Porto - Port Wine and the most Beautiful Bookshop in the World??

Susie and Adam (both think they are skipper)
Mon 6 Sep 2010 22:56
The main reason for coming to Povoa de Varzim (apart from the fact that it meant we could break the sail down Portugal into day long hops) was to visit Portugal's second city - Porto which is about 30km away.  It's really easy to get there as there is a new metro system that takes you straight into the city centre - so feeling brave enough to tackle foreign public transport - we went on a trip out.
Porto is on a river - and on the north side of the river is the main centre - the buildings are very pretty and you could spend a full day just wondering around looking at these - photo above shows the main quay.  The land that Porto is built on slopes up pretty sharply each side of the river, we somehow seemed to always be walking up hill to get where we were going, but the Portuguese have built an array of contraptions to reduce the need to walk up hills - there are old trams like I think they have in Lisbon, Stairs (bit of a dull and obvious one that), a strange railway thing  that goes up very steeply and therefore needs a big wedge shaped under the carriage to keep it level, on the south side of the river they appear now to be constructing a cable car too but we didn't see it in action.
The south side of the river is dominated with all of the Port warehouses - it would not be on to visit Porto and not see these so we crossed the river to investigate, all of the Port warehouses are in old buildings and are clustered together in quite a small space - all of the famous port makers are there, Taylors, Croft, Sandeman and about 10 others.  We had been told that Taylors was the best to visit - and it was the furthest away up another steep hill (with nothing but feet to assist the ascent).  The site that Taylors has is very pretty - old white washed buildings and a very posh reception and port tasting bar! - all of the Taylors Port is matured on site here - you imagine that nowadays everything is produced in new, huge factories so it was really refreshing to actually see where it is really produced and how small and quaint the whole operation looks - you get a tour of the warehouses (Port Caves) containing all the various barrels and a tasting session all for free..  Quite a few of the tourists were actually were spending the entire day in Porto going round each Port maker for the free samples - it's not a bad way to spend a day and costs nothing. So now we know a little more about port.
Vintage Barrels in the Port Caves. . .
View of the main bridge in the city centre from Taylors terrace
After this we had noticed on our tourist map a building marked as Lello's Bookshop and noted as 'a world heritage site - the most beautiful bookshop in the world'. We wondered what it takes to be named the most beautiful bookshop in the world? and since it was only about 20 minutes away we thought we would find out.  It isn't the outside of the bookshop - it is the inside, to be honest - we were impressed - here are a couple of photo's of 'Lello's - The most beautiful bookshop in the world' - so if you want to open a bookshop and try and claim this title, this is what you have to beat.
Downstairs. . .
 Upstairs. . . ..
Overall Porto was great, lots of interesting streets to explore, many beautiful old buildings, nice people in quaint old warehouses giving away free port, lots of  coffee and cake shops (none of them Starbucks or Costa!) - our feet are worn out but definitely worth the visit.
Sorry, we have to include this - ridiculous cat caught sleeping on some steps, what kind of pose is this for a cat?