|Porto - statues in the park|
One of the few that are relatively unaffected by swell is Leixoes.. pronounced Leshoins (or something similar). This is the main port for the city of Porto, some 5 miles up the adjacent river Douro and is one long day sail from Baiona in Spain.
|Porto - Train Station|
|Porto - Central Market|
Inevitably, it could only have been better than last time. The port isn't the prettiest of places, but we anchored in the gathering dusk alongside a couple of other yachts, with our engine working fine and no sign of dredgers anywhere. We caught the bus to Porto the following morning, and on the way were greeted by the marina staff who were helpful and friendly, even though we weren't actually staying in the marina. Everyone seemed to be cheerful.
The city of Porto itself is extraordinary. It's scruffy in lots of places and generally quite run down, but has a spectacular setting in the steep river Douro valley and has a vibrancy and dynamism which is palpable together with a definite sense of style in spite of the decay. Clearly the last time that there was any significant wealth in the city was in the art deco period and so there are some fabulous examples scattered around.
The valley sides are riddled with steep and narrow flights of stairs intersected with shady alleys. Working our way down towards the river we realised we had bizarrely stumbled into an organised urban motocross race. Pairs of off road bikes were tearing up and down the flights of stairs in the heart of the historic city centre.
Making our way back to the station after and long and hugely enjoyable day meandering about soaking up the ambience (and two stroke fumes from the bikes), we found ourselves caught up in the middle of a substantial Portuguese Communist Party demonstration march. It was all pretty peaceful as it turned out, but quite noisy and lots of police.
We decided Porto deserved another day, so returned and had a more mellow time wandering about. Although there was a big marathon happening through the city and a book fair.
We headed out the following evening in settled weather for an overnighter to Peniche and had time during starry night watches to contemplate all the ways that leixoes/Porto had redeemed itself.