Travels in Wine World: The Pinhão Train Station

136If you find yourself in the city of Porto—once you have taken your fill of the gorgeous waterfront, the amazing tours of the Port Wine Lodges, and the walking back-and-forth across the bridges—you should get yourself a train ticket.

Arrange to leave early in the morning, when the São Bento Railway Station is a world unto itself, and be sure and hit the snack bar for some coffee (café com leite) for the road.  Pick up a few custard tarts—Pasteis de Nata—as well, because one should never pass up the opportunity for Pasteis de Nata, and you can only get the real deal in Portugal.

Make sure your ticket is for Pinhão, and grab yourself a window seat.  137Prepare yourself for a journey of about two hours. Don’t be concerned that there might be some error in the schedule. This is not the high-speed train that whisked you 200 miles from Lisbon to Porto in 140 minutes, but one that will wind you along the banks of the Douro River, pull you through dark tunnels, and rattle you along cliff-hanging tracks.  It will indeed take two full hours to cover 70 miles.

Your train journey will land you at the Pinhão train station.  You’ll be smack in the middle of the Cima Corgo, the geographic center of the Douro DOC and the core of the Port Wine production region.  You’ll be able to check into a rustic little hotel or take a suite at The Vintage House (a somewhat incongruous yet delightfully glistening resort just a short walk away).  You’ll be able to wander the steep riverside streets in search of lunch or take a death-defying taxi ride straight up the side of the mountain to Fonseca’s Quinta do Panascal Vineyards.

140But before you can check into the hotel, wander the streets, or tour the vineyard, you will have to tear yourself away from the train station itself.  It’s just a tiny station and only one room.  It is so rustic that you have to hustle down and across the tracks themselves to catch your train—there’s no fancy pedestrian overpass or glass elevator here.  But you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away once you notice the blue tile mosaics—a local specialty known as azulejo—that line the walls of the station.

Azulejo is a form of Portuguese ceramic tile that is painted and tin-glazed. As a central aspect of Portuguese culture, Azulejo has been produced without interruption for five centuries. There is even a national Azulejo gallery in Lisbon—although you can see Azulejos everywhere in Portugal.  Azulejos are found on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary homes, department stores, and—as you can tell from my story—railway stations.

These beautiful Azulejos have been a part of the Pinhão train station since 1937.  They chronicle the history of the town and the vineyards, the wineries, and life along the Douro River.

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas

Pictures of Pinhão from the Portugal leg of our Iberian Penninsula honeymoon, 2010.  That’s Shields T. up there, guarding the luggage while his wife takes pictures of the walls.



About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

3 Responses to Travels in Wine World: The Pinhão Train Station

  1. Reading this brings back memories of the Blogger-Media Fam Trip associated with the International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop held in Porto in 2011. We were based in nearby Quinta do Pégo.

  2. WinePleasures says:

    One of the great train journeys of the world in our opinion

Leave a Reply to WinePleasures Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: