Dave's Top 10 Favourite Things About His and Ama's Douro '22 Sailing
A Classic RiverCruiseKing.com Blog re-post from 2020
I absolutely LOVE Porto, Portugal which is the starting point for my June 4th, 2022 Enticing Douro cruise. You'll have a truly memorable time in this very unique, special, and history laden city. I've been very lucky to have visited many times both as a city escape and when sailing the Douro with AmaWaterways. It's the perfect place to wander and wonder at the things around the next corner, peer into courtyards, sit in the cafes and restaurants, and talk to the friendly people of Porto.
Below are my own Top 10 Favourite Things about Porto and Ama's trip on the Douro. It was really fun looking through my photos and choosing fabulous things about this storybook beautiful city to share. I'll be interested in your opinion of my list and what you would most enjoy doing from it.
10. THE NEIGHBOURHOODS
The various neighbourhoods of Porto with their incredibly unique boutiques, art stores, second hand shops, antique corners, windy streets with hidden cafes and restaurants and my absolute favourite: a nice barber shop!
My favourite barbershop in Porto
9. THE CABLE CAR IN GAIA
I love taking the cable car up from the riverbank of the Douro to the top of the hill overlooking Porto. You get an amazing view of the city, the river with its busy boat traffic and it's an easy way to get to the top of Jardim do Morro so you can do my next favourite thing.
8. The Dom Luis Bridge / Eiffel Bridge of Porto
Everybody knows the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but Portugal is home to several important works by Gustave Eiffel including the incredible Dom Luis bridge spanning the Douro River with its double decker design. I LOVE walking over this bridge and testing my fear of heights by looking over the rail to the water below. I like to ride up the cable car, walk across this top deck of the bridge, explore the Porto side of the city, and then walk back to the ship on the lower deck.
Dom Luis.. the Eiffel Bridge
7. The Amazing Azulejos Tiles of Porto
Everywhere you look in Portugal you see gorgeous tiles and ceramic design, but Porto is the place it really comes alive for me. The Azulejos tile work covers the exteriors and interiors of some of the most revered and beloved churches and buildings in the city and nowhere is that more on display then the incredible and breathtaking Porto Sao Bento Train Station. Your Ama tour will take you there, but there is so much to see, you will find yourself mesmerised.
6. The Tunas
No, I'm not talking about the chicken of the sea, I'm talking about the groups of students wandering the streets, pubs, and schools of Porto in their black capes and scarves singing of love, loss, hope, tragedy and joy: Tunas are singing clubs and they are also the inspiration for Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry school uniforms. J.K. Rowling may have finished Harry Potter in Edinburgh, but Harry took form in the coffee shops, cafes, book stores and hidden corners of Porto. The singing groups were the inspiration for the houses and you can see it for yourself if you come along.
Enjoy a Night of Song with the Local Tuna
The Tapas of Porto in general and the delicious offerings at TapasBento specifically! I love the fabulous food of the region and what better way to sample it than these delicious treats?
4. PASTÉIS de NATA
Come on, call them Natale, already!! The national pastry was first created by monks who used copious amounts of egg whites to starch clothing and used the yolks to create the delicious pastry which is beloved today by people worldwide. During the dissolution of the monasteries the monks sold the recipe to a sugar refinery who then created Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. The descendants own the business to this day and keep the recipe in a locked room. You can still go there when in Lisbon and taste the original Nata. The shop is located just a short three-minute walk from the Jerónimos Monastery and they sell over 20,000 Nata from this location every day alone.
The World Needs Natale!!!
3 THE DOURO SCENERY
It may seem cliche to say this, but my number 3 reason for loving Porto and the Douro itinerary comes down to nature and the stunning scenery. The Douro is one of the most unspoiled rivers and regions in Europe and sailing along in the Douro Valley offers breath taking views and scenes along every kilometer: steep mountains are covered with vineyards and wine terraces. It is pure romance!
Stunning Douro from Sandeman Winery
2. THE DOCKING LOCATION
I love where Ama docks their ships in Porto, on the Vila de Gaia side of the river, steps away from the famed port wine cellars where you can wonder and go tasting and easily reach the other side of Porto by simply crossing the Eiffel Bridge. There are tons of restaurants and cafes who all line the river bank with chairs so you can sit and relax and drink a port wine and watch the traditional rabelo boats that were once used to bring the port barrels from the vineyards to storage as you sip this delicious nectar of Portugal.
On the River Bank in Vila de Gaia