Povoa de Vazim and Porto
15 September 2013 – Povoa de Vazim for Porto
Povoa de Vazim is at the end of the Porto metro, about 50 minutes away. The cost of the day ticket was €7. Porto is the second city – and it seemed big. When we left the train at Trinidade and walked towards old town. But the old city was charming – lots of narrow, steep, winding streets going down to the river Douro.
Before lunch we visited the museum of Henry the Navigator in the Customs House; and then afterwards crossed the river over the Pont Luiz 1 to visit the Port Cellars. The river looked very shallow and fast-flowing, with a standing wave. The port houses sponsor shallow barcas with square sails, steered by an oar.
The south bank is bristling with lots of port wine caves, dating from the 1640s onwards. We took the tour at Ferreira, and then did some further tasting at QueVe and Offley.
Today, Sunday, was the Feast of Nossa Senhora das Dores, and Povoa is en fete. There has been a folk festival and fireworks, and more fireworks at 11.45 tonight. There was a sung mass in town which I thought I would go to at 10.30: I was a bit late but the church Igreja de Nostra Senhora das Dores was already full and many, including me, listened outside. Standing room only inside as well. Wise people had brought camping stools. The church had its three statues already on their biers ready for the afternoon procession. The church is hexagonal with a high altar off one wing, and is tiled in blue throughout. All very pretty.
The parade started at 4pm.
In the front came the police, and then a drum band, beating the time. The statues were each carried by 10 men, each also carrying a pole with a u-shaped support at the top so that at the signal the team could lower the bier to rest. Behind the statues came the church big wigs – 3 of them under an awning. Many of the ladies in the front row dropped to their knees as the big cheeses went by. At the back came a band, and after that (held back from the police) the Povoenses. It’s all been very interesting.
There is some odd weather afoot, so the destination tomorrow is uncertain. The town is dry, dusty, and undistinguished. But berthing is inexpensive and we have everything we need. And excellent links to Porto.