The class of ’78 from Seebach is a dynamic group. Every 5 years we organise a weekend in another destination. Five years ago, we were in Barcelona and this year we visited Porto. We are 12 or 13 people all together. It was a fantastic trip because we saw the group again and the ambience was happy and convivial.
Porto is a beautiful city because the old town is not planned, it grew naturally. We discovered the narrow lanes which wind through the old town. Porto is on the Douro River. The Ribeira quarter, next to the river, is lively with many restaurants, and old buildings with a lot of character. Porto is connected with the new city of Gaia with many different bridges. There are six different bridges in Porto, and the most popular was built by M. Eiffel and his students (of the Eiffel Tower). Another bridge (the Luizi Bridge) was built by his student, Theophile Seyrig.
We flew to Porto on Friday evening, dropped our luggage at the hotel, and immediately went to a restaurant. We had two main things planned for Saturday. One was to do a bus tour of Porto and the other was to take the funicular to visit the viewpoint over Porto. But, the tour bus was 90 minutes late and the funicular was out-of-order. Therefore, we walked and explored the area around the cathedral and the Old Quarter. We explored Porto differently than expected. We took a boat on the Douro River to admire nature, the architecture, the monastery and the different bridges. We also visited a manufacturer of Port Wine and did a wine tasting. The locals drink the wine as a digestive and in France, we drink it as an apéro. Another highlight was the Lello library (bookshop). It has a magnificent wooden staircase, which inspired J.K. Rowling in her Harry Potter books.
At dinner on Saturday night, we saw two Fado singers who sang songs about Porto. Fado music is full of melancholy.
On Sunday morning, we took an ancient tram to the beach. Some of the group members were afraid because two of us went to the lighthouse. Suddenly, there was a big wave and for 2–3 seconds we didn’t see the two people. There were many big waves, and unfortunately, we couldn’t go swimming because the sea was too rough, and it was too dangerous. So, we had an apéro instead. (The French solution to all problems.) The view of the sea from the restaurant was spectacular.
Another thing that is worth visiting is the hall of the railway station. It has many blue and white ceramic tiles which show historical scenes of wars in the Middle Ages and the agricultural life of the people in the 19th century. You can also see many other such ceramic tiles everywhere in the town centre.
We had a smashing culinary experience in a restaurant. Some of our group ordered a plate of octopus, it was delicious. But Céline remembered the film: My Octupus Teacher, about the relationship between a man and an octopus in South Africa. I had a moment of hesitation before starting to eat: we knew that octopi are very intelligent animals and communicate with many emotions, changing their skin colour to show love and fear.
The speciality of Porto is “Francesinha”. It is a sandwich with cold cuts, (fresh sausage from Portugal called Linguiça, ham, beef and cheese. The bread is bathed in a sauce made from tomato, peppers (capsicums) and beer. It wasn’t bad, but it was very difficult to digest. For me, this sandwich missed some taste and was too salty for me.
Porto is a romantic town. Walking along the Douro River in the evening was a romantic experience. The beam of the lighthouse lit up the river. What is also nice is that the town is hilly, not on a flat plain. You climb many steps. The Maria Pia bridge was wonderful and full of character. We crossed the bridge to go and explore Gaia.
We definitely recommend visiting Porto for the small streets and lanes. Wear comfortable shoes!
For more information on Porto, click on the links below.
|Information about bridges in Porto||Click Here|
|Porto Tourist Information||Click Here|