Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post your experiences of travel, especially for the Douro region. Make recommendations for places to stay and visit or ask advice from those that have already been there.
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Zelandakh
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Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by Zelandakh » 15:42 Fri 18 Feb 2011

Following the recommendations from members on here (especially DRT - huge thanks), we're off to Porto in a couple of months. Never been to Portugal at all, so any tips gratefully received.

We're heading straight from the airport to Quinta de Passadouro unfortunately arriving after dark so we'll miss the views, arriving on a Saturday. Planning to walk around the area most of Sunday, eating in the Quinta both nights. Monday lunchtime we're planning on taking the train to Pocinho then turn around and head back to Porto.

Should arrive late Monday afternoon. Staying for 3 nights at the Grande de Paris and flying back Thursday lunchtime.

Current thoughts:
Is there anything in Pocinho to visit?
Anything in Passadouro that we mustn't miss while we are there?
Recommendations for restaurants, tastings and tours in Porto itself? Have never been so unsure of the SP.

Any comments or thoughts welcomed.

Nick
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benread
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by benread » 19:49 Fri 18 Feb 2011

Nick,

Passadouro is a great location - I would love to return with my wife. The food is superb and the rooms very comfortable. They can also provide a good range of Passadouro ports and others on request. However, don't underestimate how far it is from Pinhao - about 10-15 minutes in a car. Not an issue as taxis are readily available and easily booked with a little planning. They also know exactly when all the trains are due to arrive, so you will find one at the station.

There is a great bar on the waterfront, if you want a cold beer - we had a fabulous few hours there, drinking cold lager and lazing in large liptons bean bag chairs, watching the boats come and go!

I forget the name of the station near Hotel de Calais, but it is in easy walking distance of the hotel, even with small bags. It is also a very impressive building.

Enjoy your trip.
Ben
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JacobH
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by JacobH » 22:09 Tue 01 Mar 2011

Zelandakh wrote:Recommendations for restaurants, tastings and tours in Porto itself? Have never been so unsure of the SP.
The restaurant at Taylor’s lodge is well worth all the hype and is, in my view, unmissable. But now there is the new Yeatman Hotel next door with all sorts of promised delights (and a bar full of Morgan Vintage Port), so it might be worth checking that out, too.

The other unmissable venue is Vinologia which is on the Porto (North) side of the Douro just next to the Factory House and is full of wonderful Port which you can buy by-the-glass from independent Quintas and other small producers or in little pre-set tasting packages. For something a bit different try their tasting of aged white Ports, or old tawnies; a fantastic place which I wish was in London!
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Zelandakh
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by Zelandakh » 13:09 Wed 02 Mar 2011

Hi Ben and Jacob,
Very many thanks for your top tips - I'm really excited about the trip and don't want to spend it in the wrong places so please keep your suggestions coming so that I can get plenty of culture (and of course plenty of port!).

Thanks all,
Nick
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AHB
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by AHB » 14:12 Wed 02 Mar 2011

When you are in Pinhao, do try and make time for a visit to Quinta do Seixo - but that is a taxi ride away. An impressive place, though. If you like long(ish) distance hill walking, walking and hiking around the vineyards around Passadouro will be challenging and breathtaking.

In Oporto, I would strongly recommend a visit to the Grahams Lodge in Oporto. The tour is a good one and the wine bar is excellent, with an opportunity to buy good port by the glass.

The Sandeman Lodge is also one that I like, although it is a different style and much more of a museum. And if you go to the Sandeman Lodge, pop next door to the Dalva Wine Bar and try some of the wines that they have on offer - but be warned that you might try some very, very good port and feel the urge to get some bottles of your own to bring home.
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JacobH
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by JacobH » 01:38 Thu 03 Mar 2011

Zelandakh wrote:Very many thanks for your top tips - I'm really excited about the trip and don't want to spend it in the wrong places so please keep your suggestions coming so that I can get plenty of culture (and of course plenty of port!).
If you want culture, then a ticket to a concert at the Casa da Música is a good investment.

If you’re not into classical music, then a tour of the Palácio da Bolsa is probably the best non-Port museum / historic sight in the city. There’s some spectacular (and spectacularly tacky) architecture and you can see the room where they swear in members of the Port Confraria as well as marvel at the number of British names on the boards listing the chairmen of the stock exchange. The Douro table-wine centre is also in the building, if you fancy a non-Port tasting, too.
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by ac-fast » 13:50 Tue 15 Mar 2011

Hello, I cant see when you are going to Porto. Maybe this post is to late ??

Anything to see in Pochino - :-) ho ho ho... NO Nothing. But Is a very lowly trip with the train. do it anyway. There is a small cafe, and you can choose between one kind of ice. And when the sevetrice is finnish chancing the daiper on hers son, maybe she will serve a cup of cofee.

