We spent 3 drizzly, chilly nights in Porto. In spite of the weather, we managed to get out to see all of the sights. Porto was all about the architecture, the hills and the port. Let's start with the churches and the architecture.
The first church we visited the Se, the Cathedral, of Portugal overlooks the river and the city. It was a great introduction to the feel of Porto, beautiful and full of energy from the throngs of people in the square. The baroque Igreja (church) dos Clerigos and the Torre dos Clerigos in some sense symbolize Porto. The ornate facade welcomes the faithful and visitors into a beautiful church. Wander through the church for free, due to the rain and fog on the day we visited we skipped the visit to the tower. Finally we toured the gothic San Francisco Cathedral with its historic crypt, decorated in 40 kilos of gold.
Exploring the hills of Porto kept us very entertained. As elsewhere in Spain and Portugal, there is a lot of "street art," some sponsored by the city government. The tiled churches and buildings reflect the history of the azulejo, the painted tile, in Portugal. The Sao Bento train station, one of the most beautiful in Europe, contains floor to ceiling tiled scenes. The one attraction for which we purchased tickets is the Palacio da Bolsa, the Stock Exchange. This historic and beautiful building continues to house the economic heart of Porto.
On our way to our port wine tours, we crossed the Luis 1 bridge, designed by architect Gustave Eiffel. Another time we crossed the river in the underground walkway. We dined at Barao Fladgate at the Taylor winery, which proved to be delicious, with a view--albeit a rainy one. For our tour, we moved on to Lustau, with a great tour and tasting. After that, we wandered to the river front to the Sandeman tasting room, for our final port tasting of the day. They were ready to close, but count on Paul to worm his way in almost anywhere!
Our final port tour was a full day adventure up the Douro River. We had loved our vineyard tour in Spain so much that we decided not to hold our breath, but to jump in... A little more investigation would have been appropriate, as our ten hour day included 2 hours in the train, over 5 hours in the car, a good wine and charcuterie tasting, a nasty lunch and a cheesy tour which included an animatronic grape stomping exhibit. At least we met some fun people from the US and Switzerland, who accompanied us through the various venues. The views of the valley were beautiful, even without the sun! The wine and the port were tasty, but we didn't learn or see anything we had not already experienced.
Next, we are on our way to a medieval castle and the ancient town of Evora. Ate logo (see you later)!