Post Camino R&R Day 1 – Porto

Rain was forecast in Porto on my first full post Camino R&R day after walking Camino Frances. And rain we got.

It had rained in Porto overnight and it was raining when I woke up. Looking out from my hotel window…

I had booked myself into a “free” walking tour at 9.20am this morning. Hence, I had my breakfast at 7.30am when they opened.

A small morning incident in the breakfast room.

Tony Blair, ex UK Prime Minister was on TV. Then, a bloke asked 4 French people having their breakfast. In English; “Is this the French President?”

The guy’s “logic” was that the French had convinced the English to bomb Serbia. “Thank you so much for that”, the bloke said to the French breakfast eaters. I think that everybody in that breakfast room got dumbfounded.

Of course, I got lost on my way to the meeting place for the walking tour. I had to ask a smart looking Portuguese woman for directions.

It turned out that I was on the right street. It was just that I was convinced that I had to walk the other way. I arrived pretty much at the exact starting time.

Below is the guide, Eugejia. She spoke good English and took a great interest in Porto, in history and in languages.

Eugenjia was here pointing out a Portuguese “delicacy” called Francesinha. The way she described the Francesinha sounded so like the “Elvis death sandwich” to me.

A website of things to do in Porto described the Francesinha as follows:

Porto’s decadent Francesinha is a sandwich typically filled with various types of meat, covered with cheese and then drowned in a tomato and beer sauce.”  I will pass on that one.

The statue below is of one of Porto’s founding fathers (I forgot the name). Eugenjia told us that an American visitor once had asked her whether it was a statue of Elvis…

I think that Eugenjia said that this clergyman tower was still the highest point in Porto. The tower, Torre dos Clerigos, was even used as a lighthouse for some time in the past.

In front of the Clerigos Tower below, there are olive trees. Some are 100 years old. There is just one thing…

…the olive trees are on top of concrete and a newish shopping center.

In other words, the olive trees had grown elsewhere and transported here as mature trees.

And there is a Costa Coffee there too… It’s just sad.

The bookshop Lello & Irmao was voted the 16th most beautiful bookshop in the world. It is now a tourist attraction as much as a bookshop.

J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter author fame, used to hang there. She married a Portuguese man although their union is now dissolved.

Now, you can’t just pop into Lello & Irmao to have a look or buy a book.

You have to buy a ticket for 3€ and then likely queue before you can enter. Yes, into a bookshop. A “victim” of its own success. Or clever marketing… They refund you the 3€ if you buy something from them.

Almost next to Lello & Irmao bookshop is one of Porto’s premier party streets. It’s called Galleria de Paris and was once covered in glass as per its pretentious name.

Eugenjia didn’t know why they removed the glass.

Porto city outlook. Up the hill is the street where I am staying, Rua de Santa Catarina.

Now this is sad. An “imperial” McDonalds.

If you go inside this McDonalds, it looks like this:

Why oh why? Eugenjia explained that the old cafe that used to be there had been vacant for 15 years. No-one showed any interest in revitalizing it. Until McDonalds came along. And now they can’t get rid of them. Just sad.

Below is the cathedral of Porto. I had a look inside but after many cathedrals and churches while walking the Camino, it just didn’t do it for me.

Until…

…I saw this outside the cathedral. An oh so familiar yellow arrow.

Camino Portugese starts by visiting Porto’s cathedral. To get that all important first stamp in your credential book.

Eugenjia had brought a credential booklet and spoke about the Camino for a while. Fatima is a different pilgrim trail within Portugal only.

Soon, in Porto’s historical centre, there were more yellow arrows to see.

We then wandered through the historical centre, a zig zag pattern of lane ways. They all sloped down towards Rio Duoro.

There were many interesting buildings along the way. But wait. What is that on the right hand side of the balcony?

Right…

The walking tour finished right here by the river at 1pm and we all went our seperate ways.

I wandered across the lower car bridge of Ponte Luis I to the other side.

Which is not “South Porto” at all as I said in yesterday’s blog. On the other side is an different town called Vila Nova da Gaia. The locals just call it Gaia.

There is a cable car for those who can’t or don’t want to use their legs to get up on the bridge.

Looking west over Rio Douro. Interesting cacti roof top garden in the foreground.

Up until this time, the weather gods had been sympathetic but the rain was now closing in. I wandered back towards town.

Another photo from Ponte Luis I.

A few spits, then a drizzle but I decided to wander off to the intercity railway station called Campanha. Mission was to buy a train ticket to Tunes in southern Portugal for Thursday.

Campanha railway station is not as classy as the S Bento railway station but looked all right.

I got my ticket from a bloke who spoke excellent English. Then I noticed that the daily train to Faro which I am taking on Thursday displayed on the board. With today’s departure time, with the same time for me on Thursday.

As I exited Campanha railway station, the clouds were much darker and it was now raining.

I decided to walk back to my hotel. By that I got a better drenching than at any time during the 38 days of walking the Camino. And I was carrying an umbrella.

At least I could walk back to the hotel and change clothes and hang up the wet ones with nobody around.

I spent the rest of the day in the hotel room snacking on what I purchased yesterday and drinking a few beers. The weather was such that I just didn’t feel like venturing out again.

Although I did consider getting something Big Bob from 3 doors up the street…

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