Porto, the city on the right bank of the Douro River and the starting point of our actual river cruise, is considered to be the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon – but that is only if you include all the surrounding areas as many of the “locals” have moved out for better housing, leaving the interior of the city with a lot of empty buildings. Our boat, the Queen Isabel was docked on the Gaia side of the river (the left bank – the Douro separates the cities of Porto and Gaia).
Our first full day, after getting all settled in to our cabin, was a walking tour of the City. Janeen, fighting off a cold, stayed ‘home’ to rest and I took the adventure trail with the group doing the “do as locals do” which is the phrase they use for the more active walking tour.
The City is very picturesque and offers any number of beautiful sites to see.
Our trip included a walk across the steel Dom Luis I Bridge. This double deck bridge with light rail and pedestrians at the top and general traffic and pedestrians on the lower deck was designed, in part by Gustave Eiffel and built in the late 1800’s. From there it was a short climb to the Porto cathedral.
The Cathedral sits on the highest point and has a commanding view of the City.
From there we took a short walk to catch the local tram – not really a local’s thing to do as it is very slow and not running on schedule often. It seems all the trams came from the United States sometime during the 1940’s.
The Train station was a treat – with wonderful tile murals on the walls depicting the history of the country.
Walking though the City was enjoyable. We visited parts of the City we (Janeen and I) had not visited in our visit 10 years ago. It is sad, however, to see all the empty buildings as many are in poor condition waiting for someone to come with lots of money to fix them up.
After the tour, we got back to the boat for various beverages and a discussion by the cruise director on the upcoming events for the trip. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we start heading up river!