Bordeaux – Leon – Porto

We have winter clothing in storage in Porto and it’s also one of the places that we are considering as a retirement location. So, after enjoying three weeks of peaceful house-sitting in Limousin, France, we decided to head back to Porto for another visit. With a total driving distance of about 1,224km, we opted to break up the journey with stops in Bordeaux and Leon.

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The stop in Bordeaux was primarily to facilitate a change of rental cars. Oddly, it was less expensive to rent separate cars for 3 and 4 week periods than to retain one car for the entire seven week period. We arrived in Bordeaux in the early evening, checked into a hotel, went out to eat and then slept. We’ll be visiting Bordeaux for a longer period in November and will sight-see then. But our first impression was a good one.

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A bridge in Bordeaux, opposite our hotel

The next day, we returned the Opel Zafira to the rental company at the Bordeaux train station and transferred our luggage into a new (slightly smaller) rental car – this time a Seat Leon station wagon (almost new, with only 5,000km on the clock). After lunch, we set off for the 625km drive to Leon in Spain. I’ve travelled extensively through Europe but this was my first time in Spain.

The scenic drive took us through the Pyrenees mountain range, with several long tunnels and we enjoyed occasional sightings of several birds of prey along the way. By early evening, we had checked into an apartment in Leon and were enjoying the sights and visiting a local market.

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Leon Cathedral
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One of several plazas in the city
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Ribs and sausages being grilled at the market

Leon is a historical city that dates back to about 29BC when it was a Roman military encampment. There are still remnants of Roman walls present in the old town from that early period, with narrow lanes alongside them.

The old town is a lovely place to wander around, with its narrow cobbled lanes that open into small plazas, lined with al-fresco bars and restaurants. Our short, two-night stay only allowed us to get a glimpse of Leon, but we liked what we saw.

After our two nights in Leon, we continued the final 400km of the journey to Porto, where we have an apartment booked for a week. We are quite familiar with the city, having spent the whole of July here, but this time we are staying on the opposite bank of the Douro River, in Vila Nova de Gaia. We are still trying to decide whether Porto/Gaia would be a good home for us, and we want to see what Gaia has to offer, compared with its neighbour across the river.

And we have an opportunity to adjust the contents of our luggage before we head back to France next week.

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