Porto; A slow day, enforced by stiff muscles; Finding an internet connection in a public urinal; Planning the next travel steps; Messing with our sleeping patterns; Sangria again at last; Late-night walk

Alexandre had been nice enough to annotate a Google Maps printout with some traditional tourist destinations and other locations of interest for us, so that we didn’t need to rely on our awful guidebook. We’d planned to make an early start and see as much of Porto as we could, but soon after rising our bodies informed us in no uncertain terms that we’d be taking it slowly instead. Two days of tough physical effort, sleeping on the cold, hard, ground, and short food had taken their toll and we were very stiff and achy. Most days I don’t feel my age, I think, but days like this remind me that I actually am on the far side of thirty and I don’t bounce back as quickly or thoroughly as I used to.

In any case, whatever our original plan, we realized that our first priority should be planning our onward travel, not seeing Porto, which wasn’t going anywhere. We’d planned to leave Portugal in a couple of days, and we had no idea where we were going, beyond a general plan to get to eastern Europe as quickly as possible. Figuring out how, when and where involved a lot of discussion, fighting, and me coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to have to make another trip on my own, sometime later, if I want to see western Europe properly. Sheryl made her European tour years ago and doesn’t have much interest in retracing her steps just because it’s new to me, for which I can’t really blame her. It’s disappointing for me, though. I’d been thinking of this trip as my big chance to see everything I ever wanted to see, and it’s hard to give up on that dream. But there’s lots of amazing things out there, and I can return to Europe later in life. We found a cheap(-ish) flight from Lisbon to Berlin. €110 each didn’t sound very cheap to me, but the total of reservation fees for trains ended up close to €80, a fact which makes me angry. What do I have that very expensive rail pass for, if it’s still going to cost me hundreds of euros to take the train? We plan to spend three days or so in Berlin, and then get on a train to Prague. We hope to make a big clockwise circle through much of eastern Europe - The Czech Republic; Slovakia; Hungary; Romania; Bulgaria; Serbia; Croatia, and Slovenia, and then Austria, the remainder of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, and finally France in early October. It’s a tall order for three months - an average of one week per country - so we’ll see how it goes and revise if we have to.

We did much of this planning in an alley reeking of piss, which didn’t improve our short tempers much at all. It seemed silly to pay to use the internet when I have a computer, and walking around for long enough will almost always find an open wireless network. This time, though, we could only find one after 45 minutes of searching, and it was in an alley off a side street which people kept coming by and using as a urinal. Lovely. I was never happier to have the computer’s battery run down.

Since we were tired, and since we had the luxury of our own room for once, we indulged ourselves and took an afternoon nap, and then headed out for sangria afterwards. I’d been craving it for ages and even in Spain we’d never really had it properly - only cheap supermarket sangria. But the place we went to made it nicely, with fizz and orange juice, and it was worth waiting for. Afterwards we went walking through town, down all Porto’s steep cobbled streets to the river, and, eventually, back up them again.


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One Comment on this Dispatch:

August 9th, 2008

ah Sangria…I had a glass of it this past weekend in Montreal and it was awesome. Never as good as the one Sheryl makes mind you, but it did remind me of you guys. Had it with white wine for the first time and found it really refreshing. Cheers!

¬ Nicola
August 10th, 2008

Right back at ya, luv.

¬ Chris
Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
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