6th December, 2019
Trundling gently north over Thursday gave everyone time to relax before our next port of Leixoes on Friday. Well, Leixoes is the official name of the port, but the nearby town is the much more pronounceable Oporto.
Entering the harbour just before sunrise, we entered a calm basin of water after leaving the rolling Atlantic swells outside the breakwater. As soon as we entered the harbour, we had to stop the ship and ‘reverse’ back to our newly constructed berth for the day next to the cruise terminal; an impressive modern circular swirling-looking building situated just next to the entrance.
Oporto - Portugal’s second largest city - is today a thriving, cosmopolitan place. Its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city was also awarded ‘European Capital of Culture’ earlier this century. Born back in the Roman era, this town has since been a prosperous commercial centre. In the 15th & 16th centuries the city benefitted from wealth generated from Portugal’s maritime discoveries, and later from establishment of a lucrative wine trade with Britain, compensating for the reduction in the spice trade.
A large sandbank prevents ships from being able to sail up the river into the centre, which is why we had to berth at Leixoes instead. Not a problem for our guests, as we provided regular complimentary shuttles to both the port gate and the city centre. Nearby the port gate, there are abundance of local restaurants situated in an old-town cluster alongside a lovely beach. The city centre also of course has a mass of interest to offer.
We ran a variety of Saga trips around the city to suit what we hoped to be everyone’s desires. Everything from walking tours to riverboat trips and bus tours provided each corner of the city to be seen. A little further afield lies the “Palace of the Dukes,” at a place called Guimaraes – often referred to as the birthplace of Portugal. The historic city was where country’s first king was born, and is also where the re-conquest of the country from the Moors began. Again, an UNESCO protected area, we ran a trip for everyone to see it all.
As the sun set and everyone returned exhausted for either a late afternoon tea scone or an early pre-supper G&T, we sailed back out into the lazy Atlantic swell. Two further relaxing days at sea would see us return to Southampton again and thus conclude the excitement of our Volcanic Isles adventure.
Saga Sapphire would be spending a little longer in Southampton this time around, as she is due a planned week’s layup period for essential maintenance to take place in order to ensure she is in best condition for her final 6 months with us at Saga. So, the blogs will commence again once she departs again, feeling fresher than ever…
Captain Kim Tanner
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.
The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.