Day 17. Porto

Today I slept in and got up as late as 6 am…  considering its only 16 km to Porto. Since I lost the rubber tips I’m walking without the hiking poles this morning…  to avoid making that annoying clacking sound on the pavement.

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The outskirts of Porto,  by now standard villages and suburbs are all in the waking up stage…  only an occasional car passes by.

I am approaching Porto from the southern side of the Duoro river though Vila Nova do Gaia.  A familiar sound lets me know I am near the sea…  the cries of the seagulls. I enter Porto on the upper side of the major bridge across the Duoro. Naturally Porto is also on the top of the hill.  Since in centuries past…  give peace a chance wasn’t exactly the hit song. Urban construction favoured elevated positions surrounded by the city walls…  one section still stands.

I found my hostel quickly but they don’t allow check-in before 15 h, so I went for a stroll around the city.

An impressive city …  despite the steep slopes of the old town. I wasn’t aware that Porto is so much more than the old town of UNESCO World Heritage List. Wide avenues…  neighbourhoods,  each with its own story…  like the Old Foz,  that started as a poor fishermen’s settlement and turned into popular high class resort when the rich rediscovered seaside tourism.

Porto also features a unique concert hall with special acoustics,  depending on where they set up the stage.

The main cathedral is Romanesque,  like the one in Lisbon with massive stone pillars and tiny windows.

The things that Porto is most famous for is of course the Porto wine…  though technically it has little to do with wine. It is very sweet and with high alcohol levels. It became popular during the Age of Exploration because normal wine would turn sour during the long ship voyages. It is called porto because the English merchants bought it here at the port,  but it is actually produced about 100 km away in the Duoro river valley.

All right…  having done my but for the local tourist board I headed back to the hostel. This time I needed a proper laundry so I went and found one coin-operated. With some help I managed to figure it out.

Back at the hostel I met my roommates, a Brazilian,  two Germans and a Spanish girl. All backpackers touring Portugal.

That was day no 17.