Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Monday April 4, 2016: Batalha to Porto, Portugal

During the night we could hear it raining – actually at times it was pouring.  It was still raining this morning, and looked like it could continue raining all day.  After breakfast we walked to the Monastery a few minutes before 9:00am, as we wanted to be ahead of bus tours that would arrive when the doors opened.  We almost made it!  A tour group followed us into the Monastery!  Thankfully this place was so huge we could go to a different place than the tour group.  This was another massive place – Nave, Cloisters, etc.  Thankfully we were inside, as the weather was nasty – wet and cold!  It was not warm in the Monastery, but at least it was dry! We need another umbrella, as one of ours bit-the-dust the other day.  Outside the Monastery we found a gift shop where they were selling umbrellas. Finally, we each have one of our own again. 
Batalha Monastery

Central Nave



Tomb of Unknown Soldier

We returned to the hotel to check-out and continue driving north to Coimbra. This city is known for its University and within the University, the library, the chapel and the Palace. We specifically wanted to see these three items at the University.  However, first it was pouring rain, and second we had problems finding a parking spot, but we persevered, finding a parking spot. We walked in the rain a few blocks to our destination.  The Palace and Chapel were nice, but the library was over-the-top with wood carvings.  This is one place we could not take photos.  By the time we returned to the car we were cold and our feet were wet.
Gate entering Coimbra University

Meeting room for Conferring Educational Degrees

Room with the Portrait of all of the Heads on the University


Chapel Organ

We continued driving north to Porto in the rain.  At one point we pulled into a Service Area along the Toll Road, and we each grabbed a nap in the 15 minutes we were there. In that time the rain had stopped and the sun was shining!!!      

We arrived in Porto around 2:30. We did not have a hotel reservation so we began looking for something nice in the inner city area.  We found one but was not in the right lane of traffic to park, so we continued looking for something else.  We did not have a good map of the downtown area, but after about 15 minutes we drove by the same hotel again.  This time there was parking.  It was a little more expensive than we were hoping, but we decided to stay here as it is very nice and the location is ideal.  There is also off-street parking, which is a real positive.     

After checking-in and settling-in, we began walking.  We walked down-hill and up-hill for the next 3 hours.  There is no level spot in this city!  Actually Porto has lots of charm in its narrow hilly streets, but it is not the cleanest city. We did have an adult beverage along the riverfront.  Across the river you can see all the warehouses that store the Port Wine, each having their brand name prominently displayed.  Tomorrow we plan to visit that and and do a tasting tour.  After visiting one of the many Cathedrals, we began looking for a restaurant for dinner.  After the sun went down, the temperature began to drop. By the time we returned to the hotel, we were ready for a warm room and another good night’s sleep, as we have plenty to explore in Porto tomorrow. We have decided to stay here for 2 nights, Monday & Tuesday, then on Wednesday morning we will begin driving east along the Douro River Valley where the grapes for the Port wine are grown.
Double Deck Bridge in Porto

Walking the Old City Wall

Port Wine Barrels on a boat

View of the River Front

Stopping for some Refreshments

Sao Francisco Cathedral

Tree of Jesse - Jesse at bottom, Christ at top

Central Nave

Hardware Store in Old Town

Train Depot

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