In November 2018 I attained the ripe old age of 70 and I explained to my family I did not want a party or any gifts, My request was for a quiet meal out with my wife, daughter and husband and my two grand children.
So off we went to El Gato Negro a will known Tapas Bistro in Manchester for an informal evening. As we were finishing our meal my daughter handed me what I thought was a birthday card. Instead it was a card with a photograph of the Six Senses Hotel in the Douro Vally in Portugal and she said casually, I have booked you into a luxury suite for 4 nights, there will be a special meal arranged for your last night and a taxi will collect you in Oporto to drive you to the hotel 120 kilometres along the Douro Valley, and then drive you back to the airport in Oporto at the end of your visit. This has been arranged for May 2019 and everything is paid for.
To say that I was taken aback would be an understatement, I was utterly speechless, and according to my daughter for the only time in my life.
We decided to make the most of the trip and booked an appartment in Oporto for three days so that we could see something of the city before our journey to our hotel in the Douro.
We tried to pack as much sightseeing in during the two full days in the city including a “port tasting tour”, a visit to the wonderful tiled railway station, a walk across the spectacular bridge plus a visit to the photography museum which is housed in an old prison but is quite beautiful architecturally.
Our taxi ride along the Douro Valley took in some spectacular scenery, stunning bridges before arriving at the Six Senses Hotel. Well, I have been to some up market hotels but nothing like on this scale. Our room was enormous and with a very large window overlooking the River Douro where we could sit and watch the boats going up and down the river. The hotel oozes luxury and the breakfasts have to bee seen to be believed.
During our stay we got a taxi up to the small town of Pinhao and then took a leisurely boat trip up the river past many of the vinyards and wonderful scenery.
We also managed to fit in a visit to the Quinta da Pacheca to do a tour of the winery and ended up tasting around six red wines plus a variety of Ports , including a stunning 40 year old one, courtesy of the wonderful Pedro who was our very knowledgeable guide on the tour.
I have visited around twenty five different countries in the world and there are some where you see sights that you say are beautiful, others you say quite breathtaking and others the response is stunning. But never have I visited anywhere where all these three comments could be made at once, but in the Douro valley this is certainly the case.
It was difficult to think how I could say thank you to my daughter for providing me with such a wonderful birthday gift, but on the last day my wife led me to the verandah overlooking the river and I thought we were going for afternoon tea. Imagine my shock as I opened the door to see my daughter sat there with her husband drinking a glass of wine. They had flown out to Portugal for one night to have dinner with us on our final night…………..such a beautiful end to a wonderful holiday.
Below are some of my photographs from the trip taking in Oporto and the trip down the valley.
Looking down to the boats on the river at Oporto
Riverside in Oporto
The magnificent tiled railway station in Oporto
The view from our bedroom at the Six Senses Hotel
Boat trip up the River Douro
One of the many vineyards along the Douro River
The Six Senses Hotel
Cellar at Quinta da Pacheca
Wine bar at the tiny station at Pinhao
Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2019