After leaving our yachthaven in Aalsmeer, not forgetting to give the middle finger to the hairy, cigar-chomping Dutch twat who told the skipper off for borrowing a hose (that wasn’t even his), we headed towards Amsterdam. Of course this involved negotiating a number of bridges which meant either approaching very slowly and hovering backwards and forwards until the bridge opened, or, more sensibly, tying up to the posts provided on the side of the canal.
With strong gusting winds we found getting out of the pillared berth a real test of lateral thinking. If you imagine the boat tied bow-to, but with three 10ft high wooden pillars down each side of the boat, we were continually blown side on to one set of pillars. With some very careful manoeuvring and pushing against the pillars from all sides we eventually managed to reverse our way out of the mooring back into the main canal – straight into the path of an oncoming barge one way and a container ship the other! Quick! Slam that motor into forwards and get the hell out!
Porto blew me away. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, from it’s opulent architecture to the river side promenades. The city of 263,000 people is stacked up either side of the Rio Douro, with the huge Ponte de Dom Louis 1 joining the main city centre with the port distillery lodges on the south side. This is echoed by another five huge bridges that continue to straddle the river in land.