We spent most of a day flying Thessaloniki – Munich – Lisbon – Porto. All connections went well. Our trekking poles showed up – we’d checked them. They were a tiny bundle which slid down into the carousel in a huge plastic bin. Pat had checked her knife carefully stowed in her pole bag but it had done a mysterious escape during transit. Otherwise just a long uneventful day of airports and planes.
Getting metro tickets to ride into Porto from the airport was a mission. A very user unfriendly system. Just four machines for all the people coming off planes. Very poor instructions so there is one person per two machines helping people. The process was excruciatingly slow so the line ups long. We did finally hop on a very crowded metro train and were deposited within a few short blocks of our hostel. Pat and I arrived in daylight and have the aid of “pocket earth” on our iPads so it was a quick and easy find. Poor Jan arrived about 11pm in the pouring rain with no pocket earth so she wandered around in the dark for quite some time before locating the small unlit red door which is the entrance to the hostel. Needless to say Pat and I had been fretting for a few hours about where she was as her plane had arrived much earlier. We were very relieved to see her! Jan seemed pretty relieved to be in out of the rain!
The day before yesterday we became pilgrims. I’ll tell you more about that in a separate blog. We set off under sunny skies! The clouds having emptied themselves overnight. Our first day of walking took us out of Porto to just north of the airport! Seems funny that we spent the entire day retracing the distance of the previous day’s half hour metro ride. City walking is noisy and hard underfoot. It’s not my favourite by a long stretch. The achetecture is really interesting here though. Many houses and buildings are faced with tile. Entire walls of blue, or yellow, or green or brown tiles. Some are plain – just one colour – but many are patterned. It’s distinctive to this area I gather and it is very pretty. Most of the roads we walked along are cobbled. Even the newer ones. Vehicles driving on cobbled roads make a tremendous rumbling racket. Our walking poles click away incessantly and sometimes get stuck in the cracks. One has to be careful to not trip over the uneven bits which are especially prevalent at the roads edges. Hmmm – cobble stone looks nice but I’ll be glad when we’re walking on a quieter softer surface.
We stayed the night in Vilar de Pinheiro. Our hostel was an OK place. Three little beds in a row. Bedding dubious – we used our sleeping bags. An ancient dysfunctional TV. One light bulb to light the entire room which burnt out so we packed up in the morning with our head lamps. Damp towels – straight off the line with their drying incomplete. Hot water for our showers though, despite a scuzzy bathroom. Our dinner was at a delightful family owned menu-less restaurant where, through the suggestion of our charming and amusing waiter, we enjoyed an enormous plate of fried cod and chips washed down with excellent wine. Of course a second bottle managed to find its way back to our room with us for a wee night cap. That bottle cost us 3.00 euros! OMG after the crazy prices Pat and I had been paying in Istanbul, this is a wonderful change!
Yesterday’s walk brought us into a less heavily populated area but we’ve essentially been walking through the extended hinterland of Porto. We are now in Povo de Varzim. Still the hard on the feet cobble roads all the way. Pretty much more of the same scenery – tiled houses, lots of churches, rumbling traffic, but a bit more green space. We are staying in a “by donation” hostel. Our nicest accommodation in Portugal so far. Huge well equiped kitchen/dining room. But no crockscrew. What kind of self respecting kitchen is lacking this esential item? Pat and I are however now experts at breaking into bottles with our special chip and hammer technique. The only other downer of this place – not much hot water. My shower was cold – I detest cold showers. No towels of course. We shopped for groceries and ate in – total cost for the three of us including supplies we bought for breakfast euros 4.40 each! Now there’s a deal. We enjoyed another warm sunny day too which is another bonus as the weather forecast had not been promising.
Will send pictures a bit later. Am writing this while Pat and Jan sleep (it’s 6:30 am) and I’ll rustle around too much during the process of getting my pictures loaded from camera to I Pad.