Sao Joao da Madeira to Porto

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After contemplation we decided to take a taxi to Porto allowing us a rest day as well as missing the busy highway and tarred roads today.  92% of todays walk is on tarred roads of which 32% is on a highway, only 8% is on Camino pathway tracks.

Our experience in Portugal up till now on the main busy roads is that it is dangerous and with hardly any shoulder to walk on I am not feeling the love for the walk today.  The constant buzz of 40 ton trucks speeding does not excite any one of us and therefore we opted to taxi this section as part of a rest day.  (Alan decided to attempt the walk with Jack)

However it has been nothing close to resting as this little gem of a city which is the second largest city in Portugal has so much to offer and see.  We have booked into the YES Hostel for the night which is 5 star Albergue type accommodation, very modern, friendly staff, spotless and comfortable.  Our first night in bunk beds.  We have no towels so we will be drip drying tonight. (Albergues don’t have towels) 4 bunk beds in a dormitory style room at 16 euros including breakfast.  For whatever reason our chosen accommodation always seems to land up on the top floor and luckily today we are not “moeg” and happily climbing 6 flights of stairs. The taxi drive to Porto was along the Camino route (saw the yellow arrows most of the way) and I am SO GLAD WE OPTED not to walk.  We will miss the roman road which is part of this section however risking my life versus walking on another interesting roman road, NO!!!

On arrival we checked in dropped off our bags and off we went to explore this city.  We took the blue bus tours at 10 euros and enjoyed a spin around Porto hopping on and off at points of interest to us, first stop was for the real gelato creamy ice cream and of course I had a cafe con leche.   The promenade stretched for miles and loads of locals cycling, running, walking, strolling along the dedicated areas for these activities and therefore not hampering the busses or traffic. We walked along the promenade and enjoyed the site of topless tanning and well roasted men (they were well tanned).

Koren’s  stomach has not stopped growling for food since she landed so round 12h00 we started looking for a Portuguese restaurant to taste some local dishes.  We found a cosy eating place on the other side of the river and indulged in Sangria and yummy pasta (so not Portuguese ).  Spent a while chatting and enjoying each others company and loads of laughs,  clearly caused by the sangria that tasted more like cool drink.

We took the cable car up to the Mosteiro de Santa Maria.  Since 1910, the monastery has been considered a National Monument.  Porto known for its port has loads of port tours on offer, after all the sangria we opted to stay away from a port tasting tour. Other highlights in Porto include, Clérigos church tower which was the tallest structure in Portugal when completed in 1763 (the national record is now Lisbon’s Vasco da Gama Tower), and is the main feature of the city’s skyline. Ships used it as a guide when coming into Cais da Ribeira.  It’s a remarkable baroque landmark designed by the Italian architect Nasoni, who also designed the adjoining church. It has become a popular tourist attraction for the aerial view of the city from the top (76 meters up — after a steep flight of 240 steps). Inside the church, the highlight is a polychromatic Baroque-Rococo marble retable.  We did not go to the top for the aerial view for two reasons, this morning it was overcast AND there was no ways we were going to climb 240 steps.  Opposite the tower is Cordoaria Gardens and an imposing Neoclassical and Pombaline building that is the city’s former prison.  But the highlight really is the atmospheric, colorful, World Heritage riverfront medieval district.  It is full of colour and character, an absolute must see.  The Dom Luis bridge is also stunning.  Before the Eiffel Tower, there was this ironwork showpiece which spans across the river Douro.

All in all a great day and clearly no rest, we walked about 16km with all the sightseeing. Alan and Jack got in around 20h00, Alan confirmed it was one hell of a walk, not easy however the roman road made it worth his while.  Theses two were so bushed, they ate and went to bed.  A pity that Alan missed out on the site seeing of Porto but also know Alan will do this Camino again, so next time Alan.

Tomorrow we are back on the camino walking along the coast to Vila do Conde.  Research has led me to believe that this is the most beautiful part of the Portuguese Way. On we walk, one step at a time…….

PS highly recommend the YES HOSTEL, the vibe was unbelievable and you get to use MAC computers, 2 available with free wi-fi!

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