Holiday on the Douro River in northern Portugal

Portugal Trip : Day 3

Day 3, 15 August: Awoke at Quinta de la Rosa, a port wine estate in Pinh’ on the Douro River in northern Portugal. The night before, we’d arrived late and found no one from the estate to let us in. Two older Dutch couples pulled in in their rental car and told us not to worry; just pick a room and occupy it. The keys were hanging in the door. We slept well.

In the morning we walked in the hills above the estate. There’s the river below, kind of sluggish from the dams; vineyards terracing up the slopes; and the rough outlines of the ridges above. A very pretty scene. It was warm and we were sweating, and the sun all full on your face.

Back at the estate, we admired the porch, roofed over with grapevines, from which the lusty purple fruit dangled. We toured the wine-making facilities with the Dutch couples and Filomena, our cheerful guide. At the end we bought a tawny and a ruby. Port is the main thing they make at Quinta de la Rosa. I was surprised to learn that, after all the careful work they do to prepare the port, much still depends on the quality of the brandy they mix in, and Quinta has nothing to do with brandy.

I swam for an hour in the pool. A lizard had fallen in, so I helped him out.

Walking near dusk in Pinh’ Cathy and I watched the swallows darting into their mud nests under balconies and eaves. Rows and rows of mud nests under the balconies and eaves, and the swallows darting in and out of them. Semi-stray dogs on the streets below, and the townspeople, and the train station with its azulejos (glazed tiles).

Back home, in the common room, we plopped in a videotape of Jane Eyre, the one with Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester. The windows were open; there was the black night and Mars; the river below, down the steep hillside; the TV before us; we were alone. We were alone watching the story of the sturdy young British governess. I was sipping a glass from our complimentary bottle of ros’I said to Cathy, “We’re watching Jane Eyre in Portugal.”

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