Portugal's Douro River Valley
By Bicicleta (Bicycle), Septembre, 2009
Arrive at Lisbon, Visit 6 Days (Conference 4 Days)
Tour West Coast, Central, Viseu, Dao Region, 2 Days
Train to Pinhão, Bicycle Self Guided Tour Douro River Valley, 6 Days
Train from Pocinho to Porto, Depart Porto, 2 Days
Forgive my Americano Keyboard; it does not have Acute, Tilde, or Circumflex accent options.
These characters must be hard coded with strings of special code - it takes extra effort.
Pinhão is coded as Pinhão, with proud extra effort by the Author.
FYI, the ão sound in Portuguese is pronounced as 'ow.n' in English and
the oa sound in Portuguese (Lisboa) is pronounced as 'on' (Lisbon).
Cool Facts and Observations
As a People, the Portuguese are friendly and helpful to all travelers. Surprisingly, to us, French is a common second language of elder Portuguese, while younger persons are taught English in School. We, of course made a good effort to learn rudimentary Portuguese before our trip and there were places in the back country where we put our knowledge to work. This, of course, is what makes for good stories and adventures - We had fun. The entire country was clean - a very pleasant surprise.
Food was good. Seafood predominates and is economical while on or near coastal cities. Beef, lamb, and ham predominate and are more economical inland. Interestingly, we never saw a cow or pig during our entire six day bike trip and we only saw sheep on two days.
One of the things that a traveler should be aware, is that when sitting down for a meal or snack at a cafe table or restaurant, the Portuguese have a custom of setting out appetizers. Where in most countries, things set out for you are free, in Portugal they are added to your meal cost. Villages are less pushy about such things but in the cities these meal cost add-ons are pushed aggressively. So if one doesn't want bread, don't eat any. If one doesn't want olives, don't eat any. If one doesn't want a small glass of Port, don't drink any. On the other hand, if you have one taste, you just bought the entire snack or aperitif content, enjoy it. This is mentioned in most travel guides, but it's easy to forget because the presentation is so friendly.
Villages, no matter their size, would have at least be a café which allowed us to travel with less weight for food and water. One caveat was that food stores would close for lunch, so we learned to buy bread, meat (like pre-cooked sausage), fruit, and cheese in the morning when bread was fresh at the market and food selections at their best.
In Lisbon (Lisboa), we wisely bought a week long transportation pass for each of us. They cost about €24 each and entitled us to ride any bus or tram in the city as well as the vertical tram and elevators (lifts to and from low and high elevations). Lisbon's mass transportation is so good that one can live in a less costly no tourist area and transport anywhere with great convenience. We rented an apartment for a week, and our total cost was the same as one day at the recommended conference lodgings. Our average transportation wait time was about 4 minutes and the longest that we ever waited was once at 15 minutes.
The Knights Templar and Portugal
Facts: Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici), commonly known as the Knights Templar or the Order of the Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers). Source: Wikipedia
After King Philip IV of France started his purge of Templars (1307), many escaped to Portugal. They were immediately accepted by King Denis (of the House of Burgundy, King of Portugal and the Algarves 1279-1325, Son of Afonso III of Portugal and Beatrice of Castile) for several reasons. One, King Denis knew King Philip's charges to be false and Templar confessions to be under duress (torture), but the Pope (Clement) literally resided in France at the time so the Pope had to be careful and did issue the Papal Bull to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. King Denis petitioned the Pope to allow Templars outside of France to not be persecuted and to even maintain their holdings. This petition was finally approved (long after all holdings were taken). Meanwhile, the Templars had money and skills as masons, shipwrights, sailors, and soldiers. All of which King Denis put to use. Important Note: Templar Masons built simple and practical structures using late gothic conventions - It appears that Templar Masons have nothing to do with Freemasons and vice versa, except that some Freemasons have used some Templar symbols and some Templar names [many myths here].
Escaping Templars went to Scotland , Switzerland , and Portugal and it is interesting that each of these countries have had or still have a cross in their national flag. Some knights were absorbed into other orders like the Knights Hospitaller or Teutonic Knights (outside of Portugal). A significant fact is that symbolic cross of the Knights Templar soon became absorbed into the shape of the Cross of Portugal (with little change). The Templar cross was a solid red color and the Cross of Portugal maintained the same basic shape, but made a little wider than Templar Cross so as to imbed a smaller white (unadorned) interior cross.
Knights of Christ:
The Knights Templar organization, already well established in Portugal, upon persecution by King Philip IV of France simply changed their name from Knights Templar to Knights of Christ. One of the larger Templar holdings in Portugal is the Convent of Christ in Castle Tomar. Built in 1160 as a stronghold for the Knights Templar, it became the headquarters of the renamed Order of Christ (Portugal), often called or referred to as "the Order". One of the lesser known facts about the Knights Templar is that they had a small fleet of ocean going Ships [18 known], mainly used for cargo, transport, and high speed messaging that saw service from the Mediterranean to France and England. They also had inland river boats. At one point, the Templars owned the island of Cyprus.
The Shield of the House of Burgundy has always been a variation of a blue cross. Later variations show five smaller shield shapes arranged in a cross pattern, the shields themselves containing five white circles or squares. Later, the Portuguese Burgundy's added a ring of castles around the Shield of Burgundy to symbolize the organized action of Portuguese Houses to retake Portugal from the Muslim Occupiers. The number of castles has varied, but the latest version has seven castles, supposedly for the seven major strongholds and engagements to retake Portugal from the Muslims. The displayed shield emblem is more or less the emblem in the current Portuguese National Flag.
