Our first stop after Brest, 503 nautical miles later was Povoa de Varzim, a small marina and fishing port a little way down the Portuguese coast. We thought Portugal would be closed to visitors, so our initial plan was a voyage from Brest to Gibraltar (1000 nautical miles).
On the off chance, Ingrid called up the marina to ask if we could stop on our way to Gibraltar. The lady in the marina was not sure, so she asked for Ingrid to call back in an hour’s time. 10 minutes later they called back to say we were welcome at any time, so we could more comfortably break our long journey into smaller and more comfortable sections.
On arrival in the afternoon we noticed that it was so much warmer than Brest, even when the sun was not shining – things were looking good for us.
The following day, we decided to venture into the city of Porto as neither Ingrid nor I had ever been. There is a rail link for a few Euros to takes us on the 1-hour journey from Povoa de Varzim to Porto.
I must say that the town is really beautiful, the architecture is different from any other European city I have visited and the layout is interesting with the river Douro in the valley at the bottom.
We walked down through town, enjoying a small lunch of typical Portuguese food to keep our strength up. It was a little odd to be back on terra firma after so many days at sea. Sometimes we would find ourselves swaying as if the land below our feet was still moving.
On the river bank there is a fantastic view of the old city and the colourful facades of the houses – it was definitely worth the walk.
But what else to do? Actually, there are all the old Port (wine) Houses along the river banks and some were open for a port tasting session. As neither of us knew very much about Port, we thought it would be a great educational experience. We chose Quinta do Noval as our victim and rapidly got the attention of the sales lady – who really knew her stuff. We tasted White Port, “Ordinary” Red Port for the new markets, Vintage Port, Unfiltered Vintage Port, 20-year-old Port and 40 year-old Port (at € 45 euro a glass).
It was actually a really interesting tasting experience as we went through the different types, balanced with a little dark chocolate and some dry crackers to clean the pallet.
Well, 6 glasses of port between 2 people is not too bad for a couple who try not to drink during the day, but we do everything we can to support the local industry and educate ourselves.
Walking back up the hill towards the railway station was a little more difficult than coming down, so we had to stop for a coffee and a Pastel de Nata - Ingrid’s Portuguese favourite custard tart.
Rejuvenated we headed back to the boat for a quiet evening and preparation to set sail for Lisbon the following day.