I mentioned in the previous blog entry that the city of Porto is alongside the Douro River. When traveling I have grown to love the element of water and the interest it adds to the experience of the place I am visiting. From the canals of Venice in Italy, the River Thames in London, the Danube River in Hungary, the Milford Sound in New Zealand to our own Big Bear Lake in California, all of these places are special to me because of their unique proximity to water. The Douro River is another body of water that adds to the beauty and romantic nature of Porto on one side and Vila Nova de Gaia on the other.
I also love being able to see a place from the vantage of the water. On Thursday, we were lucky enough to take a boat ride on the river and see all six bridges of Porto from the water. My two favorites are the Ponté Luis 1 and Arrábida Bridges. The architect of the former is Gustave Eiffel, the same man who designed the Eiffel Tower. The Arrábida bridge is made of reinforced concrete and designed by Edgar Cardoso. It was inaugurated in June of 1963 and Paula said that people came from all over the world to see it collapse because they didn't believe a bridge made of concrete could stay standing.
Thursday was Paula's birthday and her dear very busy friend Ana gave her the gift of her time and spent the entire day with us. After the boat ride we went to lunch to a nice restaurant near a plaza where music was playing in the background. Again we have had amazing weather this trip. Ana's sister Susana surprised us at the restaurant with a beautiful delicious homemade chocolate cake.
No trip to Porto would be complete without a tour of the wine cellars that are the home of Port wine. We visited Ferreira Cellars and learned how Port wine is made which of course ended with a taste of the wine.
Another really enjoyable part of this day and the next was walking the narrow streets of Porto and seeing how people live in their flats. With every turn there was a new combination of paint colors and unique Portuguese tiles adorning the buildings. Porto is also known for its unique windows and people often hang their clothes to dry from their balconies.