The Armillary Sphere
This is quite interesting. Other names for the Armillary Sphere are: astrolabe, spherical astrolabe, armilla, or armil - Wikipedia. Armillary derives from armilla latin for (circle or bracelet) - Wikipedia. The Armillary Sphere is a celestial navigation tool. Both the Greeks and the Chinese had simple Armillary Sphere models before the time of Christ (BC or BCE). Pictured is a Sandro Botticelli (more known for his famous Nude in a Clam Shell) painting with an Armillary Sphere
The Armillary Sphere is a tool or device that demonstrates: star positions around the earth (on a rotating sphere); the tilt of the earth (whether understood or not); and some show lunar, sun and planet positions. The Armillary Sphere, of da Gama's time had rings for the Equator and the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer (which demonstrated issues of hemispheric navigation, such that geographic areas on the other side of the equator may have increasingly longer or shorter days or nights. Thus Latitudes and Longitudes for any global position could be addressed for any time of the year. These concepts are important to global navigation.
What's more interesting is that some of these navigational devices showed the sun at the center and some demonstrated a round earth with objects going around the earth, these spheres also demonstrate astronomical 'right ascension' and the fact that each day's rotation of earth was a few minutes short of 24 hours. In the 1500's a clock was added - In fact, the Armillary Sphere represents many accumulations of knowledge over time. This is all heady information with interesting implications (like the earth is round and rotates around the sun, and seasons [in the form of astrological signs: Summer - Leo, Winter - Aquarius, ...] were predictable and associated with the tilt of the earth, and differences in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere mattered).
It probably wasn't hard for Galileo to figure out that the Earth orbited the Sun, many educated people already suspected as much. Since the reader is probably wondering, Galileo lived from 1564 to 1642. The golden age of Portuguese wealth from global trade was about 1490 to 1520. In Portuguese culture, to have one's painting (or photograph) made with an Armillary Sphere was a sign of implied wisdom and knowledge. The Armillary Sphere is so important to Portugal that it is displayed in the background of the current Portuguese National Flag and the Armillary Sphere is what is displayed in the foreground of the current Brazilian National Flag (it's disguised, see the band). Portuguese were probably the first Europeans to discover Brazil and Brazil is the only country in South America to speak Portuguese as a national language.
Famous Portuguese Explorers
The Portuguese were Explorers. Some famous, known, Portuguese explorers follow.
Henry the Navigator, 1394 - 1460:
Encouraged his father to conquer Ceuta (1415), the Muslim port on African side of the Straits of Gibraltar, also a pirate base who made Portuguese Slaves
Saw the possibility of bypassing the Mediterranean land/sea trade routes to Asia
Brought African Slaves and gold to Portugal
Member of the Oder of Christ (Knights Templar)
Had charts made (hired cartographers, gathered/collected chart information
Circumvented Muslim Sahara trade routes, circumnavigated Africa (as far as possible)
Charted and explored much of the African Coast
Rediscovered Madeira Islands, 1420, colonized in 1427
Vasco da Gama (buried at Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos), 1460 or 1469 - 1524:
Died in India
Commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India thus avoiding the Mediterranean land/sea trade route trade route controlled by the Republic of Venice
1497-8 Exploratory Journey to India (Explored from Southwest, South, and Southeast Africa to West India). Tried to find a friendly port in West Africa but ran into unfriendly Muslim sultans
1502-3 with Military and Naval reinforcements, set up bases and trade agreements
1524 for financial gain, conducted problem resolution, was granted Governor and Viceroy of India
Ferdinand Magellan, (Fernão de Magalhães), 1480 - 1521:
Sailed/Explored under Spanish sponsorship
Found the Spice Islands of Indonesia
First European to lead an expedition across the Pacific Ocean
First to attempt to circumnavigate the Earth, killed in the Philippines but ship went all the way
Found the Strait of Magellan, a protected inland passageway that avoids the rougher seas found at Cape Horn (Drake Passage)
Manueline Architecture (1490 to 1520) represented the end of Gothic Architecture (Late Gothic) and the Beginning of the Renaissance (early 1500's). It was principally Portuguese but it borrowed facets from Spanish (Plateresque), Italian, and Flemish styles. It was funded by the increased wealth provided by new and increased trade, resulting from the Sahara Road and Silk Road trade routes had been circumvented and direct trade established principally in India but also including direct trade with Africa, South America (especially Brazil), China, Indonesia, and Japan. The word Manueline is a derivative of King Manuel I (1495 to 1521). Note that the King received 20% of the Income, which is called 1/5 (one/fifth) or Quinta in Portuguese. King Manual initiated 62 major building projects in Portugal, many in Lisboa (Lisbon).
Elements used on ships: the armillary sphere (a navigational instrument and the personal emblem of Manuel I and also symbol of the cosmos), spheres, anchors, anchor chains, ropes and cables.
Elements from the sea, such as shells, pearls and strings of seaweed.
Botanical motifs such as laurel branches, oak leaves, acorns, poppy capsules, corncobs, thistles.
Symbols of Christianity: such as the cross of the Order of Christ (former Templar knights), the military order that played a prominent role and helped finance the first voyages of discovery. The cross of this order decorated the sails of the Portuguese ships.
Elements from newly discovered lands (such as the tracery in the Claustro Real in the Monastery of Batalha, suggesting Islamic filigree work, influenced by buildings in India)
Columns carved like twisted strands of rope (this is not an original concept, as twisted columns can be found in the 13th-century cloister of Basilica of St. John Lateran, in Rome)
Semicircular arches (instead of Gothic pointed arches) of doors and windows, sometimes consisting of three or more convex curves
Lack of symmetry
Ornate portals with niches or canopies
Beveled crenellations (castellated battlements like square sine waves - Dennis)
A linear element, a line, sometimes itself called a Manueline, which could be plain but was often represented as a rope or a vine, often 3 or 4 inches wide, that completely surrounds a door, window, or portal, or it could completely go around a room or even a building - Added by Dennis.
Some examples are Jerónimos Monastery [Portuguese for Gerome, pictured above], Tower of Belém [pictured just above], and the Convent of the Order of Christ at Tomar (formerly, property of the Knights Templar).
