“From Oporto, you can drive in less than an hour to the vast terraced vineyards of the Upper Douro valley where Portugal’s famous Port wine comes from, simply by taking the new fast road to Villa Real,” writes Correspondent Paul Lewis.
“But a more interesting, though more strenuous and longer alternative is to take the N222 road, which winds its way along the Douro’s steep southern bank through Castela de Paiva and Cinfaes, playing high-and-seek with the great green river far below.
“Alas, the picturesque sailing craft, known as barcos rebelos, which once carried the new wine in gigantic casks down to the storage cellars of Oporto, are today reserved for tourists.
“A good place to stay in the heart of the Port wine country is the Pousada Barão Forrester at Alijo, named after a famous 19th-century British merchant who fell into the Douro and drowned because his pockets were full of gold coin, while his lady friend floated to safety on her crinolins.
“It is a very English pousada with chintzy sofas and curtains. But then the English have always dominated the Port wine business. Oporto even has a cricket club…”