sea bass over Quinoa with Crayfish sauce. Also wonderful, but it turned out to be a starter! I wish I had ordered two!

To say we were exhausted after 12 hours on the train, and hiking and wine tasting is an understatement. Tomorrow is an easier day with just a bit of walking around town, and maybe visiting a port house.