Porto, Portugal — August 9, 2017

I’m writing this entry on Wednesday morning, August 9, while I’m waiting for the cafeteria to open for breakfast, but the events I will describe took place yesterday. Let me start with the evening bull session, an important part of traveling.

André, the person to my right in the picture below is French but has lived in Brazil and speaks Portuguese fluently. He is one of my roommates, and he invited me to the hostel kitchen to drink green tea. The heavyset man to my left was one of my roommates the night before. He is Portuguese, but he is retired in France and speaks fluent Portuguese, French and Spanish. He has traveled the world. He learned his Spanish in Venezuela.

We settled on French for our bull session, because my French is passable, whereas my Portuguese is still in its infancy. I think by the time the evening was over, we had solved most of the world’s  problems.

The woman in the foreground is French, and at the table behind us is a group of university students from Lisbon. All but one are Portuguese. The outlier is a German with whom I had a brief conversation in his language before I realized that I was being impolite to the others, who did not understand.

When people ask me how I can stand to travel alone, the answer is that I am seldom alone. I make new acquaintances from all over the world. If I had always traveled by myself, I would probably only speak English today and have only a superficial idea of the countries I have visited.

The picture below is of breakfast here in the hostel in Porto. If people look a bit subdued, it is because we were just starting to drink our coffee. You may notice my heavy-set Portuguese friend in the green shirt. I had been sitting across from him before I got up to take this picture.

I didn’t spend all day in the hostel. Yesterday morning I left for a walk along the river that cuts through Porto. There are several bridges across the river. The one in the photo is the bridge closest to the ocean.

As you can see, Porto is quite hilly. For the athletic types, there are steps leading from the river bank up to the top of the bridge. Maybe I will give them a try today. My health insurance is paid up.

For those who prefer not to climb up to the bridge, a small ferry transports passengers across the river. The fare is 1.50 euros per person and one euro more if you take a bicycle on board. The ferry is shown below returning from the opposite bank.

Yes, there were many people riding bicycles along the riverfront. Most of them appeared to be tourists. I did see one group of about seven serious cyclists on the riverside street heading out toward the ocean. The two riders at the front setting the pace were women, and behind them the men were struggling to stay in the women’s draft.

There are modern buses running along the river for locals, and for us tourists and old-time streetcar.  It runs several times an hour and costs three euros.

Yesterday as I pedaled my overloaded bike toward the hostel, I rode between the tracks until I heard a “Clang! Clang!” behind me. It was the streetcar, whose driver was telling me to get the hell out of the way.

Today after breakfast, I will proofread this blog entry, missing most of the errors, of course, and then head out on foot again to see what I can find of interest.