Encircled by terraced hillsides that produce some of the world’s best port – and some stellar table wines, too – pretty little Pinhão sits on a particularly lovely bend of the Rio Douro, about 25km upriver from Peso da Régua. Wineries and their competing signs dominate the scene. Even the delightful train station has azulejos (hand-painted tiles) depicting the grape harvest.
The town itself, cute though it is, holds little of interest but does make a fine base for exploring the many surrounding vineyards.
3.5 hours train journey from Porto, Sao Bento train station (09.20am) …. the first hour of the journey is through non-descript residential areas and bland countryside but after the town of Peso da Régua the railway starts to follow the river. We didn’t get seats on the riverside and the windows on the trains were not the cleanest, so Oscar was struggling to deliver any useable images.
The final section between Pinhão and Pocinho could be considered one of the most beautiful train lines in Europe, with stunning views of the Douro River and the terraced vineyards that climb the sides of the steep hills, we didn’t do the last part of the railway – we got off at Pinhão.
We arrive in Pinhão just before 1pm and it was already then a frying hot day, +30C and we check-in directly to our little cute hotel just opposite the railway station, Hotel Duro (https://www.hotel-douro.pt/) – run by two brothers. We were allocated room 12 … quite a few stairs before we reached it, a twin room with a lovely balcony with the most stunning view over the river and the vineyards hills. A true little gem – 1* accommodation with a 5* hospitality … the rooms are clean and basic … it has been awarded Tripadvisor’s “Certificate of Excellence” for about 6 years.
We had booked a 2 hour Rabelo boat cruise with MAGNÍFICO DOURO (https://magnificodouro.pt/en/) at 3pm …. so we made our way down to the quay that was just opposite the beautiful 5* The Vintage House Douro Hotel … and we decided to enjoy the hotels beautiful terrace and the shade under all the greenery – it was extremely hot, the staff told us said that it was +36C and no wind what so ever. We enjoy a great Club Sandwich … and a couple of P&T (port wine and tonic) during waiting to go aboard. We met a lovely Jewish couple from Florida that was on their way to Italy by car … that was guests at the hotel.
3pm was the departure time for the river cruise and at that time it was melting hot and to be cruising on the river didn’t help much. The boat was close to fully booked and we were all suffering … *smile
Stunning view over the hillsides and the terraces with grapes, olive, and orange trees, but it was hard to really enjoy it because of the heat. I had real problems to capture the greatness of the surrounding and even Oscar was out of focus.
See all the tarraces of vine stock during the train journey and the cruise … they never ended, so long as you can see on both sides of the river … you can wonder how much port wine is really made???? Wikipedia tells me that in 2013, there were 8.7 million cases of port sold, 3.6% less than the previous year, at a value of $499 million. There is suppose to be around over 200 Quintas (vineyards) in the Duoro Valley.
Imagine that all those grapes are handpicked in extremely hot weather. I don’t think all the money in the world I would be able to make me pick only one terraces levels.
After the cruise we had some uphill walking to do … and we weren’t really in the mood to go back to the hotel before dinner and have to do the climb again after dinner, but we were too early for the few restaurants on the riverfront to be open. The only place open was a combination of a craft shop, bar and tapas bar.
I don’t have a clue how the lady manages to provide us with such great food … the kitchen wasn’t bigger than a cleaning locker. I enjoyed a very tasty ink pasta dish with tuna. After the last P&T for the day were we ready for that climb up to the main street and our beds.
The heat had really taken the vigor out of us .. even if it was only after 8pm we were ready for a shower and our beds, so no nighly extravagance for us, even if there was a very inviting party cruise up for grab.
Next day was going to be without any climbing … a visit to the Quinta does Bomfim.
“Dear weather, stop showing off …
we know u’re HOT!!!”