Monday, May 27, 2013

Douro River Valley Tour 4a: The flood in Peso da Regua

The next stop in our Douro tour is Peso da Regua (also known as Regua), one of the key cities in the Douro River Valley. We will be having lunch here. Our tasting earlier in Lamego was a just a tease to awaken our senses. Good thing I did not stuff myself with all those presunto.

The cultivation and production of Port wine, as well as tourism have been the economic strength of this city in northern Portugal. But before I post an entry about our lunch, I’d like to highlight an awful event that happened in Peso da Regua when I was there.

The Flooding

The Peso da Regua river boulevard and the shops on it are under water.

In recent years, the government has managed to construct dams to control the water flowing downstream in the Douro River Valley. This project has also provided electricity to the area. However, Maria told us that the flooding still happens from time to time here. These pictures do not showcase the worse that had happened here so far. There have been catastrophic events before.

This is also the reason why many train services to the Douro were limited and all boat services and cruises along the Douro River were cancelled the week I was there. Touring the Douro River Valley by land was the only option, and best done with a group tour with a guide who knows the area.

I actually felt silly smiling at the camera with the calamity behind my back. But what to do? I felt pressured to smile at the camera because that is what we normally do. This is confusing.

We were quite caught off guard when we saw the boulevard and the shops and café restaurants under water. Wow, the waters are indeed very high! I actually felt lucky to be able to do this tour. Initially I was thinking of doing the Douro day cruise. Well, we now know that is impossible. I also thought of DIY, but quite glad I did not do this because train services were limited and going around with a rented car on a rainy and gloomy day alone is just depressing.

While we were inspecting the submerged boulevard and taking pictures, the Dutch mother of the family we were travelling with whispered to me, ‘Uh wat erg, wij zijn ramptoeristen.’ – which is quite difficult to translate 1-to-1 in English but its about tourists who only came to see disasters. Yeah, that was us somehow with the picture taking.

We kind of laughed it off, albeit despondently. Laugh because of our silly actions taking pictures (journalistic instincts?) but despondent because we felt bad about the situation and for the locals affected by this catastrophe.

The boat cruises were docked, cancelled.

3 Bridges in Peso da Regua and nearby dam

I totally forgot the names of the 3 bridges but these parallel engineering constructions (the 3 bridges are side by side) are what I would call the landmarks of the city. The 3 bridges all each have their distinct architectural style and design. One is a bit ancient looking, the other very modern and chic, and the other one is somewhat in between, designed in steel.

These 3 bridges are side by side each other and you can see the strong current flowing under it. 

And the dam as well that kept the water from flowing into the towns. Strong currents!

Next on the tour agenda: Our lunch!

Previous entries:

Douro River Valley Tour 3: Wine, Cheese and Presunto tasting in Lamego
Douro River Valley Tour 2: A rainy and misty 'Douro viewing point' stop
Douro River Valley Tour 1: Amarante village, Vinho Verde (green wine) and some Travel Agency rant

Travel Period: March 2013
Destination: Peso da Regua (Vila Real – Douro), Portugal

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