How to enjoy Portugal in the rain

May 23, 2016

Pretty Porto, Portugal in the rain.

After two weeks touring Europe about 25 years ago and spending huge amounts of time viewing pre-medieval paintings in Florence and elsewhere I vowed that I would never again look at another 12th century gilt painting. And I’ve kept to that for 25 years.

Now, after our last trip to Portugal, I’m adding to that. If I never see another European church or vineyard again, I’m good. So good.

I’ve seen scores of churches, basilicas and cathedrals all over Europe. I am full up with them.  Oh, sure. I’ll always go to my favorite church, the stunning Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, or St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Those are givens. But others? I’m done.

cruising-PortugalVineyards are beautiful, I  know. We live two hours from the California wine country and have visited dozens of times. I’ve now seen wine country in Italy, Germany and Portugal. That’s more than enough wine country for one lifetime.

These are the thoughts that came to mind as we visited yet another old church and yet another port winemaking facility in Portugal.  In the rain.


Les Miserables.

If you travel as much as we do, you’re going to run into some bad weather, and that happened to us this month as we cruised the beautiful Douro River in the rain. We are not always guaranteed sunny skies, in life or on vacation. It’s not “owed” us.

Cruising Portugal in the rain meant that that beautiful light so distinctive in most photos of the place wasn’t there. In its place? Grey skies, wet streets, drizzles and downpours. As we trudged through sight after sight in the rain,  I wondered why I was doing this. I saw nothing out of the ordinary in the usual visitor attractions. Nothing distinctive to speak of. Just more old European stuff.

old house rivr distance 700While the formal attractions weren’t much to talk about, Portugal in the rain had a unique beauty all its own. The air was soft and quiet. The mornings I spent in the big, windowed lounge or, if weather permitted, on deck, by myself with my camera, were some of the best I had on this trip.

cruising-PortugalIf I had this cruise to do over, I would have stayed on board ship while others toured churches and vineyards. I would have cruised with the boat, sat on the deck and looked out at nature. We don’t get do-overs, unfortunately, (well, ok, sometimes we do, and here I reference my remarriage to my first husband, after 26 years), but normally, we do not get to do it over.

cruising-PortugalExcept virtually. I thought I’d give you my Portugal do-over and walk you through some of the beauty of Portugal’s Douro River in the rain. Because it IS beautiful.


A new discovery around every bend in the river, it was all beautiful, to me.


The river provided an idyllic reverie for someone like me who lives in a major urban center.

cruising-PortugalWhether it was ruins on a hill, a waterfall, mountains or just moody water, it was lovely.

cruising-PortugalBeing on the water is always soothing, regardless of the weather. So, I didn’t so much mind the rain.

But the BIGGER problem was that so many women were hacking and coughing it felt like it was a floating bronchitis ward.  To make matters worse, most of the coughing people were smokers, which meant that their hacking was deep, constant and super-obnoxious. So, no surprise that the first day home I felt as though I were coming down with something. And it lingered, not really doing anything. Just sitting there making me feel like shiz until it finally became a full-on thing. That lasted 10 days.

Still, nothing can take away the memories that are locked into each pixel of the photos I’ve shared with you today. I hope you enjoyed them.

34 comments on “How to enjoy Portugal in the rain
  1. M.L.Kappa says:

    Hi Carol! Landed here from the Monday Linky party. Great photos! Pleased to meet you, Marina

  2. Those pictures are gorgeous even with the cloudy skies! I agree being on the water is so wonderful!

  3. Klauss says:

    It looks like you had a good time despite the weather. Portugal, of course, is wonderful!

  4. I definitely enjoyed these pics! There’s so much traveling I have yet to do. Thanks for showing me a few of the places I ought to see!

  5. I hate it when this happens: plan, plan, look forward too and then BAM- crappy weather or you’ve sorta seen it all before. For me it’s beaches. I’ve been to dozens all over the globe. Now I’ll just say, ‘no’ and stick with the few I love. BUT- you’re pics are lovely and I’ve still to see Rome. On my bucket list!

