Porto and Gaia are situated in the North West of Portugal along the Douro river. It is the second largest city in Portugal. Porto is also known as Oporto.
Saturday, 5th August 2017
I had to wake up early – around 7pm, to catch the train to Granja. There was a change in Espinho, the last stop before Granja even I took an IC, that means slower train, which stops more often. I have got a message from Felco asking me if I will be in time, which I saw in Espinho. Though he was picking me up there. He also picked up two of his girl friends from another place on the way. They are sisters and were born and grew up on Madeira. I think I have to go there to, before leaving Portugal. Felco also had his two kids Rodrigo (4) and Marguerita (6) in the car. There were no lunch prepared, but 1m-pizza.
After lunch we first were down to the pool. Felco is living in an apartment building with a court in the middle with the pool and space enough on the green to take sunbathe. Later in the afternoon and the whole evening we joined the Medieval festival in Santa Maria da Feira and stayed until late. There were lots of Portuguese history shown, especially by the theatre.
Sunday, 6th August 2017
When I was awake and dressed, Felco was as well. The kids were still sleeping and we did talk about Mexico and he recommended me places to go to. He had the day before told me, that he gladly will show me around in Porto, but changed his mind this morning, because it has been late for the kids the evening before and he would like to spend the time with his kids, but recommended me the free walking tour of Porto. He also gave me a free map of Porto and a “SiGA”-card for the train, which I thought was working for all public transport of Greater Porto. I walked down to the train station, which was easy to find from Felco’s home. I filled the SiGa-card with 5 titulos (travels) before entering the train.
I did not check the free walking tour. It was quite hot and I was not willing to run around the city. I was walking in my own tempo following signs, who sounded interesting and came to the Palace de Bolsa. There were guided tours, but for the tours in English we had to wait, because the earlier tours were already full. When I asked for a senior ticket, the cashier told me, like one speaks to a child or maybe more like the Swedish would explain, that one has to be 65 years old in Portugal to buy a senior ticket. I told her, that I am and showed her my passport. Though I have got a senior ticket. I was thinking about, that she did not take me for so aged, what is a compliment.
Meanwhile I was waiting for the guided tour of the palace I was looking for a restaurant and found one at least not far away from the palace. I was not willing to go too far, because I was afraid I would not find my way back in time. There were several restaurants not so far away from the palace, but most of them were expensive and offered especially fish and seafood.
After the guided tour in the Palace, which really was worth its money, I was down to the river Douro, walked all the way to the famous iron bridge (the Dom Luís I Bridge), walked over it on the lower lane and entered Gaia. It is like often at rivers, there are different towns on the different banks of it. In Porto there were a lot of restaurants and souvenir shops along the Douro and there were as well in Gaia, but the last-named town had another atmosphere and more music. In front of a little restaurant there were a one-man-band and he also was the singer. There was a lot of technic and playback, but anyway it was really nice and the music happy. From a gym were dancers there and people coming around stopped and attended. If I have had someone to dance with, I had accompanied, too.
After a while I continued to see more. There were lots of wineries – the Port-wine is well-known and comes from here, but the grapes grow longer down the Douro. I did not enter one of the wineries for a tasting, because the heat. I thought I will be dull in my head as soon as I drink a glass of Port-wine.
Later that evening I had a sandwich and a beer and sat on a table outside this restaurant. Though I could enjoy the music one more time. I tried to go home by train between 9pm and 10pm, but I just missed one. At 11pm I was back at Felco’s. He had given me a key and just when I want open the door of the apartment he sent me a WhatsApp message, though I knocked the door and he let me in.
Monday, 7th August 2017
Felco had to go to work and he offered me to take me with him into town and leave me at a Metro station. He left the kids to the grand parents and there we went by car. It was not as easy as at other places to find the right way by the Metro, though I asked a man in his forties. He was very helpful and going by the same Metro in the same direction as me, therefore he also told me, when I had to leave. It was the station Trindade. Furthermore he told me in which direction I will come to the city center. Later I found, that I could have changed to another Metro route to go directly to the São Bento railway station, where I started the day before. Anyway he understood that I was a tourist and to walk from the Metro station down to that train station was a very interesting way with the Town hall and other important buildings on the way.
