Having been on the move for most of the last fortnight we decided to stay near Porto for three nights for some R&R; fortunately the site we picked more or less at random out of the camperstop book turned out to be an excellent choice. We’re at Madelena on the coast about five miles from Vila Nova de Gaia which sits on the opposite bank of the Douro to Porto. The campsite is about 500 metres from the beach among a mix of pines and eucalyptus which provide welcome shade in the 30o+ temperatures that we’ve experienced for the past few days. As it’s early in the holiday season the campsite is quiet and relatively empty, though I suspect it gets absolutely heaving during the height of the summer. On Sunday evening we cycled down to the beach but our good intentions of going in for a swim were downgraded to a quick paddle when we dipped our toes in the chilly Atlantic which has yet to warm-up to a respectable level.
Yesterday we took the local bus into Porto and discovered why there are no Portuguese racing drivers – they’re all driving buses at high speeds through the incredibly narrow backstreets of Porto. Given our experience in Amarante I spent the entire journey in a muck sweat- perhaps not the most relaxing of ways to start your birthday!
Porto is a lovely city built on the banks and rising cliffs of the Douro where it’s spanned by numerous impressive bridges of varying ages. Sparing no expense we took an enjoyable ‘six bridge’ boat trip, which would have been perfect for taking photos of the city if it hadn’t been so crowded that you dare not stand up to take a photo for fear of someone nicking your seat.
Following a lunch of sardines (her) and prawns (me) we splashed out (did I mention that it’s my birthday?) on a visit to the Calem Port ‘lodge’ which provided an interesting insight into how the wine is made – with the added attraction of three complementary glasses of port at the end of the tour. At one point I thought that Denise was about to start dancing on the tables – I offered to drink hers for her, but my generous offer was politely declined.