Porto has great charm and looks almost like it is all staged for a movie. I have never seen a city so colourful where buildings which are nearly falling apart stand next to meticulously restored tile-covered buildings. It is a potpourri of houses. I will try to give Porto justice when posting all the pictures I took in the gallery. However, you probably have to visit the city to fully understand what I mean. For now, I will tell you what we did and liked in Porto.
We stayed at the Orbitur Angeiras campground 15 km outside the city in Lavra and drove several times into Porto. We did not explore so many things as we have done in previous towns though. Instead, we spend the most time in Rebeira on the Porto side of the Douro River as well as on the opposite banks in Vila Nova de Gaia. We were so entertained and relaxed walking and sitting along the Douro River that we spend all our time there.
On our first day at the Porto side of the Douro, we took a boat tour. Unfortunately, Ronja was not allowed on the boat, so Hardy and she had to stay behind. We got told that no boat operator takes dogs. What we found out later (and in our case too late) is that on the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river, the first boat as you walk down to the river bank from Ponte Lúis I takes dogs. The captain said to us dogs should have the same right as humans. That we love to hear. Kids were also free. We really recommend taking his boat!
The boat tour that I did alone with the kids was nice. We went under the many of the famous bridges of Porto and enjoyed some lovely views. Unfortunately, there was no information on the boat which was a pity. I would have loved to get some information about what we were seeing passing by. The boat tour itself lasted 45 minutes, and that was about the right length for the kids to keep entertained.
By the way, if you go into Porto by car, I would recommend you to use the Parking Duque De. Then you can take the stairs down to the Ponte Lúis I. It is all a living area with a pleasant atmosphere. You see laundry hanging out to dry and old ladies talking with each other through the windows. Kira and Milo also found a very cuddly cat that caught their attention for a good while.
Walking down the stairs, getting closer to the river, you start hearing music, and you start having some stunning views of the famous Ponte Lúis I. Just before the last set of stairs you are passing a cultural house which plays some sweet Latin rhythms. An excellent stop to make some dance moves on the stairs. Rebeira is famous for its street performances. The first performance which caught our attention when coming down the stairs was a performance of the Brazilian martial art Capoeira. It took us a couple of hours to just walk the short Rebeira esplanade due to all the things happening - a market, street performances and just watching other people.
Douro River, Vila Nova de Gaia
The next day we explored the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river which became our favourite side as well. For us adults due to all the Port wine tastings and for the kids due to the Teleférico de Gaia cablecar and the little playground near the river station of this cable car.
Well, to be honest, we only visited one cellar for Port tasting. We ended up at the small Augusto cellar that is owned by a Portuguese family. It has a low production of 30.000 bottles a year. We wanted to visit a little and not too commercial Port producer, and that decision paid off. This small cellar welcomed Ronja to join the tour as well. That meant all our little family could join the tour. What a treat! The guided tour only cost 5 EUR and lasted for about twenty minutes. That was enough time for the lovely tour guide (she gave Ronja a great cuddle) to tell about the history and making of the Augusto Port wine. At the end of the tour was a Port tasting and the kids also got their own “white port” (water) in wine glasses. We ended up buying a bottle of white port, mainly because we have discovered the great combination of tonic with white port, lemon and a basil leaf (sampled on the Sandeman terace).
The kids also enjoyed taking the cable car and viewing Porto from atop Ponte Lúis I. Ronja could not come, so I stayed with Ronja and found it very relaxing just sitting by the river watching the boats and enjoying the beautiful view of Rebeira.
When it was time for the daily ice-cream fix, we discovered a great place selling homemade ice cream - Gelados De Portugal. Personally, I would not recommend, the chestnuts with port wine flavour. It sounds more interesting than it tastes. Next, to the ice-cream place and close to the entrance to the cable car is a playground that entertained the kids. Probably one of the playgrounds with the best view in Portugal.
Orbitur Angeiras campground and its surroundings
Besides just hanging in Porto we also spent a couple of days only at the campground and exploring its surroundings. The beach, Praia de Angeiras, close the campground showed very different sides of itself depending on the day and the weather. There was also sardine season, and one morning we bought sardines straight from the boat. One kilo for four Euro! One wonders how they can make a living off that? The sardines became a delicious lunch prepared on our grill.
Then one day the beach had very high waves. Even Ronja did not go close to the water. She had total respect for the sounds the waves made hitting the beach. No swimming there, but one feel the energy from the Atlantic when watching the waves. We walk at the beach looking for beautiful stones. Kira has now over 6 kg of rocks collected. We are trying to “forget” some of them, but she has rock solid control of what stones she has.
Another day the beach surprised us with showing its calm side. The tide was low, and no big waves were hitting the beach. The rocks now exposed formed great rock pools. A perfect place for the kids and Ronja to have a bath. Milo loved discovering the caves and its secrets. He saw small fishes, mussels and various seaweeds.
Along the whole coastline runs a great boardwalk that connects the coastal towns nearby. Here we met many pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago. We only did a few kilometres on the “Camino” until we reached a little café at the cliffs to have the daily ice cream before we turned back. Ronja could also enjoy the beach without annoying beach guards telling her to leave. We did not see a single "no dog" sign. The beaches were not guarded and there were signs of being careful if swimming.
At the cliffs, close to the boardwalk, we also found a geocache and left familytravel-2 and hope that it finds its way back to Norsesund. We have seen on the website that someone has already picked it up. About our first travel bug which we left in the proximity of Toledo, we still don’t know anything about.
Rain, rain rain = IKEA
We had a few days of rain as well giving us an excuse to visit an enormous shopping mall which also had an IKEA. We had "IKEA dinner" three times there. It was only 15 minutes from the campground, so it was so easy to get to and for some days we skipped preparing dinner in the caravan. It is almost cheaper to eat there than to cook your own food. The kids loved the meatballs and the mash potatoes. At least Milo. Kira is more of a pasta girl. I think the kids will always remember that shopping mall, not because of IKEA but because of the amusing and unusual rides we discovered. They came as dinosaurs, pigs or dogs. For one Euro one can drive around the shopping mall. It was very amusing for both the kids and us, but not so much for the poor man Kira drove into.
Porto was the stop we have stayed longest so far, eight days. We could have stayed longer. It was really nice. We will be back!
If you want to see more pictures please click here