FACT: The location of the garden, in this picture of Jerónimos Monastery, used to be in the Tagus River. In fact, ships could port alongside the front of the Monastery (Monastary) and allow sailors to pray or attend mass. The Great Earthquake of 1755 moved the Tagus River about 3-400 meters/yards away (southward). To the picture viewers left, the Tower of Belém, a canon armed River Watch Tower previously stood in the middle of the Tagus River, but now it is located on the shoreline of the Tagus. FYI: Gerome or Jerome is the English word for Jerónimos.
The house for the Hieronymite monks was built on the same site of the Ermida do Restelo, a hermitage that was founded by Henry the Navigator at about 1450. It was at this hermitage, that was already in disrepair, that Vasco da Gama and his men spent the night in prayer before departing for India in 1497.
The existing structure was started on the orders of Manuel I (1515-1520) to commemorate Vasco da Gama's successful return from India. It was originally meant as a church for the burial of the House of Aviz, but it also became a house of prayer for seamen leaving or entering port.
Construction of the monastery began in 1502 and took 50 years to complete. He used pedra lioz, a local gold-coloured limestone, for its construction. The building of the monastery was funded by a 5% tax on eastern spices, with the exceptions of pepper, cinnamon and cloves, revenue from which went straight to the Crown. By this influx of riches, the architects had enough financial margin to think big. The enormous amount of funds needed for this monastery, meant abandoning the construction of the Aviz pantheon in the Monastery of Batalha.
The monastery was designed in the Manueline style by Diogo de Boitaca.
The monastery withstood the Great Earthquake of 1755 without too much damage.
The Church of Monastery is called Santa Maria.
There is a statue of Baby Jesus, Mother Mary, and her mother Saint Anne (Santa Ana or Santana)
Above Left: Church of Santa Maria.
Above Right: Courtyard of St Jerónimos.
Above Left: The Chancel of Santa Maria. King Manuel had a few wives. Going against the wishes of the King and the other Wives, the last surviving wife, Queen Catherine of Habsburg, built the Chancel as she wanted it. It contains the tombs of the royal family (including herself). The Chancel is built in a 'Classical Style' (not a Manueline or Late Gothic Style) - To Queen Catherine's credit, this architecture marked the beginning of the Renaissance Style of architecture.
Above Right: See the Knights Templar symbol?
Above Left: See the Knights Templar symbol?
Above Right: See any Knights Templar symbols?
St Jerome (347-420 AD), thought to be of Illyria (the Balkan area between Italy and Greece) was a well educated and a well traveled man, is credited for translating the bible into Latin. He spoke and wrote Greek and Latin and is considered a Doctor of the Church (as in Doctorate). His translation included Hebrew sources while other previous translations were just from Greek. He was a Christian Apologist. Apologist's "present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views" [Wikipedia].
The St Jerome LION Story If the reader has ever heard the story of the man that removed a thorn from the paw of a Lion, it is supposed to be Jerome who performed this act. He apparently actually had a Lion as a kind of pet. The story goes that Jerome was entering a Hermitage/Monastery when all the students/initiates were seen running out of the building. They told Jerome that there was a lion in the Monastery. Jerome entered the building to investigate and, long story short, removed the thorn from the paw of the lion. From then on, the lion hung around the Monastery, and eventually became an item of the Monastery. Many paintings of St Jerome show a lion in the foreground.
Belém is a community area, west of Lisboa, and includes the Jerónimos Monastery with the Santa Maria church and the Monument to the Discoveries - All within 400 meters of one another. The 'Tower of Belém' was "built to commemorate Vasco da Gama's expedition and remains a reminder of the maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world. North African influences can be seen on the upper parts. The tower was built in 1515 as a fort in the middle of the Tagus River". The Great Earthquake of 1755 moved the river, such that the Tower Fort is now on the North bank of the Rio Tagus. Remarkably, the Tower is virtually undamaged.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Literally: 'Monument to the Discoveries'):
"The monument consists of a 52 meter-high slab of concrete, carved into the shape of the prow of a ship. The side that faces away from the river features a carved sword [and symbolic cross - Dennis] stretching the full height of the monument. It was conceived by Portuguese artists, architect Cottinelli Telmo and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida as a temporary beacon of the Portuguese World Fair in 1940. The Monument to the Discoveries represents a romantic idealization of the Portuguese past that was typical during the regime of Dictator Salazar." - Wikipedia.
Henry the Navigator leads the congress. More or less, one side is for Sailors, Navigators, and Military Leaders while the other side is for Scholars, Chart Makers, Nobles, and Religious Leaders.
A picture of the Discoveries Monument is typically what is on the cover of Portugal Tour Books.
The compass rose and world map showing different Portuguese Discoveries is a donation from South Africa.
Castle of São Jorge
Archeological findings at the site demonstrate habitation since 600 BC. Since then Celts, Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Suebics, Visigoths, and Moors have been tenants and each occupier added a little more defensive fortification. Around the 11th Century Crusaders (financed by the Knights Templar) under the leadership of King Afonso Henriques, took the castle from the Moors. In a well told war story, the knight, Martim Moniz, noticed that one of the doors to the castle was open, and he prevented the Moors from closing the door again by throwing his own body into the breach, costing him his life but winning the battle.
Using the castle in the 12th century, a Moorish re-insurgency was repelled. As a result of the stronghold, Lisboa became the Capital and major City of the area and eventually of Portugal. In 1300, King Denis I renovated the Castle. In 1373-5 a fortress wall was build around the city, some of which still remains. In the late 1300's King Joãn I renamed the castle, to its present name, for his bride Princess Philippa of Lancaster, England. Until the 16th Century the tower was well used and well maintained.
