Woke 7am. Weather is cloudy—hope no one notices.
Metro into Porto. Wandered down to the river, which is very pretty. Crossed the bridge to Gaia after lunch. Eating here is very difficult, as all the restaurants seem to be fully booked or closed. Which then makes you wonder why the ones with vacancies have vacancies.
On the bridge a young man was standing on the balustrade, wearing swimwear, waiting to jump. Gradually, a crowd gathered, waiting to watch. Would he plummet to his death? Be run down by one of the large pleasure boats passing beneath the bridge? Or dive spectacularly and emerge on the bank? I think none of the above. When a fairly large crowd had gathered, a group of his friends passed amongst them, asking for money. I never saw him jump and I think it was a scam. Later, a different young man was standing there, waiting to jump. Perhaps I should have pushed him in.
The Gaia side of the Douro river is the north side, so it gets less sun. It’s where all the port cellars are. We saw the signs for Taylor’s, Graham’s, Cockburn, and Calem’s. We had a tour of Calem’s. Tour guide was very witty. At the end, we sat and tasted three different ports ( a proper, small glass, of port, so a proper taste not just a mouthful). This was great fun, we each liked a different port, and one of us drank rather a lot by the time he’d finished off all the glasses that other people weren’t keen on.
We then left, via their shop (not stupid the port-making people). The port was much cheaper than you can buy it in England, and came in nice gift boxes and bags, so we all bought some as gifts. I’m not sure that it all actually made it back to England with us, but I won’t say any more about that. It was an excellent afternoon.
Portugal is one of the main cork growing places in the world. They are trying to increase the popularity of cork by using it for products other than wine stoppers. So as we walked around, we saw lots of shops selling postcards made of cork. We all bought one for our mothers/partners who are back in England. We passed a postbox with a fun sculpture next to it, so took lots of photos and posted our cards. Then we worried that the postbox was just part of the sculpture, and not a proper postbox at all. Tried to retrieve cards, but it was impossible. All the post-offices in Portugal seem to be yellow–so why would there be a red English postbox? I fear we may never see those cards again.
Walked back to the metro and stopped for ice-creams. When the train arrived, there were lots of people, so I quickly jumped onto the train, the doors shut, and the train set off. I then realised I couldn’t see any of my family, and I had no idea of which station I needed to get off at, or how to get to the hotel from the station. Felt rather abandoned. (When the children were small, I had strategies for this sort of disaster—now they are all super-competent, they sometimes forget me.) R sent me a message, telling me which carriage they were in, and which station to get off at. Found them. Will keep a closer eye on the group in future.
I had a nap, while the males tried to book a restaurant for dinner. The males failed. It was raining (raining!) so we got taxis back to the cathedral. (The cathedral didn’t get a mention earlier, because I didn’t like it.) Walked to several fully-booked restaurants. Found one, next to the river, with okay(ish) food and okay(ish) service. No one got food poisoning, which is the main thing.
Walked back to the metro in the rain.
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Another instalment of our holiday in Portugal will be posted soon.