Day 5 – Castelo Rodrigo

On day 5 of our Viking River Cruise, we departed Pinhao for a beautiful sail to Pocinho, where we would make a short stop to allow some passengers off for an alternate excursion. We stuck to the included excursions, so we remained on board and enjoyed the view on the way to our final destination, Barca d’Alva. Our travel dates aligned with the start of the picking season, so we often spotted workers in the fields. I wasn’t able to get a picture of them, but there was one vineyard where the workers stopped picking, and jumped and waved their arms as they shouted a greeting to us. (I choose to believe it was a heartly hello!) Our Captain responded with a sounding of the ship’s horn.

Between breakfast and lunch, Chef Andrea demonstrated how to make Pastel de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts).

A short time later, we passed through the Pocinho Lock:

We arrived at Barca d’Alva after lunch and transferred to our designated bus to made the scenic trek to Castelo Rodrigo. You’ll see from some of the pictures coming up that there are people living in these old dwellings surrounding the castle. While the castle is only remains at this point, the area is a thriving tourist location. They even have 5g fiber, believe it or not!

There were so many beautiful pictures from this stop I have to add them in several separate slide decks. First we went down to the church:

Then I did some wandering on my own:

Then into the castle where they have a museum, and…an ATM:

After touring the castle on my own, I made my way back to my group, marveling at the beautiful views along the way. Back near the entrance there were shops were filled with – you guessed it – cork products, olive products and wine! In one of the shops I tasted Almond Sparkling Wine, which was a mixture of almond liqueur made only in that area of Portugal and sparkling wine. If I hadn’t already bought a few bottles of wine from some of our other stops I would have grabbed some of that Almond liqueur, but I knew I was already near the tipping point on my suitcase weight limit, so I had to walk away sad. 😦

On the ride back I was able to get a few pics of the pigeon houses. Our guide told us a story of how pigeons were, and still are used as food in Portugal (pigeon rice, yum!). Also, their droppings are used as fertilizer. There was a time long ago when Coca-Cola was banned (I don’t remember when and couldn’t find a reference online), and so smugglers stored it in the pigeon houses. Pigeon houses were scattered among the rocky hills all along our route. This is the best picture I was able to get:

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