At the height of Portugal's economic period of discovery King Manuel I built a Royal Palace in the Belém area along the side the Tagus River. This Palace has been used by Rulers ever since and the condition of Castle São Jorge has deteriorated ever since. There have been attempts at restoration but changes of priorities have always prevented completion. Earthquakes in 1531 and 1755 damaged the castle dramatically.
Baixa (Downtown Area), Rossio, Pedro IV Square
Rossio means 'Large Square' and actually the downtown area has a couple long malls and three or four adjacent squares separated by one city block. Generally 'The Rossio' is considered to be the Pedro IV Square. This area has been a meeting place for centuries. We ate there every night. Most restaurants don't open until 2000 hrs and we learned this may be because of the heat. People just don't feel like eating until its cooler, which seems to be about 8 PM. We were in Lisbon in the second week of September and each day got as high as 35° or 36°C (95-97°F).
Above Left: It's the '25th of April Bridge'. Construction began in 1962 on the orders of then Dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. The bridge was named after the dictator. But in 25 April 1974 there was a quiet regime change called the 'Carnation Revolution' (where people were a few people were placing carnations into rifle barrels of soldiers or just wearing new carnations). People also tore down the Salazar sign on the bridge and painted '25 de Abril' - No one ever changed the new bridge name (and Portugal became the Republic that it is today).
The '25th of April Bridge' was created by the same designers as the Golden Gate Bridge (in San Francisco, California), but it is not a copy. For example, the Portuguese version has cross supports in the trestles where the golden gate has none.
The Statue of Jesus is a smaller duplicate of the statue in Rio de Janeiro.
Above Right:Sarmento's, Jewry since 1870. It's at the base of the Santa Justa vertical elevator. We contributed to their longevity.
The village of Sintra contains, apparently, two National Palaces, one known as the Sintra National Palace or Town Palace or Summer Palace and the other known as Pena National Palace. The town of Sintra was originally a Moorish Stronghold with a Castle and Fortifications on the top of the mountain called 'Castelo dos Mouros'. We got to see the Town Palace.
The origins of the Town Palace probably started with the Moorish occupation in about 1000 AD. King Afonso Henriques took possession after running the Moors out of the region. Subsequent construction is mixed Gothic, Manueline, and Renaissance (added to a Moorish base). The Palace represents different architectures and accoutrements fitting different styles through the centuries.
Terry and I went back to Sintra to see the Pena National Palace but the Military was performing an exercise involving field artillery and the resulting traffic jams and lack of help had us scrambling and totally lost - we had to abandon our re-visit to Sintra.
Cascais and the Ocean
Cascais is on the coast and is about 30 Kilometers West of Lisbon (also Sintra is about 10 Kilometers to the north [inland]). It is a traditional summer resort town within easy train or car travel from Lisbon. Cascais started as a maritime town but has in now trendy with many homes from Jet Setters and International Nobility (many that were exiled from their home countries since WWII).
The town has a casino named Estoril Casino. Interestingly, with Portugal being neutral in WWII, spies from the Axis and from the Allies kept an eye on each other in this town at Estoril Casino. One of the Embassy Staff members from the UK was named Ian Fleming; perhaps his experience in Cascais gave him the idea for his book 'Casino Royal'. Also, scenes from a James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, were filmed in this area.
Conference Dinner at x
Tiles in Portugal
Fado means Destiny or Fate, and it is Portuguese Music that is mournful in tune and lyric. The source seems to be a mix of Moorish and African. The subject can be anything but the more known lyrics are about lost love. We went to a Fado Cabaret for dinner and music.
We never learned the significance of the Axe (Machado means Axe).
Above Left: Obidos Fortress and Castle - No cars allowed - Still operating as a functional city with its medieval architecture.
Above Right: Roman City of Conimbriga in Roman Provence of Gallaecia near Coimbra, Portugal. There is only now a sense of discovery that this was a large city of about 10,000 people during the days of the Roman Empire.
Viseu is the largest city in the Dao wine demarcation. The city square has a local life, from about a hundred years ago, depicted on tiles which are on a street ramp wall.
Mosteiro de Sao Cristovão de Lafoes
The Cistercian Monastery is a 12th Century Tuscan Style Cloister that was purchased by Portuguese Couple and converted into a Bed and Breakfast Inn. Modern accoutrements were added but the original theme of simple life is still maintained. The Church on the property still serves the community.
We set up a guided tour months ago while still in the USA. The Wine Tour Escort is coming in on her day off, just for us. We called, but could only leave a message. We could not find the Winery or Sales Office. We stopped at the fire department and asked for directions. The Fireman stepped outside to point to a white house. So we were looking for a white house. First of all, everything is white. Second of all we don't see a house, we see what looks like a series of townhomes next to the street, we did not see anything that looked like a traditional wine shop or winery.
We missed it again. It turns out that what we were looking for was the mansion home of the Contessa of Santar whose family has been in the Village of Santar since 1790 (this is not her proper title but she is a Contessa of Portuguese Royalty and the title goes back to the 1700's Duke who was a merchant in South Africa). Like most gated and walled properties, no one takes care of the outside. There was no indication, to us, to make us think that all of these seemingly side by side looking structures were one house. We came back and only by coincidence (or divine intervention) we parked in front of the main gate to the property. The guide came out to greet us and we apologized to no end; she too was feeling abandoned, it was her day off, we were one hour late.
Above Left: Katiya is inside the gate, greeting Terry. Katiya is in charge of wine sales. She is also a personal assistant to the Contessa (Countess - Now in her 80's). We are entering through an old archway of carved stone with an old family shield (as in Nobility). We don't know any of this yet.
Above Right: We explain our lateness and apologize while stepping through the gate. Inside the gate, this is what we see. Katiya explains the environment and situation to us. She was about to leave and she never got the message that we left for her. She states that all the problems are behind us now and we are to enjoy the tour. We sure did.
