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Leixoes, Portugal

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

7th January, 2015

We made our approach to the port of Leixoes, and I could see, and feel even in the darkness, a very heavy ground swell had developed. The swell was generated by the low pressure area in the North Atlantic, and the swell was sweeping South Eastwards for thousands of miles. Although the seas were calm, the swell was rather large, so much so I had to wake our passengers up at 6:40am to let them know I would shortly be taking in our stabilisers and expected the ship to roll for a few minutes until we were sheltered by the Breakwater. I knew everyone would be getting up for their showers so wanted to warn them of the change in motion.

We ran inside the harbour and then slowed the ship, and turned 180 degrees, to manoeuvre astern to our berth. It’s quite a tricky manoeuvre as you have to sail quite close to moored container ships and then manoeuvre the ship into a tight berth basin. But again I like this part of the job so enjoy the challenge. We were all fast by 0730. .

Porto, also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Located along the Douro river estuary in northern Portugal, it is one of the oldest European centres, and registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Its settlement dates back many centuries when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Its Latin name, Portus Cale, has been referred to as the origin of the name “Portugal,” based on transliteration and oral evolution from Latin. In Portuguese the name of the city is spelled with a definite article as “o Porto” (English: the port). Consequently, its English name evolved from a misinterpretation of the oral pronunciation and referred to as “Oporto” in modern literature and by many speakers. .

One of Portugal’s internationally famous exports, port wine, is named for Porto, since the metropolitan area, and in particular the Adegas of Vila Nova de Gaia, were responsible for the production and export of the fortified wine. .

In recent years, UNESCO recognised its historic centre as a World Heritage Site. Among the architectural highlights of the city, Oporto Cathedral is the oldest surviving structure, together with the small romanesque Church of Cedofeita, the gothic Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis), the remnants of the city walls and a few 15th-century houses. The baroque style is well represented in the city in the elaborate gilt work interior decoration of the churches of St. Francis and St. Claire (Santa Clara), the churches of Mercy (Misericórida) and of the Clerics (Igreja dos Clérigos), the Episcopal Palace of Porto, and others. The neoclassicism and romanticism of the 19th and 20th centuries also added interesting monuments to the landscape of the city, like the magnificent Stock Exchange Palace (Palácio da Bolsa), the Hospital of Saint Anthony, the Municipality, the buildings in the Liberdade Square and theAvenida dos Aliados, the tile-adorned São Bento Train Station and the gardens of the Crystal Palace (Palácio de Cristal). A guided visit to the Palácio da Bolsa, and in particular the Arab Room, is a popular tourist attraction. .

Another three exciting excursions was set to venture off into this lovely town; starting off with two relaxing ones, “Oporto Panoramic” and “Oporto Sights and Douro River Cruise”; and the final one was the “Wine Lodge and Tasting” which was a guided walking tour followed by wine tasting. .

Tonight’s entertainment was for me the most exciting show of all because it was the crew showing their talents and skills in the much awaited “Crew Show”. From Housekeeping, Bars, Restaurant and other departments they set the stage on fire with their dancing skills performing traditional dances, others sang their heart out, so moving especially when Nurse Mitzi Santos sang “I Dream A Dream” and the Restaurant Team brought a lump to my throat when they did their hand miming. Such a wonderful evening, and truly another special Christmas gift from the crew to our guests for them to take home as part of their holiday on board Saga Sapphire.

Captain Alistair Mclundie.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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