ende
ende
menu
ende

You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Porto & the Douro Valley: My love affair of a kind.

What do you write when you are in love? 🙂

It is what it is, is what the German poet Erich Fried already expressed in his magical poem about love. We are now talking about Porto and its adjoining Douro valley, home to the magnificent port wines of this world. I literally fell head over heels. The country, its people, the culinary delights, the beautiful landscape of the Douro valley. All of it has simply drawn me in, to a point where I cannot stop smiling. And this when I thought that my recent trip to the surf camp in Ericeira would already do the job of turning me into a happy poet / philosopher here in Portugal. But no. Be prepared to be surprised, is all I can say! Great wines, a wonderful international music festival, excellent cuisine, happy people sharing unique stories is what you will find here. Have a look with me.

 

It all started with my experience of Taste Porto Food Tours. André & his team are culinary storytellers with a mission: To express their love, and life passion, for a city going wild about food.

“Well well, here are two of a kind”, I can still hear my brother laugh when he reminds me of my first encounter with our culinary city guide André. If you, like me, love good food and inspiring news stories from local people around town, then you cannot help but run into André while in Porto. Together with my brother Julian, his girlfriend Christine and our friend Fanny, we have come to Porto to join Primavera Sound Music Festival for a few days. Right ahead of everything, I have registered us for a TASTE PORTO FOOD TOUR. The name says it all: On this tour, we taste our way through the city of Porto, including delicious flaky pastry, juicy sardines, fresh coffee, spicy cheese all the way to sweet Pastels de Nata & Eclairs, as well as excellent wine from all over Portugal. To die for. For the duration of this three and a half hour tour, André literally managed to unlock heaven on Earth for us!

Los geht's mit unserer Porto Food Tour: Zur Einstimmung erhalten wir diese kleine, aber raffinierte Übersicht inklusive Plan und Adressen für den kulinarischen Stadtbesuch.

Off we go on our Porto Food Tour: André hands us some entertaining information about the tour we are going to do, including a map, address and locations of the places we are about to visit.

André meint (laut eigener Beschreibung), nicht nur auf ihn sondern auch auf die uns umgebende Stadt "zu hören": Dies fällt jedoch schwer bei all den vielen, interessanten Geschichten die er erzählt, der Begeisterung die er versprüht.

It says in the information we get that we should not only listen to André speaking, but also to the sound of the city while walking around. This, however, becomes somewhat difficult given the many interesting stories this dear and passionate Portuguese has to share with us, expressing pure happiness and joy about his city.

Wir starten unsere Besichtigung im erst vor kurzem eröffneten "Loja Dos Pasteis de Chaves". Hier haben sich die Besitzer kreativ wie kulinarisch verwirklicht, und servieren ausschließlich ofenwarme, handfrisch gebackene Blätterteigtaschen mit süßen wie pikanten Füllungen. Ein Traum!

Our culinary visit starts at a place called “Loja Dos Pasteis de Chaves”. Here, the owners have realized a life dream for themselves, turning this place into a pretty little food haven serving exclusive, freshly baked pastry filled with either spicy or sweet ingredients.

Weiter geht es mit einer Besichtigung des berühmten wie historischen Bolhao Markt im Herzen der Stadt Porto.

We then walk over to visit the historic marketplace of Bolhao market in the heart of the old town of Porto.

Dort erwartet uns diese reizende Zwischenstation, das "Bolhao Wine House", in dem wir die einzigartige Geschichte seiner Besitzer hören die sich trauten in einer traditionellen Markthalle etwas völlig Neues zu schaffen.

Here, we stop at “Bolhao Wine House”, whose owners “dare to be different”, telling a (culinary) story of how to turn a traditional market place around from what it used to be and now receiving international visitors from all over the world as well as inspiring others around them to follow suit.

Neben all den Geschichten bleibt selbstverständlich auch hier die Verkostung typischer Speisen, wie Brot mit Sardinen, nicht aus ...

Apart from listening to all the interesting stories being told, we are naturally served tasty food items here: Juicy sardines with bread …

... dazu wird süßer Moscatel-Wein gereicht ...

… including sweet Moscatel from the Douro valley …

... und auch die Nachspeise muß sein: Hausgemachte Pastell-Törtchen von der Oma höchstpersönlich gebacken.! :D

… and of course sweet little desserts, handmade from granny on that same day.! We already feel like locals here.!

 

You do realize that this is my thing. This tour is right up my alley! Spending time with inspirational local people, learning what it takes to make a living from their passion, making heartfelt connections with them and their forms of expression next to all this amazing food being served: What could possibly be better on a first-time visit to a new city?

Porto Food Tours go right through. While we walk through the old town, André tells us interesting facts about the history and development of the city, its culture and its present life that continues to embrace diversity, the cultural riches of its past as well as a unique sense of charm. It is easy to see why André loves his town. His passion does much to win us over in no time, too.