Our guided tour includes the house but not any personal areas. We got to see the family Chapel with relics of Saints, an old gilt laden carriage, and a personal sedan (to be hand carried by footmen), horse tack from different time periods, a well worn side saddle, and a large kitchen area that contains a natural spring fountain that has been used to supply the town with water when there was a need.
Above Left: This is the back of the house. There is a five hectare garden (ten acres) with a swimming pool and a fish pond, fruit trees, vegitables, flowers, hedges, grape vines, and a view of the valley. This view of the house (casa) is the same as on the wine bottles - See adjacent image.
Above Right: A wall plaque in the wine store reads Casa de Santar, One Family, One Passion. Note the design of the house, that is an exact replication!
Above Left: Statues in the garden.
Above Right: Fountain with Coy.
Above Left: In the foreground (down a chute in the pictures shadow) is the grape de-stemmer and behind the camera are the initial climate controlled stainless steel holding vats. In another week they will be too busy to let tourists run around the property, our seasonal timing is perfect. The buildings in the picture are climate controlled cask and barrel storage rooms (caves) used for aging.
Above Right: French Oak Barrel aging and storage.
Along the way, we have learned that the family estate's winery process and services are provided to the entire Santar community - House of Santar is the community winery, selling some of it's own brand, some brands of other local vineyards, as well as pooling the grapes for one large community winery. They meet the demands of the Domain of Control and sell under different labels. Our Dao red wine of the Casa de Santar, that we bought and brought home, was the best wine that we have ever tasted, period. They also make a sparkling wine and we are waiting for New Year's to try it.
Above Left: This is the store for the wines of Casa de Santar. It is no bigger than what is pictured. Terry is pointing to a sign that we did not see, the sign can only be read coming from the opposite direction. Katiya is opening the store, just for us, it is otherwise closed on Mondays.
Above Right: A few of the products of Casa de Santar.
Day 1: Porto Train to Pinhão,
Then pedal a loop through Sabrosa back to Pinhão.
We stayed in Porto for the night, turned in our rental car, uncased the bikes and put them together for an early morning departure - no time to be tourists in Porto.
Above Left: Porto Train Station. Just one stop to Pinhão.
Above Right: We've gone through three stops already.
Above Left: Ahh, just one stop before we were supposed to change trains.
Above Right: Now we're on the correct train and it has a cargo hold / bicycle bay.
Above Left: Welcome to Pinhão.
Above Right: Our Hotel, Vintage House.
Above Left: Checked in and ready to pedal. Bummer of a view (Rio Douro).
Above Right: Just out of town and pedaling up hill. This operation has a large investment in terracing (Rio Douro). The grapes have already been picked.
Above Left: We quickly learn that double rows of grapes, like pictured here, use machines for picking grapes (Rio Douro). This vineyard has been picked.
Above Right: Now we're seeing grapes on vines. Terry see's a perfect vision for a photograph and she has Dennis stop and hold the bike. Terry goes back about 30 meters and takes this picture. What an eye!.
Above Left: We're still pedaling uphill.
We soon discover that the grapes are first ready at the river level and the grapes begin ripen from the river first and then slowly towards the top of the hill. The grapes do no all ripen all at one on one hillside. This gives the owners a way to methodically spread the grape picking effort over a longer period of time. By the way, when it's time to pick grapes, everyone helps, especially families of owners. Sometimes kids run shops while the parents are working on the hill side(s).
Above Right: A close up of a bucket of picked grapes. If anymore are stacked, then the bottom grapes begin to split open. The smell of grape juice is everywhere and it is pleasant.
Above Left: We are pedaling uphill and gaining altitude. We no longer see the Douro. This is a cross valley picture. The hills are covered with grape fields.
Above Right: We are about to cross our first hill crest. We discover that the Domain of Control changes from the Douro Demarcation to the Alto Douro Demarcation. We learn later that there is some similarity between The French 'Haut' Zones and the Portuguese 'Alto' Zones. It is a lot cooler up here. We've been cycling uphill with our backs to the sun. The shade of the trees is feels refreshing.
What is the temperature you ask? About 35°C or 95°F. Yeah, it's a little warm but humidity is not high. The famous Douro Terio (French Terroir) exists because of the hot dry climate.
Above Left: Alto Douro Grapes sit on the vine longer and get sweeter (higher sugar to 'must' ratio produces more alcohol - better quality). It is mid September and there is some fall coloring.
Above Right: Olives. Now we're seeing grape fields bordered by olive trees.
Above Left: Stone steps created in old stone terrace walls.
Above Right: Hills of Portugal, what joy, we're having fun and staying cool!
Above Left: A small village's community Wash House is being used.
Above Right: We are finally seeing Bronca (White) Grapes. Until now, all grapes were red.
Above Left: Ancient Roman stone carved gas pump sign (wink).
Above Right: Another village's Wash House. Clean Spring Water comes out a spigot (at the far right back), then there is a little tub for more clean water (for horses or such), then that water runs into the big pool (used for washing). This concept dates back to Roman Empire times.
Above Left: We're in the town of Sabrosa. We're getting all kinds of strange looks and some cheers for being travelers on a tandem bicycle. This is a placard commemorating the childhood home of Ferdinand Magellan. It is across the street from the town square and church. It is an occupied residence.
Above Right: Actual childhood home of Ferdinand Magellan. Cool Huh? Ferdinand's ship was the first ship ever to circumnavigate the world. Ain't that awesome? Before this time, ships would fall off the end of the world. Arh arh. Magellan did not make it with the crew; he was killed in the Philippines.
Not to be outdone, England's Captain Cook was killed by Hawaiians. What is it about these Pacific Islanders? [We have Portuguese, Hawaiians, and Filipinos in our families - We're yanking their chain! They're fun people.]
Above: This is an operating Catholic School. The school clearly separates the Boys from the Girls.
Above Left: We're at Quinta do Portal. It is almost closing time; we get a tour and buy some Tawny Port!
