Porto cruise and Sandeman cellars
There is much to see in the small but rich port wine mecca that is Porto.
A classy way to enjoy the beauty of the city is by boat.
Cruising the Douro river, you get to see all crossing bridges of Porto and to enjoy a windy yet sunny ride.
We made use of a combined ticket deal, we partly used to sightsee the day before.
The wind was especially strong when we were facing the direction of the ocean. Only competing with the sun.
Only a dam was keeping the crazy ocean waves away.
Some creatures got through.
Other than that, the ride is rather harmonious.
There are many wooden barcas lining the pier, which are the long old boats, once carrying barrels with port wine down the Douro. Now trucks do the job and wooden vessels take tourists for a ride.
This is during the rough days.
The main boat cruise attraction is to float beneath six bridges, each different and unique.
A proper girl, I am not really into bridges and boats but in Porto… a girl can let a little port wine go to her head.
The Luis I Bridge is a two storey marvel. Just like out of a Disney’s fairytale factory. It actually connects the graceful Ribiera facing Gaia on the opposite side.
For bridge nerds.
Plus, there is Paris romance involved… the iron bridge, called Ponte Maria Pia was constructed by Gustave Eiffel in 1877. The guy that designed the Eiffel tower ten years later. I might just be an iron architecture girl after all.
A great idea to warm up after the cruise is of course… port wine. Crossing the Dom Luis bridge by foot, we went to probably the most iconic port wine lodge in the world.
Location: Largo Miguel Bombarda 3, Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto.
George Sandeman created his brand in 1805 by marking (literally branding his barrels) with the initials GSC – George Sandeman & Co, which was registered as the first port trade mark in 1877 in the UK.
The mysterious black Sandeman Don was created in 1928 by George Massiot Brown. This black silhouette wears a traditional Portuguese student’s cape (the kind you can still see students wear today in Portugal) and a wide trimmed Spanish hat. Today, the character is a well recognised symbol in the beverage industry.
And I do like the sleek design a lot.
I am a serious fan of the 20s and totally relished a series of controversial posters from the roaming 20s on display. I loved the Centaur poster where a women is balancing on a centaur reaching for bottles of port under his lustful eyes.
The oldest bottle on display did look old but the most pretty example was this bottle from 1713.
We had our own Don giving a tour through the imposing cellars.
4 million litres of port was surrounding us!
We learned about the fine distinctions of ruby, tawny, branco, rose and vinatge port.
We even walked on wooden bricks. All to make the wine as comfortable as possible.
And we tried a tawny (seven years old) and a branco (three years old). Very good. Indeed.
A great way to detox is with these yoghurt drinks.
On high spirits, we hopped on the Teleferico, the cable car in Porto, back to the top of the Luis I bridge, and savoured a last stunning view over Porto and Gaia in birds eye perspective.
The perfect picture.
Worth all the trouble, eh travel, in the world.
The Monastery is a stone’s throw away from the Teleferico.
Those monks knew where to build their home.
I in turn, know how to swirl on Monstery’s ground.
I am glad we had such a nice day because dinner was a partial fail.
It usually isn’t too bad and so far Portugal has fed us well. We decided to try out another tourist menu which was advertised for 6 Euros each – that to me is very cheap – including a drink, soup and main meal. Two of the main bacalhau (cod fish) meals were tasty but The One wasn’t so lucky and got some seriously strange smelling grilled piece. My seafood salad wasn’t appetising either, defrosted bits of melting surimi, and micro mussels with defrosting mini shrimps topped by three good value prawns on a loveless green salad garnished with onions.
You get what you pay for, I guess.
That is why The One and I granted ourselves an extra serving of those delicious Portuguese aros de chocolate negro cookies at home. And our favourite Portuguese chocolate drink.