20. September 2012 · Comments Off on Portugal: Porto · Categories: Posts

Welcome to the city of churches.

Boy the Portuguese love their beautiful ornate churches and Porto is full of them.

Church with hand painted tiles

Close up of the hand painted tiles


The import of ‘fortified’ wines, known as port, by the English made Porto a very rich city for a long time and it is reflected in the architecture.


The city centre


Busy city streets


But like all major cities there are also run down sections.  But even they are interesting too.


How many Portuguese flags does it take to hide the fact it is time to paint?


Of course there are lots of examples of the tile work I love so much here.


Some crazy hand painted tiles


These ones are in the train station

Welcome to the house of tiles



We climbed up the bell tower of one of the highest churches to get an all over view of Porto and the Port lodges across the river.


Tallest bell tower in Porto


The view half way up


As we passed the bells one of the human’s said ‘Hope the bell does not toll’.  No sooner did she say that then the bell struck the hour….very loudly.  Luckily it was 1pm.


View from the top of the bell tower in the church

The cities roofs below

A great panoramic view of the city


Besides port Portugal is also know for it’s hand made lace.  It is sold in all the tat stores, but it is lovely to see it used in traditional ways, including the most common use, window dressing.


Lace curtains


We had seen a bit of Porto, so it was time to make our way down the waterfront and across the river to the Port houses.



Bridge over the river Douro

Traditional port barges with Porto, across the river, in the back ground


The first port house we wanted to visit was Taylor’s.  Mostly because the ‘lonely planet’ guide said it was free.  We had a long climb up as everything is uphill from the river Douro.


Climbing the stone streets up


It better be up here


Finally made it !


Of course, it was not free.

But at three euros for the tour, including three tasting for free, we really could not complain (and besides we were up here now).

So the many types of port wine were explained to us and their fermentation techniques including a white port we were unaware existed.


Ruby port is aged in large wooden barrels so that less oxygen effects the fruity taste and colour.


Tawny port is aged in smaller barrels so the oxygen and wood add to the flavour and the colour turns pale.


More oxygen means more evaporation. One 600 letre barrel is lost every 6 when making tawny port


All this climbing hills……

learning about port production…..

and maybe a little too much port tasting….

meant we really needed to get something in our stomachs.

So we headed back over the river to see if we could find some traditional Portuguese food.

Along the way we ran into this tourist boat.


Do you recognise this boat? Think jubilee celebrations.
Still need a hint?
Think….the queen never sat down!


Crowded waterfront balconies



We found a lovely ‘locals’ restaurant that served local food.  The humans had the house lunch specials.  One was Portuguese salted cod cooked with onions and peppers and served with potatoes.  The other was sheeps offal (stomach and spine) cooked with butter beans and rice.  Both were excellently cooked for only five euros each.


Little local resturants


Walking off lunch down the river bank you find some more great examples of Portugese sea side archetecture.


The ground floor was traditionaly used to house fishing nets and gear. The living quarters were on the floors above.


We stopped at the local market and got some lovely green figs to go with the cheese and port.  The Portugese cheeses are lovely and, not that the brown figs are not nice, the little green figs are like small balls of brown sugar.  The locally produced wines are also very nice and economical.


The winds are too light or in the wrong direction over the next few days.  We found out that the Marina does not charge you to dock your rib inside if you anchor out side.  Well the truth is they say there is a charge, but they rarely can be bothered to collect.  So we are going to anchor outside tomorrow.  We will fill our next few days with repairs to the boat and some surfing.  The beach right beside the Marina is great for surfing.  I will watch from the shore as they crash about pretenting they know what they are doing.  This should be fun to watch!

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