Above Right: Red grapes, unloaded at the dock, waiting for step one, de-stemming.
Above Left: The original foot stomping grape vat (relocated for show room display). If we understand correctly, they still ceremoniously stomp one vat of grapes for special production. The special production product never makes it to the market - too much private demand for old fashioned reserve wine/port.
Above Right: The town of Pinhão and the Rio Douro. Due to good planning on the person who set up this Self Guided Tour for us, Catherine Deffense [of Cycling through the Centuries], Home is a downhill run! Good planning for after tossing back a few glasses of Port!
Oh, in case the reader missed it, this is our first ever recommendation for a bicycle travel tour - It does not have to be our Douro Valley tour, it can be any tour by this company, Self Guided or Guided.
Above Left: Back to our Hotel, Vintage House. Notice the DaVinci Bicycle parked in the 'Place of Honor' - Arh arh, Dennis parked it there so they could put it in the protected service area.
Above Right: The view from our room's window. Tomorrow we cross that bridge and climb up to Pesqueira.
Day 2, Pinhão to São João da Pesquiera
Above Left: Breakfast at the Vintage House.
Above Right: Back view of hotel and Pinhão, as we depart.
Above Left: The view while climbing. Pinhão is in the far distance and the last view of the Rio Douro.
Above Right: We take break in a small village.
Above Left: Purchasing some pre-cooked sausage at a market.
Above Right: Bought some fruit (Peaches), now we are directed to the bread shop.
Above Left: These grape laden trucks have been passing us all day. Other than these trucks, traffic is very light and we are a novelty to almost everyone. Finally, we get the idea and possession to take a picture of one of these Grape trucks as it passes.
Above Right: Mid-Afternoon: we arrive at our next destination, Hotel Pesquiera, for the night. We have the first spare time together since arriving almost ten nights ago. Dennis decides to get a bicyce 'Thump' noise checked out at a local bike shop. Terry checks the local markets for gifts and post coards.
Funny Story: First of all, it is nice that a Bicycle Shop is indicated in this town by our Self Guided Tour Map of the city. Dennis is going to rat himself out.
We assembled the bikes two nights ago, very late and we were exhausted. So Dennis goes to a Bicycle/Motorcycle Shop, the only one in town. They don't speak a word of English, Dennis knows fifty words of Portuguese. Dennis offers the Olá greeting and they look at Dennis like with expressions that indicate that 'This is going to be interesting'. These guys have never seen a tandem bicycle before, but it won't matter. Dennis makes a pedal motion with his hands. They get it. Dennis utters the word Thump, at the top of each right hand's cycle. They get it. The bike tech wanders to the bike and looks at the front crank. He makes one rotation and points the Pump (mounted on the frame). He points in and out at the pump. Dennis has a look of, you've got to be kidding on his face. Dennis removes the pump and takes the bike on a short test ride. No Noise. Dennis comes back with a sheepish face and says the word 'Euro' and makes the international finger rub motion that indicates Money Bills. The Shop Tech gives the international wave-off sign for 'Forget-About-It'. Dennis puts his hands together in Buddhist Prayer fashion, bows, and says Obrigato (Thank You). They respond Da Nada.
Meanwhile, Terry has to go to the Meat Market in order to buy Post Cards. Go Figure.
Above Left: Old Government Building.
Above Right: Art inside the Government Building.
Above Left: Local Church and Rossio.
Above Right: Sunset for our Dinner. Early to bed for both of us for a well earned extra long sleep. Breakfast is not served until 0800.
Experience: In Countries and B&B's where breakfast is typically served at 0800 or even 0900, we have learned to ask, the evening before, for a breakfast bag to go. Usually we get a sandwich or the materials to make a sandwich and some fruit.
Experience: Getting up early and bicycling in the cooler time of the day is smart cycling. This is especially true in Hot countries (like Portugal, Spain, or Italy - Countries that have Siestas for a reason, it's too Hot at the high sun hours to be working in the sun light).
Day 3, Pedal to Vila Nova de Foz Côa via N222 and many Interesting Villages
Today will be a day full of weathered Castles, crumbling Fortresses, old Monasteries and former Estaçãos (Establishments-Stations) beyond their time. Also, we get to see Almond Trees/Groves.
Above Left: Terry spots another gem of a picture. Red Douro Grapes with early turning leaves.
Above Right: Casa dos Leos.
Above Left: Our first good example of an Almond tree. Today we will see miles of Almond Groves and Olive trees and mixed Almond/Olive Groves.
Above Right: A distant village seen trough an Agabe plant. Not many grapes now.
Above Left: A bus stop. Stone is becoming a common building material here.
Above Right: Another bus shelter. It's bomb proof.
Above Left: We're near a pass. This old stone structure caught our attention.
Above Right: I know that it is sophomoric, but still. It is actually another agricultural zone of demarcation.
Above Left: We are traveling parallel to the Douro River about fifteen kilometers to the south. Here we will leave N222 temporarily and head toward the Douro. We pose for a picture and decide to take a snack/rest break. The weather is great; sun is out, temperature about 21°C.
Above Right: We're at the same spot, off the road. Terry has cooled down and is cold; she needs to stand in the sun. This is as cool as it ever gets.
Above Left: The terrain is like the American West. It looks like an American Cattle Ranch, but we have yet to see any cattle. In fact, we will never see any cattle in our entire stay, no pigs either. We will see some sheep, but so far we have not seen any sheep.
Above Right: We're at a tight turn in a three way intersection on hill side - It's dangerous for fast moving cars. The mirror helps drivers see other vehicles in the otherwise blind spots. For us, this makes for an interesting opportunity. See if you can see the 'Bee' (name of our bike). The greenish town crest (tile on a local water trough) on the left side of the mirror is the very next picture.
