The day started very early and rainy. The first stop on this roadtrip is Oliveira do Hospital - Aqua Village Health Resort. We couldn't start better. A very quiet place with a spa and an amazing heated outdoor pool at sunset.
As you know, I am an eternal passionate about the Natural Park of Serra da Estrela and, therefore, nothing better than adding one day to the script already planned to kill the miss. Not for long, but well worth it - with lots of fog to the mix and a breathtaking road. Something that, I warn you already, will recur in this trip.
After the usual purchases of typical cheeses and liqueurs, we traveled to Castelo de Paiva, where our second hotel is located. Again, we chose a national road instead of the freeway. Not only because it is more accessible, but also because it is a more direct route and where we have the opportunity to enjoy the landscape. But it was a real adventure! The landscape is worth it but would be worth much more if it were not for the desolate scenery that the fires of 2017 and 2018 left. The tranquility is interrupted by the holes in the road, by the cattle in the curves or the encounter with another car in the opposite direction, given the width (or lack thereof) of the ways. Not to mention the total absence of network in mobile phones in some points. Thank you car navigation system. But one thing is also true, no matter the technology, the best GPS remains the traditional: stop the car at the roadside and ask the lady who is stretching clothes on the porch, or the pastor who will drink his coffee in the usual place, people who have spent all their lives there and who know the roads and what is the best way to our destination.
A few long hours and many rivers and mountains afterwards, we finally arrived at the Douro 41 Hotel & Spa, which I highly recommend. Waking up to this view of the Douro River is start the day in the best way.
New day, new adventures on the roads of this country. The initial idea was to go up the river by boat or the historic train but both only work between April and October - and I think that seasonality was only in the Algarve... Despite this, it turned out to be a good option because we followed at our pace . Or the pace the road left us. Curves and countercurves through breathtaking views and constantly 'forbidding' us to stop at all the places that deserved a photograph. Otherwise it would take us a full day to get to Régua. This time the choice was considered the most beautiful road in Portugal, the National Road 222 (the most beautiful section is between Régua and Pinhão, but we didn't have time), and some sections of the N108. If we could go by the freeway? Yes, but the travel time is not much different and we could not enjoy the scenery.
We arrived at Peso da Régua already after lunch. The break to eat was at the Aneto & Table restaurant, next to the city's train station (more properly in what was the old station). Highly recommend. On this trip, as we had to do many miles by car, we practically did not eat in restaurants other than the hotel and many of the meals were made on wheels. Therefore, we took this opportunity very well, without time counting. Both the dishes and the wine were very good, as the service and the price surprised me, quite reasonable. The restaurant itself is also very cute, overlooking the trains on one side, and the Douro on the other. Definitely not to be missed.
Energies recharged, we continue to the last stop of the trip that was recommended by someone who knows the zone well: the Miradouro de São Leonardo da Galafura. It is a quiet place with few people. One of the highlights of this roadtrip is the perfect place to finish it. We returned the next day to the routines, tired physically but with a strengthened soul. This country is amazing.