The River Douro flows for 897km from Duruelo de la Sierra in Spain to Porto on the Atlantic Ocean. For most of its route through Portugal, the Douro river lies in areas of low population. Part of its territory includes the Douro vinhateiro – a region that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one that is the perfect climate for growing grapes, olives and almonds.
The grapes that are used to make Douro region wines come from this area, and those used for port wine are brought down from the Douro Valley to the city of Caia, opposite Porto, where the wines are stored in “caves” beside the river.
While the vineyard-rich lands of the Douro Valley are some way inland, past a damn, many people from the region enjoy the lower, wider waters of the River Douro during the summer months. Beaches (“fluviais”) along the river attract locals who come out for a day of sun-bathing, swimming, jet-skiing and picnicking. Some come with boats or some just take boats up and down the river.
In this part of the world, the local residents live in rustic “quintas” with superb views (see this one for example). Amenities are few – you have to wee behind a tree and bring all the food and drink you might need, because you are often in the middle of nowhere. When there aren’t any boats or jet-skis going past, you can enjoy the echoey sound of kids having fun and the gentle splashing of water.