The Vibrant City of Porto, Portugal

We're no longer in a place where it's sweater weather. It's hot, it's sunny, it's August in Porto, Portugal.

The breakfast buffet at our hotel was amazing. There was fresh fruit, cheese, meats, cereals, croissants, and eggs. They even had an omelette bar where you could create your own concoction for the chef with tomatoes, cheese, parsley, cucumbers, and mushrooms.

We decided to take a hop on hop off tour on a double decker bus, but instead of hopping off, we stayed on with the rest of the passengers for almost the whole loop. With soft British narration we passed old churches covered with painted tiles, buildings with wrought iron balconies, and lush palm trees along the seaside promenade. The tide was in and the waves splashed against the rocks sending a mighty spray into the air. We learned that sometimes the passengers on the bus are splashed too.

Our first major stop was for a cruise down the Douro River and the passengers eagerly poured out of the bus and headed down the steep stone steps to a boat waiting below. We sat on top in the bright sunshine and sailed beneath six bridges, one designed by Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower. I noticed abandoned stone houses built into the steep cliffs and wondered who once lived there. 

After lunch we toured a port winery, Calem, which was quite elegant. We walked through a wine cellar with enormous casks of wine. Our guide was quite intense as if giving a science lecture. "If you buy 10 year old Port it will still be 10 year old Port even if you don't open it for 50 years. Do you have any questions?" Someone was snickering about the presentation behind me, but Dave thought it was excellent. He complimented the girl and she glowed with pride.  The tour ended with a sample of red and white Port served in real glasses.

Walking back across the bridge we noticed people were lined up peering down. There were local teenage boys diving off the bridge, "Will you give me a euro to jump?" said a young boy to us. His friend passed the hat and people threw in coins. It looked dangerous to me, but they all dove right in.

We took a funicular back up the hill. The cathedral in Porto was built in the 12th century. It's dark inside but remarkably well preserved. In the cloisters a man with a suit and bow tie was trying to get my attention. Thinking he wanted to talk us into a big donation, I scurried away. Later we learned he was taking souvenir photos of people up against the blue and white Portuguese tiles called azulejos.

Tonight we walked down to the bridge and walked out on the upper level. Looking down we noticed some more stone houses built on the side of the hill that had been completely reclaimed by the earth. Covered with flowers and ivy, all you could see we're the outlines. It truly is beautiful here. Tomorrow we will explore the Douro valley.


Popular Posts