007 - Vila Nova de Gaia - Portugal

 Sister city with Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia cannot be missed, skipped or ignored. Here is why:

Last article debuted at the Porto's Train Station. From there we presented two directions to start the adventure -> towards the city center or towards the river Douro. 

We will continue this article, still heading towards Douro River, with the Se Cathedral to our right side on the Ponte de Dom Luis I, with Vila Nova de Gaia in front of us.

Click on the map

007.1 The walls of Porto and Serra do Pila Monastery in the distance. On the other side of this wall, we saw the funicular of Porto.

007.2 This is part of the city Gaia, with Serra do Pila Monastery on top of the hill and a modern Rabelo boat, probably heading towards Regua (see two articles before). 

007.3 Serra do Pila Monastery is a UNESCO site that used to me a military fortification from where the Portuguese fought back the French (interesting how things play today). And before the wars, this was ... well a church of course. 

007.4 Gaia was know in the antiquity as Cale, but the romans renamed it Portus Cale (the Port at Cale). From there some hundreds of years later, the region was known as Portucale and from there it became Portugale. A few more hundreds of years in the future, 11th-12th century and the area between Minho River (we saw Valenca in our first article on this website) and Douro River (present day Vila Nova de Gaia) was known as Portugal. Still, Porto and VN de Gaia, were and still are separate even today, and they are different. One is a lot more flatter than the other :).

007.5 We descend the Ponte Dom Luis I bridge and we stick close to the Gaia's riverside. This is Capela de Nossa Senhora da Piedade and above we see the cable cars, not that expensive, and in our opinion a must do. We wanted initially to wait for the sunset to take it, but it closes much faster than that (in the summer) so we actually went into a wine cellar first, then stood in line to get a ticket for the cable car. And we loved it! (sadly the windows were a bit too dirty so we made just personal photos, nothing wow). 

007.6 No visit to Porto/Gaia cannot be done without a tour in one of the many famous wine cellars. 

007.7 We chose based on the earliest english tour available, and ended up with CALEM. It was an interesting tour, more marketing material than history of the wine, Douro, Portugal etc. 

007.8 Our tour finished with a tasting of three types of Calem Wine, and not all were super sugary. 

007.9 Rabelo boats and Porto. 

007.10 Most tourists will prefer to stay on the Gaia's riverside, on the rock, and admire Porto from here (it can be pretty packed, but is worth it!)

007.11 Porto in one picture: Ponte Dom Luis I, Rabelo boat, Douro, and the colourful riverside.

007.12 On some websites you might read that this dual deck bridge was built by Gustave Eiffel (famous architect, who built the more famous Tower in Paris). In fact there is a bridge, here in Porto/Gaia, built by his firm, but is not this one (he was too expensive, once he got very famous, of course). Fun fact, to cross this bridge, used to be a paid trip... yup and this is the third take on a bridge, at the same location. First one, was a bridge made out of boats.

007.13 This metalic bridge, in the distance, it looks very similar to Ponte Dom Luis I, except it is only one level (top) and is not in a very frequented area and was built by Gustave Eiffel's firm. Since 1996 the bridge is deserted and rail traffic is on the concrete bridge, a bit more far (you can see the blue shadow, overlapping in the image)

007.14 Gaia has much more to offer actually, and we did frequent it quite a lot. In fact, we would almost always park the car in Gaia, eat in Gaia, entertain in Gaia (is a bit more quiet and gives a better view over Porto, even for free) and we would also go to cinema in Gaia. 

007.15 This is the last bridge (Arrabida), connecting Porto and Gaia, and at the same time, in the 60s when it was finished, it had the world longest single arch span. 

With this last photo we also say goodbye to Porto and Gaia and we hope you really enjoyed this double article. 

Do note that Porto is one of the most accessible, fairly economic, beautiful and romantic locations in Portugal, together with Sintra/Lisbon and Braga. In fact, in the article of Braga, we said that any tourist guide you buy, it can have either a picture of Braga, Porto or Sintra. 

We do recommend a trip to Porto (and Gaia of course), even just for 2 days, but more would be much better. 

Thank you for viewing this article, and hope you will enjoy your trip to Porto.



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