We had heard so many references to the Douro Valley on our tour yesterday, we decided we had to visit. Therefore, Kevin did some investigations and found a vineyard which did wine tastings and also let motorhomes stay on site. Perfect.
Therefore this morning it was time to move on again. We took the dogs down to the beach for a walk, but then could not resist trying out our new Brompton folding bikes on the pristine cycle track which runs all the way to Porto from the suburb of Salgueiros where we had been staying. So by 7.15am we were on our bikes heading towards Porto. We only did 5 miles to try them out as sadly there was low cloud and not a great day for photos and we wanted to hit the road. We called in at the brilliant little supermarket on the front Continente Bom Dia Canidelo for supplies, made use of the services and hit the road.
We followed the road network out of Porto until we were on the main A4 motorway into the region. To be honest we had not paid a lot of attention to the route and were a little surprised to find motorway quite so far into the hills. It apparently only extended on 2013 and it must have been a huge investment. There are enormous viaducts and the huge Marão Tunnel which is 5.6km long under the 1415m Marão hill. It is a bit of a shame to see these big concrete viaducts in such a beautiful landscape but the area is surprisingly populated compared to what we had expected.
We were pleased though to get off the main roads and head into the hills. The road travelled consistently uphill once we had crossed the Duoro. The carefully made stone terraces contour every hill and on each parcel of land are carefully tended vines. The hills seem to go on forever. The lovely white villas and pan tile roofs are more sparsely scattered here. However, every other building seems to be a neatly tended “Quinta” (farm) devoted to wine growing adorned in large letters on the wall with the name.
Finally we get to our turning to Quinta da Padrela and find a sign with contact details and wifi code and an instruction to pick a spot and park up that someone will come and greet us. Sure enough after 15mins the young owner comes out to greet us. There is a shower / toilet and even access to a swimming pool when there are no guests in the holiday let. He will collect anyone that wants to join a wine tasting at 10.30am tomorrow. All for free!
We had understood the wine tasting to be usually at 3pm, so thought we had timed it well with our 1pm arrival. However, it seems that he has a meeting this afternoon. Ah well there were 4 other vans when we arrived. Most have now gone, perhaps after sleeping off their wine tasting, a similar number have arrived since to replace them.
The sun is shining (31 degrees in the sun!) and a nice American couple who live in Germany have just been over for a look around the van. We have large stocks of wine, cheese and charcuterie. I think we will make it through to tomorrow!