This is my last full day in Porto. Tomorrow I have to figure out how to get me and my heavily-laden bike out of town heading north. A Spanish pilgrim who has been doing the Camino Portugués from Lisbon on a bicycle said he thought he would take his bike on the subway to the edge of town. There are two problems with cycling with a loaded touring bike in Porto: the heavy traffic and the frequent, very steep hills.
I probably should have left today. For some reason, all of the people I have been hanging out with are leaving including all three of my roommates.
The hostel is full of little boys this morning. They are well-behaved but very noisy. They walk around in a group of about 20. They are outside waiting for the breakfast cafeteria to open, talking very loudly in a language that I do not understand. There seems to be no one supervising them. There are four adult men with them who appear to be Japanese, but they are staying well clear of the little boys. Here the are eating breakfast.
I think it is wonderful that at least some school kids get to travel internationally these days, although I understand that only the children of people with money can do so. When I was the age of these boys, I had never been more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) away from home.
Yesterday, I walked into town to the cathedral and took the old-time tourist streetcar back home whose picture I included in an earlier blog entry. On the way into town, I came across this old fortification on the hill above me. I don’t know what it is or why it was built, and I wasn’t curious enough to climb up and investigate.
Downtown, tho Old City was jam-packed with tourists speaking every imaginable language. The following picture doesn’t really give a good idea of how many of them there were. I suppose as Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto is an important stop for anyone touring the country.
Below one of the wider streets in downtown Porto is pictured. There are streets so narrow that the driver of a small car passing through them has to be careful not to scrape the paint off the car on the buildings on either side. There are even narrower streets where no car could pass at all.
Below is a view of the cathedral that I was trying to reach. I took the photo from a neighboring hill. There would still be a lot of walking to reach the cathedral, because I would have to walk down a stoop hill and up the other side.
I couldn’t snap a picture of the outside of the cathedral, because there was no way to get far enough away to get all of the building in the frame. Had I tried, I would have fallen off the hill. I did take a picture of the inside. As European cathedrals go, this one is quite small. Construction of the original Romanesque cathedral started in about the year 1110. Additions and modifications carried out in the following centuries resulted in a building with a combination of Romanesque and Baroque styles.
As I walked back toward the hostel from downtown, I snapped this picture of a statue of the Infante Dom Henrique, o Navegador, better known in English as Prince Henry the Navigator. From my high school class in “world” history (it was really European history) I remember that Henry the Navigator was the person responsible for Portugal’s many sea voyages of discovery. Thanks to him Portugal learned to circumnavigate Africa and to sail to the New World. Perhaps the places that Portugal colonized are not so grateful.
Tomorrow I will probably not update the blog until I reach my destination in the afternoon. I will try to hit the road immediately after breakfast. Traffic is bound to be heavy, and the streets of Porto are very narrow and hilly, so getting out of town will not likely to be pleasant. I am anxious to cycle through the countryside and small towns.