So that you can come back…

This is one of my newest favourite quotes about traveling and I feel a beautiful truth within it.  Feel free to leave your favourite quotes below as well.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back.

So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too.

Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

 

Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

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Ponte De Lima and Lindoso

This is a combo post about two of the great little places we visited one day during out drives around Northern Portugal.
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The First is Ponte De Lima.  

Ponte De Lima is a cute little Medieval town on the Lima River bank.  It is named after the bridge that crosses the river.

The car park seems odd as you appear to drive on to the bank of the river but aside from this it is an easy place to visit.  The main square is beautiful looking back across the river and the old bridge to churches and countryside.  As always with any town, move away from the main square if you want to save some money on food or drink.  We wander in the streets and enjoy the old village feel.  This town is lovely and I would definitely like to revisit it.  There is a big and famous market that opens every second Monday, all the way along the river bank…alas it is not Monday when we visit.  But this sounds spectacular.

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Lindoso

Lindoso sits within the national park and surrounded by beautiful ruggard countryside.  The area is famous for the old granaries which are called Horrreo.  The Horrero look like little stone houses or tombs, you can find them in some of the towns hidden among the older areas, or all gathered together on hillsides.  Linodoso have a big group that stand together near the castle.

The castle is great, its free to go into except the very inner walls which are only open a small part of the year and coast a couple IMAG2919of euros to get into.  The Castle has a long history and was used up until 1910 by the Portuguese

Government.  We spend an hour walking along the walls and enjoying the view and crumbling history.  It definitely feels like an adventure.

 

Also….The National Park is home to special cow found in this area of Portugal, they are called Arouquesa and they are wonderful.  Look at this guy!!

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Sunshine!

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.”

Maud Hart Lovelace

Elf Down the Douro

Next stop on our Northern Portugal adventure.  We pick up a hire car and head off into the countryside in search of quiet, views and more wine!

We head out of Porto and choose to avoid tolls for cost saving and nicer driving.  The countryside is beautiful and lush.  We drive through the morning, it takes about 3 hours but we do not notice the time as we are blessed with the wonderful views.

Slowly we IMAG2868start to climb into the vine country before we dip down again along the riverside.  Then we start to ascend properly passing the vineyards that below to the Port Houses and Cellars that we saw and visited in Porto.  We turn of the main roads and head high into the mountains.  Its not a great drive for those who suffer carsickness or vertigo, but on we go.  We reach a small town close to Armamar.  IMAG2869

 

The view is simply incredible.

 

Stretching out in front of us, a church nestles between the vines and chimes as we clamber out and head into the most wonderful villa.  We have splashed out a little (60 euros a night) so that we can have the privilege of a swimming pool, views and a BBQ.

The next few days pass in relaxation heaven. We spend our days driving the countryside and stopping in little towns.  We visit Armamar and shop in the local bakery, butcher and shops before heading home to cook outside and enjoy the evening slowly passing.

It is perfect.

 

Fire Elf

On one of our evenings in Porto we decided to head out in the evening for pudding and a drink only to notice some fire.  We headed towards the fire and stumbled on this amazing art instillation spread across the city.   Here is a little clip just a small part of the experience.

 

Tawny Elf

We’ve been away and with the new addition to the Elf clan, we have also been very disorganized and didn’t get anything lined up on the site for our away time.  So now we are back and back to business!

We’ve been in Porto and into the Port wine (especially the Tawny, my new favorite thing). 

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We arrive on a Friday morning and catch the metro from the airport into town before walking to our Air B and B.  The metro is relatively easy to use and find within the airport.  Have change with you for this, it makes it so much easier.  You buy a card for 60 cents and then add trips to it.  Two important things to remember: 

1. Once you chose the type of trip (day travel or individual trips) that is the only type of trip you can use the card for.
         2. When you use the machine for the first time remember you need a card per person. When you select 2 trips you will get one card with 2 trips on it.  So best bet is to do them individually. 

Right, boring information bit over.  

We spend our first two day wandering in the streets of Porto.  We walk up the hill into the Cathedral, which is lovely but not as nice as some of the little churches that we discover as we walk around.  But the view from the Cathedral beside the Bishop’s IMAG2822Residence is lovely.  This is a lovely area and well worth a visit.  

We duck into 3-4 different churches which are beautiful all inlaid with gold our favorite is Igreja de Sao Francisco.  Porto is a wonderful place to wander in and the views that open out as you turn a bend in a little alleyway.  The tiled houses with their different colours and the terracotta roof tiles make this city lovely to look at. 

Head across the big iron bridge called Dom Luís I Bridge built by Théophile Seyrig, there are two levels and you can walk across both.  The view from the top level is spectacular. The bridge connects you to Vila Nova de Gaia, which is where the port cellars are.  The view back across the river to Porto is fab.

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Once you are in Vila Nova de Gaia, you will see all the signs pointing you along the water front to the different Port wine cellars.  The different companies offer a variety of tours and tastings, tours only or tastings only.  The best tour and tasting combination (as recommended by a local) is Crofts, to get to Crofts head along the waterfront and past Sandemans and you will see the signs. 

For a good quality tasting head along to Quinta do Noval.  If you want to tour here you will need to book well in advance, at the moment of publishing this blog, the next available tour is in September!  But if you want a good tasting, this is a great place to start.  It is a little more expensive than other options but the quality and different types of wines and ports that you will get to try make it well worth it.  We split the 40 year old taster between four people at a price of 40 euros.  The tasting comes with explanations of each of the wines and ports, how they are made, what the difference in ageing process is, bottling and so on.  Also…wow, so tasty.

More information about Noval here

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More from our Northern Portugal adventure soon!