After yesterday’s arrival at Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, we took a well deserved rest at the hotel; today, students came back with full of energy to start their first journey in Porto. Around 9 o’clock, we finished breakfast and got on the bus to begin the city tour. On the bus, our tour guide introduced the culture and specific information of the city comprehensively: it has a population of 200,000 citizens in the area of 400 km2; the western part of Porto area extends to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and port wines are one of their famous exports.
Because there was plenty of sunshine, we had an amazing view of the urban landscape this morning; our bus dropped us at the front of the Porto City Hall, then we walked to the Sao Bento Railway Station for photography and sketches. The next site we visited is the stock exchange palace called PALACIO DA BOLSA, which is located in the Infante D. Henrique Square. The feeling of walking inside of the building is fabulous, the colorful decoration of the inside room made all of us stop and took many pictures. Out of this stock exchange palace, we headed to the Church of Sao Francisco right next to it. The main façade of the church has a large elaborate window in Gothic style; while walking inside of the church, the resplendent altarpieces amazed us. The main color of the interior is gold, which attract all students’ attention.
The next place we headed to was also located near the downtown Porto at Vila Nova de Gaia. We visited the “Sandeman Wine Company” and their winery. The Sandeman company was first developed during the 1790s, considered one of the oldest wine production company. According to the tour guide, the company have their own vineyard 60 miles away from the city of Porto. We were taken into the winery and introduced how wines are being made. The temperature inside was around 10 centigrades in order to preserve the wine to its best condition. We also saw a short introduction video of the Sandeman wine production. Their production various from pure yellowish wine to dark red wine from green and purple grapes. They also produce Brandy, Sherry and Madeira wine. Although it was unfortunate that we cannot try their wine after the visit. Then we headed to food and shopping center where we can seek for lunch.
After the lunch, we visited the famous Torre Tower and the Clérigos Church. Located in the center of Porto, Torre tower is not only famous for its Baroque style of architecture, but also its importance as a landmark of the city. What was especially peculiar about the tower is that we have to take stairs all the way up to the top. There is no elevators at all. The size of the stairs only allow a single person to get through at a time. As a result we would have to slide pass all the other tourists coming from opposite direction. It did take a little effort to get to the top of the tower. But at the top, we could have an unbelievable beautiful view of the city of Porto. After we took some amazing photos, we followed the same stairs back to the base floor. Originally we were planning to have a boat ride on the river, but the weather turned out to be a little unstable. So instead of that, we went to a famous book store in Porto: Livraria Lello. The style of the architecture was designed as neo-gothic. It was considered as one of the oldest bookstores in the world. It was frequented by J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, when she was living in Porto and teaching English to the Portuguese. Later in the afternoon, we went back to our hotel for a short break, then headed for dinner.