Clinging to the steep banks of the Douro River, Oporto is Portugal’s second largest city. Oporto is also one of Europe’s oldest metropolises, dating back to the Roman Empire. Situated strategically between Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean Sea, this northern city of Portugal ended up being a convenient place for sailing ships to catch the easterly trade winds towards the North America. For centuries, the waterfront of Oporto was a major hub of global trade, providing the locals with a constant supply of commodities such as wine, sugar, spices, oils and exposure to the cuisines of foreign cultures. A major export of Oporto was a special fortified wine known as Port, and it is still produced exclusively in this region.
This morning, National Geographic Orion sailed up the Douro River as far as the port of Leixoes, one of Oporto’s principal harbors, and we had a full morning exploring the streets by coach and by foot. Among the highlights of the day was a stop at the Lello Bookshop, (which was one of J.K. Rowling’s inspirations for the famous Harry Potter book series), the Sao Bento Train Station to view the huge painted tile entry hall, and a final stop at the Calem Port House to taste some world class port wine.
In the afternoon, National Geographic Orion sailed for Lisbon. Tonight we will celebrate our voyage with the Captain’s Farewell Party! Tomorrow we must actually say farewell, and hope that we all meet again someday on another great Lindblad/National Geographic expedition.