Instagramming Portugal

douro valley portugal

As I predicted in my last post, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Since I finished the book and announced the launch event in New York, I’ve visited Portugal, Ireland and Spain – and have just landed in the UK for a week with my brother. I will write more about Portugal’s Douro Valley  – which was stunning – and about the origins of port. But for the moment, I wanted to share some quick photos from my week in the country.

I only joined Instagram in May, after Kirsten Alana foisted her old iPhone 3GS upon me. Before that, I was still using an old Blackberry smartphone. I still use the Blackberry for email, since I was grandfathered into a flat-rate unlimited worldwide email plan that has come in handy more times than I can count. (I’m also shocked that the Blackberry is still working. It has been peed on by a goat in Mongolia, teargassed in Thailand and covered in sand in the Sahara in Morocco. I’ve also dropped it more times than I can count.)   Kirsten gave me an Instagram crash course and set me loose with what isn’t a great camera, but remains a wonderful tool to share my travels in a fresh way. I’ve been using Instagram throughout the fall and summer in North America, but sharing on-the-go photos is always more fun from far-flung places. It doesn’t compare to my wonderful Olympus EP-3 camera, which I usually use with a 20mm Panasonic pancake lens, but tended to stick to the kit lens (14mm-42mm) for this trip given the landscapes. But the newer iPhones certainly come much closer. I’m debating upgrading to a newer iPhone given that the 5 has come out, if only because it’s become the camera that replaces a camera.

I digress.

Portugal! A country with a very interesting history, declared independent by a young king who defied (and then fought) his mother to wrestle control of his lands away from the Kingdom of León in 1139. From the ashes of these first battles, the country rose to prominence in trade and colonization in the 15th century, and then unspooled once Napoleon marched through Spain to invade Portugal in 1807. In between, a massive earthquake struck Lisbon in 1755, and the thriving city was razed to the ground.

Of course these photos – or my minuscule time in the country – do not do its history or its biodiversity justice.  I did not realize how varied the climates were within Portugal but there was a significant temperature change even from Porto into the Northern Douro Valley.  The country grows a significant amount of cork trees and oak, as well as delicious eucalyptus (one of my favourites).  The steep slopes of the Douro River have created a microclimate perfect for growing olives, almonds and – of course – grapes.

We spent many hours driving the dizzying narrow roads that trace the river’s edge, our mini-bus chugging around hairpin turns as we climbed up to the quintas (farms or estates) built at the top of the Douro’s slopes.

Photos from Porto and the Douro Valley

To start: the mini photos that made me smile.

Passionfruit flower in Portugal's Douro Valley
Passionfruit flower.
Douro valley grapes in Portugal
Douro valley grapes

And the rest:

TAP planes at dawn in Lisbon
Dawn at Lisbon airport, awaiting my flight to Porto.
Porto at dusk before the Douro Valley road trip
Porto at dusk.
A Porto sunset from the Sheraton's elevators.
A Porto sunset from the Sheraton’s elevators.
Fish: it's what's for lunch in Portugal
Fish: it’s what’s for lunch
Sandman in the Douro Valley
The wall of Quinta do Seixo’s main building, with the very distinct Sandeman logo.
Porto's stunning Douro valley. What a view!
Porto’s stunning Douro valley. What a view!
Vines overlooking the Douro Valley, in Portugal
Vines overlooking the Douro Valley
Port flight from Quinta do Seixo, Portugal
Port flight from Quinta do Seixo, just after breakfast too.
Bottles of wine at Quinta do Seixo
Bottles of wine at Quinta do Seixo
Salted Cod from Porto, Portugal
Salted cod from a supermarket in Porto.
View from the Yeatman hotel, overlooking Porto.
View from the Yeatman hotel, overlooking Porto.
View from the boat along the Douro, near Pinhão.
View from the boat along the Douro, near Pinhão.
Winding through Northern Portugal
Winding through Northern Portugal.
Bloggers at dusk in Porto
Bloggers at dusk. ;)

And, a happy moment to end the TBU conference, winning the Destinology Travel Bloggy award for best food blog, and just before the launch of the food book too!