Unser guter André, glücklich uns köstliche kleine Eclairs zu servieren. "Dies ist nur die Probier-Größe", lacht er und serviert uns üppige Portionen. "Portugiesen lieben es, gut aufzutischen!"

Our dear André, happy to serve us sweet little Eclairs. “This is only the tasting size”, he laughs while carrying out our plates loaded with bulging sweets. “Portuguese people just love spoiling their visitors and serve big portions!”

Beim Stadtspaziergang notieren wir gleichzeitig Tipps für den späteren Besuch der Stadt ...

During our culinary city walk, we also gather interesting tips for further things to see and do in the city …

... genießen traumhafte Ausblicke über Porto und die Portwein-Kellerein am gegenüberliegenden Ufer des Flusses Douro ...

… enjoying the magnificent views over the adjoining Douro river and its port wine estates lined up right across …

... und werden erneut von André zu Tisch gebeten: Nach all den Häppchen heißt es Mittagessen im Slow-Food Restaurant "Flor Dos Congregados".

… while soon being called in again: Lunch time means stopping at this beautiful slow food restaurant “Flor Dos Congregados”.

Hier genießen wir ein einzigartiges Sandwich, gefüllt mit köstlich duftendem Fleisch und Speck, dazu ein Glas prickelnden Rotweins ...

Here, we enjoy a one-of-a-kind sandwich filled with delicious spicy meat and bacon, served to us with a glass of sparkling red wine …

... nur um anschließend noch zur "Nachspeise" überzugehen: Süße portugiesische Eclairs im Café "Leitaria Da Qta do Paco".

… only to have more of those Eclairs later on as a sweet dessert at “Leitaria Da Qta do Paco”. Of course!

Bei all den süßen Köstlichkeiten und Verführungen darf auch eine gute Tasse Kaffee nicht fehlen: Wir stoppen im traditionellen Café Christiana, welches seit über 200 Jahren in der Stadt Porto besteht ...

You may compliment all those sweet seductions with an excellent cup of coffee here at Christina’s, a place existing for more than 200 years in the old town of Porto. “I come here every day”, is what I can still hear André say.

Dieser Kaffee mundet und duftet!

Too right: The coffee here is really good!

Doch es geht noch weiter. Wer glaubt, dass es alles hier endet, der irrt sich. So auch wir. In der "Taberna Do Largo", dem letzten unserer insgesamt sechs Food-Stops während unserer Tour mit André, wird uns gar diese köstliche Wurst flambiert serviert!

But the food lovers’ story does not stop there. If you think that all the gourmet stops we have experienced must have been enough, you are wrong, as much as we were ahead of our final stop at “Taberna Do Largo”. They really know how to surprise you here, including a grilled Portuguese sausage prepared right in front of you!

Dazu herrlicher Käse von ausgesuchten Bauern im ganzen Land serviert, warm und würzig direkt aus dem Ofen frisch am Brot ...

Together, we are served this beautiful spicy cheese straight out of the oven, still melting hot, from selected Portuguese farmers as the owners are proud to mention. Oh so yum!

... dazu die passenden Weine aus dem gesamten Land ...

They also spoil us to a final wine tasting here, offering us the possibility to do a yummy wine & food grocery shopping at the end of our tour. Porto Food Tours are very well organized in that sense!

Vielen Dank, lieber André, für diese einzigartige und großartige Taste Porto Food Tour mit Dir! Es war uns ein Volksfest - und ein königlich-kulinarisches Vergnügen, Porto auf diese Art und Weise kennen zu lernen!

Thank you so much, dear André, for sharing your passion during this Taste Porto Food Tour with us! We really loved our time in the city of Porto, and vow to come back soon – for food, wine & many more things as it is.

 

Check out some more culinary blog posts & opinions about the city of Porto on Chiara’s blog post about “Portugal: A Porto Foodie Guide” as well as on “Oporto Encanta” (amazing, mouth-watering pictures there!). For everything else, make sure you check out Porto Food Tours.com.

 

Douro Valley and its port wine estates: Excellent taste meets internationally acclaimed culture.

Oh, beautiful Douro valley. Again, I cannot help but revel in my memories. “You have to go and see Alto Douro, the river valley much further inland from Porto”, is what my brother tells me after having consulted his Lonely Planet travel guide. “This is where most of the traditional port wine estates are located!” He knows what is good for me, being the true #winelover traveller I am! One afternoon, we therefore start by visiting the port wine cellars in the city of Porto right by the Douro river, only to take a road trip into Douro valley itself on the next day. Given all the panoramic (wine estate) stops, this form of individual travel allows us to fully experience this magical river landscape.

