Saturday, May 25, 2013

Douro River Valley Tour 2: A rainy and misty ‘Douro viewing point’ stop

As we drove into the mouth of the Douro River Valley in Mesao Frio in the district of Vila Real, rain started to pour. It poured like mad, really hard, we could hardly see anything along the roads. Then as we climbed the mountain roads, the scenery before us changed into complete whiteness. Mist suspended in the air, everywhere, and temperatures have dropped to 2 degrees centigrade less. Well, our hearts sank as well.

Why of all days, today Sunday when we are visiting the area the heavens decided to cry and let out a breath of fog? SIGH, we cannot have all the luck in the world.

Rain, rain go away, come again another day

Maria our tour guide from Living Tours on the wheel. She has a very clear and excellent diction so we did not have any problems with understanding what she is saying. In Europe many tour guides speak English with HORRIBLE (yes capitalised) accent. It is almost impossible to understand them.

What we are seeing from the window of our mini bus.

It was rain and mist that met us in the Douro River Valley, interchanging, depending on the minute and how high up we are in the mountain.

Then Maria stopped at a curve point of a mountain which I believe is quite high up in the Douro and she told us, in her sad wishing-it-could-have-been-better voice, that this is one of the best viewing points of the Douro River Valley. Everyone was quick to look out the window but we are not seeing anything except the rain splashing against the glass windows. So we rolled them down and voila, we just saw more rain, and grey skies, and mist. But wait, we could see the silhouette of the valley and the form of the river... but yeah, just the greyish silhouette and nothing more. *heavy heart*

She told us that yesterday it was sunny and 20C in the river valley. We just have no luck today and the only hope we can hang on to is that the rain stops. Please, please, please stop!

This is what we saw. Sigh. Not really a pretty picture of the Douro River Valley so we decided to move on hoping to catch later another pretty view when the rain stops.

I managed to take another picture as we drove slowly down the river valley, this with the vineyard terraces.

After driving a few more minutes on the river valley the rain began to slow down a bit. Then it stopped. Hallelujah! Maria quickly looked for a place to pull over and found one that has nice views along the river. Now we can finally enjoy a little bit of this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage of Portugal. Everyone was excited to go out of the mini bus to take pictures!

I would definitely love to come back here during a much opportune time (read: better weather), and perhaps stay at one of the quintas (a vineyard estate offering accommodation) for a night or two.

So here are my pictures ladies and gentlemen, they are not the best because of the weather, but firstly, let me ask you this -- Can you imagine how stunning this place would have been when the sun shines?

Douro views...

So in a nutshell this is how the Douro River Valley looks like. The deeper you get into the river valley the more stunning the vineyard terraces are. That on the premise of course when the weather is nice.

The Douro by the way is shared by 2 districts, Vila Real and Viseu, and the main cities here are Lamego (Viseu) and Peso de Regua (Vila Real) which I will be sharing more about later.

This is the Douro River Valley during beautiful weather:

The breath taking picture above is from and click this link to see more lovely images from Google on a much better day 

The Douro reminds me of 2 other places in Europe that I have been to. Both have vineyard terraces dotting the mountain valleys along a body of water as well.

1) Mosel River in the Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. See here: Bernkastel-Kues and Muden (visits during the summer of 2006)
2) Lavaux Vineyards along Lake Geneva in Switzerland (visit during the spring of 2010)

Next stop on our Douro River Valley Tour: Wine tasting with cheese and dried meats. Hmm, yummy.

Previous entry:

Douro River Valley Tour 1: Amarante village, Vinho Verde (green wine) and some Travel Agency rant

Travel Period: March 2013
Destination: Mesao Frio (Vila Real - Douro), Portugal

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