Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A Weekend in Oporto

Before setting off on a car trip from Marbella I like to walk out onto the terrace with my TomTom to check the distance and how long it will take.

This time however, on my journey to Oporto in northern Portugal my departure point was Malaga airport where I had just arrived back from London. My wife picked me up from the far end of the first floor departure level, a very easy collection point in the late afternoon and we set off to spend the first night in Sevilla in the conveniently situated Los Bormujos apartments on the Portugal side of Sevilla.

The distance from Marbella to Oporto is 956 kms and 9hrs 30min but from Malaga airport it took 2hrs 20 mins to the other side of Sevilla that evening and then an unhurried 9 hours the next day into Portugal through the Algarve and then turning north up the excellent IP1 highway running from south to north.

The service areas up the IP1 toll road are cleaner and better maintained than in Spain and the food is excellent. The only toll on the journey was from the Algarve all the way to Oporto and this worked out at just under €30 each way. Money really well spent.

Our TomTom miraculously took us right into the heart of Oporto to the very door of the Villa Gale Hotel. We missed the hotel's underground parking entrance and had to do a circuit but once we had located the sign it was easy.

The highlight of the trip for us was meeting up with our friends, Paul and Wendy Wright. They had flown into Vigo in Spain an hour to the north a few days earlier, hiring a car through gomarbella car hire at Vigo airport and then driven down to meet us in Oporto.

We had a quick look around Oporto, taking in a red open bus tour and a boat trip on the River Douro. It's a most interesting city, too much to take in on such a short stay but we'll go back perhaps in February to have a better look around. The picture you see is looking back towards the city. Our Vila Galé hotel is up and over the skyline across the River Douro.

It took us 11 hours to get back to Marbella. Despite being the beginning of October it was hot and we stopped often to rest. The next time we go back there I am thinking of taking the high speed AVE train from Malaga to Madrid and then flying with Ryanair to Oporto. The February 2010 flight to Oporto from Madrid shows up as costing €2.99 taxes and all! Join us?