The street signs “Rota do Vinho do Porto” and “Alto Douro Vinhateiro” make it easy for me to navigate as a first-timer, driving along the wine route in the UNESCO World Heritage of the Alto Douro in Portugal. The picturesque surroundings of the Douro valley very much remind me of the beauty of our own Danube river valley back home, close to where I live in the Wachau valley in Krems, Lower Austria. There, too, stone-terraced hills mark the landscape with wine being cultivated for over two millennia. During our visit of the Douro valley, we stop at the famous port wine estates of Sandeman & Ramos Pinto, who stand out from the crowd thanks to their impressive history. Or would you have guessed that Adriano Ramos Pinto, founder of Ramos Pinto estate, was a true marketing genius back in the days, substituting biblical Eva’s apple with a glass of port wine – on a nude painting billboard advertisement?!

All I can say is that Portuguese people know how to relax and enjoy life. At least in this area around Porto & the Douro valley. 😀

Am Flussufer des Douro, mit Blick auf die Altstadt von Porto ...

By the Douro river, you can enjoy this magnificent view over the old town of Porto …

... befinden sich die berühmten Portweinkellereien, wie die international bekannte Kellerei Sandeman.

… including a line-up of its many internationally acclaimed, historic port wine cellars such as Sandeman estate here.

Bei Ramos Pinto genießen wir eine Portwein-Verkostung sowie die Besichtigung der alten Lagerhallen und Büroräume aus dem 19. Jahrhundert im Rahmen einer Führung.

At Ramos Pinto, we enjoy a classic port wine tasting as well as a guided tour through the old storage facilities and original office rooms of the company’s founder.

Wusstet Ihr, dass bei der Erzeugung von Portwein dem gärenden Most Brandy zugeführt wird, was den Alkoholgehalt des fertigen Portweins erhöht und gleichzeitig die Gärung stoppt, sodass mehr Restsüße im Wein verbleibt?! Faszinierendes zur Entstehung von Portwein ...

Now did you know that when making port wine, brandy spirit is actually added to the fermenting grape Juice, thereby stopping further fermentation, adding alcohol and maintaining the sugar levels in the later port wine – hence its sweetness and high alcohol content? Some fascinating stories being told around here …

... erlebe ich wenig später auch landschaftlich: Blick hinein in das schöne Douro-Tal.

… and confirmed later on by views such as these: What a beautiful sight upon the Douro river valley.

Unglaublich sauber und gepflegt sind hier die renommierten Weinterrassen entlang des Flusses angelegt ...

I love how careful and well-tended the wine terraces look around here, speaking of the quality, care and commitment that goes into producing great and world-famous port wines …

... die landschaftliche Schönheit des Flusstales wirklich sehr reizvoll.

… and again and again, I have to stop for taking in the amazing river landscape.

Mein Roadtrip verleiht dem Landschaftserlebnis noch frischen Wind um die Ohren und gute Musik im Ohr!

My road trip adds some fresh air, and a  good music playlist, to my individual experience of the Douro valley.!

Zu Besuch bei der "Original-Stätte" von Sandeman, nahe der Stadt Pinhao im Douro-Tal von Portugal.

Visiting the original port wine estate Sandeman in the Douro valley of Portugal, near the city of Pinhao.

Selbst auf den Kreisverkehren lädt die "Kreiselkunst" dazu ein, dem berühmten Portwein nachzuspüren.

Even roundabouts such as this one on my way to Alijao celebrate the heritage of port wine common throughout the entire area.

Geschätztes Douro-Tal, liebes Portugal, liebe Stadt Porto: Ich komme wieder. Und zwar bald !!! :D

Dear Douro valley, dear Portugal, dear Porto: I vow to come back soon. Seriously !!! 😀

 

Last but not least, let me take you a journey. Be transported to light, happiness and humour expressed in the following travel videos that share so much of a passion & joy for the city of Porto: Who wants to go to Portugal with me?

Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
The Philosophy of Surfing: What the waves at MellowMove Surf Camp in Portugal have taught me.
A few words on the inspiration for Creative Travel.

2 Comments

  1. Mary Louise Tucker

    This food tour looks wonderful. A real feast for the senses.

    I am currently gathering information for a trip to Portugal and your post has been entertaining and informative.

    Thanks, Elena.

    Mary Louise

    Reply
    • Elena

      Dear Mary Louise,

      Thank you so much for caring to inform me about your plans! I have written a lot more about Portugal, and hope my blog will prove useful to gathering even more information prior to your travels: http://www.creativelena.com/en/travel-blog/europe/portugal-europe/.

      Besides, I do agree that Porto Food Tours are doing an amazing job; did you know they now also do cooking classes and a whole lot more activities? You are best advised to contact them directly. I hope this will help!

      Kind regards,

      Elena

      Reply

Leave a Reply


Follow me on my travels: