A Travellerspoint blog

Porto - the Home of Port

View RTW 2008 on jezems's travel map.

Porto is Portugal's second city and the only reason we started our Portuguese adventure here was because it was a RyanAir hub. The main highlight for any tourist here was the many port houses that can be found along the river Duoro. Jez and I did the obligatory port tasting and tour, where we learnt about the history of port and sampled the various concoctions. We loved it so much we bought ourselves a bottle and had it as an aperitif before dinner. We also indulged in a little break from hostels - especially as I was still traumatised by my Nice experience so we stayed in an Ibis hotel. Sweet! Another plus for Porto was that its quite a cheap town so we indulged in coffee houses and trendy cafes...........ahhhhhh the good life :P

The port

The Port

The tasting

The barrel

The boats

Posted by jezems 13:41

Marseille - Planes and Alarm Clocks

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We made a quick side trip to Marseilles in order to catch a Ryan Air flight to Porto as our time in Europe was ticking away and we had still not covered Portugal, Spain and France. We caught a train to Marseilles from Nice and then caught another bus to the airport where we were staying at a Formula One hotel near the airport. We were booked onto an early morning flight so decided to prebook a taxi with the receptionist. We set our alarm and went to bed, after trying to interpret Temptation Island -France, which was being played on the one channel that our t.v could pick up.

The next thing we knew, there was a bang on our door with the receptionist asking in broken English whether we still wanted the taxi as it was waiting outside the hotel - our alarm had not worked and it was now 5.45am and our flight left in less than an hour, with Ryan Air closing its ticket booth in 20 minutes. We hurriedly threw on some clothes and zipped up our bags as we raced to the taxi, throwing some cash at the receptionist as we left. The taxi driver spoke little English but understood that we were in a hurry and put his foot to the pedal. We jumped out of the taxi leaving the driver a generous trip as we ran to the terminal. Thankfully, they were still processing passengers as we lined up to have our baggage weighed and were rushed through security to enable the flight to leave on time.

Unbeknown to us, RyanAir takes their commitment to arriving on time quite seriously - too seriously I might argue. On touchdown in Porto the captain announced that they were 4 minutes early and so played some interesting music that included an arrangement of trumpets that reminded us of the horse races, while the rest of the passengers broke out into spontaneous applause (more out of fright than appreciation; a version is available at http://www.gla.ac.uk/~woody/sounds/ryr-trumpet.amr but you may need to download real player to listen). Jez and I looked at each other in astonishment - we had entered the world of cheap European air travel and we were scared.

Posted by jezems 14:35

Nice- Is that urine I smell?

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Jeremy - From Italy we headed straight for Nice, a location we had looked forward to as our first stop in France and we were staying in a hostel that had been recommended to us by numerous people throughout our trip. As you may have guessed from that introduction we were a little disappointed with our experience here, mainly due to the hostel but also thanks to the overpowering smell of urine and sometimes excrement that got hold of our nostrils!

But it wasn't all bad :) Nice is located in the French Riviera and is the playground of the filthy rich and famous (yes I meant filthy famous) so we felt right at home of course! The old town has little French alleyways that lead on to the grand boulevard bordering the the beach. The beach was a feast of the flesh, with topless sunbathers (mainly foreigners), oiled freaky men in black g-strings and even the old and wrinkly getting about in the minimum required by law. We decided not to join them but found it an interesting sideshow.

While in the area we visited Cannes and Antibes. The first not much more than a gritty beach front and the site of the famous film festival, the later a sea side "village" with the largest yacht harbour in Europe (or something) and pubs lining the edge of the city walls, which was kind of cool.

We also made the trek to Monaco, to visit the condominium we had just purchased :) This place was just oozing money! We visited the famous James bond casino (just the main foyer and fancy toilets as it cost 10 euros to enter) and Emily had to drag me away from ogling the hot cars parked out the front. From there we made our way down to the harbour which was full of massive boats and yachts. We were impressed to see so many Aussie flags flying across the harbour and wondered how much tax they had dodged (and what kind of boat we would buy).

So all in all these towns were really interesting but the whole experience was really soured by the poor state of our accommodation. We shared our six bed dorm with a piano and had a dorm mate that brought undesirables for sleep overs - charming! I had ear plugs but unfortunately Emily wasn't as lucky..........................................

Our five star room

View of Nice

A local cooling off in a fountain

Nice beach

The rental car yard

Monaco harbour

Looking out from Antibes

Posted by jezems 14:11 Archived in France

Maranola - Cinque Tere

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Emily - Or as I like to call it to hell and back..............partly due to the mammoth hike that Jez and I undertook. Cinque Terre is made up of five remote villages on the Italian Riviera and the area around these villages has been made a national park, enabling you to hike from one village to another. The entire seven mile hike covers easy to very steep terrain and (foolishly) as we started late in the day we were forced to hike at the hottest part of the day (35 C plus). The hike took us roughly three hours (not including breaks and Jeremy's beer at the second last village) but the good news is that we made it. I would have done my signature starjump pose at the end of the hike but I was soooo stuffed I was crawling home.

However, the hike was worth it as we got to see some fantastic scenery, lots of dramatic hilltop and ocean views. To celebrate our success in completing my first hike we went out for dinner at a local eatery. We had fantastic pasta, yummy pizza and a glass of local vino. I think it was the best pasta I've had in Italy and the serving sizes were quite generous.

Jeremy - We only ended up doing the hike as it was the same price to do a short walk as it was a long one, had to get our money's worth :) On our other days there we took the easy option of the train to explore the villages and spent most of our time at Monterosos's beach. This included an unscheduled trip to La Speza as we boarded the wrong train. This turned out to be beneficial as the supermarket prices were half that of the Cinque Tere. I think if we come back we will stay there instead of in the villages. Not yet sick of beaches our next stop is Nice, but unfortunately it didn't live up to its English translation.

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Posted by jezems 15:06

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