ARC Portugal crews have been enjoying a fun-filled Friday exploring the historic city of Porto by tuk tuk and sampling Portugal’s signature delights of port wine and Pastel de nata.
Departing from the marina in Povoa de Varzim by coach, it was an early start but easy drive into the centre of Porto to the city’s commanding landmark of the Sé do Porto where a fleet of tuk tuks awaited the first group of participants. With six to a ‘chariot’ crews loaded up in the electric vehicles and were taken on a tour to see some of the sights of the charming city. Porto is a vibrant place with historic facades adorned with traditional tiles and cobblestone streets winding up the banks of the river Duoro. Each tuk tuk driver entertained and educated their passengers as the convoy made its way past the Chapel of Santa Catarina, Clerigos Tower and the Palácio de Bolsa.
A welcome pitstop was to visit Manteigaria, a revered home of Pastel de Nata. The crispy tartlets, filled with a rich, caramelised custard cream, are served oven-warm and crews could watch the bakers do their thing in the kitchen as they enjoyed a quick coffee. As many discovered – one tartlet was not enough and several have stocked up with a box for tomorrow’s sail.
Back on board the tuk tuks crews were guided through the twisting streets to the Ribiera, one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Porto. As its name suggests, the district is situated on the riverbank (Ribeira in Portuguese stems from the word river), and the colourful facades of the buildings add to the lively, artisan flare of the area.
With Porto located on the northside of the river, it faces the municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia, home to the wine cellars where the region’s most famous export is stored – port wine! Passing over one of the six bridges over the Douro which connects the two towns, the convoy then headed to the Monastery of Serra do Pilar to a view point offering an amazing vista of the river and two cities.
The final stop of the morning tour took crews to the Cálem Cellars which was founded in 1859 by António Alves and is still one of the main port wine brands in the world. It has been a family business for four generations and has won numerous awards and prizes. The company's brand symbol is a Caravel traditional sailing boat representing the transatlantic crossings; a nod to their heritage exporting wine across the oceans to the Americas.
The vast cellars were lined with barrels and crews learned about the process for making, storing and drinking port. It was then time for a tasting of the Cálem Fine White and Cálem Special Reserve Tawny port varieties. Those on the morning tour were free to enjoy an afternoon around Porto and then make their way back to Povoa at leisure.
Tomorrow, Saturday 15 June sees the programme resume with a 70nm sail to the next ARC Portugal stopover in Figuera da Foz. With light winds forecast, there will be no formal startline and crews will likely leave early in the morning to make the miles down the coastline.
Povoa da Varzim has been a great introduction to Portugal and the Clube Naval Povoense and Marina Povoa de Varzim have once again been exceptionally hospitable to the fleet. Several boats have been able to complete minor repairs, and enjoyed great food and drinks at the yacht club restaurant. In Figuera, crews can expect an equally warm welcome from the Clube Náutico da Figueira da Foz (CNAFF) and will enjoy a sardine supper on arrival tomorrow evening.