Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Mon 8 Sep 2014 06:52
We have all become quite familiar with the city centre, visiting the food markets, a book shop on which Harry Potter’s Hogwarts staircase was based and a classic Art Nouveau cafe, unchanged since it was first opened. The story behind the bookshop is that J K Rowling lived in Porto for a couple of years and visited this bookshop often, it has an amazing wooden staircase which splits into 2 flights halfway up before rejoining into a single staircase to reach the 1st floor. It is a thing of wonder and no surprise that the film makers wanted to use it as a set for the filming of Harry Potter. The shop…. refused, but still the queues to see it are around the corner of the street in the high summer. They don’t allow you to take photos so they have people trailing in and out of the shop and they don’t buy very much, sounds like a missed opportunity or 2! The other gem is a wonderful cafe where we had coffee, called the Majestic. If you are a fan of this style it is certainly worth a detour. They were not so fussy about photos so there will be one in the blog when I can get to shore based Wifi.
Thursday September 4th
Our rally organised a tour of the local fisherman’s village, much changed in the last few years by EU grants. Here communities of closely packed houses just one room wide and maybe 4 rooms in total, house 1 or more families, their life is very much on the street where they prepare, cook and eat their food. They still have communal wash houses where the women meet to chat and wash, their clothes are hung on a forest of poles on the foreshore. The men fish, mend their nets and boats together, the women sort and sell the fish in the seafront market, calling their wares to those passing. The regeneration has provided reclaimed land for the market, a new washhouse, (well you cant have too much of a good thing,) playgrounds, waterfront walks, a marina and a nature reserve, but best of all they now have a sewage system! It is difficult to image living without this basic amenity until just about 7 years ago.
Our guide said if you are known to one person in the Afurada village you are known to all within a day or so, and treated as one of the family.
No visit to Porto or rather Vila Nova De Gaia, would be complete without a thorough grounding in the finer qualities of Port, so with true dedication we visited another port house, Croft’s. Our knowledgable and very smooth guide provided an excellent tour of the cellars with their ageing vats, some as big as 10,000 litres and smaller casks for the 10 and 20 year old tawny ports. The ageing process is fascinating, as are the factors which decide when the house will declare a vintage port. This is judged at 2 years of maturing and if the wine has the right qualities it will be bottled straightaway and aged in the bottle rather than vat or cask. For those of you who like to lay a bottle or two down, 2011 is the latest and probably one of the best vintages for some time although it may not be ready for 20+ years! Another excellent tasting followed, we where introduced to a rose port, a young and fruity style where the grape juice is only left on the black skins for a short time and has less tanins as a result. Although not to everyone’s taste it is an interesting wine.
Another rally dinner in the local Afurada fisherman’s restaurant. The food was good and plentiful, prawns and sardine like fish, but I am really sardined out! No more sardines please! The Vinho Verde was good though!
Friday September 5th
Had to do some shopping, a courtesy bus runs from the marina to a big shopping complex. It was a trial but somebody has to do it.
An excellent pontoon party concluded our Porto rally.
Saturday September 6th
I topped up my culture banks with a visit to an art museum while Alan washed the boat, and rounded off the evening with a free symphony orchestra concert in Liberty Square, wonderful.
Sunday September 7th
We waved goodbye to Porto and sailed to Aveiro. We haven’t explored yet but experiencing the swell and overfalls with wind over tide getting into the entrance were “interesting”, Alan didn’t want to look behind at the 3-4 m waves, we were bucked and tossed around alarmingly for about 10 mins before slightly calmer waters inside the breakwater, my suggestion of turning round was met with muttered anglo saxon language, so I guess that wasn’t an option - bit of a white knuckle ride! With still over 4 knots of current against us it took an hour to reach the anchorage. We are carefully timing our exit from the harbour for slack water on Tuesday.
As Tom and Jerry cartoons say, “thats all folks’
All our best wishes, Lynne and Alan