When we planned on coming to Porto, we envisioned a beautiful beachy town, where we could languish in the sunshine, taking in the lovely European atmosphere! Thus, half of the clothes we brought were shorts and tank tops, bathing suits and sandals. Need I say, we haven't even taken these out of our suitcases! Instead, I found myself wearing four layers on top and two layers on the bottom, as we prepared to set out for a hop on hop off double decker bus ride. We waited until after 12:00, as it was pouring rain in the morning. As soon as it stopped, we grabbed our umbrellas and set out. Bryce even stopped to buy a raincoat on the way!
In spite of the cool weather, we enjoyed the sites, stopping at the Ribiera for lunch. It was too cool to eat outside, so we opted for an inside table at the window so that we could enjoy the view of the Douro River.
|The only passage left through the city wall that was built in the 14th century.|
The area lived up to its reputation as a UNESCO world heritage site; a true tourist's delight, packed with tourists, cute sidewalk cafes and a day's worth of wine cellars to visit (if you're into that sort of thing!) We spent the afternoon strolling along one side of the river, and eventually climbed back onto the hop on hop off bus for a tour of the other side. The riverbank on this side is lined with cellars from too many wine companies to count. I have known a few wine connoisseurs in my life, who would likely be excited to spend a few days (or years) here!
The beautiful bridge in the background is one of Eiffel's masterpieces, with two levels, the top one was once for the train, but now is used for the subway, the bottom level, cars. There were hundreds of crazy tourists walking on both levels!
Although we are actually getting a little tired of visiting churches and castles (can you believe it?) we noticed that one of the churches on our walk had a catacombs, so we gathered up our strength and tackled the stairs climbing up to the church and then down to the catacombs in the belly. Rather than the rooms full of bones that we were expecting, most of the catacombs were covered with the tops of their tombs forming the floor that we were walking on. There was a section giving us a peephole into the catacombsbelow, with bones just randomly scattered, so we weren't disappointed! I'm not sure why we are drawn to this, it just seems so fascinating to think that in the 1800s, this is how they took care of the deceased monks!
The church itself was breathtaking. Once again, it is interesting that a monument of humble St. Francis was an overwhelming vision of gold, just about every surface coated in gold leaf! It's hard to believe that Napoleon used this church as a stable for his horses when he took Porto in the early 1800s!