Friday, 6 October 2017

Portugal - Porto - II

When we left the apartment we had for the first day, we drove to our next apartment just to familiarise ourselves with where it was - only about 700mt away, how great!

As it was 11AM and we could only check in from 2PM, and our car was full of visible luggage, we parked it in a parking garage next to the Court House with the boot facing the wall so it was safe, and we were then free to start walking around.

Justice - statue done in 1961 at the Court House
Cordoaria Park

Right across the Court house was the Jardim de Joao Chagas formerly known as Jardim da Cordoaria (Cordoaria Park) at Campo dos Martires da Patria.

I enjoyed the variety of statues, the bandstand that was decorated with colourful string and the tram that crossed the park.

Cordoaria Park - Statues - top:  "Flora", 1904, bottom: "Rapture of Ganimedes" 1898, and right side " Thirteen laughing at each other",2001

On the other side of the park was a restaurant, and we liked what was on the menu displayed outside, so we went in for lunch. We were shown to the first floor of "Dona Porto" to a pretty room with a granite stone wall, plenty of art on the walls, a bookshelf with books in various languages, mirrors...
The food didn't disappoint either and we also had a view of the park as we were the first to arrive so had a choice of seating.

           Dona Porto Restaurant

Clerigos Tower & Church

After lunch we started making our way down to the Ribeira again, going past Torre dos Clérigos Church (Church of the Clergymen). 

Clerigos Tower and Church facade

The church built by an Italian architect (Nicolau Nasoni) for the Clerigos Brotherhood, and building started in 1732 and finished in 1750 in the baroque style. The altar is made of marble.

The 75,6 mt high tower that can be seen from various points of the city is located at the back of the church and was only built between 1754 and 1763. It has 240 steps leading up to the 6th floor with 360 degree views over the city. 

The architect later joined the Clerigos Brotherhood and was buried in the crypt of the Church. Entry to the church is free, but if you wish to visit the tower and Museum to see a collection of sculpture, painting, furniture and goldsmithery from the 13th to the 20th century, entry fee is 4€.  Night time visits are from 7 to 11pm.

Inside Clerigos Church

A colourful house and shop selling Portuguese sardines with year

6 Bridges Douro Tour

After peeking into various shops, we reached the Ribeira and bought our tickets for "The 6 bridges tour". There are long cruises along the Douro river, but we just wanted a little taste, so a 50 minute tour was enough. Sadly the weather was getting worse and had started to drizzle, but the only way to take photos was to be on the bow of the boat as inside you couldn't really see. Luckily it didn't rain for long...

Starting with the main bridge servicing Porto - Luis I bridge - designed by the German Theophile Seyrig (a disciple of Eiffel) and finished in 1886. It took 5 years to build, and is 395mt long.
The top deck was later converted to be used by the Metro line and can be used by pedestrians to walk across.

                                                                         Infante bridge

The second bridge is the Infante Dom Henrique bridge (or just Infante Bridge), the most recent bridge, opened in 2003 and built to replace the upper deck of Luis I bridge which was converted to be used by Yellow line of Metro train.  Named after Prince Henry, the Navigator who was born in Porto. It is 371mt long and 20 mt wide.

D. Maria Pia and Sao Joao bridge after

The third bridge, D.Maria Pia bridge (or Dona Maria Bridge) - designed by Theophile Seyrig and Gustave Eiffel on the northern side of Porto and Gaia, It was the first railway bridge that linked Lisbon to Porto, inaugurated in 1877 by Kings Luis and Queen Maria Pia, who gave the bridge it's name. Back then it had the longest single-arch span in the world and is 354mt long. Although it was a complex bridge to build it only took just short of 2 years to be built. 

Maria Pia's Bridge is no longer in use and was superseded by another railroad bridge in 1991 - the Sao Joao bridge, built just a few metres away, used by the North line of the Portuguese railway system. Also built by Edgar Cardoso who built the Arrabida bridge.

After D.Maria bridge is the furthest bridge - Freixo bridge, inaugurated in 1995. The top deck is used for rail travel.

Freixo Bridge
It's actually 2 bridges built side by side, separated by 10cm, allowing for 8 traffic lanes, 4 each way. On average about 100,000 cars cross this bridge daily.

On the return trip via Porto towards the sea, we go past the last bridge - Arrabida Bridge.
Arrabida Bridge

With the high volume of traffic across Luis I bridge, another bridge had to be constructed - the Arrabida Bridge - where about 140,000 cars cross daily.
It's the bridge closest to the Atlantic Ocean and was concluded in 1963, projected and built by the Portuguese engineer and university professor, Edgar Cardoso.
It has an arch of 270mt, a lenght of 500mt and 26,5 mt wide. It also has 4 lifts for people to climb the 70mt from the river bed to the top to facilitate the pedestrians crossing the bridge.