Downtown I was first looking at the railway station for lockers, because I was not willing to walk around the cities a whole day with my backpack and my thermos case, even I did not have a lot in there and they were not very heavy. First I did not find one at the railway station and was going further down to the city, after I had a breakfast in a little coffee shop close to the railway station. I though I had seen shops offering lockers, but I could not find them – they were still closed. Though I went back to the railway station and asked for lockers there. I should have done that straight away, because there were. They also had a modern system with time locks. An elder man, only speaking Portuguese, helped me to use one of them. He pointed on a sign, how to use, which was also in English and showed me how to lock the locker. Furthermore he showed me with signs, how to do. I was very happy about his help!
From the railway station I could see the upper town and tried to reach the Dom Luís I bridge, because I was interested in to walk the upper lane. It seemed to be very high up from the river – and it is. I was not sure I will make it, but I had to try. It took time to find, where to enter the bridge and at last I asked a police officer. I had to go left somewhere and was looking if it was the first road or not. He used his whistle, though I should look at him one more time and pointed to the other street left. It was no problem to walk the bridge for me. I felt save on it. I also stopped at the railing taking a long look down onto the river.
On the other side there was a monastery and a church, but they were closed as well most of the churches were in Porto and Gaia. They only open for the services. In addition to the buildings there were a garden close to the bridge and the tram was going over the bridge as well. I wished to see more than the way I was coming and actually took the gondola down. It was possible to go only one way as well there were a discount of 10% for seniors. This time I was not asked about my age.
Since I have eaten Tapas in Hamburg as well as in Spain I am looking for it again everywhere I find a Spanish restaurant. Close to the bottom station of the gondola there were a restaurant called “Sancho Panza” and they also announced Tapas, but there was not the kind I was looking for. Anyway I ate a Spanish omelette and had a glass of Port-wine as an aperitif. The omelette was done fast and the waiter was waiting for me to finish my wine. This wine has an alcohol content of 20% ABV on average, but I did not feel dizzy. I had not ordered something to drink, but during the meal I asked for orange lemonade.
After lunch I continued at the pier of Gaia and was interested in the Port wine makers. Though I bought a tour for a cellar with tasting. During the tour we got to know, that there are four kinds of Port wine: The white (with a golden colour), the rosé, the red and the Vintage. More about Port wine you can read here: http://www.taylor.pt/en/what-is-port-wine/introduction/ or on Wikipedia. The tasting was only for two wines: The white and the red, but I bought four little bottles in a package, taking home. It will be difficult to have them on the plan, but I think there will only be the empty bottles left when going home and I will take them with me as a souvenir.
When buying the ticket for the gondola I have got a free entrance for another Port wine winery, but too late I saw on the back, that it was a glass of Port wine included. Furthermore I made a boat trip on the Douro – under the bridges and to the Ocean (close by). I took this tour, because I was interested in how far away the ocean was. It was not far at all. With the ticket for the boat trip there were two coupons for Port wine tasting, but that was too much for me, though I did not use them either.
I went back to Lisbon by train. I bought the ticket at the São Bento railway station and had to go to the Campanhã railway station by a local train, changing there for the IC to Lisbon. I took the IC again, because it was the cheaper one. Arriving in Lisbon at 10:52pm and in time. The ride was for three hours from the Campanhã railway station and it seemed a very long journey. I cannot longer imagine how I endured the flight between Sydney and Toronto as well between Los Angeles and Copenhagen. Anyway I have to take a flight to Los Angeles again, when continuing my RTW-trip.
It was close to midnight, when I arrived at “home” in Lisbon. In the evening the bus is not going so often even the ride is only for around 10 minutes. I felt save in the area and fell asleep soon.
Please go back by the link to Lisbon.