Day 2 |
Apr 29, 2010

Oporto, Portugal

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

Co-ordinates:  41°11’N, 08°42’W

Weather: sunny

Air Temperature: 23°C

Oporto, oh should I say “Ohhh Porto” …

But let’s start with the beginning of the day! At 10:00. Olga was starting the lecture series with her talk entitled “Spain – Interrupted Empire”. As I had heard that lecture just at the end of last trip, I decided to go out on deck for a bit and follow the approach to the harbor of Oporto. At 11:30 we were alongside.

Our tour, named “Historic Oporto and Port”, started just after 13:00. Richard, our onboard photographer, joined me with 31 of our guests. Natalia, our local guide, welcomed us to the second biggest city of Portugal. The bus brought us to the center of this World Heritage Site. After a very scenic drive along the riverside of the Douro, we arrived next to the very impressive 14th-century St. Francisco Church. The outside of the church with its granite may not have impressed everyone so much, but once inside seeing all the 18th-century gold-encrusted interior decoration, I am sure there was no one disappointed about this stop!

Natalia gave us some very interesting explanations about the history of the church and the meanings of all the symbols in the church. After leaving the church we walked down to the riverside, into the so-called Riberia. That is the very picturesque old part of town.

Once back on the bus we crossed the Douro River over one of the 6 bridges here in town (one even built by Mr. Eifel, yes, the one from Paris …).

Our next stop was at a place for port wine for which Oporto is famous! We visited one of the old wine cellars and of course got the opportunity to taste some different kinds of port wine. But first we got an excellent tour by very knowledgeable and friendly staff from the winery. Here we heard more about the history of port and the different types. Also walking through the winery with all the wooden oak barrels was quite impressive!

After leaving the winery we went back to the ship, but not without doing an extensive scenic tour through the town of Oporto with all its old and new buildings.

Back onboard there was not much time to get the knot out of my tie before Captain Luigi Ruttigliano’s Welcome Cocktail Party!

After that I had the honor to join the dinner table with my dearest head of department, the Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink. It was a lovely table, not only was the company very nice, but also the food was delicious!