Home Pilgrimages Way of St. James 2018 – Free day in Porto

Way of St. James 2018 – Free day in Porto

by geomarbes
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I have to admit one thing. After all the nights on the low mattresses in albergue, the sleep here in the hotel is literally heavenly, but we do not want to sleep through the whole day either. When we’re done with our morning hygiene, we dress up and untypically go out without our backpacks. It’s shocking how much we have gotten used to them in the past few days and how we feel almost naked now.

Our first route leads to the subway, where we buy tickets. We don’t know how much we’ll use this means of transport during the day, so the idea of not buying the all-day ticket and buying separate tickets for each ride wins.

We get on the subway and let it take us to a station behind the bridge under the view spot on Porto. There aren’t many people here now, in the morning, so we can calmly go to the view spot again and enjoy the probably most famous view on Porto undisturbedly. The calm is only being distubed by some individuals who don’t value life and take the railing separating the view spot from the chasm as an obstacle that needs to be overcome in order to see the view clearly.

We go downhill from the view spot, along the river, around the wine shops that are still closed. Maybe it’s luck, firstly because of how we felt after the wine in Coimbra and secondly because after a few glasses of port wine the remaining walk on the bare sun would turn into hell.

We return to the bridge and while yesterday we crossed it on its highest floor, today we’re crossing it on the lower part. A reward for it is at the end of the bridge, where we have to walk up never-ending stairs. At the top we feel like climbers… we’re also feeling a smaller oxygen deficiency.

Ride with a historic tram

Near to the spot where we have climbed up to is a station where there’s an old tram. It’s clear that it’s a tourist attraction which we would normally repudiate, but at this time there’s so few people that we succumb and buy a ticket for €3 per person for a city tour. The inside of the tram and the driver’s uniform are both stylish and if it wasn’t for the interior being so unnecessarily shiny, we’d be taken to another century.

As we’re sitting down, we hear the typical tram ringing and the vehicle starts moving after a slight bump. Our route mainly leads through the places we have already visited but we’re still enjoying the view on the city from this attraction. There is no problem on the plain, but when we see that we’ll go downhill soon and the brakes start squeaking, I admire both the driver’s calmness and the tourists that are taking photos of this clunker and only get out of the way of the railway when we get too close. Simply, how a classic would say: “they don’t have a healthy sh*t.” (literal translation from Czech). I’ll rather keep the fact that in a while I’ll be standing on the same spot with a camera in my hands too to myself.

The round trip ends where it started… Of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be called a round trip. Meanwhile Jitka finds out that there’s a geocache on the station we’re getting off at. But how to find it and be inconspicuous at the same, when there’s many people waiting for the tram. So, we pretend to be studying the tram timetable until the tram leaves. Eventually, we can calmly log our visit in the geocache.

Nearby we find a café where we order our classical breakfast from the previous days – coffee with milk and Pastéis de nata.

Marihuana, cocaine, hashish?

After the breakfast we move to the cathedral Sè. The cathedral is the same as yesterday, so is the weather, the air is again scented with lavender, but yesterday’s arrival with the backpacks was much more emotional. There’s an artist group playing medieval music near the cathedral.

We’re taking a few photos when an elderly man with a stand hanging around his neck offering us maps. I shake my head as a no when he uncovers the lower part of the stand and behold, the second offer is: “Want some marihuana, cocaine, hashish?”. I feel like punching him but the policemen standing nearby look like they would arrest me for bodily harm of a person who’s making their living. So instead, we rather move to the information center under the cathedral. We take a map for pilgrims for free there, in which there are marked albergues in Porto and even an information center where they should have a pilgrim scallop, the symbol of a Camino pilgrim.

Expedition scallop

Although we have scallops from home, the real ones are bigger and since we’re here, we want to buy this pilgrimage symbol for next year. So, we’re heading to the information center marked on our map. We walk around the train station up to the square… I would probably call it a smaller Wenceslas Square. On our way to the info center, that resides in the opposite, most distant corner of the square, we find a geocache that is hiding in a replica of an English telephone booth.

The information center is flooding with people but it’s still kind of quick there so we go for a paper with a number. When I look at the number on our paper and then at the currently called out numbers to the counters, I just quietly let out a sigh. The woman standing next to us is holding a number that is about to be called out. I have to admit that I am tempted to make a swap like Mr. Bean did in that one episode in the waiting room at the doctor. I mention my idea to Jitka but she reminds me of the movie Beetlejuice and what happened to the culprit after the swap, so I instantly rethink the idea. We wait 10 minutes, 20 minutes and as we’re about to give it up, familiar faces appear in the door. Danny and Eva. We fall into each other’s arms and the following conversation makes the wait go faster.

