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.

 

Advertisements

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). 

IMAG2807

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.

IMAG2817

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

received_10155372933220859

More from our Northern Portugal adventure soon!

Bonie Elf

We talked about our trip to Scotland in the last blog and visiting Aberfeldy, here is a poem by Robert Burns about the wonderful little town.

“The Birks of Aberfeldy”

Bonie lassie, will ye go,
Will ye go, will ye go,
Bonie lassie, will ye go
To the birks of Aberfeldy!
Now Simmer blinks on flowery braes,
And o’er the crystal streamlets plays;
Come let us spend the lightsome days,
In the birks of Aberfeldy!

 

 

Ps.  photo is of the Hogwarts Express…because I felt like it.

 

Country Elf

We’re off on a countryside adventure this weekend. The Broadlands Country Show. This is a proper country show, there are dog breed competitions, gun dog trials, demonstrations in the main arena. Food and local produce, rides and stalls.

The show is set in the attractive grounds of an Estate called Broadlands, which is well worth a visit another time. Lovely old house, beautiful gardens and lovely walks. Back to the show, if you buy your tickets online in advance you will get a cheaper ticket, it’s a little expensive at £15 but everyone under 16 is free which is nice. We toddle on through and stop at the gun dog trials. I have never seen this before it’s very cool. We stop toIMAG2677 watch the “long retrieve” there a red ball like thing is short into the air and down the end of the enclosure accompanied by a loud simulated gun shot. Now, all being well the dog sprints off down the field and returns with the red ball like thing…this is not always the case and lots of the dogs had a good romp around and sniff before returning (or not) with the ball.IMAG2685_BURST012_COVER

Next we head to the main arena, where we are blown away by the craziness that is “The Devils Horsemen”. Not for the faint of heart, that is sure. These guys are mad, they hang off the sides of the horses and do handstands on the back of galloping horses. Then to top it off they stand astride two horses for a race. It’s thrilling, and I will not lie…it leaves me desperate to go horse riding. Perhaps a new career path?

We munch our way round and enjoy pasties, hot coffee (to ward of the cold as it starts to rain), popcorn and candy floss. We pick up some apple strudel and cakes to take home and on the way out I can’t help it… I get some fudge as well. (Licorice flavour…oh my, so, so good)

I’m already busy looking up the next Country show I can get to.  If you fancy heading along to a show, I found this website with lots of information about upcoming shows.

Comfort

I definitely need some inspiration on a gray and uninviting day like today.  So I gathered together some sparkly words of wisdom.

 

“Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”

-Paul Coelho

 

“Live Long and Prosper”

– Leonard Nimoy

“Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens to the which our wills are gardeners.”

-Shakespeare (Othello)