Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Porto 11th to 13th May 2009

Porto: Monday 11th May 2009

We woke at 4:15am and left the airport hotel for the early flight to Porto.

We had a walk around to revisit some of the places we had both been in 2007.

Wonderful Porto bookstore with ornate panelling and staircase
Lunch was a €6 menu du jour – Vegetable Soup, Turkey kebabs and a cup of coffee. A definite contender for best value, enjoyable meal of the whole trip.

Amarante: Tuesday 12th May 2009

After consulting the Lonely Planet for a day trip suggestion we headed to Amarante, up the Douro Valley.

We purchased a ticket from a vending machine but when the conductor came along to check it turned out we had bought a cheap ticket – but had got on a faster, more expensive train, so had to buy another ticket for €5 each.

All this process was done in Portuguese, a fellow passenger translated it into French for us. Again, it was surprising out of 10 people not one spoke English, we were just lucky one man could speak French. On the next journey the conductor spoke good English, so sometimes we are lucky. People however try very hard to be helpful.

To get to Amarante we needed to change trains and take a narrow gauge rail 25 minutes up the hill. But we found out it was under repair and the journey was being done by bus. This was a disappointment as the hillside train trip had been a big reason why we were going to the town.

On arriving in Amarante our 3rd piece of ‘bad’ luck occurred. We arrived at 12:50 and the next Train (replacement bus) was not until 17:00. We had planned to return about 15:00, the town is only small and four hours seemed a bit daunting.

But things picked up after we had some lunch. We found out there was an express bus to Porto at 15:40, Andrew got his hair cut and we had a brief walk around the town.

Set on the Rio Tamega it is pretty and has an old church and Monastry in the name of Sao Gonçalo – the patron saint of marriage. It has a particularly impressive carved and gilded altar in a baroque style.

Porto: Wednesday 13th May 2009

Andrew went to the Sheraton for a catch-up with his Portuguese wine contacts. An excellent wine tasting and a great lunch at the coast made for a contented man.

We went to a local café on the river front on a very wet evening and enjoyed a good meal.

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