In our Slow Travel Manifesto we said that one of our most enjoyable ways to explore a new place is to wander aimlessly and be open to what we might come across. In a big city this can be overwhelming and the best way to focus your exploration is to choose a specific neighbourhood. Our favourite cities have distinct diverse neighbourhoods with their own characters, and we gravitate towards areas with independent businesses and restaurants, good food, an artistic creative vibe, beautiful architecture, or a village-like feel.
When we think of wine regions around the world we think of Chianti, Bordeaux or Napa Valley. Portugal just hasn’t been on our wine radar, but just north of Porto the Douro Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. It’s certainly the most spectacular we have visited with man made vine terraces sloping steeply down towards the winding Douro river.
Ribeira is a maze of narrow alleyways and crumbling buildings on Porto’s waterfront. It was our favourite part of the city to wander—past old women playing cards, washing dangling from balconies, and cats sunning themselves on stone steps. From the hilly lanes you emerge on the waterfront with cafes lining the Douro river, which once transported the famous port wines from the Douro Valley to the wine cellars of the city.
The architects of Sintra had fun when designing the royal retreats in this hill town outside of Lisbon. They indulged every whim and fantasy to create a magical world of fairytale palaces surrounded by enchanted forests. Why not choose pink, purple and yellow as your colour scheme? Why not create a castle in the lake just for the ducks? And it’d definitely be fun to have a secret passageway that emerges at the bottom of a well.
The 16th century Jeronimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Belem, Lisbon. The flamboyant Manueline style is distinctively Portuguese with stunning cloisters of elaborately carved arches and columns surrounding the courtyard. There were too many wonderful details to choose just one photo this week so we’ve included some bonuses.