After a short time in Sintra we drove to Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. Located on the Douro River estuary, this city has a rich history and holds designated UNESCO Work Heritage status. There are many sights to see, and it is an old city. The Porto Cathedral, for example, is the oldest structure dating from 1732-1763.
I must admit, Porto was larger than I had imagined and for the first two days I had difficulty getting my bearings. But after a couple of days of walking I found that the areas that I wanted to walk about, were not that spread out and walking around the city became easier.
What do I remember? Porto is a city bridges. The Ponte D. Maria, a railway bridge, was designed by Gustave Eiffel and is considered a significant feat of engineering. It is further from the centre of town.
But it is the Ponte Dom Luis I bridge that is more at the centre of the city carries people, cars and the Tram between Porto and the Vila Nova de Gaia, the city on the opposite side of the city. The bridge is very impressive and was designed by a partner of Gustave Eiffel, Téophile Seyrig. Built between 1881 and 1886 the look of this bridge brings thoughts of the Eiffel Tower quickly to mind. I enjoyed walking across the top, and looking down at the city far below the bridge. While walking a Tram slides along the rails before it enters the tunnel and becomes part of the sub-ground metro. I like the classic steel bridges and must admit with all the talk about how the Patullo Bridge here in my hometown of New Westminster, which dates to 1930, has to be torn down as it has lived past its expected life-span, I marvel at the Dom Luis.
We had an apartment while staying in Porto. We were busy not only seeing the city, but also our friends Christopher and Christina Johnson from France came to visit us just before they started their walk to Santiago de Compstela, in Spain.
The Marcado Bolhao is a massive classic market in the centre of the city. Highly recommend you walk through this market. There are two floors, you will not forget the combination of iron structures, canvas covered stalls.
The Estação São Bento is the railway station, now only for inter-urban trains, that is well worth a visit. Inside the mail lobby area has extensive tile work portraying the history of Portugal.
Rua de Santra Catarina is a pedestrian street, and here you can find good shopping including the Majestic Café (Rua Santa Catarina 112) - a classic cafe in the Belle Epoque-ero style. The wood walls, the mirrors and chandeliers create an experience you won't forget.
Probably one of the most stunning buildings to see is the Palacio da Bolsa. This is the Stock Exchange Palace that was built in the 19th Century. Construction started in 1842 and the final work was not completed until 1910. To see the inside you must take a tour, but it is worth it. You will be impressed with the extent of the details of the interior. The topping of the tour is the walk through the Arab Room.