Fonte Arcada to Adorigo (Douro Valley)

No one joined us. Place to ourselves. Very nice. The sky transitioned into a remarkable sunset, shortly followed by the village below lighting up, as well as those across the water. A super spot to overnight.

We thought we’d descend to do an exploration of the little village of Fonte Arcada. It was very pleasant, with some interesting and very old buildings, but probably not part of the tourist trail these days.

On leaving, after topping up with fresh water from the water fountain, Sophie wanted to visit the place I’d been aiming for the previous day, on the other side of the reservoir. The route there involved a buttock-tightening squeeze through some narrow streets, but I remained confident as I could see a proper road beyond in the distance. The same could not be said of Sophie 🙄.

We easily survived of course but this would not be the last time I caused consternation in the cab. What was more annoying was that I could have easily accessed the water straight after crossing the barragem/dam. After many miles of SatNav led driving, I’ve learnt that it is prone to recommend ridiculous short cuts, which we laugh at and ignore. It’s behaviour this time seemed illogical.

There is definitely some lovely waterside parking along the reservoir road (please avoid the village of Vilar to get there). We then passed through another interesting small village called Leomil. Similar to our first exploration of the day, it was clear that the place had some interesting old buildings with plenty of history, but they now seemed a little unloved.

Our drive continued to the larger town of Lamego, where we came across an unplanned Lidl, and so stocked up on provisions. Just round the corner the supermarket E Le Clerc provides great motorhome facilities, and after taking the wrong turn in their carpark we had to reverse uphill against the traffic, but it was fine. We quickly used the services and were off again.

Lamego is famed for its Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, which is accessed by a long, steep, and high ornate staircase. I was planning on looking at an attractive Park4night in the vicinity, but given the logjam of traffic on this Easter Saturday afternoon, I took a view and instead aimed for a distant highly-recommended riverside spot on the Douro river at Caldas de Aregos. What’s not to love about that.

It was a very winding and busy road there, with little opportunity to appreciate the view, and the temperature was rising. As I contemplated the final access road, I received a “we’re not driving down that narrow street” and so we parked up just round the bend in the road to take stock and eat a hastily prepared roll, which served as a very late lunch.

Armed with my roll as sustenance I set off to do a recce of my potential overnight stop. Literally riverside parking. Proper carpark. Plenty of space. One other motorhomes there already, thereby legitimising us going there too. I even walked the route to be sure access would not be a problem.

So we drove there, but Sophie was not convinced. I think it was the heat, the busyness, and the youths alongside enjoying diving and swimming in the Douro with their antisocial pounding music. So now I had a dilemma. Head further West where I could see no let up in the winding roads and with no sign of any obvious decent overnight spots, or face the journey we’d just done in reverse. Again, there were no stops for the night that way that really grabbed me but at least we’d be travelling in the right direction.

So we set off the way we’d come. Sophie was now hugely relieved to escape a parking spot that on a cooler midweek, off-season day could have been excellent. As it turned out, by this time the traffic had eased, along with the temperature, and as we drove East along the South bank of the Douro the North bank was now illuminated beautifully in the early evening sun, and with the photographer now in the best position to get some great shots, all was well with the world.

Admittedly we didn’t know what our overnight spot would be like this evening, but we knew we’d be fine. Along the way we passed the busy town of Peso da Regua, with its very many motorhomes tightly packed below its bridge.

My first stop was a “wild card” choice. When researching it I couldn’t get the images to load, but thought we’d check out this picnic spot anyway. After that I was aiming for a more motorhome-oriented area. It was the same hill up from the banks of the Douro that served both venues, with the latter area signposted. As a motorhomer it is good to know that a road is suitable for a big van and lessens the odds of any nasty surprises.

Before long we came across the picnic area, which was directly adjacent to the road, had solid standing, and was equipped with smooth granite picnic tables and benches. The views down to and across the Douro were simply stunning, and we knew this was the place for us. I celebrated with a glass of Douro red, which is not as easy as it might sound when you’re with someone trying to take photos and is asking you not to drink it, but just to hold it for a little bit longer 🙄.

As this was a relatively minor road, we weren’t concerned about traffic noise. Being a warm evening I sat out way after dark just taking it all in.

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