A PORTUGUESE ROAD TRIP....Part I
|All Photos: Sophia Home|
'Porto's beautiful architecture'
As my regular readers will know, my husband Andrew and I have just returned from a trip to Portugal.......a 'Road Trip' covering over 1000km, starting in the North in Porto, then through the breathtaking Douro Valley and up in to the mountains and the relatively undiscovered region of Alentejo. Fabulous Lisbon was our next stop, before we travelled back up the stunning Atlantic coastline back to Porto to fly home. Six different overnight stays in the seven days......it was an inspiring and fantastic insight in to the ancient history, beauty, and gastronomy of this beautiful country, away from the more frequented tourist destination of the Southern Algarve.
First stop was Porto (also known as Oporto), Portugal's second largest city. Located along the Douro river estuary in northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European centres and is registered as a World Heritage Site. As well as its beautiful architecture and ancient history, dating back to when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire.......it is of course famous for its delicious Port wine, produced from grapes in the nearby spectacular Douro Valley.
Our stay that first night was at the charming guesthouse '6Only'.....an elegant town house with appropriately, just six rooms. Beautifully restored by its charming owners Mariana and Pedro, who had so stylishly created a cool contemporary interior, whilst retaining the building's original architectural details. Nothing was too much trouble for our generous and friendly hosts, and we were made to feel so welcome. Mariana directed us to all the best places to go in the City, and also recommended and reserved for us a fantastic little fish restaurant down in the harbour for dinner. After a delicious meal that night of clams in wine and garlic, and having had a full day of sightseeing, we slept well in our large, stylish and comfortable room. We were treated the next morning to a fabulous breakfast, whilst Mariana kindly mapped out our route along the Douro Valley along with another fantastic restaurant recommendation for lunch. If you are looking for a very reasonably priced, simply stylish place to stay in Porto, I can not recommend '6Only' more highly. We were sad to say goodbye to these lovely people.....but hope to return one day!
|View over the City|
As well as the beautiful architecture, Porto has some original and fascinating shops amongst its hilly cobbled streets. One that we particularly loved was 'A Vida Portuguesa', a beautifully fitted shop over two floors, selling a lovely selection of Portuguese china, gifts and
Porto is home to many beautiful churches and monuments......
What has to be one of the most stunning bookshops in the World......'Livrario Lello' is somewhere you could quite happily while away a few hours browsing.....
|'Livrario Lello' bookshop.|
The famous Majestic Cafe, dating back to 1921, was a must for our coffee stop.....with its elaborate interior of gilded mirrors, ornate pendant lamps, marble walls and cherubs. This cafe has been famously frequented by intellectuals, artists and writers, as well as many notable dignitaries over its lifetime.....one of its famous clientele was also JK Rowling, who allegedly wrote the first few chapters of 'Vein of Gold', sitting at a table of the Majestic Cafe....little did she know then, quite how it would change her life.....
Our trip then took us along the breathtaking Douro Valley.....home to some of the most famous vineyards in the World.......
Our stop for that night was at the Poussada Belmonte...a former monastery just outside the mountain village of Belmonte......a beautiful bedroom on two floors with spectacular views and calm, quiet, understated service. The 'Poussada' group are government owned and run along similar lines to the Spanish Paradours.....offering accommodation in some of the country's most historical and magnificent preserved buildings.
Drinks in the beautiful 'Drawing Room' which was once the chapel, was followed by a truly memorable dinner....not just for the delicious food, but for the enthusiastic friendliness of our wonderfully camp waiter!
|Beautiful antiques and objet such as this piece of |
ecclesiastical stone throughout.....
|The next day we drove through the beautiful unspoilt Alentejo countryside, full of wild flowers, olive and cork trees, and dotted with picturesque medieval towns and villages, largely unchanged over the centuries. That afternoon we arrived at the historic town of Evora, a Unesco world heritage site, where we stayed in another Pousada, this time a former |
14th Century Convent.
A treat lay in store, as we were told that as they had to change a detail in our itinerary, we had been upgraded to their Presidental Suite as means of an apology......and what a treat it was!
|Our beautiful private sitting room in the 'Presidential Suite'.....|
The sitting room of our suite was quite spectacular! The most beautifully hand painted frescos, with elegant antiques throughout. This led through to a large comfortable bedroom and bathroom/dressing-room area......it was very spoiling and certainly was something to make a girl feel like a princess!
My next post will take in our trip to Lisbon and back up the spectacular Atlantic Coast.
I do hope you are all having a lovely week?