Balmoral Day 12

Written by Safarigal
January 31, 2024

January 29th, 2024


Maybe it is fitting that our final port is Porto. Well it’s not really Porto as such, the port for Porto is called Leixoes (Lay- sh- oi-sh), and Leixoes is one of Portugal’s major ports.

So far the terminals we have seen on this cruise are either rudimentary or none existent, however this cruise terminal is simply amazing. I wish we had taken more photos of the interior, I think we were just too enchanted by it to whip out our cell phones. We did take photos of the exterior when we returned to the ship.

We had opted for another ship’s tour today – a cruise on the Douro and port tasting.

Our guide was Maria, and she was totally different to Maria 1 in Marrakech. She was an absolute joy.

During our drive from the port to Porto, we passed by Janet Echelman’s net sculpture, which flows in the wind. I love it.

I also loved driving around Porto. It is Portugal’s second largest city, but it has more of a small town feel to it. The buildings are beautiful, and many, like the buildings in Lisbon, are covered in tiles.

We then boarded our river boat, and spent the next hour on a leisurely cruise up and down the river.

It was interesting to see the contrast between the newer and older bridges.

Porto is on the north bank, and the town of Gaia (Vila Nova de Gaia) is on the south.

Although the drink from the area is called port, actually Gaia is where all the port wine in the world originates, and has done since the 17th century. As Gaia faces north, it is cooler than Porto, and thus better for port making.

Historically barrels of wine from the upper Douro Valley would be transported by boat to Gaia. Once here the wine would be taken to one of the port lodges that dominate the riverfront to be made into port. These days the barrels arrive by road, but the process is the same.

After maturing in the cool damp riverside cellars the wine is fortified by adding a strong spirit made from grape husks. This stops the fermentation process, making the wine somewhat sweeter, and also increases the alcohol content. Apparently the original idea behind this was to make the wine last on long voyages during a time when there was a trade embargo on French wines.

There are more than 60 port cellars here of which around 20 are open to the public. We went to Burmester, which was founded in the 1750s, and continues to make port the same way it always has.

They had the biggest barrels I had ever seen.

The Burmester guide gave a wonderful explanation of all you ever wanted to know about port, which was great as before the tour I didn’t even know the difference between ruby and tawny port. And who knew there was white port?

Their aged port gets to be quite expensive, and spends its time aging in what looks like a prison cell.

After we were educated about port, it was time to give it a try. There was a white port and ruby one on offer. Both were really tasty.

Obviously most of the other guests thought so as well. Shortly after the tasting the queue started building at the sales counter.

Our drive back to the ship showed more of the city,

It was time for lunch, so we walked into town from the ship in search of a restaurant. Maria had recommended 10 Oceanos, but it was closed.

Walking down the street we found Casa Serrao, owned by the Portuguese football player Joao Serrao. It was really great, and my plate of prawns and chips with peri peri sauce was delicious.

We took a few photos of the cruise terminal as we walked back to the ship.

This will be the last time we board the ship. Every port has been wonderful, and it seems like each port is even better than the one before. All the people we have met along the way have been so welcoming we couldn’t have asked for a better time ashore.

We watched seagulls circling around a fishing boat as we heard the ship’s whistle for the final time as we left port.

Yes we are really heading back to Southampton.

Post Discussion


  1. Christine Hodge

    Thank you so much for all your fabulous posts. I enjoy reading them. 👏🤩🥂

    • Safarigal

      Thanks for reading along 🙂

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I love to share my adventures with others, and hopefully give them some insight into what to expect on their own exciting travels. I hope reading my blog will be a useful resource, and inspire others to follow their travel dreams. As a travel advisor, I get great pleasure out of being able to help folks fulfill their aspirations by translating my experience in safari adventures and ocean voyages into memorable travel experiences for them.