Well, what an amazing place! Porto or correctly spelled, Oporto is Located along the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal, it is one of the oldest European centres, The western part of its urban area extends to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. Its settlement dates back many centuries when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Over the centuries, however, Porto has obviously become better known for its Port. (more on that later)
We berthed in the Douro marina, about a mile up on your right as you pass through the breakwater, the staff here are great and thankfully both Cecilia and Eugenia both speak perfect English, just as well as our Portuguese is virtually non-existent!
The marina itself is actually in front of a little village called Afurada, known locally as having some of the most authentic Portuguese restaurants in the country, and much cheaper than eating in the centre of Porto! (we’ve eaten there on several occasions already) Our Favourite was Taberna San Pedro, a open-to-street restaurant with long benches and small tables, all the food is cooked outside on braziers or steel grills. the food whether fish or meat, is simply salted and and then cooked.
Afurado still feels traditional – after dinner everyone has their doors open and the old couples drag their kitchen chairs out and sit out on the street talking to passersby – of course everyone knows everyone. Although they no longer wash clothes in the stream they now have a purpose built wash house which most of the village use at least for their larger items and some people use it for everything – never having owned a washing machine. Then it’s all pegged out to try together in the sun by the beach.
Another must do is travelling to the centre of Porto by tram, you can get the ferry across from Afurada to the opposite side of the river which stops right next to a tram stop.
Once in Porto the obvious location to visit has to be the port houses, of which there are very many, some of them within easy reach alongside the river and others up the step hills surrounding the town itself, our tram dropped us of on the Northside and we walked across the high level of the steel bridge and caught the cable car down to the lower Bankside Port houses on the Southside.
All the biggest names in Port are here, the Taylors, Sandemans, Grahams, Dows and Warres, along with my favourite and now Helens, Quinta do Noval, we headed straight for their wine tasting, which was given to us by a lovely lady called Diana Valente, she couldn’t have been more knowledgable and enthusiastic about the Ports as we struggled our way through there 40 year old ports, including some amazing tawnys and Rubys. so much so we booked ourselves onto a Douro Vally visit.
We caught the train from central Porto to the end of the line to Pocinho far up into the Douro, the train winds its way for 3 hours all along the Valley floor alongside the river and passes all the major vineyards and dams. We stayed on the train and returned back to Pinhão that afternoon, grabbed ourselves a little AirBnB form the night with the intention of going to the tour of Symington estate just after a picnic lunch provided by the estate the following day. The next morning we very quickly realised that the Quinta do Noval vineyard was literally “down the road” so we jumped into one of the very few cabs at the station and got the driver to take us to the Quinta, we spoke to the manager who said they’re were not tours as they were just going onto Harvest but we were welcome to wander around the estate on our own. I was particulary interested in the two rows of vines noted for there Nacional Port These very special vines escaped the wine blight caused by an aphid called Phylloxera that wiped out nearly all of the wine vineyards across Europe in the 1860s, causing the majority of vines to be re-graffed with American root crop with the exception of a few small outcrops namely the Bollinger estate in France, some of the Mosel and these two rows of vines dating back to 1715 that somehow survived.
Heres a small video of the trip