Pinhao and Wine tour

Next up on the Northern Portugal road-trip is Pinhao

Pinhao is a small village in northern Portugal. It is surrounded with vineyards and dips down to sit just on the Douro River. It is picturesque and when we visited quite calm and beautiful. The local train runs from Porto to Pinhao and although we did not take the train it is supposed to be a beautiful trip.

We park and pop into one of the IMAG2878vineyard offices to see if we can go on a tour. Unfortunately not…it would appear that booked ahead for the most part is a must. So we wander in the town and down to the river bank to do some googling.

We manage to find a smaller and newer vineyard called Quinta de la Rosa which can accommodate us for the afternoon tour. We march up the hill (perhaps get a taxi) it’s hot but the view is more than nice.

Once we have arrived and joined the tour group we head into the courtyard and off into IMAG2889the processing and storage areas.

Quinta de la Rosa still use the traditional stomping the grapes method which would be amazing to see (in August – September depending on the season). The tour is great, and informative and the lady who takes us around is obviously passionate about Port and the winery.

Next we move on to the tasting, we try in all 2 different wines and 3 different ports. I would recommend this winery tour is a great option for a reasonably priced option. Although there are lots of options out there…make sure you book in advance if you have particular tours you want to go on.

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This post is not sponsored at all but if you would like more information about Quinta de la Rosa please click here .

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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.

 

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!

Street Feast Elf

Fancy doing something a bit different for dinner, keep on reading.

Moon boot and I head off to Hawker House for a feast of street food.

Hawker House is a street foodie’s heaven.  Pop up restaurants and bars all together in one very cool place.  Hawker House is one of the Street Feast locations which started life as Dinnerama.  Hawker House is located in Canada Water a two minute walk from the tube station which makes it ideal for after work or easy catch ups on the weekend.  There are 8 different food vendors and 8 different bars.  Its a big space inside which doesn’t feel like you are inside an old warehouse, but more like a market on holiday.  There are also pool tables and beer pong tables if that’s your thing.

I very much recommend a big group and everyone head off and return with treats!  This way you get to try lots of what is on offer.  My favorite were the pork buns from Yum Bun, Mr Elf aka Moon boot, enjoyed the stake plate from Up In My Grill.  The gin bar was a big hit with our group as well.

If you want to check out street food for your self, you can head to Hawker House or Dinnerama, fingers crossed that there are more locations on the way back as the weather warms up.

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For the Hawker House website click here

Enjoy!  Let us know what your favorite eats were if you’ve been and if there are any other cool food experiences you think we need to visit please do let us know.

As usual I ate and then remembered I was supposed to take photos…oops!

 

French Elf

France!  Wine, cheese, bread, sophistication, Nutella!  Sounds glorious!

A group of us are desperate to get away for the bank holiday weekend so we book in to a beautiful big house about an hour drive from Calais.  We look at all the options for travel and decide on driving across using the Eurotunnel in two cars.  It is something none of us have done so we are all up for an adventure.

You have to arrive a minimum of 30 minutes before the departure time, so naturally we are all terrified to be late so we head off early and remember to fill up the cars with petrol before we head over because of the strikes there are fuel shortages.  I recommend doing this if you are planning to be driving over in the near future.

The trip over in the Eurotunnel is strange!  A very different experience to drive directly into the train.  But it is very quick and we are through and driving along the French motorway in no time.

The house is beautiful.  Just stunning and the owner meets us herself, shows us around and in no time we hit the supermarket to stock up on essentials.

The surrounding countryside is stunning.  Green IMAG1774and delicious!

We are lucky that the house we have chosen to rent has a fully functioning kitchen so we cook up a storm using local ingredients and sample the wine.

The next morning is sunny so we head out to the local market in Montreuil Sur Mer.  Now this village is just wonderful, the streets are full of pretty houses and lovely wisteria blossoming everywhere.  We wonder the streets and look in the beautiful antique shop windows eventually making our way into the market.  We buy local cheese, sausage, fresh cherries and apricots and try the pastries.

received_10157182381525314I very much recommend Montreuil Sur Mer, if you are visiting make sure you take time to walk through the little streets.  The village walls are lovely and the colours are just perfect if you enjoy a bit of photography.  It is very romantic and sweet.

It is still sunny and warm, in fact we have to stop to buy sunscreen, again I would recommend bringing your own as there was a limited choice in the supermarket in town.  We decide to find the beach and so we re-group and drive to Le Touquet which is the nearest beach.

Le Touquet is delightfully tacky along the beach front but in a lovely childhood memories sort of way.  We sit in the sand and have a drink at one of the cafes on the beach.  There are kite surfers and children running about.  It is not the prettiest beach but it is fun and we enjoy our afternoon.  We potter off home for dinner which we make at home with all the lovely produce from the market this morning.

The spend our last day walking in the countryside and enjoying the big log fire inside when the weather gets damp.  Then unfortunately it is time to leave and we are off to the Eurotunnel all too soon.

The website we used to find the rental properties is www.ownersdirect.co.uk

The Eurotunnel website is www.eurotunnel.com/uk/home