The Other Side Tourism Company - Oporto, Portugal
Oporto has a mass amount of events and activities catered for anyone visiting the city, but no tour company comes close to what The Other Side has provided for us. The finalised itinerary of our trip to the northern region of Portugal was cheerfully celebrated when we booked with The Other Side tourism company.
The Other Side opened business early 2013 with owner João doing the tour routes himself. With his passion for travelling combined with his love for his amazing Portugal, he gives a genuine and organic first-hand experience. João's tourism background goes back to his days working in Barcelona's tourism office and several top-notch hotels in both Spain and Portugal. After his active, younger years spent working alongside different tourism boards, João decided to open his own tourism company with ¨The Other Side¨ and as the name says; his mission is to show a different side of Portugal, the true culture, traditions and people of the region as well as their customs.
Every tour involves a lot of sightseeing, as well as venturing into the lesser known side of Portugal. Expect to be taken through local routes in which the highlight of your tour will be integrating with the people. Through João's lectures, we learned what makes this lovely country so different, as well as the differences in the three geographic areas. Portugal has three large rivers that flow into the Atlantic and rise into neighbouring Spain.
We chose to do the Douro and Vineyards tour. The tour consisted of a full day excursion travelling in a van: an outing to the region of the Douro (UNESCO World Heritage Site), with a stop for lunch in the beautiful village of Amarante and a visit to two different farms/wineries. There would have been absolutely no other way we would have done the looping Douro valley by ourselves and found our way atop one of the highest points overlooking kilometres of vineyards.
At the beginning of the trip, we were picked up at our hotel and introduced to the tour guide and the company owner João. Along our way, through the Minho province, we enjoyed very beautiful views while being given an overall recitation about the day tour and the different wines produced. Our first stop was off at the Aveleda winery, we were introduced to our very first vinho verde, which literally means green wine but translates to young wine, as opposed to mature wine. The slightly sparkling nature of this wine merged well deliciously with cheese and crackers at the end of the garden visit. The family´s summer home and fantastical green garden serenaded with rustic benches and peacocks was a magical experience.
We went to the beautiful village of Amarante to have lunch straight afterwards at the family-owned Taberna Das Comadres restaurant. After, we went through the enchanted Douro valleys before coming to a stop at a Port wine farm to learn about the manufacturing process. We were taken to the highest point of the region, after the city of Régua and met with the owner of a Port Wine farm and had a guided visit by the owner her self!
Four different agings of Port wine was savoured as we learned the manufacturing techniques that go with the bottling and caring of one of the most famous wines in the world.
The Other Side is perfect for those who love to travel and want to get an insight into Portugal´s culture. The company name pretty much sums up their goal and purpose. Learn more about the authentic characteristics of Portuguese culture while enjoying their traditions and blending into the local heritage of this beautiful country. This tour company defines boutique travel at its best. They recommend you savour the unexpected, and engaging with the locals is the best way to get to know the place. Be sure to slow travel, take local buses and trains to get around, and enjoy the journey. For the first impression of a new city, we recommend visiting the local markets, cafés and shops.