Destinology Travel Blog awards at TBU Porto
Winning best food blog from the Destinology travel blog awards at TBU Porto. Yay!

More photos to come (taken with the EP-3) but this was a short taste (ha, ha, I make myself laugh) of the wine and port-filled week in Portugal.

And finally, my Portuguese food maps are complete and in the shop!

Hand-drawn map featuring all the delicious Portuguese foods you love, placed around the shape of the country itself. Check it out here! While a bit more complicated than my map for Vietnam, we did include the Azores and Madeira on the maps. I am currently using the tote bag for my food shopping.

food map portugal
Sometimes I want to eat my food maps because I’m just so happy with how they turned out! <3


33 thoughts on “Instagramming Portugal”

  1. stunning pictures! well, portugal is one country that i would love to visit. many people seem to give this great country a miss in their grand european tour, but imo it’s got everything a traveller is after – coastlines, beaches, history, wine, culture, everything! :D

  2. Love the picture of the boat! I was bummed to miss out on all of the post-conference trips, since they looked like a lot of fun! For being so close to Portugal from my base in Seville, I really don’t know much of the countyr. the short trip to Porto made me want to see more!

  3. Congratulations! I spent about 8 hours in the Porto train station. I wish we had wandered instead of just sitting there…Oh well, next time.

    You always look so cute. Do you still consider yourself a “backpacker”?

    1. Thanks Carmel! The dress is a $12 special from H&M, so while I appreciate the compliment, it certainly didn’t take much work :) I recently changed my about page to reflect the fact that I’m travelling more and more for business and less for backpacking. Reality is that I do want to stay put more and work on the site and on the other things I’m building, and use that place as a base for more adventurous travels. It’s half and half, I think, and has been since about midway through 2011.

  4. These are beautiful, Jodi — I love how giddy you look receiving the award! Seeing you pop u on my Instagram feed is always assurance that something beautiful is about to come into my day!

  5. Congratulations on the Destinology Travel Bloggy! I really like iPhoneography and have been very pleased since finally giving up my own BlackBerry back in February of this year. I would upgrade!

      1. Lovely photos from Portugal! They make me want to travel back just for the food and drink alone.

        I just upgraded to the iPhone last June and I’ve become addicted to taking Instagram photos. :)

  6. Always a delight to travel vicariously through your posts. That “View from the bost” photo really exceptional. I think it’s the ripples in the water that really draw me in. Quite like a photorealism oil painting. Congrats on another award as well.

  7. I love Portugal. It’s one of my favorite countries in Europe. However, I haven’t had the chance to visit Porto but I love Port – yummy!

  8. These look amazing for being shot from an Iphone 3G. No doubt a testament to your skill as a photographer after all these years traveling. Thanks for sharing Jodi!

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  11. Your photos are always fantastic – but this iPhone and Instagram world has me curious. Tonight is my Blackberry’s last night. Tomorrow I get my brand new iPhone 5 (my first iPhone!) and I plan to follow in your and Kirsten’s steps.

    Someone asked me to take a picture of them with an iPhone the other day, handed the thing to me – and I couldn’t find the shutter. So I should be a pro in no time! :-)

  12. Hi Jodi,
    Love your website – what a great spirit you have! Thanks for sharing your adventures with all of us.

    About Portugal I am afraid to say I am not such a fan! Your photos are beautiful and the people are sweet but they have a real problem with treating animals well, especially dogs. I don’t know if you noticed but there are many stray dogs in the streets, malnourished and feared for no reason.

    I was in Northern Portugal last July travelling with my beautiful Rhodesian not knowing that shepherds put some extremely aggressive poisons in many remote, wild and beautiful places to keep the foxes away. My dog ate some poison and died a few hours later. Needless to say it was completely traumatic! The vet told me it’s common, that they see at least 20 cases a month and have tried to educate farmers to no avail.

