Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mom and Dad - What are you doing in Portugal?

My mom and dad recenly visited us in Portugal and found it easier to manage than Indonesia. They spent a few days in Lisbon adjusting to the time change and seeing some of the sights here before we took them on the road.

We started our journey north in a tiny village half an hour south of Coimbra called Cotas. We spent two nights at Villa Pedra, a beatiful place set on a hillside. The owner is the architect of the few houses to rent, and he also sourced every furnishing and decoration in them. It was a truly unique place. 

We spent an afternoon wandering the medieval streets of Coimbra, home to one of Europe's oldest universities founded in 1290. We also took a tour of the nearby ruins of Conimbriga, which date as far back as the 9th century BC. The city was one of the largest Roman cities in Portugal from 139 BC until its fall to the invading Germanic Suebi in 468 or 469. It is a very interesting archaelogical site because you are allowed to wander amongst the ruins.

The ruins are made even more interesting and unique because the city was dissected by a giant wall thrown up in haste in the 3rd century, which left many of the city's largest homes unprotected from invaders.

From Conimbriga, we drove north and saw some great views along the way. 

After arriving in the heart of Portugal's most famous wine country, the Douro River Valley, we spent two nights at Quinta do Vallado, an old wine estate that was recently converted into a small hotel. It was set on one of the Douro's steep hillsides amongst Quinta do Vallado's vineyard. We had read about the place in a New York Times article recommending travel to northern Portugal. We certainly would echo their recommendation. It's a beautiful part of the country with great food and fantastic wine.