Monday, 11 June 2012

Treks in the city.

Day 47 08.06.12 Porto

We left Viana early in an attempt to miss the traffic but it didn’t eventually pan out that way and was in fact pretty busy.  We travelled on the toll road knowing that the free one would take us twice as long.  The cameras flashed to show we’d entered a toll zone but even when leaving the motorway we weren’t prompted to pay the tolls.  Hopefully we won’t have to!  More likely they’ll just add up what we owe them when we eventually encounter a booth.

We arrived in Porto around lunchtime.  Our car parking spot is on the opposite side of the river to Porto in a town called Vila Nove de Gaia, which consists almost entirely of port manufacturers and people selling boat tours.  It’s a long walk from the bridge that takes you over to Porto central.  Nonetheless it’s the closest you can get to the city without paying for parking.    

Having been a little unimpressed with the North of Portugal so far we had decided to head to the big city in the hope it redeemed the country.  Sure enough Porto is magnificent.  The UNESCO protected riverfront is a spectacular sight of grand old buildings high on the hill and quaint narrow houses alongside the river.  I can’t enthuse about the view enough, it really is just something else!

Porto's UNESCO protected waterfront

We eventually get over to Porto and walk alongside the river.  There are lots of cute cafes and street sellers along the way.  We come across a fantastic church on our walk to a huge park I’d read about in the guide book.  The park turned out to be a long and very steep walk away!  Porto is built back in tiers going upwards from the riverbank and as such requires a sturdy set of legs to get around!

Jardim Palacio de Cristal, Porto, Portugal
The park was worth the trek though, offering fantastic views of the city and the coast.  There is also a huge futuristic looking building in the centre although sadly it was empty.  Peacocks roamed around the lawns and there was an attractive fountain and water feature.  All in all a lovely place to spend a bit of time.

After the long walk back to the centre we headed back to van to chill out and cool down from our day of trekking in the blistering heat! It’s great to be so excited about exploring a place again and I have to say I’m already a little bit in love with this city.

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