And it was time to return to port, back to Ribeira
And an interesting piece if information - Porto is the only European city with 6 bridges!

Luis I Bridge and Ribeira area

Next to the pillars of the Luis I bridge, are the vestiges of D. Maria II bridge (suspended bridge) which was inaugurated in 1842 and demolished in 1887, to give way to the building of the Luis I bridge. I loved the fact they had a cafe on a platform suspended between the entry and a pillar.

Remains of the suspended bridge Maria II

We walked across the Luis I bridge into the Gaia municipality on the other side so we could visit Port wine cellars. As we crossed the bridge we noticed a couple of kids on the rails poised to jump into the water. On the Gaia side another kid collected coins from the watching public. My husband gave him 5and the kid obviously having reached what they wanted gave the other 2 kids the go ahead to jump.

It's apparently an old tradition, that was portrayed in a 1942 movie - Aniki Bobo, and in a more recent movie - Meninos do Rio (children of the river) in 2014.

Just days later, when we were in Lisbon, as I was showing my parents the photos, I was told that just days before we were in Porto, an American tourist had jumped the bridge to impress his girlfriend and had disappeared in the water....not sure if there's ever been accidents with the kids.

At this stage the owner of the apartment were we would be staying the next 3 days called to say he could meet us there shortly, but we were on the other side of the river with we he said he would drop the keys at a cafe near the house and we could pick them up anytime. That suited us, we just never got to meet the owner.

Port Wine Tasting

We enjoyed a walk along the riverfront on the Gaia side perusing the craft markets. 

Time for Port tasting, and from dozens of cellars to choose from we settled on visiting Porto Cruz cellars.  Apart from just tastings they have exhibitions, a multimedia centre and workshops. The viewing terrace with a bar at the top has 360 degree views over Porto and Gaia. After taking some  photos we returned to the ground floor to buy a "Port wine and cheese tasting". (you can choose just Port or Port/chocolate tastings)

Women in Black exhibition, the terrace and views
We were served 3 glasses of Port each with 3 different cheeses to go with each of the different Ports, and were given 1 more glass to share among the four. The tasting is accompanied by a presentation about each wine variety and age. Two of the cheeses were delicious but the young girl presenting it didn't know what cheeses were served.
As you can see there are Ports in various colours depending on their maturity, and it was the first time I tasted ruby Port, I only knew the white and dark variety.

I'm not a big drinker, or I should say I hardly ever drink, but prefer sweet drinks, but after drinking 3 Ports, even though they were accompanied by cheese I was already feeling a bit tipsy, which just leads me to giggle a lot 😀 😀.

It was time to make our way back to Porto, to go and settle into our new place, and these are some of the interesting things we saw on our walk there...

Old English Club of Porto has a fancy restaurant (Rua das Virtudes) views from near the apartment, narrow Porto streets
We collected the keys from the designated Cafe and parked the car right in front of the apartment in a narrow street of the suburb of Miragaia.
When I booked online via Airbnb the outdoor area with views over the Douro river had attracted me to it, and the place certainly didn't disappoint! It was the ideal spot to watch the sun set or to sit at night with a drink and watch the night lights, just beautiful!
It was aptly named "Oporto best view-garden". Located at Rua Francisco da Rocha Soares, it was also within walking distance into the city centre too.
Bedrooms, lounge and the lovely terrace with river views
After dropping our stuff, it was time to go and have a bite to eat. My husband and daughter had their hearts (or tummies) set on eating snails. Ugh, I never tasted them... but we couldn't find a place that had them. Eventually a young guy from a fancy restaurant from the Old English Club, (old house w/green balconies on photo above) walked us to a lovely out of the way eatery just 500 mt away.
No snails again, but certainly a variety of traditional dishes served in a different way. 

Português de Gema - at 33 Rua de Santana, is a delicatessen that sells products produced by people with past social exclusion - biscuits, jams, cheeses and pastries. 
Vocational training is seen as the key to integration, and here these people sell their products, cook in the kitchen or serve at the tables. 
Portugues de Gema - food with a difference

We loved the food, the presentation, the little backstreet balcony full of flowers, the chatty gentleman serving at the table, the cozy atmosphere - it was a pity we didn't get another chance to go back, but if I ever visit Porto again I will, specially after I read about this reintegration project, they deserve our support!

Just at the end of the street was a Church - Sao Lourenco (or Igreja dos Grilos) built in 1577, now a seminary, and there was a lookout over part of Porto that was lit up by now, and we stood there a while admiring the view.

