Arriving midday on Friday we headed down to the Ribiera area to take the vintage tram along the river to the Foz do Duoro on the Atlantic coast. On our return we scaled the heights weaving our way up to the highest level of the Ponte Luis 1 (bridge) to view Porto at night. The following morning we crossed the river by ferry, sampled a glass of port and took the cable car up to the top of the bridge.
The first game of the tour was reached that evening by metro; Estadio Do Dragao is the end of the line for the metro network. Tickets were bought at the ticket office for 15 Euros before we headed to the nearby shopping mall for refreshment. We had a bit of an altercation on entry as we were not permitted to take in an SLR camera nor our brollies. After discussion we convinced security that we would not beat anybody over the head with the camera, but duly handed our brollies in for collection after the game.
The stadium has a capacity of 50,000, but the crowd for the 8:30 kick-off against Braga was around 31,000 with a strong, vocal away support perched high in the stand. Porto huffed and puffed throughout, missing a first-half penalty when Braga were reduced to ten men. Despite the histrionics of the visiting keeper the home side eventually broke through scoring the winner in added time leading to wild celebrations on and off the pitch.
Sunday brought blue skies and 17 degrees as we headed by train to Guimaraes north-east of Porto for a double header. On arrival we headed straight for the cable car up to Monte de Santa Catarina for the magnificent views down to the historic centre and Vitoria's stadium, Estadio Dom Afonso Henriques. A tour of the Castello, the Ducal Palace and the picturesque centre and a short taxi ride back towards Porto to Moreira de Conegos for a 4pm kick off. Moreinsense were hosting Nacional of Madeira at the 13,000 capacity Parque Desportivo Comendador Joaquim de Almeida Freitas. Tickets behind the goal were secured for 10 Euros and we joined a small band of Nacional supporters, three German ground hoppers and one Slovenian. The two teams were at the bottom of the 18 team league, but produced a lively encounter in front of a crowd of just over 1,000. We had the second sending off of the tour when the vistors lost a defender to two yellow cards as they were battling back from 2-0 down. The game finished 3-1 with a glorious sunset adding asthetics to a rather ordinary stadium.
After a taxi ride back to Guimaraes and a walk to the 30,000 capacity Vitoria stadium not far from the centre, we bought 10 Euro tickets for the 8:15 kick off. Vitoria were playing Chaves who were well supported in the 14,000 plus crowd. Vitoria took an early lead but failed to press home their advantage; Chaves deservedly equalised. There was a few moments of madness at the end of the game with one player from each side getting their marching orders.
So, three top level games in the home of the European Champions for a total of 35 Euros. Now to start the planning for trip number 72 in February 2017.