  6. Mary says:

    I find there is something quite majestic and calm about being in a foreign land in the rain. Your pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  7. When I was in Portugal we had to miss Porto because of the weather and ended up in Vigo Spain instead. We were on an ocean cruise ship and the water was too rough.I would love to do the river cruise.We did Pompei in the pouring rain and it actually made it much more mysterious and sparkly.

  8. Roz Warren says:

    Carol, I always appreciate your upbeat attitude, your great sense of humor and your beautiful photos.

  9. Jennifer says:

    You’re hilarious!! I would have slogged through the rain if I’d never been there before, otherwise I would have suffered aboard, dodging germs and eating too much. Perhaps drinking too much too:)

  10. WOW! beautiful pictures, I will have to add this to my travel bucket list.

  11. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Rain or shine….these pictures are great. I really want to go to Portugal. I shall remember to pack an umbrella as it looks like from the comments that rain could be part of the trip.

  12. cori says:

    Background: Florida girl born and raised, sunshine all the time. I’m not a seasoned traveller and on my first overseas trip to England in May, I was having a really hard time with all the rain and dreariness. The day we went to Warwick Castle was the first sunny day we’d had in two weeks. Wouldn’t you know it, the heavens opened. I did NOT handle it well. I’m better now, but that was a real eye opener for me.

  13. Meryl baer says:

    Know exactly what you mean about the churches and vineyards. Pictures along the river, even in grey mist, show a lovely country. Haven’t been yet, but Portugal is on my bucket list.

  14. Barbara says:

    I agree about churches and vineyards. We live up the street from a vineyard and there are 10 more all around us. St. Peters is most definitely on my list to see again, but aside from that, I’d be fine with no more.
    Thanks for sharing the pictures. Even though dreary they are still beautiful. It adds a kind of gothic aura.

  15. carol says:

    Your photographs are beautiful and were made even more special by sharing your story. I agree with you on the churches and vineyards. It’s so much more fun to immerse yourself in nature. When we travel, we try to limit the tourist attractions to a minimum instead opting to live more like a local by finding eateries off the beaten path, taking hikes or riding through the countryside.

  16. Diane says:

    Soft. Quiet. And beautiful. Slightly misty around the edges. Sounds like the perfect holiday to me! I’m married to an historian. Yeah. I’ve pretty much seen everything. Everywhere. Sigh. 😉

  17. Andrea says:

    Lisbon looks like it’s a very lovely place to visit – and probably a very peaceful one too 🙂

  18. Carolann says:

    The photos are stunning Carol. I would have love to stay on the boat too and just enjoy the nature. I’m sure you made some beautiful memories that you and the hubby will never forget!

  19. Jennifer says:

    Too bad about the hackers and wheezers. Taking a river cruise is on the bucket list and seeing your pictures is making me move it up line.

  20. Your pictures are gorgeous. And I’m so with you about staying on the ship. My husband and I stayed on the ship on our Viking Ocean Cruise on one of the days everyone was out exploring Rome, and we had a fantastic, special day. I’m kind of done with European churches at this point, too.

  21. Even with the rainy Seatle type glow it looks beautiful!

  22. Jasmine says:

    I could use portugal in the rain or shine! Such a beautiful place to visit

  23. alison says:

    Those are beautiful pictures! It was worth it! But seriously I would have been so annoyed by getting the cough when I got home!

  24. Haha what a great post! Your photos are beautiful! I’m definitely not a sun worshipper and I really don’t mind a little rain – I think you can always find interesting things to do.

  25. I am in awe of your photos. Even on a rainy day you managed to take some amazing ones. I’m going to keep your tips in mind if I ever cruise Portugal in the rain.

  26. Paola says:

    The pictures are amazing. Even though it is gloomy and rainy it still looks so beautiful!

  27. Wow… All these pictures are incredible!! I will have to add this to my travel list!!

  28. Lisa Rios says:

    My goodness, this is just beautiful. The pictures are absolutely fabulous & soothing to your heart, visiting one such place is a dream come true for both me & my husband as we both are nature lovers. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience.

  29. WOW> even in the rain Portugal is gorgeous! What a fabulous trip!

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