Stephen, Lara and Chloe managed to stay up and go and see the fireworks last night over the river. While I was awake, I had run out of the ability to take another step (my feet feel like they are bruised underneath). I could hear the music and the noise of the fireworks but had to content myself with Stephen & Chloe’s pictures and video this morning,
After a late breakfast (we only went at 9am), we packed up and headed out further north to Porto. We had plenty of time as we only had to travel just over 100 kms. We took the ‘scenic’ route which turned out to not be that scenic. After going through the 50th roundabout, we were ready to get back onto the motorway and get to Porto. We arrived just after midday and as we couldn’t check into our hotel yet (check in time was 3pm), we went to the mall with the distinct purpose of getting lunch there. Everything was closed in the mall except the food court. Everyone’s tastes could be covered in that Stephen, Chloe and Michael had MacDonald’s and the rest of us went to ‘Wok to Walk’ (which was pretty good Asian noodles with whatever ingredients you wanted). Probably the best meal Lara has had so far.
By the time we were finished lunch we thought it was close enough to check-in time and so headed back to the hotel. We are staying at Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira (http://www.carrishoteles.com/en/hotels/hotel-carris-porto-ribeira-porto/). It has a great location but as many hotels in Europe there is no obvious place to stop outside and offload the luggage. It has become pretty much standard routine for Michael to go in and find out where we stop and he again did that and he was told that we should stop and offload in the taxi rank. The problem was that by this stage we were already past it and to do a U-turn is near impossible (see pictures of the narrow roads and bear in mind I am driving a Mercedes Vito around these roads!). We eventually managed to get back to Michael after 10-15 minutes and offloaded the car and then Michael and I took the car to the car park they had directed us to (again another challenge of driving skills).
The hotel rooms are pretty small and Helen and I are going to have close fellowship tonight in the double (definitely a double and not an inch bigger than that) bed. We rested this afternoon and went out at about 6pm for a walk around the area and to find a place for dinner. The number one attraction in Porto is the Ponte de Dom Luis I bridge. Yes a bridge is the top attraction. It goes over the Douro River and carries cars at the bottom of the bridge and the metro at the top. It is the bridge in the background of the picture. Construction of the bridge started in 1881 and the architect was the partner of Gustave Eiffel (who designed another bridge in Porto and some other things in Paris I believe). Across the river are the Port Lodges (which we hope to explore tomorrow). The second top attraction is the Cais da Ribeira which is the boardwalk along the river right where we are staying. We walked along there tonight and there were many restaurants open and buskers out playing their music.
We then walked up the hill (no such thing as a flat walk in any Portuguese city it seems) and eventually found our way to the train station which is also one of the top things to see in Porto. It is beautiful inside (and outside) but unfortunately it was littered with rubbish on the floor which really spoilt the beautiful architecture. The panels inside the station depict the History of Portugal. By this stage we were ready for dinner and as we had walked past a really nice looking restaurant we headed back there. I had been told that goat was the local specialty and so Stephen and I decided to give it a try. We were not disappointed. I thought it was going to be tough but it was very tender and tasty. Definitely worth repeating.
Even though we didn’t walk as far today, I still feel pretty tired from both the driving and the walking this evening and so I can foresee another early night.
P, H, M (for his assistance with the parking, driving and hotel management), H, S, L, O and C (because despite my hope that posting the blog last night would bring less criticism this am she sat at breakfast opposite me and read the blog and picked up on the odd mistake!)