Have you ever been with 3 types of trains in the same day (perhaps all 3 classic types)? To get to see the beautiful Douro region, the place where the famous Porto Wine is born, I booked a seat on a beautiful train pulled by a historical steam locomotive. But to get to that I was on a train pulled by an electrical locomotive. And on way back home I took also a diesel train…So yeah this is the great Historical Voyage on Douro.
My voyage starts in Braga so here are some pictures.
When I saw this high-speed train at Porto station, I ran to make a few pictures. But I could not get closer to it in time… As I write this, I have never seen it before, not even in Lisboa.
So lets talk here about the main attraction.
This trip is called historical not just because I will be on a train pulled by a steam train… No! It is about an old route. The work on this line started in 1875 (according to a brochure given in train) and Regua (place of departure) was reached only in 1879 ( I guess the line started in Porto?) .
Keep in mind that the line is very close to the water, and if you are unlucky to not be on the river side (right side as the train moves forward) you will see mostly just rocks, a few landscape for about 5 sec and then rocks again (there is just an exception but more on that later).
So because I knew about the best seats, I planned my trip, almost 1 month in advance, so that I can have the great view. And boy… even that wasn’t enough… Because the train is only on Saturdays and Sundays I opted for Saturday so I won’t be tired at work… But at the CP station they told me only Sunday will get me the river side view. So I went on Sunday…
You know you arrived in Regua when you see the Zorro statue far away, on top of a hill. The huge parcels with grapes, that stretches along the Douro River, can also be seen before arriving at here. So I won’t actually call that a sign.
Also big hotel like boats can be seen from Porto to Regua sailing on the river, so keep your eyes opened at all times, because it is beautiful not just from Regua, but also before that location.
Between arrival at Regua and departure to the next destination, I had some time to kill, so I enjoyed making a few landscape photos and took a cool refreshment at a local next to the river. Pretty fancy and cheap too.
I don’t know what wasp like insect this is, but was so busy cleaning herself that it almost did not notice me.
Back at the station, I saw the carriages already on the tracks, but I didn’t knew how to get on the platform, so I followed the singing band. (cool tip if you have the same problem, because they arrive sooner so you cannot get lost)
There I saw the best view since my childhood: the locomotive was in perfect shape and steaming. AAAAND it wasn’t one of those small narrow gauge types of locomotives but a big, normal one.
0186 Steam engine, built in 1925 by Henschel and Son.
So here we go. As we pass the tall bridge, we have another huge construction on the river, which is a lock that raises or lowers boats up the river. Because there are many trees, I could not get a good picture of it 😦 But it is the best part of going up the river on boat… so I was told. Basically I am not a huge fan of boats, but this has to be the coolest experience that show that when Humans get smart, what they can achieve wonders.
Then we get some bottles of cold water and also a small plastic glass with Porto Wine from the crew. It is a very strong wine, very sweet and has lots of taste. But is so strong, that I don’t really get it why is it named a “wine”. But since I am not an expert in such thing, I just enjoyed the treat 🙂
Now, between Regua and the first stop, Pinhao, I noticed there are a lot of predator birds, that most of them, sit on the side of the river, where the train passes. Basically, if you have a 300mm minimum zoom on you, you can get pretty awesome bird shots.
I bought here in Spain a bird book, so I looked at eagles chapter, and by the look of its tail, I would say that it looks like Milano Negro that I believe is a Short Eagle in english. Anyway, googled in Spanish and seems right, then in english and I had all sorts of results…
Moving on, we reach Pinhao, but we don’t stay too much, so we head towards Tua. All the beauty of the trip stays in the man-made landscape with different wine production houses, vineyards, sand, dust and the river.
At Tua, we get the opportunity to taste some of the delicacies that are produced in the area, such as cheese, meat, wine and bread. Who doesn’t want that, there is a Lays and Coke shop just next to the train station. (great place to treat yourself with some ice-cream too).
Personally, I loved more the carriages of the small diesel locomotive than the ones our train was pulling. Of course ours had more historical meaning to them, but those on the picture above, seemed more happy and spacious.
Talking about happy carriages, there are some sitting in a shed, and giving shelter to swallows birds. Imagine owning these wagons, and having them at your house… They would shelter people and cocktails… but not dust and birds…
On my way back, I stood a bit on the other side of the carriage (not just the river side) and I was doing that just in time to catch this view with the dam in construction.
I believe this is how they build the floors on which they put the seeds of the grapes… Vineyard in the making, fauna in destruction.
I have never seen in a small place, so many high voltage posts. I gave the photo a vintage look so that the eye can focus more on the Hi-voltage posts than the never-ending green and sand that vineyards are.
Should I do again this trip? Yes, if they make a sunset edition, not just mid-day!
So here we go back to Braga, but this time through the shockingly good-looking Ermesinde train station.
Here is a bird admiring the sunset from the stations roof.
This whole trip was beautiful, and rich in moments that just 60 pictures could not show it. I have never been in a steam train before, never stood outside while the train was rushing and yeah, never stood outside while in a rail tunnel.
Never seen so many vineyards, and even if I did… not so many on high hills anyway. They were everywhere while looking at 360. And just like I said, not only at the journey Regua-Tua, but also from Porto to Regua you see the same thing.
I have a tip thou. Come prepared for lots of train, and if you are into photography, get a big zoom with you. There are eagles!