Thursday, 23 August 2012



We had arrived in Leixoes on the Saturday lunchtime. The plan was to spend the Sunday exploring the city of Porto and a visit to a Port Wine cellar!

The marina was quite a walk from anywhere, 15mins to the little adjacent town and about 20mins walk to the metro on the other side of the river. Interestingly the marina claimed to have Wi-Fi but we never managed to get a good connection for very long.
Our marina is behind the container port on the left

A 20min walk later and an altercation with an automatic ticket machine which took our money but didn’t issue us a ticket, we finally managed to buy tickets and boarded the tram to the city centre. I suppose we should have asked where to get off and find tourist information at the marina office, however we got off at what looked like the city centre and asked for tourist information.
Commercial district

By a stroke of luck we had got off at the right stop and tourist info was a short walk away. At the information office a very helpful young man suggested that we didn’t take a bus tour (at €20 each ) but he pointed out the main sites and suggested we could walk.  So it was to be the architecture of the main commercial district, town hall, Cathedral and old town, bridge across the river, lunch at a cafe looking back to the old town and a Port wine cellar tour with tasting to finish off!
Views from the Cathedral

If you are not fit before you get to Porto you will be after your visit, it was up and down hill all day. Porto is a town of contrasts – some very imposing buildings, old and new, cheek by jowl with high rise residences also old and new. Some of them are well kept some in a very poor state , others are right next to a completely derelict building. You feel they would fall down if not joined to the neighbours. It is all very interesting with loads of history. We saw one 19thC house which inside has remains of Iron Age, Roman and Medieval settlements.
Porto Contrasts

The day climaxed with a tasting of 5 different styles of Port. (15 year old LBV, Ruby, white, a 12 and 5 year old Tawny). The history of port is fascinating, a totally British invention adding brandy (now clear spirit) to keep the wine on the long sea journey back to the UK. French wine was either heavily taxed or we were at war with France.
Lunchtime view

We visited the Offley wine cellars who have been making port since 1737 and learnt all about their history and James Forrester who was made a Baron by the King of Portugal.He did a lot for the wine trade including making the first map of the Douro river, studying diseasesof the vines and growing requirements and he was also an artist. Interestingly, the majority of port wine producers are still UK family owned.
Not even I could drink that lot!
A tip for those tempted to think you may get a bargain at the wine cellars, think again! We could have bought the same wine much cheaper in the town than at the cellars.

The Port wine Caves
The town as viewed from the bridge

Having being exhausted by Porto we got the metro back. Tomorrow shopping was to be more mundane as we needed to victual the boat for the next few days and fill up with diesel. Our next few stops would just be overnight with no real opportunity to refuel or replenish our supplies.
The beach at Leixoes

After our shopping trip we walked back along the lovely beach adjacent to the marina. A pity the Atlantic water is so cold.
Seen in the Marina - We never found out what plan A was!

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