jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 18 [16 Feb 09] – Porto

Posted in Porto by jn82 on February 16, 2009

Woke up late today as was extremely tired the night before. Think the traveling is starting to make me feel really tired some days. Had to make the most of the day as we were only in Porto for two more days. Our first two stops today were the main (and usually only) two sights listed in most guide books for Porto.

The first stop this morning was Clérigos Church (Torre dos Clérigos). We did not know much about this church except that the view from the top of the bell tower was supposedly the best possible view of Porto city. After a painstakingly tiring 225 uneven stone winding staircase up a narrow stairwell, we were indeed rewarded with a good view of the city. Too bad the glare from the strong sun prevented the view from being any better.

View from the top of Torre dos Clérigos.

View

View

View

Apart from the tower, within the church itself there were some amazing carvings and statues, but check the gallery for those pictures.

The next stop was to the Oporto Cathedral (Sé Catedral), where the Wikipedia page for it provides 100% of what I now know about the Cathedral. This is because there is not a single description in English at the cathedral, if there is a description at all. This is a big difference for us compared to previous sights in London, where every exhibit had at least four languages explaining it. All we gathered was that it was built in the 12th century and is the main cathedral in Porto. The insides of the cathedral were beautiful with extremely detailed carvings on the walls and roofs. Within the coilsters, the walls were decorated with the signature church tiles in Porto which had a drawing in blue on a white background. I do not know how to describe this better so I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Blue tiles

Tiles

Corridor

Wall

Apart from the very beautiful walls, the church itself on the inside had amazingly ornate carvings and statues.

Church

Church

Again, check the gallery for the rest of the pictures. After the cathedral, we grabbed lunch, and then headed across the Douro for… Port wine tasting! You cannot come to Porto and not head to a few of the world famous port wine cellars for tasting. For those of you who do not know, port wine is a sort of fortified wine from the Douro Valley in Portugal. It is very sweet and usually served as an apéritif or desert wine.

The first stop was to Croft Port, a company with Port shopping activities dating back to 1678!. Here, we were brought on a tour of the vault, an area where the wines were aged in huge oak casts or vats.

I could only finish around 1/2 of the contents of the oak cask.

Too much port

Analysing the aged port.

Port analysis

Each of these vats contain~60,000 litres of port wine.

Vats

Smaller oak casks which contain around 600 litres.

Oak casks

After Croft, we headed up the road to Taylors, the largest and one of the oldest port houses today. No tour here, just some quick tasting.

Taylors

Walking back from Taylors, I managed to get a couple of nice pictures of the Ribeira district.

Me and the Ribeira.

Me

The Ribeira district.

Ribeira

Ponte Dom Luís I

Ponte Dom Luis I

The rest of the afternoon was spent on a one hour cruise down a short portion of the Douro river around the area of the six bridges which link central Porto to other districts and cities across the Douro. Again this is pretty picture intensive, so click the gallery link at the end of this post and look at all the pictures there. Pretty interesting to see so many massive bridges in such a short span of river, and also so much slummy and shabby accomodation (along with pretty decent newer ones) along the river.

Pretty ugly shacks.

Slum

Shack attack.

Shack 2

Three of the six bridges.

Bridges

Ribeira district (again).

Ribeira

Bridge and Boat.

Bridge and Boat

Finally, as mentioned in the previous post, here is a picture of the hostel room at €26 for a twin ensuite (€13 per person a night!!!), what a steal (compared to London accomodation of £17 a night in a shared room of 8 to 12, without ensuite)! The name of the place is Pensão do Norte and they can be booked through HostelWorld.

Pensao Do Norte room

The link to the full gallery of today’s pictures is available here.

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