Monday 3 June 2019, Sea day
Yesterday, Porto, a delight for the senses, was a lovely experience. We sailed in to the port pier of Leixoes, which displayed the cleanest, most beautiful modern port building and our ship was the only ship docked. Beautiful white, stylish rounded architecture combining white, texture, multi-layers and glass. The bathrooms were plentiful and clean and wifi throughout. Escalators and plenty of space, smooth on and off activities with plenty of helpful security folk.
Azamara offered complimentary shuttle into the town of Porto, about half hour drive. We were dropped at a bus parking area and provided orientation and maps. Off we began, enjoying the colourful buildings, cobblestone sidewalks, beautiful large unique bridges, soaring old bell tower, historic cathedral, railway station, painted tiles as wall murals, port and wine factories, restaurants commonly using the common streets and walkways along the waterfront (when we walked through we felt we were trespassing on private restaurant space). The Duoro River running through it, bound on both sides with high cliffs and terraced vegetation between rows of buildings high up. Cable cars, elevators and funicular rides helping tourists navigate the steep hills and allowing for everyone to enjoy the old town.
It was Sunday, many of the shops were closed but local market tables set up for tourist shopping for items made of cork, ceramic, glass, linen.
We searched for the funicular, determined to enjoy the ride up and walk down. It was closed and door locked when we arrived. We hung around talking about why it did not indicate that it was closed on Sundays …. we noticed arrival of one of the security folk who opened the door for us, we were fortunate to be the first to enter, get our ticket and have a wonderful seat in the front allowing for the best view. Up, up we went, great photos of the rooftops and river.
A young man dressed in a wet suit climbed up on the railing of the tall bridge, walking unassisted and drawing attention to himself with loud whistles. HIs assistant presumably would be collecting money for his dangerous plunge in to the river below. We did not stay around long enough to see the outcome of this risky busking leap of faith.
We walked back and forth along the main bridge along the pedestrian area, getting good glimpse of the river below. The parked river cruise ships, three deep and using the same docking space. Most of the buildings in old town are built along the steep banks, with great views of the red tile roof tops, steep stone staircases, colored doors. Picturesque views, each one exposing greenery, yellow gold walls, tiled greens and blues on the outside walls of about a third of the buildings, and colourful doorways, flowers and vines hanging over stone fences, building dividers and archways. Steep stone stairways, curving, twisting.
Steeples and ornamental roof decorations, on top of steep stone walls revealed churches. We walked into a piazza to see a local wedding taking place, bride and groom, posing outside the door way of the beautiful church, with stunning backdrop of Porto behind them. Photographers capturing the moment, tourists enjoying our luck of timing to get a chance to glimpse true local culture.
After arriving back on the ship, shuttled back from Porto, I wanted to venture to the local beach. I could see the beach from the pier and it was a sunny and warm, sandy beach dotted with umbrellas, outdoor deck chairs, swimming and sun-bathing bodies. I got directions from the security person, grabbed a local shuttle bus out of the shipyard compound. I walked alone over the hot golden sand and into the sea and surf. The coolness of the sea salt water covered my feet up passed my ankles, satisfying my urge to take in a beach whenever I can 🙂
I walked back over the warm sand, along the roadway and decided not to wait for the shuttle. I could see the ship from my vantage point and felt confident I would not get lost. I was home, back on the ship as the shuttle bus arrived with many of the folk who had spend the day in Porto and area.
Stopping to post with wifi and then back on board to enjoy the sail away party. This was a beautiful scenic day, filling all my senses with satisfaction. We departed Portugal and I feel I have seen enough of this country over the past 3 days …. what a grand adventurous experience. Thanks for following. Pictures posted on facebook.
This cruise I have no excursions booked, and did not do a thorough research on various ports of call in advance. Today, Monday, is a sea day, with rolling waves, blue clear sky, and a relaxing feel on the ship. Time change indicated we dropped an hour last night, so they offered a beautiful brunch buffet in the Discoveries Dining area. Ice carvings, plenty of fruit, sweets, vegetables, meats, breads, station for personalized omelets and pasta, prepared as ordered. Sparkling water feels good when seas are a bit rough, skipping sparkling wine at this time.
Today’s activities on board include line-dancing (in preparation for the White Night event coming up in a few days), guest lecturer Thomas who will speak about the island of Mont-Saint-Michel and Honfleur, and other tourist treasures in Normandy region of France. This is all new territory for me and I am looking forward to seeing this part of France up close. Thirty degrees outside, many of the guests enjoying the outside deck to feel the heat of the sun, paddle in the pool and some shopping opportunities.
Tomorrow at the port of St. Malo, France, Mary and I will take a taxi to see majestic Mont-Saint-Michel, a kilometer off the northwest coast. This castle-like fortress church was inspired in 708 AD, built 11- 16th centuries, on this granite isle. The Abbey was formerly a prison and when the tide is in, completely surrounded by water. This village boasts over fifty Romanesque and Gothic buildings, many now host to tourist shops. It is the second most visited landmark in France, after the Eiffel Tower (in Paris).
Later today is ipad class, and Indian dinner buffet, entertainment provided by Azamara Journey’s very talented cruise director, Eric deGray performing show-tunes Vegas production-style. Following that, ABBA featured dancing up stairs in the Living Room, blending into late night dancing with requests to DJ Mike. Movies in the room feature Eat Pray Love and alternating with The Bourne Identity. Lots to do today and tonight.
Stay tuned for more from the sea-cost off France, we are half-way now to our next port of call. Lucky me!