    Anyways, I don’t want to spoil your beautiful work and blog just actually want to make sure people are alerted of this problem so they can take the proper precautions when travelling with pets. I wish I had known!

    All the best and keep safe!


    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Sandra. There’s no question that many places have different standards of treatment for people and for animals, many of which do not jive with our own upbringing or philosophies. It’s always very hard to reconcile the beauty of a place with the darker undercurrents, especially when they are not well known. I did not see any dogs during my time there at all, but I was only in Portugal for a week. I will definitely be on the look out for future visits, and expat forums will likely offer volunteer options for animal rescue/care centres too. I’m very sorry to hear about your dog – that’s awful. :(

  13. Christian Rene Friborg

    Most often people these days forget the use of an awesome camera because of the wonders of how nice the photos come out from phones. I think Instagram is best for documentation of day to day happenings, especially for a traveler like you.

    Great post! I find myself coming back everyday for a new entry.

    1. Thank you Christian! I certainly did not forget my ‘real’ camera and will do a post on cheap eats in Iceland with photos from it, but it’s fun to have that immediacy and in a way it gives an added connection to readers – ‘this happened right now, did you see?’ It’s a fun aspect to travels, definitely. Thank you for reading!

  14. I loved Porto and the surrounding area and it was a bit of a revelation. I’d been to the Algarve and Lisbon before but Porto was supremely beautiful. Great photos too – I use my phone camera quite a lot but it’s just not the same as using my DSLR. It makes me feel like a photographer – is that a bit crap? :-)

    1. The immediacy of a phone often trumps the DSLR generally – it’s why, too, there are some incredibly photoessays from war zones using mobile photography. I won’t travel with a DSLR anyhow – too much work. I use a Micro 4/3ds instead. Interchangeable lenses with great range, but fits in my purse.

  15. I love the photos you posted, its amazing especially the valley. Thanks for sharing your travels and experience with everyone. Keep it up and continue sharing magnificent things and congrats with that award.

  16. Congrats with the award!
    I’m planning a trip to Portugal in the summer of 2013. We’ll probably we renting a car and driving from Lisbon to Porto and Braga. looking forward to it!

  17. Hi Jodi, I’m going to Portugal in Spring and your photos are great, I’m looking forward to seeing this country :-)

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  19. You own a award for BEST FOOD BLOG ?! … and you are completly ignorant about Portuguese food? Portuguese know how to cook the best seafood in the whole world and you dont even mention that ?!! …oh well what do north americans know about gourmet food anyway ?! BEST FOOD BLOG AWARD … WHAT A JOKE :)

    1. Thank you for your comment. I was in Portugal to recieve the food blog award, not to eat in Portugal… though we did eat some lovely things. As you can see from the site (if you looked at it other than to yell at me) you will see that I focus on Southeast Asia and the Middle East. My time in Portugal was purely to speak at a conference about social media and to receive this award, and I’m grateful for the tourism board and their offer to show me around the Douro for a few days.

      I love food and the history of it, but I have never said that I am knowledgeable about all places. Moreover, I am not a gourmet food writer, and I focus on street food culture and history. So you’re right, I don’t know very much about gourmet eats, per se. I appreciate them, but I don’t prefer them.

      Hopefully you will take the time to read through the rest of the site, or at least a few posts from it, and understand that my aim is in demystifying street food and market eats from far-flung places. I am sure Portugal has plenty of great things to dine on and one day I will travel there to try them.

      1. Hi Jodi! I don’t know if this person who is “yelling” at you is Portuguese, but I’m sorry you had to experience this ignorance and bigotry. Your reply, unlike this person’s comment, was really classy and respectful, and made me like you even more. Thanks for this lovely post on my country, and I hope you come back and experience more of it. And I love your writing, your award is well deserved!

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