Monday 13th April
We made our usual early morning start, leaving Frankie about 10.30am, we had a busy day, hence the early start.
We’d been told that we could get a bus into Porto for €2.10 each, it’s a 30 minute trip and we easily found the bus stop and within minutes were on the bus. I think Stellas sister was telling the driver where to go, it was certainly not bus worthy roads as we would know them. We had no idea where to get off but luckily held our nerve and waited until the River Douro got into view.
Not really sure what we expected but it was very pretty. Lots of coloured buildings and red roofs all higgledy piggledy and fighting each other for a bit of space.
We had got off near to the river so climbed up to look over the town. To the left were all the Port houses, Offley, Cockburns, Sandeman, Dows, Taylors, etc.
And in front of us the Luis I bridge designed by Gustave Eiffels structural engineer, Teophile Seyrig who had already designed the bridge a mile upstream whilst working for Eiffel 9 years previously. Eiffels bridge spanned 160m which at the time was the largest span for a bridge in the world. Seyrig’s design had a 172m central span making it the longest bridge in the world at that time, 1886. Look carefully and you’ll see two decks, the top deck carries the metro line and pedestrians whilst the lower deck caries cars and pedestrians.
Everywhere you look are these lovely buildings squeezed in where they can.
We had lunch on the pavement up near the large church at the top. A Portuguese speciality which sounds pretty odd. Imagine a steak, sausage and chorizo sandwich with melted cheese all over the top, (Mine had a fried egg on the top of that). Now knock up some gravy made with a beer base and smother your sarnie with it. The photos look like the sandwich is swimming in gravy. It was delicious all washed down with a beer and a glass of white port.
You can take a city tour in an old Citreon or choose from one of the many red double decker buses.
More church. The surprising thing to us about Porto were the hills. Everywhere was either up or down a hill and this one was competing with Steep Hill in Lincoln for steepest shopping street.
And some of the boats used to bring the wine down from upstream. The wine is fermented for a very short time, two or three days typically and then neat alcohol is added to kill the fermentation process – too much alcohol kills the yeast. The the wine is placed into oak casks for two to four years and then bottled.
The lower deck of the Luis I bridge as we made our way home via a port cellar of course. We visited Offleys port cellar, founded in 1735 by a Scotsman living in London. We were given a tour of the casks, taught about the different types of Port, Ruby, Tawny, Rose and White and then given samples of each. It was all a bit confusing and in the end we couldn’t tell the difference between any of them other than by the colour.
Our bus didn’t have a number on it, all the other buses had numbers and the bus stops had numbers on them so how were we going to get home? Lucy worried about this little dilemma for most of the day but I had a cunning plan. All you have to do is find the bus stop where you got off, cross to the other side of the road and wait for one with your name on it.