Lisbon to Porto – almost 20km walked today – highest thermometer reading seen was 37 degrees!
First morning. We’re awake at 5am, but wait for the sun to rise before we join it. It’s still early when we set out along the cobblestoned street in search of food, packs on backs.We only had to take a matter of a few paces before finding a friendly man selling coffee and pastries to locals. They stood at the counter of his wee shop, leaning heavily on the formica as they sipped coffee or red wine. We were shown to a tiny round wooden table standing on iron legs. A good place for breakfast! Well fortified, and with a couple of extra rolls tucked away in the pack for later, it was time to look for the train station. A typical Monday mornig unfolded around us and we walked through it, stepping aside for an elderly lady to drag her rubbish bin along the street, waiting a moment for a young man in bright turquoise running shoes and matching tshirt to heave three sacks of flour into a bakery, waving at an old man hanging out of his fifth floor window watching the world go by. A mechanic rolled under a car, grandparents accompanied young children to school, men leaned on counters in countless coffee shops.
We wandered through suburbia, a mix of old crumbling buildings tumbled togerther and new modern ones lining a wide boulevard. Some of the old buildings must have looked splendid in their heydey when their tiled facades were intact. Now they look as tired as we felt last night and better than we’ll be by sunset! Just before we reached the station a bright pink building loomed in the sunshine; I snap the first “camino blanket photo”:
And before we could say “Ferdinand Magellan”, we were (figuratively speaking) setting sail ourselves, bound for Porto. The grafittied capital was quickly replaced by soaked paddies of bright green rice, stands of eucalypts, olive trees, rows of grapes and fields of all manner of vegetables and sunfliowers just beginning to turn ttheir heads to the sun, all interspersed with the occasional mostly-tumbling-down-but-sometimes-newly-painted village. Most houses are crisp white with orange tiled roofs, but there is a fair smattering of creams and pinks and peaches and salmons and aprictos and lemons too….almost always with orange tiles topping it off. Some houses are pristine; others are completely ramshackle. A lot of the factories are equally dilapidated.
Some of the train stations, however, have delightful painted tiles:
Our arrival in Porto was supposed to be a simple affair- the lady whose room we were renting had promised to pick us up from the train station and take us to our lodgings. Ha! Let’s just say we spent the next hour or so racing all over town at breakneck speed (including to a wrong address) and wondering if we had been scammed. Turned out we hadn’t and we have a room exactly like the internet advertisement – ironically situated not far from the train station!
This is the point at which it is tempting to simply post pictures and go to bed! You don’t need a description of the bookshop, do you? You’re not interested in knowing which illegal substance Rob was offered on the street, are you? You could look up Google for historical information about the Clerigos tower, couldn’t you? You really don’t need to know that we were so exhausted by 8pm we discarded the prospect of walking to the other side of the river to enjoy the lights or catching a Fado concert and went home to bed!!