The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rushing Through Porto

The following takes place between Days 158-160, May 4-6, 2011

With a plan in mind to head to the Algarve region in a few days, I decided to split my time in Lisbon in two and head to Porto for a couple nights to check out the home of Port wine, a type of wine made by using brandy during the fermentation process. It’s amazing to drink. Highly recommend it.  And drinking it where it’s made is all the more better

To get there, I grabbed a bus from Lisbon and rode the 3 and a half hour trip through the Portuguese countryside on a bus with leather seats and air conditioning. I was already impressed. However, the thing I learned too late was that there isn’t a centralized bus station in Porto. Every bus company just drops people off(or picks people up) from their office.

Porto has warm weather too, so arriving in the middle of the afternoon, nearly seven blocks up and downhill from the nearest metro station, and lugging around my black backpack and daypack did not make me a very  . . . attractive individual. I definitely had sweat lines. Even finding the metro only helped for a little bit as the hostel itself was once again uphill. Oh well!

IMG_5840Porto itself is a beautiful city. The entire historical downtown area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it’s easy to see why. The buildings have such a beauty and charm all its own. Walking down to the river, one can see both Porto and it’s neighbouring city across the water, Gaia. It is that neighbouring city where one finds all the port cellars that are so famous.

For myself, knowing I only had a couple days in the city before leaving, went pretty hardcore and for long hours each day. The first day I grabbed a ticket on the sightseeing bus much like in Lisbon and had a wonderful tour of the city. The city is deceptively large, extending much further down the river than you initially see. The UNESCO area is only a tiny portion of a much larger city. IMG_5851

With the ticket, I also got a ride on the tour boat that takes tourists up the river to view the six different bridges that are in the city. I definitely thought of Saskatoon when someone called Porto the “City of Bridges.” It was an interesting ride, and not just because I got to share it with a field trip of a 10 year olds. Shrieking children are not usually fun but these ones were kinda cute as they waved at other passing boats.

Of course, when one is in Porto, one must take advantage of the tours offered by nearly every port wine cellar company. For me, I choose the company Graham’s. I walked all the way from the hostel to the cellar which was a bit of a hike. First going downhill to the river, across the bridge, then uphill to the cellar on the other side of the river. The experience after was worth the hike though. I managed to get there as a tour was just starting in English with a small family from just outside Amsterdam.

IMG_5960Walking through the cellar was so fascinating, particularily going through the Special Collections cellar which included bottles of wine from the late 1800s. Those would cost more than my trip and, shockingly enough, those that would buy it would never drink it. It’s a “work of art" according to the guide. Seriously? A bottle of wine and you DON’T drink it??? Baffles me to know end. I loves me my wine. Of course, the best part of any cellar tour is the free samples at the end. Probably my best was the Tauty Port wine from 1992 which had a very distinctive caramel flavour. Goes down like water. So good.

I did briefly consider spending the 10 euros on a glass of a 1985 special collection port but then didn’t . . . for some reason. I still don’t know why I didn’t.

IMG_5947I bid the Dutch family adieu and continued walking along the marina towards the bridge. Out of curiosity I did a few geocaches that were on my way. This is where it got interesting as I ended up finding one in the wall near the large bridge. And not just that. I also found someone’s passport. It was weird as at first, I thought it was the logbook for the geocache. It was right at the coordinates, and in a space of the wall right beside where the geocache was. Needless to say, I took the passport and proceeded to spend two hours searching for a police station to hand it in.

IMG_5996Once that good deed was fulfilled I jumped onto an old fashioned street car and took it to the new section of town to walk the boardwalk and watch the sunset over the ocean. As much as I hated to leave, I knew I had to with time running down before Kelly would meet me in Athens.

I spent that last night out on the town with some people from the hostel. Well, not so much out on the town. We walked to the center, found a small bar that people seemed to just go to to grab a cheap drink to drink on the sidewalk, had a few drinks and then went back to the hostel. Either way, it was fun. Even if I was the oldest one in the group. IMG_6016

No comments:

Post a Comment