Have a very nice trip :-)
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by mosesbotbol » 14:50 Tue 15 Mar 2011

The Rui Paula restaurant is pretty cool in Porto.
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Zelandakh
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by Zelandakh » 20:04 Mon 28 Mar 2011

Match report
With an immense amount of thanks to the people who have posted especially to DRT who has provided much information including offline...

My 40th birthday present from my GF took me to Porto last week. Two nights with Ronald and Jet in Passadouro. I recommend the 12km walk around the area although it was about 30 degrees much of the day and we were rather tired at the end. Ronald and Jet were perfect hosts, the food was excellent and the port and wine were commendable. I took a nice little Delaforce that we compared to the Passadouro vintage. Each morning was a taste of VP purely to see how they were changing once opened. Honest. The trip down in the train was delayed due to the strike but it gave us 2 hours in Pinhao which was unexpected, ideal time to chill (though it was 30 degrees there too) and get photos.

Having arrived in Regua as it went dark and continued to Pinhao in darkness, we took the train down to Porto in the daytime which was great (we didn't go to Pocinho due to pressure of time) staying at the suggested Grande de Paris. Recommend it to anyone - ideal location and at 40 quid a night, you can't complain. The breakfast was rather good too. Concierge recommended Abadia restaurant for dinner. Not recommended for the food, very poor. However the red wine was stunning - Herdade das Cervas Reserva 2003.

I should say that the trip was "to take Nick to Portugal because he loves port. I don't actually drink the stuff" she said...famous last words!

Tuesday morning we popped south of the river (we walk everywhere - taxis are for old people) and went to Taylors for the recommended tour / view of the river and then lunch. Fabulous and by this point my partner was enjoying the flavours of the ports - we had 2 white, an LBV and a 40 year old tawny. After lunch and a walk, we accidentally ended up in Grahams for another tasting. 3 ruby and 3 tawny were sampled. Evening was Chez Lapin (highly recommended) where the seafood was brilliant.

Wednesday morning we went to Cafe Majestic then the bus tour (recommended) then into the Croft lodge. Sunshine had made us thirsty...obviously. A pink port, a dry white and a few more - by this point, GF was swirling the port, looking at the colour, the legs, nosing the wine and generally being rather good at it all.

Another walk and we found Sandeman for the classic tasting (a white and a 3 YO tawny). We picked another 4 from the pay as you go samples and decided our favourite was the Sandeman 20YO tawny of all so far.

Dinner was back at Taylor's - there was a function in the main restaurant so we were in the main tastings bar, just us an one other table, 2 guys seemingly on a corporate dinner. The atmosphere wasn't missing, our service was perfect and the bottles of Evel were ideal. Dessert was purely an excuse for some more port though the cheese was great.

In summary, my first trip to Porto was absolutely great, I thank anyone who has offered advice, I'll be going back again and have some great memories.

We tasted in total about 35 different ports each, none of them were bad, many of them were good and Lorna's favourite was the Sandeman's 20YO tawny. My favourite was the one marked "Port" on the bottle :-)
Nick
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DRT
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by DRT » 20:19 Mon 28 Mar 2011

Nick,

I'm glad you and Lorna enjoyed your first visit to The Promised Land.

Your report sounds very much like my first visit to the region and I can assure you that things can only get better from here :wink:

Did you manage to get up river from Pinhao?

Derek
"The first duty of Port is to be red"

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Christian
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by Christian » 00:48 Tue 29 Mar 2011

Dear Nick,
I'm glad you enjoyed Porto.

Just reading the description of your days in Porto I got a very strong sensation of "saudade", this melancholic longing for something. I have travelled quite a lot - but no other town has fascinated me as much as Porto. There is something in me that forces me to go back to this place every year... For me Porto is the town that time forgot... The old buildings, the old streets...
And the of course the port wine... So much history... so much tradition... so much dedication. Just the mentioning of the places and the hotel reminded me that I really NEED to go back to Porto soon... (starting July 9th I will be in the Douro and Porto for 3 weeks - yeah...).
I'm happy for you that you were able to convert your significant other to port - that should help you to be able to build up a nice collection of port wine without having to defend every purchase... :)
Thanks for sharing your experience with us!
:) "I believe I am responsible for 4% of the port wine consumption in my country..." :)

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Zelandakh
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Re: Finally booked it - Porto trip is on

Post by Zelandakh » 21:12 Tue 29 Mar 2011

DRT - didn't go up from Pinhao to Pocinho, wanted to get to Porto.

Both - agree, Porto leaves a reminder in your heart. Will be going back especially now that my "I'm going with him but I don't drink port" girlfriend now likes port.

We came back with 3 bottles of Passadouro ruby, numerous small bottles from Graham's and Fonseca to do our own tastings, immediately bought a Sandeman 20YO tawny and are looking for further additions. Lorna doesn't much care for vintage as it is too spirity for her, she prefers the softer ones. Fine by me!!

Guests coming this weekend who like quantity...back to Asda for the Dow's midnight with change out of a fiver for a half litre bottle. Don't mind if I do...

Nick
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