Nearly all of the crews headed out yesterday on an all-day tour down the coast to Porto, one of the most popular and visually interesting visits on the Rally.
From the marina in Povoa, the coach headed south down the coastal road to Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, a place steeped in history, and famous for it’s strong links to the beginning of commercial trade in Europe.
Porto’s most famous export is the wine that takes its name from the city, Port, and the world’s best known port lodges are all located on the southern bank of the River Douro, just across from the main urban centre of the city.
The Rally Portugal crews headed to one of the best known of these lodges, and the only one still to be family-run - Taylor’s. Their guide took the crews on a facinating tour of Taylor’s bodegas, explaining the complex process that makes port wine so unique. The guided tour was of course followed by a generous tasting session of their ruby, tawny and white ports.
From Taylor’s, the tour bus took the crews back across the bridge to the northern side of the Douro River, and the main historic part of the city of Porto, an area designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996.
Porto has a unique and stunning appearance, with narrow, steep cobblestone roads twisting and turning upwards from the riverfront. Many of the centuries-old townhouses look near to falling down, and are surrounded by a multitude of baroque and rococo style churches, monuments and the city cathedral, ceremoniously perched on the hillside overlooking the main part of the city below. Porto is a fascinating place to explore, and winding your way through the many tiny roads, you really get a feel for the vibrant street culture that exists amongst the city’s tightly-knit communities.
The crews were guided throughout the day by the extremely knowledgeable Katerina Placido, from Porto Tourist Board. She explained in fascinating detail the history and architecture of the city which gave it's name to the country itself.
Winds increased in strength this afternoon in Povoa, but are set to ease overnight, hopefully providing the fleet with some light NW downwind conditions for their all day sail tomorrow. The start of the 75-mile Leg 3 down to Figueira da Foz is set for 0700 local time tomorrow, to allow boats enough time to arrive in daylight.