Upon seeing Oporto (Porto in English), Portugal for the first time, we felt a little lost in time. The streets were narrow and cobblestone and a bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel looked down upon us. The old boats once ferried barrels of wine up the Douro River from the Douro Valley to be stored in the cooler cellars of the city. Now they existed to taxi tourists up the river to view the city and six bridges. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great place to get lost.
We walked up the river then across the top of the bridge where the view was amazing. It was hot and sunny which was a nice change after a lot of rain in northwestern Spain (Galacia – The Tower of Hercules in A Coruña, another UNESCO site). We loved the colorful buildings and streets, too small for most cars. The people were extremely friendly, helping us out with our poor Portuguese. Our method was to mix the few words we knew with Spanish and change the pronunciation. It worked pretty well after some practice but people would still use English before we even opened our mouths.
After getting lost for awhile in the old city, we made our way back to the river and did a tour and tasting at Sandeman Cellars, one of the more famous port producers in the world. It’s hard to sample a lot of port because of the high alcohol content but they still give you very large pours!
We loved Oporto and would like to return someday. Unfortunately it rained our second day there so we were forced to take a much needed resting day. Stay tuned for details of our adventures in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon.