19 May 2014
This morning began just as strangely as last night ended. I had mentioned to the young woman carer that we would like to leave between 6:30-7:00 am and she said she would tell her colleague to open the gate for us.
Everything was still and quiet as we left the room and we wondered who would be round to unlock for us, but as we opened the front door, so the automatic gate started to creak open to let us out onto the street……very eerie.
I am very grateful to the kindness shown to us over the last couple of days, but I am so very glad I had company, it would all have been too weird to cope with on my own.
We were soon back on the camino and had probably saved ourselves a couple of km’s by getting a lift to the children’s home.
It was very warm with no wind, although there was a lot of cloud cover and the threat of rain.
The first half of the day’s journey was a lovely walk through interesting towns and villages and a fabulous track through forest. I saw my first pavement sign for the camino before commencing a fairly smart climb into the woods. As usual I was striding ahead of Elly and I came to a point where there was a fork in the path and no sign to indicate the route. I decided I had missed a sign, and retraced my steps and sure enough I found an arrow that I had missed previously showing a right turn.
All too soon we came to the long approach into Porto, through the suburbs where the Monday morning rush hour was taking place, and on and on into the city. As we got closer the modern buildings began to soar, right alongside beautifully proportioned period properties.
We finally reached the bridge high above the river Douro and the cityscape that opened up to us across the river was incredible, even on a dull and increasingly cold day. We were overlooking the port wine lodges and could see some familiar trade marks.
We walked across the bridge alongside the metro line and found our way to the cathedral to get our credentials stamped. As we were leaving I took a photo of the imposing main door of the cathedral and turned around to see this view of a line of washing hanging out to dry, exactly opposite the church steps. A great forward and backward pair of pics.
We found our accommodation just as the rain started at the Poet’s Hostel In the heart of the city for a cost of 45 euros for a very spacious and stylish twin room with shared facilities. There are plenty of loos and showers and the whole place is very comfortable, with excellent lounging and kitchen areas.
The rain became torrential so we were in no rush to leave the comfort of the hostel and I could finally post yesterday’s blog. When the weather eased, we followed the recommendation of the receptionist and had an excellent lunch at a nearby restaurant, our first proper meal in three days, and then did some sightseeing, including the fabulous Livraria Lello book shop, with the most incredible decoration and central staircase. One book made me smile, entitled ‘Wedding Knits’ – can’t imagine knitting a wedding dress! Photographs were not allowed in the shop, although that did not stop many people from ignoring the rule and taking them anyway, but I followed instructions so I have taken these pics from the internet.
We weren’t hungry in the evening after such a good lunch, so just went out for a farewell drink. Elly has decided to take an extra day in Porto, and I am walking on. I came on this adventure to see how I would cope walking on my own. I met Elly through the forum and when we hit it off in Lisbon, we just naturally stuck together, enjoying each other’s company. Hopefully we will get together in Santiago, if not before. I have to admit to being a bit trepidatious about setting off on my own tomorrow, but that is really what this trip was about, so it’s about time I got on with it. Elly has been a great friend for the best part of three weeks and I really appreciate the time we have spent together.