DOWN THE RIVER TO PORTO
Like port wine we traveled down the Douro River (bad pun eh!) to Porto. However, we took the scenic highways through the countryside.
We were not prepared for the beauty of the riverside development and antiquity in this second largest city in Portugal. I have heard that there is an expression: Porto works, Braga Prays, Coimbra studies, and Lisbon gets the money.
The city has a well-worn feel to it. It is not a shiny new penny, it is proud of its rough-scrabble working class roots. The waterfront is not calm, peaceful or pastoral, it is steep, busy and loud. This is its appeal.
As mentioned in an earlier entry, port wine arrived in this city in casks and was off-loaded in Vila Nova de Gianni, across the river from Porto. There it was put into the lodges of the large wine companies to age and ferment prior to being shipped around the world.
On our first day in Porto, we walked across the pedestrian bridge to Giai and took tours at two of the largest wine lodges, Sandeman and Taylor, Fladgate.
The entrance to Sandeman is situated literally steps from the river to ease the unloading of the kegs of port that have come by boat from upriver.
One problem with locating on the river’s edge is that if it floods you may pay the price. On the side of the main entrance to Sandeman Lodge, you will see markings indicating the water level at each of the 9 floods between 1825 and 2001. Don’t worry about the wine though, the aged oak of the casks or barrels while letting oxygen pass through, is impervious to water. No port was lost during the floods.
We did our part to keep these three glasses of port from the future ravages of flooding.
Taylor Fladgate Lodge is located further up the steep hill. They are not susceptible to flooding. It is a good thing, as their inventory is vast and historic as you will see. for a short video on the history of Taylor’s click on this link.
I have no facts on this but this may be the largest barrel in captivity. To better appreciate its size look at the next picture.
We also walked along the boardwalk on river’s edge in Porto. There is a lively restaurant, market and street performance scene.
University students busk for money to support their Clubs and Scholastic activities.