The Village of Custóias is on our left/west side, we are proceding to the right/east from this point. The terrain becomes such that the leeward side of the hills are arid and the windward side of the hills will support tree growth (olive & almond)
Above Left: We recognize Olives on the right side and Grapes in the middle. We try to intuit that the plant on the left is almond related, but it is more like Lavender. We never discover the answer. Anyone know? See the spigot?
Above Right: Here is a (fruit) tree grove with mixed Almond Trees and Olive Trees.
Above Left: We stopped to have Lunch. We notice, growing on the road side (Not in a fruit tree grove), that this tree is different. Then it looks familiar. Then we realize it's a fig tree. Then we notice it has ripe figs. we are guessing that the tree likely grew from a discarded fig seed or fruit.
Above Right: Another one of those old fortresses. on a hill top. We never see the Douro River, but I bet that it can be seen on that hill top. This is as far north as we go today, now we will slowly head back (south) towards N222 and eventually enter into a very fertile valley.
Above Left: We've travelled a few more kilometers and and a few more kilometers. The temperature is such that Dennis is warm and Terry is cold. The terrain has changed again. We're in a fertile valley with lots of grapes. It is just beautiful in its self. The village in the background is where we will have a Restaurante break.
Above Right: Restaurante Quinta. I don't know the name of the village but it's at the intersection of N222 and the road that heads north to the village of Numão. This was just another roadside stop, until Dennis went to the bathroom, but I'm getting ahead of myself. This is a first class Restaurante.
Above Left: We were both getting cool from an exercise slow down, so Dennis ordered a Café y Leite and Terry ordered a Chocolate Quente. Pictured here.
Above Right: A happy camper (Terry).
Above Left: The Men's Room has a built in handle. Wait, that's a Grape Vine. Wait, this is not joke; the grape vine is growing out of the ground and exiting out the wall, near the roof. Got to investigate.
Above Right: That's the same vine growing out the outside of the Restaurante. The proprietor was already waiting for me; he was thoroughly enjoying himself and watching my surprise as I was explaining all of this to Terry. More >>
White Grape Vine in far Left Image.
Red Grape Vine in Center Image.
Mixed Red and White Grapes and Vine in far Right Image.
The following is what we think that the proprietor is stating:
The vine that comes out of the Men's Room is a Branca (White) Grape Vine. There are already other Rosa (Red) Vines growing beside the parking lot. They use and allow the grape vines to grow through a latticed overhead cover in the parking lot as shade [see three image rows previous], also the lattice is visible in the above images. Somehow, the White Vine graphed itself onto a Red Vine (or visa versa) and the result produced a grape bunch that has mixed Red and White grapes.
Fact: Dark Red, Black, and Blue Grapes are all considered to be in the Red Grape Family (for viticulture purposes).
Above Left: We are back on N222 heading east. We are probably viewing the ancient road that N222 replaced. Grape vines and some olive trees in the background.
Above Right: Sometimes a scene just says 'Take my Picture'.
Above Left: We enjoy another downhill run to our place of stay. Dennis had to stop to give his brake hands a break, arh arh. Not to worry, we ride right back up, first thing the next day!
Above Right: This is our place of stay, an Agriturismo called Quinta Chão d'Ordem. The owners are many generations of family that go back to Knights Templar or Knights of Christ. This establishment used to be a way station for traveling Knights. There are ancient documents posted on the wall.
For the record, Dennis has showered and is wearing the next day's clothes for dinner tonight. Dennis is about to relocate the bike for weather protection.
Above Left: This is an older aerial photograph of the Quinta Chão d'Ordem, displayed in the great room (along with other significant family heirlooms and artifacts of old).
Above Right: Terry is joined by o gato in a brief break beside the dorm and pool.
Day 4, Round Trip through Marça, Mós, and Pocinho
Above Left: These sheep are from Q Chão d'Ordem, they are the only sheep and domestic animals that we see for our entire 16 Day stay in Portugal. We never see any cattle.
Above Right: Well, we just climbed straight up about 5K. At the 'Y' intersection at the top of the hill we either turn left (west) for Pesqueira (where we came from yesterday), or we turn right (north) for Marça, Mós, and Pocinho. This sign is pretty much our itinerary today.
Above Left: A great harvest is occurring. Grape bunches go from the vine go into buckets. The buckets are the size that one person can carry or maneuver. The buckets are collected by little ATV's (boys with toys) or men with tractors. Then the buckets are either dumped into a vat on the back of a small truck, or middle size boxes are used for interim transportation. It takes a couple of men to load the boxes (or one Buba). We did see a couple of Bubas; they were always friendly and waved.
Above Right: Collection point with mixed sized grape containers.
Above Left: A Tractor takes a load of grapes to the community processing center..
Above Right: Our Good Turn for the day. See the spilled buckets at the end of the road. It is obvious that they fell off a truck on the curve. We collected them and set them at the road side. Da nada.
Oh yeah, that's Marça in the back ground.
Above: Stoneworks, grapes, olives, and almonds.
Above: The Santuario (Sanctuary) of Miradouro (it actually has its own name). there is a small church, a memorial area, picnic tables, parking, and some tribute monuments to the working men of the area (stone works and agriculture pieces). It is very social and harmonious in its presetation.
Above Left: Uphill Miradouro. Notice the festive overhead street light decorations and o cão (the dog).
Above Right: Downhill Miradouro.
Above Left: Hillside terracing.
Above Right: Marça.
Above Left: Old Pigeon House. This is not the best example of a Pigeon House, but these facilities were used much the same way a chicken coop would be used. When a person wants dinner, close the door, go to a nest, and select a meal. We stopped near here for lunch.
Above Right: A harvest worker is delivering grape buckets to a hillside that is too narrow for a vehicle. We are entering Mós. The village has speakers playing a kind of Portuguese Hip Hop.
Above Left: The back view to Mós. This is the only place in Portugal where we walked the bike up hill. If it were early in the day or cooler we could probably have pedaled all the way. We're having another 35°C day (in the 90's F).
