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3rd January, 2014

Leixoes, Portugal

Leixoes, Portugal

The next few days were at sea heading up towards the port for Oporto, Leixoes. The warm conditions that we had been experiencing began to disappear and it was a cool morning when we docked, but on the bright side, rain from the previous night was also fading away.

I took the opportunity of boarding a shuttle bus for the twenty minute journey into Oporto, a rather splendid city not only because of its geography, but also because of its architecture. Indeed, UNESCO has recognised its historic centre as a World Heritage Site. There are, of course, shabbier areas which have not benefited with the present austerity, however even these have their own unusual charm. I was, in the limited time I had available, on a mission. I walked down to the main Sao Bento Railway Station, not to see the trains but the impressive painted tiles that adorn the walls of the imposing booking hall. There were scenes from the middle ages, knights in battle and being presented in court, the picking of the grape harvest and religious parades.

Leixoes, Portugal

I carried on, walking down onto the bridge that takes the modern tram service on the old cast iron bridge over the River Douro. The view down the valley and the lower slopes of the city with its old terracotta roofed buildings is very special. Below there was plenty of activity, small boats that originally carried barrels of port down to the warehouses, now used as tourist vessels. Large river cruisers lay moored alongside waiting for their next ‘voyage’ and cafes with outside tables and too few customers. My last objective was a bookshop, but no ordinary bookshop. It was one I had been advised to visit because of its gothic like interior. I found it eventually and it was well worth the visit, particularly the amazing carved staircase which curved round 180 degrees, then split into two directions carrying up either side onto the first floor on. Ingenious design which I of course photographed, only finding out afterwards that photography was forbidden. (I wonder why?)  

We sailed later in the afternoon, heading north to the Bay of Biscay and Southampton, and towards a deepening low pressure system racing across the Atlantic. There seems to be no let up to this winter of wind.

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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.