Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Porto, or Bus

Cute sculpture in Porto

This morning we bought a couple of RedLine Hop on/Hop off tour bus tickets. The bus makes a huge loop around the city of Porto, stopping at over 30 places, and you just get on and off with your pass when it comes by every half hour. We rode the entire circuit at first, just to get an idea of what was out there to see, so all of my pictures either have the top rail of the double decker bus in the shot, or some other tourtist's hat. Not the best photo venue, but you cover a lot of ground quickly, and there are sound tracks in all different languages, English is channel 2.

Boats in the bay

We saw the Praca De Joao I, the Avenida dos Alliados, Torre dos Clerigos, where there is a 250 foot tower you can climb to view the entire city. We passed by the Monumento a Guerra Peninsular, where there is a huge tower with the Lion of Portugal on top, the performing arts center at Casa de Musica, the Museu de Arte Contemporanea in the Casa de Serralves, and the enormous Parque da Cidade, a nature preserve. Arriving at the coast, we saw the Forte de Sao Francisco Xavier, known as the "cheese" fort, as it looks much like a huge wheel of cheese. We proceded down a lovely coastal area towards the Douro River, past the Castelo de Sao Joao da Foz, and along the river into the touristy Ribeira area, then across the Douro into the Vila Nova de Gaia, where all the riverboats moor and the port wine cellars are located.

Lady Justice
Turning around, we headed back across the Ponte de Luis I again, through downtown Porto, up past the Se Cathedral and looped back to where we started at the hotel. We then rode the first part of the route again, and went all the way out to the fort on the coast, where we hopped off the bus for the first time and took a very cheap tour of the fort, which is now a memorial for the Commandos of the Portugese military. Cheapest WC in town, by the way. After leaving the fort, we walked along the waterfront on a nice boardwalk, looking at all the bathers and folks wading in the tidepools, until we got to an area where there were a bunch of little cafes, where we stopped for a light lunch. Michele had Salada de Atum (tuna) and I had a Baguette da Delicious do Mar (seafood sandwich), which was a little light on the seafood, but wonderfully crunchy with a nice flavor. When we were done, we continued our stroll all the way down to the Foz, where we waited for a long time for the bus to come by again. I think they go to hourly service in the middle of the day rather than every thirty minutes.

At the Cheese Fort
Stayed on the bus long enough to reach the stop for the Museu de Electrocarros, the tram museum, where we paid 7 euros to go inside and look at their very interesting collection of antique trams from the 1800s and early 20th century. There was also a small area where they obviously entertain kids, with a rather elaborate toy train setup. If we had known it, the ticket we bought at the museum would have allowed us to ride the trams in town for four hours, but we'd already planned to jump back on the bus and head to the south side of the river again, to look at all the boats down there, so we skipped the tram ride, alas.

Mule Drawn Trolley
Hopped on the bus again, rode to the Vila Nova and wandered around there for a while, having an ice cream cone and ice cream bar whilst strolling. Got back on the bus again in a little while and rode the loop back to our hotel, where we are resting up for our night on the town in Porto. I ran across the street the the Fruitaria and picked up some plums and apricots rather cheap, and we snacked on those and some cheese I brought from Cascais. Internet access requires extra payment here at the hotel, so blogging has been sparse, though I may break down and get a few posts up all at once.

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