Steve’s travels in Spain and Portugal
In September we flew into Barcelona and after a few days, we travelled northwest. We had a marvellous stay in Navarra in a little winery called Azul y Garanza in the town of Carcastillo, Spain (and we stock a selection of these wines in the store). We were invited to stay and spent the afternoon in winery and evening drinking local produce and tasting wine, fantastic!
We then went to San Sebastián then to Gijón and over to Santiago de Compostela in north west Spain. Speaking from experience (in driving), it is easier to drive the camino than walk it. The Camino de Santiago is a Christian pilgrimage over a thousand years old and annually there are more than 200,000 people who walk it. To earn what is called the compostela, you have to walk at least the last 100k or 200 km arriving in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. The full route is 490 miles.
Our itinerary took us to Vigo on the Atlantic Ocean and across the border in Portugal. We visited three cities and towns here; Porto, then onto the capital Lisbon and at the southern tip of Portugal hugging the coastline, Tavira about 50 kilometres from the Spanish border.
In Porto, we went up the Douro Valley, going inland, we took the train and coming back we took a leisurely boat ride. It was so peaceful and the views of the terraced vineyards was spectacular. On the way back we went through locks which was very interesting. In Porto, there were so many ports to try but not being here long and with the river trip, I visited a small port house. It’s incredible that all the port houses are in the town; from one side of the river you can see the port houses from in the other. I would love to come back here.
They are all open for consumers to taste. The wineries, in contrast are all in the Douro Valley.
I loved Lisbon. It is a beautiful old city there is so much to offer in the sense of history and their culinary delights is all about seafood. The best wine I had with seafood was Albariño/ Alvarinho (grown in the northern Spanish Rìas Baixas region and the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. I loved the old architecture, the wonderful food, café scene and the many places to go and my wife really enjoyed The Pena Palace. And I tried some of their craft beer, a growing industry I’m sure!
After Tavira, we travelled to Seville from where we went on three day trips. It’s a great spot from where you can explore so much of Spain. We went to Cordoba, Jerez (see more details about what we tasted here) and then Ronda, the most amazing place, it is spectacular.
After three days in Seville, we spent time in Madrid and then headed home.
In every city, we stayed in the city centre, in the old town. That’s where it all happens! And we loved the atmosphere and vibe. We had full days each day.
At Swanbourne Cellars, we already have a large Spanish contingent but we’ll exploring the possibility of more Portuguese wines. It was a wonderful trip, let me know when you head over to Spain or Portugal, I’d be happy to recommend more places to visit!