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Published: September 11th 2019
Toasty for Sue, Tuna Salad Crepe for me; that’s lunch.
I know you’ve heard it all before; we slept in, left late, but we did visit the Eastern section of Porto, just to get a different perspective and enjoy the last day of a slow paced visit.
We haven’t seen everything, didn’t have a list, but other than the helicopter ride I suggested, and never did, we think we have a handle on Porto. Apparently the chairlift was as far as Sue was leaving the ground, without two wings and a couple of motors involved. A lost opportunity, I’d say.
I messaged our Airbnb host to see if he could organise a cab for us early tomorrow, but I wanted a Plan B and C. B was the train. After taking a number and seeing the random call up system operate for about 25 minutes, my normally steely patience abandoned me, and I screwed up the ticket as we boarded a Met train to town.
This time we were on no mission and just wandered streets, approaching things if they looked interesting. That’s right; we are on holidays. We ate lunch at a restaurant in the main square overlooking the constant stream of traffic, watched tour groups following
The Feathered Dish Lickers
No plate scrapping in this cafe.
flags , and the occasional pair of heavy backpacks wandering purposefully, looking for a sign to help them on their Way. Hopefully that’s me next year. One very steep lane that Sue thought was even an effort to look at, produced a new pair of footwear for her by the time we reached the top. Such is the power of persuasion.
We were in a dodgy district with clubs - yes, I’m sounding old - the marijuana bar, and a few hostels, all nestled among grey, cramped, ancient rows of apartments wth torn or no curtains, hanging shutters, and some broken windows. You wander down the street passing smiling faces of all colours and ages, sitting outside on their worn, front steps, smoking, supervising children , or just watching the world go by, while staying cool. The only time sun would hit the cobbles was midday, the streets were so narrow.
It was mid afternoon and I was keen to find out if our taxi booking was reserved. The last monument I wanted to visit was the Porto Railway Station at São Bento. We had passed it a few times, and in a town of so many large
A Blast From The Past
Couldn’t have them in Oz. They’d be vandalised on the first day. Plus, everyone over 3 months has a cellphone.
classic buildings, I really hadn’t taken much notice. The exterior was grand and imposed itself on the neighbourhood below; it had to be special inside.
Opened In 1916, this French style station is as good as it gets. The vivid blue painted tile murals in the impressive entrance hall represent rural life and historic events related to this region, and as I entered the vast steel framed roof extending across the platforms, my eyes went straight to the grey stone arch at the beginning of the black tunnel that connects up many areas of this town. It centred the whole station , creating a mirrored image of itself. An underground railway in 1916. Now there’s some forethought.
People obviously flock to this station, and it really is a monument. The main hall was busy with tourists, like me, who just wanted to admire its beauty, and record a few images to take home.
As the day closed down, Sue and I sought out the obligatory icecream cone, a ritual I wouldn’t dare to break. Some people like a wine at 5, or whenever, for me it’s a cone. Sitting on chairs outs the Gelateria, I mentioned that
Porto Municipal Office
It stands at the crest of a hill, overlooking a busy commercial square.
we should have a slow look around; Porto was nearly over for now. It’s a very unique town , with a chequered history, perched on the edge of the river Douro, the scene of its successes and battles, and it’s sole reason for existing. Now it thrives as a tourist hub, but the locals are passionate about Porto and the lifestyle it provides is guarded and loved.
After a breather back at the apartment, we walked around the cor for a coffee and cake. Well, half a cake, as the crowd we joined this morning must have contributed to there being one lonely muffin left. Just as our coffee arrived, the young female barista approached us and in manageable English, asked if we were on holidays. She learnt English at school, but fell into Portugués often, searching for the correct word. I asked if she spoke Spanish, and it turned out to be her third language. My medium level Spanish, combined with her English, combined with the sister in law being pulled in for clarification every so often, made me concentrate and search for words, occasionally putting Spanish where her English was, to confirm her intended meaning, and we
stayed for an hour hearing about her life, her young baby, the difficulty of speaking Portuguese, that she mentioned, and I downloaded an app for her to help with English. She was really happy, as were we, and it’s a shame we hadn’t wandered past this cafe five days ago, instead of yesterday. She gave us mates rates on the cakes and it was a great experience for Sue and I, to chat with a local about life for a while. It was the highlight of my day and I’m glad she came over to us.
We definitely picked the right area to stay in.
Tomorrow we have the Portuguese equivalent of an Uber picking us up at 7am. Vigo is next. We slip into Galicia, Spain on a train . I’ve always walked in but I couldn’t be happier. No blisters, no pain, but also , unfortunately, no glory. At least our lovely Porto visit has orientated me for the Camino next year, I know to start at Porto, not Lisbon, and Sue will enjoy the pleasures of Santiago, without any lingering injuries, like 5 years ago.
Catch up tomorrow.
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