After our long 8 day sail from Amsterdam to Portugal, I have insight as to what I will be doing for the next 9 months, and I couldn't be happier. I never expected Porto to be such a lively city. As we sailed into the Porto canal into our dock area, I was truly amazed; it was pure bliss. Watching the sun rise above each bridge as our 230 feet tall ship would underpass each one, you can imagine how beautiful this was.
This is a picture of how the sunrise looked from our point of view aboard the Gulden Leeuw.
We arrived into Porto a day early, which meant we still had to partake in one last day of school before all 60 students, our maritime and academic crew, could overtake the city of Porto. Some classes were taught outside on the breezeways and tables so that the students could capture the beauty of this place. As we got closer and closer, the starboard side thrusters engaged and the morale of the ship was officially at its peak; everyone was so excited to have finally arrived in Portugal.
Many students were very jittery and eager to step foot onto solid ground, rather than the constantly moving deck while at sea. The first thing I did during port leave was eat. I had a famous local sandwich called a “Francestina”, which includes 3 different types of meat and topped with a freshly fried egg, melted cheese, and a tomato sauce. It was delicious.
It might be hard to see considering the sandwich is covered with tomato sauce but this it was the Francestina looks like.
After that, a few of us students gathered our laundry and trekked 25 minutes to a laundromat, which was well needed after our first 8 days at sea where sea sickness was completely normal and our clothes were starting to get smelly. By then it was time to return back to our home, the Gulden Leeuw. We walked back across one of the bridges and I was able to capture some pretty cool photos of Porto.
The architecture in this city is like no other, living spaces are built on every angle of every mountain, and the white buildings somehow keep their ascetically pleasing white colour.
The next day we took a walk down the waterfront and checked out all the tourist shops. Some of the tourist restaurants are very expensive, therefore it’s better to eat at local restaurants as you can get a three course meal for under 10 euros. The food was outstanding at every restaurant we visited, unfortunately we couldn't taste any port wines but when I visit Porto again, that will be on my list.
Before I left for Class Afloat I did research on each port we will visit and activities to take part in before you leave. For Porto, many users suggested surfing. So on the third day, a group of students and I packed our bags up for a day at the beach, learning how to surf. We all rented surfboards and wetsuits for under 15 euros which was awesome because it was affordable for all students. When we arrived at the surf shop, we were delighted to hear that the conditions on the ocean that day were perfect for beginners who wanted to learn how to surf. We all gathered our materials and started walking for the beach, and when we arrived we were shocked at how many people were surfing already. I didn't know surfing was this popular in Porto. We sat down on the beach and watched a video on “How to learn to Surf in Under 2 Minutes”, this video actually helped me tremendously. I actually got up and surfed a wave! Standing on the board being pushed by the force of a wave felt pretty cool, and I felt even cooler!
Here are all the students that went surfing. Fortunately, with the help of each other, we were all able to stand up and surf a wave.
After surfing, the clan regrouped and we went for dinner at a beachfront restaurant nearby. During dinner we were all taken back by the beauty of the sunset.
The sky was lit up with colors like pink and orange. The sunset looked spectacular, it was epic seeing the sunset behind the surf school.
The first port was spectacular. I have now gained an understanding and appreciation as to what I’ll be doing while my life at home is on pause. Our next port in Bonafacio, Corsica, France. I’m excited to return to sea. There’s something about being at sea that makes me happy. Ironically enough, there’s beauty in the isolation of being at sea. You have to be with peers and friends which brings you all together, as one big family. Porto was fun, I’m excited to see if the next ports have as much to offer as Porto did, because Porto was truly a magnificent place!
Written By: Class Afloat student, Charles Bell