It’s even a pity that it’s our turn already. At the counter, we explain what we came for and the answer is that they’re not selling scallops there, but we receive an address where they should have them. Just a quick goodbye with the American-Mexican couple, a photo together as a memory and then we go where the indicia tells us.

Mission imposible

At the place where they should be selling scallops is the church on a hill that we rode around with the tram in the morning. I can’t believe it would be so easy with the scallop purchase. We’re trying to find the entrance to the church which makes us walk around almost the whole building. There’s a queue of people standing before the entrance, so we obediently stand on the end.

After a few minutes we go take a look, what this queue is even for. Turns out it’s for the church visitation and since we are not interested in that, we boldly go inside and straight around the cash register to the souvenir shop. “Pilgrim scallops? We don’t have those!” How expected… but to give it up? No way, so we visit every single store near the church and finally, we’re successful in a smaller store right at the top of the hill. Yay. We hide the scallops in our bags and go outside. Jitka quickly runs away for a nearby geocache and I go hunt for the ancient tram downhill. Then I get back up and through the camera, I zoom in on the church tower where I among other stuff I see scallops, too. Jitka gets back so we continue.

Porto through and through

For a while we stop at a store where they’re preparing something like a baked potato made from minced fish meat and apparently potatoes. It smells good but we aren’t hungry at all and aren’t even in the mood to experiment so we don’t stop by. We stop at huge letters of PORTO to fulfill the wish of two young Japanese women, who are yearning for a picture at this attraction. Then we switch places and they take a picture of us in return.

The next stop is in a pub where we go to the bathroom and also quench our thirst with beer. A few minutes later, I buy an ice lolly, as usual. Jitka comments it with a remark that I’ll surely shi… Well, maybe I will, but is it my fault my taste buds are so harebrained now? We applaud fishers on the waterfront, who, right when we’re passing by, pull a fish out of the water. Then we continue along the water in the direction of the bridge where our today’s walk started. It’s really magical here so it’s no wonder it’s so crowded here. The fact that there are restaurants on every corner and also souvenir stores is kind of expected, but what surprises us are houses with signs that they’re consulates of various countries.

A freak or a selfmurderer?

We are crossing the bridge and when we’re almost on the other side, our attention is caught by some freak who’s stripped and is standing on a spot with a quite dense height above water. The first thing that comes to my mind is that he’s committing suicide but when I see his friends standing by, I calm myself down that it’s just an idiot. While his friends are walking around the starers with a hat for money, he’s preparing to jump. His sporty figure reminiscing a sumo wrestler indicates that it won’t be a very graceful intersection of the water surface beforehand and after a few minutes it is confirmed.

Although it’s not a typical belly flop, I still have a feeling the waves caused by the landing of his body could even sink our president’s “yacht”. It’s really hot outside so it’s time to cool down with something so we buy another beer in a pub near the bridge. Then we climb up a hill and go back to the other side by the upper part of the bridge.

Port wine ice cream? Yes, I’ll have one please.

A sweet-shop offering special ice cream with a discount for pilgrims stops us and I buy a scoop with the taste of the Portuguese dessert we always have for breakfast and a scoop with the taste of port wine. Jitka does not even comment it anymore. And she doesn’t comment it even when half an hour later I join her when she buys a can of beer. It’s hot so we’re trying to refresh ourselves somehow. By the way, the ice cream was delicious.

We return to our room by subway, take a shower and change clothes. Then we go to the restaurant that is in front of our hotel to get some food. We order the same as the natives around us, a local specialty called Franchensina.

Local specialty

For those who don’t know, it’s basically a normal toast with meat inside, it’s all baked with cheese and drizzled with tomato sauce. It’s not bad, but at least I know what to not order the next time. It’s not exactly cheap and I could eat something better for the approx. €7.

Meanwhile, the dark begins to reign outside and we take a subway to the view spot behind the bridge again to see Porto in the nighttime too. The view takes our breath again despite some idiots who don’t appreciate life enough and the railings clearly obstruct their view, so they’re sitting just above the large abyss on the very edge of the stone wall. Today’s wandering around the city kind of exhausted us so we’re heading back to the hotel and go get some sleep for our tomorrow’s route back home.

Mohlo by se vám také líbit

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