Saturday 10th September We arrive in Leiixoes harbour at the mouth of the river Douro. Porto is about 5 miles up river and we have decided to travel there by bus as the river mouth has a bar on which the Atlantic swell breaks heavily on, even in moderate conditions. Unfortunately the marina at Leixoes is closed for upgrading so we have to anchor in the harbour and use the dinghy to get ashore. The sailing club based in the harbour has it's own pontoon and they kindly allow us to leave our dinghy there (we return the hospitality by making good use of the bar).
Porto like many of the cities we have visited has a modern part, which has been built up, round the original old town. Porto is like this and on arrival at the bus terminus we head for the old part of town. We have been advised to visit the Railway Station on the way, which before being a railway station was a cloister (Estaciao Sao Bento) and is more like a museum than a railway station. Porto as the name suggests is the home of Port and all the big well known brands have their head office there and all of them are open to visitors. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit them all and decide instead to opt for lunch at one of the many atmospheric restaurants on the banks of the river where you can sit and watch the world go by.
Porto Railway Station
Porto Tram System
Our next port of call turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, Aveiro about 40 miles down the coast from Porto. To get there we have to travel 5 miles inland from the coast up the Canal da Vila into the Canal da Principal all of which are full of commercial shipping. At the end we turn into the Canal des Piramides and there tie up to the local Yacht Club pontoon. We are met by a member of the club and are made very welcome and advised there is no charge made on visiting yachts using their facilities (water and electricity were also provided). We are told we can take the dinghy through the lock and follow the canal up into the centre of the town where we can safely leave it while we explore the town. Aveiro is also know as `The Little Venice of Portugal` and by looking at the photograph you can see why. The town has many canals running through it and the houses fronting these have their own space for a small boat in place of the usual drive for a car. We could easily have stayed a week but are keen to get to Lisbon where we plan to spend a few days.
The centre of Aveiro
On the way to Lisbon we stop off at Figueira da Foz and Peniche both typical small commercial and fishing harbours but both offering marina facilities. This is important as Anne insists we need a laundry as the boat is sinking under the weight of washing piling up in the bow. There are some things you just can't get away from (and apparently laundry is one of them). Looking very smart and sailing three inches higher in the water we head for Lisbon, well Cascais at the mouth of the river Tejo which leads up to Lisboa (Lisbon). Here we meet up with some friends who advise us not to take the boat up-river as one of the marinas is closed and all the boats have been decanted into the other four marinas and this leaves very few berths for visitors. It is better to take a train from Cascais that runs every 15 minutes and takes you into the heart of the city at a cost of only 2.3 Euros return. Lisbon like many of Europe's capitals is full of places of interest for the tourist, you could spend days or weeks if you wanted to explore them all. Two that we found of great interest were the Torre de Belem and the Monumento dos Descobrimentos. Torre de Belem dates back to the early 1500?s and originally stood in the middle of the river as a fort to defend the city from invaders. In 1755 Portugal suffered a large earthquake which demolished most of the city and altered the course of the river leaving the fort as part of the north bank and firmly on dry land.
Torre de Belem, now part of the North bank
Monument to Henry the Navigator
Possibly the most famous sight in Lisbon and one of the newest (1960) is the monument of discoveries built to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. The monument on the banks of the river Tejo is in the shape of the prow of a ship and depicts Henry leading thirty-two of Portugal's most famous explorers of the time. Compared with a number of monuments springing up, I would consider this one a work of art and well worth seeing. Lisbon has a great deal to offer the visitor and you will experience the same flair and feeling as you get in Paris or Rome. But sadly after three days in the area it is again time to move on and in the morning we sail for Sines our final port before rounding Cape St Vincent and into the Algarve.