Douro Valley Tour

While I was spending last week in Porto, CoolTour Oporto invited me to check out their famous Douro Valley Tour (#7 of 133 Tours in Porto, Certificate of Excellence on Tripadvisor). Many people visit Porto mainly with the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Douro valley region in mind, famous for its port wine production (they are the only region that is officially allowed to call their wine port wine, even though some Australians do not seem to have taken notice yet). A bit harsh on the beautiful seaside city of Porto, but once you’ve done this tour you’ll understand the enthusiasm.       An old friend from Germany, who was spending the week with me in Porto, and I were picked up at our hotel at 9:30am. The only other guests were a gentleman in his 50ies from Portland, Oregon, who owned shares in a vineyard and a restaurant that had just […]

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Goa Bicafe, Porto

On the day of my arrival in Porto (from Lisbon, by train) I was so tired, I struggled for two hours to fall asleep, then decided to go for a little walk, it was about 2am and I did not expect any bars to be open in the proximity to my hotel. But what do you know, I bumped into one of the most fun bars I had been to in years: “Goa Bicafe, cafe, snack, bilhares” in Rua de Fernandes Tomás (close to corner with Campo 24 de Agosto and 2 minutes walk from 24 de Agosto tube station). The owner, whose name I can’t seem to remember by the life of my mother, was serving behind the bar and a few regulars were finishing up their beers.    They were clearly set to close shop for the day, but the friendly owner started a lively conversation with me […]

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#1 Day Trip from Barcelona: Montserrat & Penedes

During our recent visit to Barcelona we did a day trip to Montserrat, 50km west of Barcelona, and the Penedes wine region, approximately 80km to the south west, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Our small group of ten travellers and one tour guide left Barcelona at eight thirty in the morning and arrived at Montserrat, the medieval monastery and eponymous mountain, pretty much straight inland from Barcelona, less than an hour later, even though our van was travelling only slowly. The “saw mountain” (that’s what Montserrat means in Catalan) looks beautiful with hundreds of little peaks, as if it was made from plasticine by some crazy giant who had forgotten to take his medicine. The mountain is 1,230m high (compared with 1,345m of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain). Santa Maria de Montserrat, a medieval Benedictine abbey, (the very vast majority of which was destroyed on various occasions over […]

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Dining in the Dordogne

Well, we didn’t only dine there, we did lots of other stuff, but the food was by any standard absolutely perfect, there can’t be anything better than this, full stop. We only went for a week in Easter 2013, pretty much exactly three years ago today. We hadn’t done any research and hadn’t known about all the great things that were waiting for us to explore, we had just had some airmiles to lose and it was one of the better deals available at the time. Both of us had been to France many times before and love the country, but somehow the Dordogne had managed to escape our attention. Even weirder, because it’s the main base of Brits in France and you encounter fellow countrymen and women everywhere. Sarlat-la-Canéda, the main town in the area and the place we stayed at, is absolutely beautiful, mainly built in Renaissance style. […]

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