Sailing along the Douro river

August 8, 2013

Third day in Portugal. En route for a one day cruise on the Douro river, 980 km long, springing in Spain and marking the boundary between the two countries for about 100 km. Needless to say we did not go to the Spanish border in one day but the short trip up-river was a fascinating and most pleasant one.The light morning fog had lifted  and  the day was  brilliant and hot.

Douro 1

We are sailing at a slow pace between  low hills covered with thick forests or well-kept vineyards. Here and there we pass in front of isolated houses, some look abandonned, others may be holiday houses.Douro, 31

A few bridges  cross the landscape : here an old stone railway bridge and above it  a more modern one for the busy traffic along the Douro Valley. Most villages and towns are built in the hinterland. We passed through them as we travelled back to Porto by train in the late afternoon : white villages surrounded by orchards, large vegetables gardens, some vineyards and all kind of flowers, of course.

Douro, bridges

A flash of golden brightness in the woods. Would those luminous plants be brooms ?

Douro, genets

I was curious about the small white house on the left. A waiter on board told me it was a railway station. Little did I know I would stop there on the way back to Porto later on. A neat and quiet place between forests and rows of  terraced vineyards.Douro, station

Another village  at the edge of the water slowly waking in the morning sun. There were hardly any sounds we could hear from the boat : just a dog  barking, a few kids running and laughing, a peaceful setting. I imagine the hills getting fully alive during wine harvest. It reminded me of my own area in Switzerland, apart from the mountains.

Douro, village

The Douro river was once as a succession of rapids and the river had to be moved up countercurrent. Five dams were built  to make it safe and navigable. The Douro was the river route for the Rabelos barges which transported barrels of wine from the valley to the wine logdes of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.Douro, lock

We are just passing through one of the several  locks. Impressive high walls and heavy doors !Douro, lock 2

More terraced vineyards nested in the forest. A lovely red-roofed house,  maybe a “Quintas” ? one of those farms  and residences of the wine producers where the best wines can be tasted.

Douro,  2

We stopped in Peso da Régua, this is where our small cruise ended. Before our train took us back to Porto, tiime was sufficient to visit the small town which lives for and from wine. In the XVIII century it already was the point of departure for the Rabelos (barges).   Beautiful painted azulejos (tiles) depicted different scenes of the life and  work  in the vineyards.Douro, azulejosHere is a detail of one of the azulejos : the loading of the barrels onto the Rabelos as they went on their journey to Porto.  I liked this tribute to the many men and women who are working hard on the terraced vineyards along the Douro. Their way of working has changed of course, but the passion for their culture and wine making remains the same.

Douro, Regua, azulejos

Back in Porto station early evening, the eyes full of colours : the blue sky and river, the yellow bushes, the green vineyards and forests, the red tiled roofs of the white houses. Truly a magnificent day. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Porto, station 2

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14 Responses to “Sailing along the Douro river”

  1. Lovely photos, Isa! I felt like I could’ve actually been there. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Very nice photos. The scenery is so interesting and very pretty. Seems like you had a marvelous trip with good memories each time you view your photographs. Well done, Isa

    • Very glad you enjoyed this trip, dear Yvonne. When I travel I like to write a small journal of the people, visits, feelings, special places, etc. Then my pictures really “speak” to me when I look at them. My memory, alas, is not that accurate any longer 😦 Thank you for your visit.

  3. Your pictures of the river remind me of the Portuguese class I took in New York in the summer of 1965. I can still remember the teacher telling us that the three main rivers of Portugal are o Douro, o Tejo, e a Guadiana. The next summer I got to see the Tejo near Lisbon, but I don’t remember if I ever saw a part of the Douro. I’m glad you had the chance.

    • Bom dia, Steve and obrigado for stopping by. I really enjoyed this short cruise on the lower part of the Douro. After having tasted different wines in Oporto, it was really nice to know more about the culture and the area where they are produced.

  4. shoreacres said

    As always, your narrative adds so much to the photos. I enjoyed seeing the lock, particularly. Going to watch vessels “lock through” was part of my early life nearer the upper Mississippi, and I’ve been fascinated with locks since.

    I especially like the tiles. Wine-making isn’t the only art that’s survived and thrived. It appears the last set shown here was made in 1999 – that makes me happy, knowing that such things still are considered worthy of the time and money to produce them.

    Wasn’t it fun to just sit back, take photos and enjoy the trip? I certainly enjoyed taking the trip with you!

    • Hello and thank you Linda. I was almost sure the azulejos picture would be your favourite, I should have dedicated to you. In my mind and heart it was meant so. Life in Portugal is not easy at all these days (poor economical situation), even as a tourist one can still realize it. Their culture is all the more important and you feel it in the way they restore historical buildings, sites and maintain traditions of any kind.

      i am glad you enjoyed the trip.

  5. sybil said

    What a fabulous holiday !

  6. Sartenada said

    Bonjour Isa.

    J’ai fait de nombreuses croisières dans ma vie et cette croisière semble être si adorable. J’adore le paysage dans tes photos et je me sentais l’été chaud en admirant tes photos. J’ai toujours été intéressé dans les écluses et c’est parce que dans la ville de ma jeunesse, il y avait un canal avec écluses.

    Merci de nous avoir fait partager ces moments avec de si belles photos! Bisous.

    • Cher Matti, je suis très heureuse que notre petite croisière t’ait plu. C’était une belle découverte et je te la conseille vivement. Même jusqu’en Espagne, Salamanque, avec de ombreux arrêts en route durant toute une semaine. Merci pour tes mots chaleureux.

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