One day in the second largest city in Portugal
On the cruise from Hamburg to Mallorca, on which I accompany a group of customers of our travel agency, Mein Schiff 4 docks in Porto today. (Zum deutschen Blog.)
From the harbour to the city centre
The second largest city in Portugal and namesake of the country lies at the Douro, a largely navigable river, on which river cruises are offered as well. It flows into the Atlantic ocean and separates the city into two halves. Deeply the river has dug into the rocks.
Today I would like to do some sports, which is rare with me. Therefore, I choose the simpler version biking, namely I take an e-bike. Here in Porto it is a quite good choice, because Porto has some decent slopes and is built on many hills. So the support of the pedelec is really helpful.
From the port in Leixoes, which is the port area of Porto, we head towards the city center. The early morning fog has just moved away and the sun comes out a bit. As soon as we leave the cruise terminal, we are already on a two-lane bike road that runs along the promenade. Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers have a lot of space here and do not obstruct each other.
Soon we turn off and the first climb starts. Through the Parque de Cidade, the city park we go. There are also two-lane bike paths. Joggers and pedestrians look at our group partly amused, partly a bit jealous, as we take the uphill of the paths quite easily.
Soon we see the Ponte da Arrábita, which spans the Douro high above. Brave people may climb the bridge underneath the street and cross the river this way. We follow the river high above, then we turn into a residential district. Up and down goes the ride, partly over bumpy cobblestone streets, partly over well-developed cycle paths or simply on narrow streets.
In the city
Then we are standing in a very busy square in front of the double church “Igreja do Carmo”, which we of course visit quickly. Again and again we meet one of the old trams, which also snake through the narrow streets of Porto.
We continue along the allegedly most beautiful bookstore of the world to the City Hall. We look around for a moment and continue along the train station to the Cathedral of Porto.
From here we have a giant view over the old town. The morbid charm of the city can be seen very well. Partly I feel that the houses around the cathedral still stand upright only because they support each other. But there is also much construction going on in the city. Modern houses I see again and again between the old buildings.
A few nuns are also on a tour through Porto and our guide from the Mein Schiff 4, Kevin, explains us of course, also the most important things.
Through tiny streets we drive down towards the Douro, sometimes we only push the bikes because some of the paths are so steep that they consist only of stairs.
On the river bank of Porto
Down at the river, just below the “Ponte Luis 1“, the world-famous bridge linking the two old districts, we spend our lunch break. It is pleasantly warm now. The many small cafes and restaurants on the river promenade are well filled, here also the excursion boats leave. Even one of the river cruise ships just starts and cruises under the bridge.
Historic port wine boats are moored here. If the cars and the railway were not crossing the bridge, one might feel brought back in time. Flying traders are trying to persuade tourists to buy, as well as the sellers in their little stalls. Especially the bags made of cork I like best, but I already got so many handbags ….
Then I look at one of the courageous bridge jumpers. No, that´s nothing for me! The guys jump from about 10 meters into the river. After a delicious coffee and cake our group meets again and we bike back to the ship.
Back to the ship
Suddenly the sun disappears, the temperature drops noticeably. The fog raises incredibly fast from the sea up the Douro; the opposite bank is hardly visible anymore. Now I’m really glad about my raincoat!
On the banks of the river, along the promenade, we ride back on a two-lane bike path. Past a lighthouse that is almost spooky in the fog and the surf.
Then I am back on the Mein Schiff 4. I enjoy the sauna, while the last passengers come aboard and the foghorn sounds again and again while the vessel exits the harbor.
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