Porto is a port city that ships port wine. 🙂 I think the story is that Porto really gained its international prominence in the 1700s when England was at war with France. England couldn’t get wine so easily from France so it had to look elsewhere. English people developed a taste for the sweet port wine (as did we) that came from the Douro valley region of Portugal. Porto is at the end of the Douro river, on the Atlantic coast – a perfect location to get the wine to England. So a bunch of English firms established their homes in Porto to ship out the sweet stuff. Even today in Porto, you’ll see a bunch of “wine lodges” with English names.
We had a great time wandering through Porto – I think it was even my favorite city! As we took the metro in from our hotel and strolled through the downtown area, we ran into a photoshoot just outside the Camâra Municipal do Porto at the Avenida dos Aliados. The model was lifted on a metal ring into the air by a big crane.
We wandered through the city, past buildings covered in beautiful blue and white tiles, making our way down to the bustling riverfront spot. We took a beer and sangria break (don’t worry, we did have some delicious Portuguese wine with our dinner) at a tavern on the Ribeira Pier and watched as people and boats rolled by. Then we walked across the Ponte Dom Luis I bridge. At the end, some teenage boys were putting on a show for the tourists, saying they’d jump down into the water below for 5 Euros. I don’t know if they got any money, but they still seemed to have a fun time making splashes.
One of the coolest things to do in Porto is to take a tour of one of the big wine lodges. We were disappointed to find out that tours end at 6 pm, but we headed out early the next morning to get in a tour before leaving for our next destination. We signed ourselves up for the 11 am English tour at the Croft wine lodge. The first part of the tour involved tasting a few of their special wines. So maybe drinking fancy wine before noon is not normal, but hey! When in Rome (or Porto), right?! Because it was so early, it ended up being a private tour for just Reini and me. We learned a bit about the process of making port and got to see the swimming pool sized barrels that it’s stored in. The tour concluded with some more glasses of wine. And of course, we bought a bottle of our favorite port to take with us. We definitely should have bought more, but we were flying back and suitcases can only contain so much wine… 🙂