So, when you have limited wardrobe because you are traveling light, you eventually run out of clean socks and chonies. On one of our “let’s see what’s down this street” walks, Kirk noticed a really nice, modern laundromat. So, this this afternoon, we gathered up our clothes and headed out. On the way there, we noticed a lot of clothes hanging from the windows and balconies…it must be laundry day for everyone today.
At the Lavanardia do Infante, the machines have the soap and softner in them and dispense automatically. You put your money in the main vending machine, pick your washer, water temperature and start. We were the only ones there in the beginning, then it became a party! There was free wifi, so I got some posting done. We met another couple from the states, Leonard & Elizabeth, who just arrived in Porto, but have been traveling through some of the places we are heading, so we exchanged some tips.
Two round trip tickets from the Sao Bento station to Aviero was just under 15 euros. We decided to go because they call it the Venice of Portugal because they have natural canals. The Moliceiro boats are now used for tourism, but they were used to haul salt (major industry there) and gather seaweed (Molico) to fertilize the fields. I love quaint, tiny streets and unique architecture, so this place was right up my alley today.
These first few shots from our train window of two of the six bridges over the Douro River connecting the two halves of Porto. As you arrive in Aviero and exit the modern train station, you see the old train station and head down Av Dr. Lourenco Peixinho and eventually, you will come to the canals and the quaint shops and neighborhoods. The colors, tile work, mosaic walkways, and intricate architectural details were beautiful.
We wandered the streets for several hours and entered a fish market for fun…they had some ugly looking stuff on display! We wandered past a fire station and I asked if I could take a picture with the firemen there, but they didn’t want anything to do with me and dispursed quickly laughing. We got a chuckle over it as well, “Run! It is a giant, strange, blonde woman!” LOL
We also found Kirk’s next truck…haha. Well, it is about downsizing. We finally made our way back around to get on a boat and tour the canals. After our tour, we grabbed some lunch at a little cafe’ and headed back to the train station and back to Porto. The other fun take-aways were watching the people on the train, looking into the open doorways while wandering through the streets, meeting a young lady from New Jersey who had moved her family there six months ago, and spending another great day with my best friend.
As a surfing family, it is mandatory to check out surfing locations and conditions wherever you are. Kirk & I took Tram 1, which runs along the Douro River close to the mouth and the breakwater. From here we continued in the same direction, past a gathering of fisherman solving the problems of the day more than fishing. Proceeding out on to the breakwater, we observed a group of men in their speedos having a heated discussion, perhaps comparing their swimming abilities or who looked best…
After walking along the beach, almost to the Cruise Terminal, we decided to head back via bus (500 series) back to the Alfandego Nova building. From there, we decided to walk back up via the street rather than the stairs. We can honestly state, that by comparison, both routes are equally painful. After all the walking we did, a glass of Port on our terrace while watching the sun set was heavenly!
From the terrace of our home in Porto, we can look across the Douro River at all the wine caves. Since Porto is known for their Port Wine, we really needed to go check them out. There are many over there, but I had to go check out my “name sake” – Graham’s. Brothers William & John Graham came from Scotland to start their Port company in 1820. My paternal Grandfather was John Graham. Kirk & I took a water taxi across and then walked up the hill to the lodge. It was beautiful and the wine was delicious.
Afterwards, we walked back down to the gondolas and rode them up to the top of the bridge and walked back across. The views from there looking down the Douro River and across Porto were magnificent!
On the water taxi
This way! It’s up the hill….
Look! John Graham was one of the founders. My Grandpa was John Graham… we’re probably related! LOL
As we were talking to tourists we would meet here and there throughout Porto, the conversation would eventually come to, “Have you seen…?” One of the places that came up was Livraria Lello, the most beautiful bookstore in the world. It looks like something right out of a Harry Potter movie, but in reality, it was JK Rowling’s inspiration for the Hogwarts staircase.
We decided to purchase a tram pass, which gave us all day access to three different trams and they intersect in such a way that you can move around the main part of town by timing and transfers. Unlike the ones in San Francisco, instead of turning the car at the end of the line, the seats flipped and all the passengers would rise and flip their seats. A local Portuguese woman showed me how, the whole time speaking in Portuguese. But pointing is a universal language, so I got it! “Obrigada, Senhora!”
In these pictures, we wanted to show the neighborhood where we are living in Porto. I’m not sure if we captured the fact that where we are living is on the side of a mountain overlooking the Douro River. Also, every time we leave to walk in either direction, we must climb up or down. For our camping friends, we would compare it to hiking to Vernal Falls three or four times. On the bright side, we are getting lots of exercise!
One word…WOW! We landed, got on the metro from the airport to the Sao Bento station and came up to view a mix of historical buildings and cobblestone streets along with a hubbub of activity. We still had a walk to get to our AirBnB, but we had a couple of hours to kill before meeting Jorge (our host) and check in. It was breakfast time and we just happened to be standing in front of a cute little cafe’ (Flor de S Bento) where we tried a traditional Portuguese egg tart pastry called pastel de nata, along with coffee and something like an eclaire. Yum!
After breakfast, we walked to our apartment past art museums and beautiful buildings and cafes. We only waited a few minutes when Jorge greeted us at our apartment and showed us around. He gave us a few tips and pointers and a set of keys and then he was off. The view overlooking the Douro River is breathtaking! The apartment is perfect. We are looking forward to being here for a week. Plans today are to lay low, find a grocery store, and discuss a game plan for Porto and vicinity.