Puttering About in Porto

July 9th (Monday)

Having spent the previous day familiarising ourselves with Porto, Kitty and I spent the morning and early afternoon catching up with work and writing.  We then took advantage of the lovely weather and spent some time reading down on the bank of the river.  Around 16:30, we headed back to the hostel to get prepped for our surfing lesson!  The van picked us up at five in the evening along with four other people staying in Porto (though not at the same hostel), and drove us out to the beach about 30 minutes away — I want to say it was somewhere near Espinho, just south of Porto.  A couple hours of swimming, catching waves, and wiping out!  Again, we didn’t do great, but we got up on the board a few more times and had a lot of fun.

When we were finished, we got changed and packed up for the drive back.  All told, it was about four hours worth of time in the evening, and we were incredibly tired once more!  Kitty and I went down to the Italian restaurant just down the street for dinner, Mamma Bella, and managed to stay awake just long enough to finish eating.  We headed back to the hostel and crashed into bed mere moments after!

Photo of Porto from the river, showing brightly-coloured houses on a hill contrasted with a cloudy sky
Overcast day in Porto, but the houses are still pretty colourful!

July 10th (Tuesday)

We decided earlier in the week that we would use Tuesday to go on the boat and wine tasting tour that we found at a tourist office in Porto.  Porto has a total of six different bridges connecting the two sides of the city across the river, so the boat tour was to take us up and down to see all of them.

It was … underwhelming, to say the least.  We arrived in time for the 16:00 tour, and got on the boat excited for the sights.  It was about fifteen minutes in when we realised that there was no guide — no-one talking about the different bridges, or even the city that we were passing.  Just a boat going up and down the river, for nearly an hour.  Not that we didn’t appreciate seeing the bridges, it’s just that we didn’t have any context for them, or any knowledge of whether they were important, so it was a bit boring.  Also quite cold!  The wind that was coming off the ocean along the river was cooler than we expected, and we kind of regretted not having our jackets along with us now that we were accustomed to the hotter weather.

Photo of the Luis the first bridge in Porto, taken from the river
The main bridge that we’d been using to cross the river, the Ponte Luis I. The tram runs along the upper level, while vehicle traffic uses the lower, and pedestrians on both.

Once the boat tour was done, we headed over to Porto Cruz, the winery that we had tastings for.  We had walked past the place multiple times during our stay in Porto, as our hostel was just up the very same street, and this was the first time we were inside.  Our tasting was, again, quite underwhelming.  We were directed to the tasting area where we were given the choice of two ports to try: a tawny or a a rose.  No tour, no pomp or circumstance, not even really an explanation of what the differences were between them.  Luckily from our chocolate and port experience a couple days before, we knew a bit of the differences, so we took one of each and tried a bit from both.  From the time we arrived to our departure out the door was maybe fifteen minutes.  It was good port though!  We picked up a bottle of the tawny from the shop next door on our way back to the hostel for later.

Photo of a glass with Port wine.
Didn’t even get to keep the glass, though the wine was quite enjoyable!

Needless to say, my review of the “Six bridge boat and port tasting tour” is not exactly glowing!  For €15 per person we weren’t expecting much, and still ended up let down.  There might be other tours that go more in-depth and explain a bit more around the city and/or the wine, but this certainly was not one of them!  We spent our evening making dinner, and then enjoying the port wine and card games with a couple of other hostel guests before calling it a night.

July 11th (Wednesday)

Wednesday was a work day for Kitty, so we hung about the hostel for most of the day, chatting with one of the women who worked there.  She was originally from Portugal, but had a thick Irish accent from living in Ireland for over twelve years!  As we talked, she told us she had returned to Portugal to look after her grandmother, but with minimum wage being lower and the costs of living higher, she was having a tough time of it.  Hope things work out for her, as her heart is in Ireland, but the future may take her to Belgium!

We kept the evening pretty quiet, as we were planning on leaving early the next morning, so we made dinner back at the hostel and watched the England/Croatia world cup game.  Our dinner was a fiasco, though — we bought salted fish to cook with some veggies on the side, and I fried it thinking it would be like any other fish.  Hoo boy, was it salty!  We looked it up later, and found that you’re supposed rinse most of the salt off, then boil it or soak it further before frying.  No wonder it tasted saltier than the English world cup fans!

Overall, not the most eventful few days, but we would head on south from Porto the next day, toward Lisbon — so stay tuned, as that update is soon to come!  In the meantime, feel free to hit the subscribe button in the sidebar, or follow me on Twitter for more updates.  See you again soon!

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