Mon 26 Oct - Porto R&R Day 1

Rain was forecast. 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 so I started 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. 

Suddenly 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 very 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 seriously 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 totally 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 English very well and clearly 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 something 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 probably pass on that one. 

This statue is of one of Porto's founding fathers. Eugenjia told us that she once had been asked by an American visitor whether it was a statue of Elvis...
I think that Eugenjia said that this clergyman tower (Torre dos Clerigos) was still the highest point in Porto. The tower had apparently even been used as a lighthouse 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 been transported here as mature trees. 

And there is a Costa Coffee there too... It's just sad. 
The bookshop Lello & Irmao has apparently been voted the 16th most beautiful bookshop in the world. 

J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, who was married to a Portuguese man for a while, apparently used to hang there. 
Now, you can't just pop into Lello & Irmao to have a look or buy a book. 

You have to purchase a ticket for 3€ and then possibly queue before you can get in. Into a bookshop. A victim of its own success. Or very clever marketing...
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 the glass had since been removed. 
Porto city look. Up the hill is the street where I am staying, Rua de Santa Catarina. 
Now this is very sad. An "Imperial" McDonalds. 
If you go inside this McDonalds, it looks like as follows. 
Why oh why? Eugenjia explained that the old cafe that used to be there had been vacant for 15 years with no interest in revitalizing it. Until McDonalds came along. Now they can't get rid of them. Just sad. 

This is the cathedral of Porto. I had a look inside but after many cathedrals and churches during the Camino, it just didn't do it for me. Until...
...I saw this outside. An oh so familiar yellow arrow. 

Camino Portugese starts with a visit to Porto's cathedral to get that all important first stamp in your credential book. 
Eugenjia had brought a credential and spoke about the Camino for a while. Fatima is a different, entirely Portuguese pilgrim trail. 

Soon, in Porto's historical center, there were more arrows. 
We wandered through Porto's historical centre, a zig zag pattern of lane ways which 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?
The walking tour finished here down by the river at 1pm and we all went our own way. 
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 entirely different town called Vila Nova da Gaia. Apparently the locals just calls 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 clearly 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 to get a train ticket to Tunes in the south for Thursday. 

Campanha railway station is not as classy as the S Bento railway station but looked all right. 
I got my ticket and then I noticed that the daily train to Faro that I am taking on Thursday, that today's train and departure time had come up on the board. 
As I exited the railway station, the clouds were much darker and it was now rain. 

I decided to walk back to my hotel by that I got a better drenching than at any time during 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 think about getting something Big Bob from 3 doors up the street...

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