Views of Porto at the Sao Lourenco lookout

Time to go home and rest our weary feet, can't believe we managed to do so much, and we walked just over 20,000 steps!

And so ends a photo heavy post, hope you have a lovely weekend and see you back next week for more sights of Porto.

Youtube 3 min video about the 6 bridges in Porto


  1. Belas fotografias da cidade do Porto uma cidade que tem muitos bons restaurantes.
    Um abraço, bom fim-de-semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

    1. Obrigada Francisco, sim tem muitos e a comida Portuguesa e uma delicia!!

  2. I just love this post. While I did learn about the bridges in Porto, there is so much more I did not see, nor did I know about the different names for each side of the river. I think the only time it rained in Portugal for us was when we were on the river cruise, but it was heavy squall, and sent us scurrying to cover. At least it was brief.

    Where you stayed sounds great. We really must look more closely at Air BNB. You didn't happen across a pair of sunglasses in a port cellar? They would be R's.

    1. You didn't ride a Porto tram?

    2. I even bought an umbrella in Porto, but used it for 5 minutes! No, we didn't get to ride a tram, we walked everywhere, and caught a taxi once. Didn't find R's sunglasses either Andrew :) I also tend to lose things, but not this time!

  3. SAMI :
    Obrigado por mostrares tão bem a minha Cidade !
    Há muito para conhecer e tu mostras de uma forma magnífica !

    Um beijo.

    1. Obrigada pela visita João e agradeço o elogio. Espero ter feito justiça à linda cidade do Porto!

  4. Wow, that is a lot of bridges indeed - and from land-level nice indeed.
    I really do like the use of the tiles a lot.
    Crazy kids! Saw that on Swan river, too. Hope the parents don´t know about this (see, I´d never been a good parent, always too axious! The tourist proofs me right, though...).
    Now that is refreshing to learn about the trusting owner - I had a similar experience in France around 1993...
    Argh, cheese is important! If you like it you wanna be able to buy and enjoy it, no? I never expected such colors in wine!
    The apartment is a treat for sure.
    Snails... I just couldn´t! Really awesome views! Thanks for sharing, Sami!

    1. In the olden days tiles were used as a way to decorate buildings, I was told it's heritage now during renovations they have to be kept. I love cheese! The apartment overlooking the river was fabulous!!

  5. Goodness, Sami, I'm not sure where to begin. I started this post this morning then fell asleep in my chair. Not because of your post but because I had been up all night and most of the morning.

    Being geographically challenged, I had never heard of Porto, much less those beautiful and very different bridges. What an architectural joy and engineering feat.

    Speaking of architecture, the sites you saw on your way to and from the apartment are amazing. I've never had port wine, and since I'm not much for drinking alcohol, I had to laugh at your explanation of the experience.

    That apartment is wonderful. What an amazing way to spend time in a different city. Thanks for taking us on this magical trip with you. I'm really, really enjoying this voyage!

    1. Hope you've had a better night and slept well Elizabeth. Port wine is sweet, used as an aperitif before a meal, or to be drunk with cheese or dessert. Port and Bailey's are probably the only 2 drinks I have once in a while at a party.
      Glad you are enjoying getting to know Porto.

    2. I would possibly like Port, then. I had a dessert wine once and really liked it. Don't know what it was, except it didn't taste like wine to me. And yes, it came in a bottle, not a box (grin).

  6. Nothing like that here. What a trip!!!
    Coffee is on

  7. I'm enjoying your trip very much Sami, you really were so lucky with accomodation, you made excellent choices. Porto looks super through your lens. I'll be tuning in for episode three ☺

    1. Thanks Grace. Yes, we were certainly lucky with the places we stayed in. Have a nice weekend.

  8. Uma visita às caves, do lado de Gaia, é um must.
    Boa semana

  9. Dearest Sami,
    Thanks for taking me back to the lovely city Porto!
    Great photos with interesting stories. No wonder as it is after all about your birth country!
    It is always a hassle if you cannot check in early... That's one reason we try hard to book world wide only with the Hyatt group of hotels as they do let you check in early and check out late!
    As for my post where you left a comment, it was not about a Procession after First Communion but about the Blessed Sacrament Procession where we got to wear the Communion dresses. Did reply to your comment...
    Sending you hugs,

    1. Thanks Mariette for your lovely comment. Sorry about the misunderstanding on your post, and thanks for clarifying.
      I always feel a bit like a tourist when I visit Portugal, as we only lived there for 12 years and there's much I still don't know.

  10. Love your post.
    Love all the photographs.
    Your mosaics are brilliant!

    All the best Jan


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