Above Right: We cleared the hill top and we're ready for a snack break.
Above Left: We're entering the village of Santo Amaro.
Above Right: A pastoral tile picture on the side of a casa in Santo Amaro.
Above Left: The town of Vila Nova de Foz Côa is visible across the valley on the far ridge line to the right side. We are going to coast down this near hill road and follow the valley north (to our left) to the town of Pocinho which is on the Douro River. Then well will ride uphill along that far ridge line road to Foz Côa, then pedal downhill back to Quinta Chão d'Ordem. We will perform this act in two hours.
Above Right: We were 'Riding through the Centuries', what they call Olive Trees that are over 100 years old. Pretty neat, huh?
Above Left: Road intersection, creek, and railroad bridge. To the right is Pocinho.
Above Right: The Estação Ferroviária (Railroad Station) of Pocinho.
Above Left: The long climb up to Foz Côa. It actually only took one hour for the climb.
Above Right: In case the reader ever wondered, this is where municipal street signs go to die (just entering Foz Côa).
Cool Incident: Within Foz Côa, while pedaling downtown on a cobblestone road; we passed by a school yard of pre-schoolers. Dennis was negotiating the cobbles so Terry saw this incident all the way through. Terry looked out and saw a Teacher pointing toward us. Some kids turned to look. Terry waved and said Olá loudly and those kids simultaneously yelled Olá and started running to the fence, waving. Then, all of the other kids in the school yard (maybe 60 in total) turned to join in. Very quickly, all the kids were hanging over a short stone wall or standing at a chain-link fence yelling Olá, Olá, Olá. We waved back and they cheered. It must have been quite a sight to see two Americano's (anyone) on a Tandem Bicycle pedaling through the town.
Day 5, Quinta Chão d'Ordem to
Pinhão by way of Parque Arqueológico
(Ancient Rock Art in Inferno Canyon)
Above Left: The back view of Quinta Chão d'Ordem as we leave for the last time. We had a wonderful stay there.
Above Right: We bought this bottle of Bronca Port from the Proprietors, just before we departed. The stone label goes with the theme of the ancient rock art in this area. The port is great.
Above Left: We're headed to Foz Côa where the Park Headquarters is located for the area's Rock Art locations.
Above Right: This is the Park Headquarters. Terry is in the foreground putting on sunscreen.
We will catch a ride in a 4x4 vehicle with an English speaking guide. There are four or five rock art sites. The Rock Art access is protected and available only through reservation or appointment. Our Self Guided tour hostess set this up for us. We will be attended by four Germans (most who speak English), and one Belgian (who speaks English and was originally going to be here on bicycle, but the booking process got messed up for him).
Above Left: The Park's Emblem on the side of our 4x4. This emblem comes from a very light etching made about 4,000 BC. The etching is about the size of a jar lid and very subtle. It was the subtleness of the art that took so long to be recognized. Anyone can see and recognize art carved by a hammerstone and bone (or antler).
Above Right: Descent into Inferno (Hell) Valley. All of the jackets and sweaters came off in about 10 more meters.
Above: What we saw. Some of these will not show up in the 400 pixel web photograph.
Above Left: Bulls.
Above Right: Horses.
Above Left: We were on a tight timeline. The Rock Art Tour ended at about 1100 Hours and we were supposed to catch our train back to Pinhão at the Pocinho Rail Station at 1220 Hours. We weren't in a hurry but we did not stop for photos. We made it in 35 minutes. Also, since Pocinho was the start/end of the line, the train pulled in at 1200 hrs and waited until 1220 to pull out, we were able to load the bike at a leisurely pace.
Above Right: Beautiful Blue (Azure) Tile Art Work about Grape Collection on the wall of Pocinho Station.
Above Left: The bike is secure in the cargo hold.
Above Right: Terry is relaxed and waiting for Dennis to sit down.
Above Left: The Douro River, valley, and passing tourist boat.
Above Right: A typical Railroad Depot and a One Minute Stop.
Above Left: A river tributary and bridge crossing.
Above Right: A Port-Wine River Barge converted to a river ferry boat. We were supposed to ride one of these Barges downstream, back to Porto. It would have been relaxed and romantic but it takes seven hours and does not leave Pinhão until 0900 (it puts one into Porto at Rush Hour and one still has to get from the boat to their place of stay). At the last minute, we decided to return to Porto on a train with a three hour total ride time.
Above: Two azure tile images of Port-Wine River Barges (on the walls of the Pinhão Rail Station).
Day 6, Ride Train from Pinhão to Porto
Above: Our last look at the Pinhão Train Station.
Above Left: A passenger and her cat.
Above Right: A typical river view for quite a while. As we neared Porto, we left the company of the Douro River.
Above Left: What was formerly the beginning of the Merchant's Street in Porto. We performed a little walk because the last time we were here it was dusk or night. This time it is Sunday and everything of nearby interest is closed.
Above Right: Sophisticated Tiles on another former Merchant's House.
Above Left: The Crest of Santa Casa (we believe to be a former Merchant Home but now to be a Clinic or Hospice).
Above Right: Another Porto downtown street scene (in the old city).
Above Left: Our taxi, one of two taxis needed to leave for the Airport (in a timely manner). This was a RIP-OFF. I'm not getting into it, but ... (see the adjacent Lesson).
Lesson: When one has four bags of luggage, and one has the hotel pre-arrange a Taxi pickup time, REMEMBER to request a Taxi large enough to carry four bags and two people.
Above Right: We are safely at home. We are going to a casual neighborhood get-together. The flowers are from our yard and the wines are hand carried from Portugal; Douro White Tawny Port (Quinta do Portal) and Dao Red (Casa de Santar), Yum!
A Perfect Ending to a nearly perfect Bicycle Travel Adventure!