Explored the Cathedral up the road and the South side of the river……which just so happens to be where all the Port manufacturers in Porto are so I guess I’ll have to partake in some tasting! The Cathedral is big and just behind an old and still used military building but I was met with three hearses and mourners, I couldn’t get myself to wonder inside whilst people were grieving so left out of respect.
As per my usual I took a long route via, you guessed it, another Cathedral, Trindade then crossed the iron bridge (Dom Luís I Bridge) and instead of taking the cable car down I found a path/road instead and thought shit I hope I can find another route back because this hill would be hell to climb! Unobservant I hate to say that in the previous days I missed the fact that the iron bridge had two crossing points, one at the top the other at the bottom which to my relief I saw when I got to the bottom – how I missed that the days before I have no idea! Well at least I wouldn’t have to climb the hill on the way back!
The Southside of the river has more of a promenade and waterfront feel to it; adjacent all the port makers housed in refurbished old buildings which no doubt they have been using for 150yrs+. It has a bit of a sophisticated feel about it and reminded me of many of the wine estates I visited in South Africa. Many of the Brands having restaurants and cafes outside in front to entice people in and why not, enjoy a meal with a little glass or two of port or even a port cocktail. I didn’t go to all or even many brands, that in itself would be a herculean task and made for only the strongest kidneys! If I ever come back to Porto, even if it’s a quick stop over or just passing through I will definitely chip away at them. I ended up spending most of my time at Sandeman, few cocktails and a few tastings; their 20yr old port is hands down the best I have ever had. I’m no fan of port, I guess that’s because I’ve never tasted any from its birthplace. Before tasting it here in Porto I would never have bought a bottle either, now, when I finally do settle down I will keep an eye out for a genuine port from Porto, buy it and enjoy, after tasting a true product I can now understand why it has made such a name for itself….I am a convert!
All the producers that I passed or popped my head into were elegant inside and from passing through the entrance of an old building you enter into a different world and era inside. I planned on going back the next day, but that didn’t happen, I will divulge later.
I walked along the river taking in the views with no purpose or destination, I walked so far that the iron bridge was far in the distance and then turned back. One thing I was surprised was how clean the river seemed, on many occasions you could see schools of fish or varying size, nothing huge but something I would be proud of to catch if I were fishing. The day was coming to an end, I wanted a reasonably early night – it was a very hot and humid day, my legs were tired and I needed to arrange transport and accommodation for Lisbon.
Not everything goes to plan; the next morning was overcast which didn’t deter me as I could spend the morning sorting out logistics, it started to rain and that didn’t bother me either. A short version of a long story i.e. it consumed my whole day; my first two Airbnb bookings failed, the first had to cancel, the second had his brother arriving and I didn’t want to share, the third agreed however this was only confirmed late in the afternoon. Whilst looking at Airbnb I was on all my usual hotel sites and there were many places but totally overpriced, even hostels some were even more expensive that smart hotels! My criteria for hostels was a single room preferably with own bathroom, I eventually resorted to a double rooms so I would pay double and shared bathrooms – there was nothing! Those that I did find, as I mentioned were more expensive than hotel, 4-5star hotels…….very frustrating! To top it off when I booked my train ticket the first time (using my phone) they took the payment but didn’t send me the ticket, reluctantly I booked again using my laptop, that time it worked – seems it was their mobile phone interface. Lesson learnt!; when possible use your laptop! Only a €34 mistake nothing to break the bank but frustrating even so. So my last day was a waste, self-caused and a pity I didn’t get to have a taste of more port. Head out tomorrow, my train leaves at 12:52.
If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 of Porto here are the links: