‘Portugal has a peaceful feel about it. I sit on the terrace overlooking the vineyard there and I feel cut off from the world. You need that sort of thing’ – Cliff Richard
Situated on the banks of the expansive Douro River, crossed with six spectacular bridges, Porto is a fairy-tale city of narrow alleys, tiled walkways, majestic churches and adorable storefronts and homes. The natural scenery is made up of the ocean, the Douro River and the magnificent river valley famed for its terraced vineyards, historic wine estates and stunning panoramas.
Designed to enjoy both history and nature, our week will be spent between Porto, one of Europe’s oldest cities and the Douro Valley, the first demarcated wine region in the world with beautiful natural landscapes and viewpoints.
Our luxurious accommodations are two amazing properties, Casa Camélia in Porto and Hotel & Quinta Ventozelo in the Douro Valley. A scenic train ride will transport us out of the city up the river to the enchanted valley where time seems to flow more slowly.
Mornings will begin with yoga practice followed by a delicious breakfast. Each day will be unique and thoughtfully planned to highlight beautiful areas, fun activities, delicious food and wine all sprinkled with mindfulness.
Charming, colorful and beautifully authentic, Porto is a city made for explorers and a place to stroll through mindfully discovering small treasures and slices of authentic Portuguese life. One of Europe’s oldest cities and the 2nd largest city in Portugal, Porto lies along the Douro River, 2 miles from the river’s mouth on the Atlantic Ocean. World-famous for its port wine, Porto’s historic center was proclaimed a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1996.
Casa Camélia, Porto
We will have exclusive use of this newly restored 9-bedroom manor house with over 10,000 square feet of gardens, including a pavilion for our meals and a rooftop terrace. The house dates back to the 18th century and has been a place of significant importance to the city ever since. Behind the house, hidden from the street, lies a romantic and vast private garden with a small forest of beautiful Camélia trees. The name of the house is not only in honour of these amazing flowering trees but also to the city of Porto, which is also called “The city of Camélias”.
Yoga classes will be outdoors when weather permits. The Casa is within walking distance of the historic center and has views of the Douro River.
Hotel & Quinta Ventozelo, Douro Valley
“Stop… and observe. You are overwhelmed with sensations when staying at Quinta de Ventozelo. It is not just the view of the River Douro, or the neatly aligned vines, that surprise. It is also the stunning, penetrating silence and the unmistakable richness of scents that fill the lungs with every step. The magnitude of what one feels when visiting the farm inspires you to discover this place in depth.”
This 500 year old wine estate (Quinta) is perched on a hill overlooking olive orchards, lavender bushes, herb gardens & over 200 hectares of terraced vineyards to the winding river below. Whitewashed former farm buildings are scattered around the property to make up 29 rooms including our two private houses near the river, Casa Grande and Casa do Rio, a small chapel, an olive oil press and a winery, all of which brim with authenticity and embodiment of the history of the place. In our largest house, Casa Grande, there are beautiful spaces both inside and outside for our yoga classes. There are several hiking paths around the property with the hotel having their own informative app on the paths.
Yoga practice will be offered on arrival day in Porto and all mornings before breakfast. Appropriate for beginning and intermediate level students, classes emphasize the wisdom in honoring your strengths and limitations and to be grateful for all that your body can do. Classes are a combination of asana, breathing practices and deep relaxation.
Whether we’re walking the historic streets of Porto, enjoying a river cruise or tasting a delicious glass of port wine, our yoga practice helps us to be in the present, engage our senses and to savor the moment. Yoga doesn’t stop after savasana and some would say it’s where yoga begins.
“And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened sense of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.”
― Pico Iyer, Why We Travel
Porto and the Douro Valley, Portugal
A Riverside Paradise
Ask any local what to eat in Porto, and they’ll mention Francesinha. Translated as “Little French girl”, this infamous sandwich is like a heavier version of a croque monsieur. It has all kinds of meat inside, covered with melted cheese and drowned in a spicy sauce usually made with beer.
Pastéis de nata are arguably the most important Portuguese specialty sold worldwide and a unique gastronomic heritage, in Portugal and in the world. “The basket of crispy puff pastry embraces the iconic cream in perfect harmony, and if still warm, it’s like a cuddle.”
Port wine tasting in Porto is a must-do and an extremely rewarding experience. Although port tastings are available all around the city of Porto, we’ll taste port at one of the original port wine houses of Vila Nova de Gaia across the River Douro from the old city center of Porto. You will immerse into the history of port wine production, taste different styles of port wine, and enjoy great views.
Port wine is a big part of Portuguese culture and history. Although the cellars are refurbished, most port wine houses still use original buildings, some equipment and follow traditional methods to make port.