We wanted to stay in Porto for three nights, but the options for parking the van were limited to a private aire with services outside of the city centre, or a public car park with no services within walking distance of town. Our preference was the aire, even though it cost €15 per night and meant getting a bus into town. We arrived nice and early on Friday, and fortunately for us we were able to grab one of the nine spaces. It’s a great aire, behind locked gates and with large hedges between each pitch, giving a level of privacy you rarely get living in a moho. It’s on the Parque Biológico, so it’s also very quiet.
Once we’d parked up we caught the bus into Porto. The local buses don’t all have numbers, which was a bit confusing, but we got on a coach saying Porto on the front, and 30 minutes later we were in town. There’s a really steep drop down to the river on both sides, so it’s very picturesque. We crossed the bridge to the south side of the river and took a steep path down to the river front (we could have taken the cable car down, but that would have been an extortionate €6 each).
We stopped for lunch at one of the cafés overlooking the river. Carol opted for the local delicacy, a francesinha, which is a sandwich made up of bread, sausage, ham, beef or pork, covered with cheese and sat in a beer sauce, served with fries – like a croque monsieur on drugs.
With lunch out of the way we set off for a tour of one of the many port houses. We ended up at Taylor’s and spend a couple of hours inside learning all about port, which was very interesting. At the end we were each given a glass of white port and a glass of late bottled vintage. The shop was very busy, selling bottles from about €15 all the way up to €300.
We crossed the bridge back to the other side of the river, walking along the front before making the steep climb into the city centre, at which point the heavens opened. With brollies up, we had a wander round town, got lost, and ended up in a café for a light evening meal after Carol’s lunchtime exertions. There was a large TV showing live coverage of the pope arriving in a small Portugese town called Fátima to canonise two children. Apparently half a million people were in attendance, from all parts of the world – bonkers! I just don’t get organised religion.
We went back into Porto on Saturday to walk round the parts of town we hadn’t seen the previous day, and had a lovely dinner in one of the lanes near the river.
Today we stayed on site and spent a couple of hours walking around the Parque Biólogico. It’s huge – we walked around three miles and didn’t cover all of it. It’s a nature reserve with a sanctuary/rescue centre, so there were lots of animals to see.
Tomorrow we will hopefully, and at long last, get the USB sockets fixed, and then move north to the Spanish border, where we’ll spend our last night in Portugal on this trip.