Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Povoa de Varzim and Porto

We left Viana with 12 knot winds that progressively died off as we worked our way down the coast.  The wind was from behind and with an anticipated jibe every few miles we decided not to put up the gennaker.  As our speed fell to below 3 knots, we broke down and lit up the motor to give us a little push.  The wind picked up again an hour later and we managed to sail the rest of the way down to Povoa de Varzim.

Fifteen minutes after pulling into the small marina of Povoa, we ran into friends we’d made two years ago in Viviero.  This is one of our favorite things about sailing.  This particular coastline is great for making new friends, since people are either heading north or south, no other choice.  There are fewer French boats now, since we are in the general area where French sailors who are only out for one season need to turn around to head home.  We realize how lucky we are when we see boats arrive in the evening and take off again in the morning, often despite poor weather.  What a luxury to have no calendar to obey.

Mareda in a windy Povoa marina.

Shades of Brittany at the beach near the Povoa marina.
Povoa is a good-sized town with a very nice farmers market in town, although it’s a 20-minute walk from the marina.  What strikes one most about Povoa is the fancy high-security facilities: there’s no code or magnetic card to get into the marina or docks but a digital finger scan system!  This looks like a great place to lay up for the winter – lots of room to store the boat on the hard, good security, good transportation.  The Porto metro has a terminal station in Povoa and it’s only a 50-minute ride into town (and about 25 minutes to the airport). 

After chatting with other cruisers, we were convinced that Povoa was the best place to visit Porto.  We had planned to go down to Leixoes, which is closer to Porto, but apparently the port is filthy (both air and water) and we were told the boat would be covered in black soot within 24 hours.  Povoa is very cheap (18 Euros / night for a 10-12 m boat) and we’ve got wireless internet directly on the boat.  The showers are excellent, we eat well, we’ve got friends here, and we’ve got Porto at our doorstep. 

We made one day-trip to Porto and realized that we needed more slow time to really enjoy it, so we decided to spend a night in a hotel in Porto.  Porto has a lovely shabby-chic / cheap and cheerful vibe to it and we enjoyed winding through the (hilly!) streets and soaking up the atmosphere (…and a bit of porto wine!)

...and our nautical guide said to be sure to wash your hands if you handle your boat lines that have touched the water...
We went to Lello’s bookstore, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world and supposedly the inspiration for the interior decor of Hogwarts school in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  I only lasted 15 minutes.  Even at 10:30 in the morning, it was packed with people and you had to be very quick to get a photo of the place without shooting the head of the tourists in front of you.  Upstairs, the air was unbreathable, and you can forget trying to actually look at the books. Do yourself a favor and save the 3-euro entry fee.  Just look up the pretty pictures and history on the internet.  We did give the Majestic cafĂ© a miss, though.  It was lovely but we’ve sipped over-priced drinks in many lovely cafes throughout the world (Paris, Vienna) and thought we could do without this one.

Lello's overcrowded bookstore
Lello's staircase.

The wind has been raging for the last 3-4 days while we’ve been visiting (32 knots in the late afternoon) but will calm tomorrow to a more manageable 5-15 knots for the next few days.  We will head down the coast to an anchorage in Aveiro (actually San Jacinto) tomorrow and then leave the next day to go to Figueira de Foz.  We’re both eager to move on after a 7-day stop.

Buying Dona Antonia Ferriera reserve, Porto.


Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor said...

Porto looks lovely! I can't imagine paying an entry fee to get into a bookstore. Crowds and bookstores don't really go together. What I love about bookstores is puttering around in the quiet and looking at all of the books. Would be hard to do in those crowds. Although, it is awfully quaint looking.