North Portugal and Galicia tips?: 2007
I am planning to include the Douro Valley and Porto and Santiago de Compostela in the next edition of my Spain and Portugal guidebooks. Are these the highlights of the northwest corner of Iberia? Do you have any favorites in this region which others may enjoy that I can check out on my upcoming research trip? Thanks for any help — Rick
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Driving to the heart of the Douro
If travelers are driving between the heart of the Douro Valley and Lisbon, they may want to consider the more direct route (At least one way) that goes near Coimbra and Viseu, avoiding the "dogleg" near Porto. It's mostly toll highway now. We found that the "Tourista Real" signs along the main roads in the Douro Valley were great opportunities for views and photos. The Cacho d'Oiro restaurant in Peso de Regua on the main drag just west of where most tourists hang out is a good value. North side of the street with a cluster of grapes featured on the hangin sign. Best red house wine I tasted in 8 days of restaurants. Consider the lamb. Nuno Fonseca was our waiter.
Talent, OR USA Mon 10/15/2007
You must mention the pousadas..There are wonderful special deals...Passport for 4 nights,,2 nights with 2 nights at Pestana Palace with or without car. Senior discounts etc, etc. wonderful accomdations, great places and staff. An outstanding bargin whichever way you choose to experience. We are going in Nov. and looking forward to the trip very much. 2nd time..
Mary Ann May
Calgary, AB Canada Sun 08/26/2007
Sintra + Lisbon Tips
If you plan to visit Sintra I recommend to stay in Pensao Residencial Sintra. Check their website at www.residencialsintra.blogspot.com. Absolutely wonderful place, good breakfast, nice staff, beautiful garden/park and swimming pool, close to the historic center of Sintra. Ask for a renovated room. A little hard to find as so few people in Sintra know about this place. Ask staff for directions. While in Lisbon do not miss Sao Vicente de Fora Monastery (Cale S. Vicente on top of the Alfama not far from Castelo S. Jorge). Very quiet place with a grand view from the roof.
Houston, Texas USA Tue 08/07/2007
The Duoro valley is incredibly beautiful and the vineyards are lovely--much more intimate than the port houses in Gaia. It does require a car to see the quintas as they are far away from each other. They also offer great table wines and olive oils. Quinta de Tedo is a favorite
West Orange , NJ USA Tue 06/19/2007
Port lodges in Vila Nova da Gaia
Avoid going to visit a Port lodge in Vila Nova da Gaia in Portugal, between 12 pm and 2 pm for a tour, because they close for lunch. Tours are not possible during this time. Tasting on the other hand can be done most of the day. Some are closed all day on weekends.
Some lodges that were closed for remodeling include Sandeman, and the Cálem which shut down for the day I was there because the lights went out. I was lucky to be able to visit the Croft and the Ferreira lodges for tasting.
It's best to get an early start, about 10 AM in Vila Nova da Gaia. It may take a whole day to spend there. Then have a late lunch at the Cais de Ribeira in Porto.
Frisco, TX USA Sat 03/03/2007
North of Spain and of Portugal
Surely the writer who said Coruna "might be a bit much for the novice traveler"was talking tongue-in-cheek. We cannot disagree more about Coruna. We found it a place of fantastic views, excellent transit and the food at local bars was great. It should not be missed. Our Portugal experience, outside of Lisbon, was at Viana do Castelo. While this is certainly "of the beaten track", thre is no shortage of warmth or welcome.
Paul n Sara
USA Sat 01/27/2007
North Portugal and Galicia
Just got back from a short solo trip to Porto, Santiago, and A Coruna - while I'd highly recommend Santiago, I felt like the other two cities were more or less "things to do while you are in the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, since you can't spend all your time in SdeC." Don't get me wrong - I was very happy to be able to visit them, but A Coruna and Porto, though easy to travel to via train or plane, feel very much off-the-beaten path and might be a bit much for the novice traveler. English is not readily known - I encountered this more than in any other place in Spain - so knowing the basics is a must and can even get you by in Portugal. Porto, especially - it's easy to get to as ryanair flies to it, and the airport and subway are brand spanking new, but it definitely was a bit more challenging and I saw few tourists there. I like trying to fit in as a local, but there's no trying in Porto - tourists, at least in December, seemed to be a novelty. Who know what will happen in the future, what with ryanair flying to porto and easyjet to A Coruna.
Getting around was difficult without a car. Hostal Costa Vella - which was a dream in Santiago - gives out "info packets on Galicia" which have info on car rentals and which cities nearby to make sure not to miss. I'd suggest checking with them.
Any difficulties aside, Galicia is my favorite part of Spain, and I would definitely recommend it - glad that Rick Steves is going to expand these chapters.
Denver, CO USA Sun 01/21/2007
Galicia's innerland - river Sil Canyon
Indeed, I agree that Galicia is not only SdC. What about the river Sil Canyon? Ideal for walking holiday. The landscape around the river's gorge is phantastic. There are many possibilities of doing so called adventure sports or visiting cultural sites since you are in the heart of the Ribeira Sacra area (something like holy riverside, so called because of its numerous romanesque monastries). For accommodation and more tips about the area I can recommend http://www.acasadaeira.com/ingles/. Hope you will like it.
Hamburg, Hambur Germany Tue 01/16/2007