Douro Valley 10/5/2015
Our hotel belongs to former royalty (the kingdom was dissolved in 1910) and owned by a a woman who would be a Contessa today. There are beautiful gardens surrounding the palace-like building. Our room was in a separate building and had a large bedroom and a living room. The rain was still showering as we headed out after breakfast to explore a shrine dedicated to “Our Lady of the Remedies.” Tom walked up half the steps praying for Anne’s speedy recovery. The rest of the group came down the 600 steps as Anne waited at the base, still hurting. (Ibuprofen really helped)
The afternoon was a real treat as we boarded a traditional river boat (once used to transport wine) for a tour of the Douro river. The river has been dammed and there are locks along the way for larger ships to navigate this river. We did not go through a lock, but in the 2 hour cruise we were treated to many views of the Douro valley where grapes are grown for the famous Port wine named for this region. After our trip on the river which included a scrumptious picnic lunch, we visited an olive oil museum where the tools of the ancient art of making this fine oil are on display. We of course, tasted the olive oils as well as wine (excellent!) from the same vintner.
Dinner that night was a gastronomical sensation at a very fancy restaurant with perfect wine pairings and fantastic desserts.