Porto; Aimless wandering; Declining to climb the Clerigos tower; The Crystal Palace; Alex bids us adieu on the train platform; Lisbon, again.

Our second (and last) day in Porto, like the first, consisted of aimless wandering. We got a relatively early start, at least. The first destination was the Torre de Clerigos, a tower attached to a church. It was possible to go up the tower, but we didn’t feel like either climbing the 225 steps to the top or paying the €1.50 admission fee. We took a turn through the attached church, which was one of the most over-the-top exhibitions of Portuguese Catholic religious decoration I’ve ever seen. The nave and altar were seemingly covered in solid gold, with a giant tapered tower topped with a grandly gesturing statue of (I assume) Santa Maria, and a truly gruesome representation of the dying Christ figure, emaciated and grey, with every wound picked out with ugly and detailed realism. We didn’t stay long.

Sheryl was feeling poorly, so we had some lunch near the tower and headed off to search for a nice park so that she could lie down for awhile. This took longer than it really should have - we went looking for the Crystal Palace and had to nearly circumnavigate the grounds downhill and then uphill until we found a way in, which involved taking a shortcut up a steep under-maintenance path blocked off with barriers. Obviously they didn’t really want to keep anyone out though, or the barriers would have been more substantial, right?. The gardens were nice, though not very quiet. I used the time while Sheryl took a nap, and Porto’s free wireless network to caption some photos and update the websites. The Crystal Palace itself was closed, and was neither crystal nor a palace anyway (it looked more like a conference centre through the windows).

Alex had recommended a tour of the famous port wine cellars across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia, but Sheryl only drinks white wine and it’s no fun going on a wine tour by yourself, so it will have to wait until the next visit. Instead we had sangria later (which, thank you for pointing out, is made with red wine. Don’t ask me, it’s not my issue). We went to the same place we’d gone before, where we knew the sangria was bad and the waiter hated us.

We took a long walk without a destination, then, along the old city walls and down by the river, then uphill through the town. I finally managed to drop a DVD in the post for Emilie (photos from Morocco and Kevin Quain music). I hadn’t found blank DVDs in Seville, and then we went to Portugal and I was waiting to mail it until we got back to Spain so it would be a little cheaper. But we aren’t going back to Spain so this was the last chance. Sorry it took so long, Milie - you should have it in five days or so, they tell me.

Alexandre met us at the train platform to see us off, which was very nice of him. The train was half an hour delayed, so we had time for a longer conversation. Alex - please do feel free to keep me informed of your progress on the idea you told me about, I’m interested to hear how it goes.

The train to Lisbon was luxurious compared to some we’ve been on. It was a modern, fast train. When Sheryl and I finally got around to looking at the speed display on the information panel, it said 230km/h. I’d never been on a train going that fast - come to think of it, I’d never been on any land vehicle going that fast - so it was a cool moment for the inner nerd. Sheryl pointed out that it was going eleven times as fast as the little one-car train from Covilhã to Guarda a few days before.

Arriving at Lisbon half an hour late, we grabbed the metro for the short trip (and longer walk) to the hostel. When we arrived there, no one answered the door. We rang a few times without any response from inside. It was a few minutes past midnight at this point, so hardly the dead of night. The description of the hostel noted 24-hour reception, so we were confused. Finally, after repeated ringing and banging on the door, two of the guests answered, thinking we were someone else entirely, and fetched the staff member present, who had been only a room away but had decided to stop answering the door at 12. Dealing with hostels can be a very frustrating experience. By the time we got into bed it was past 1am, and with the noise and light from some jerks coming and going all night long, I didn’t sleep much at all. I was very irritated at spending €17 for, essentially, nothing. I’d rather have slept in the airport, to be honest - it would have been quieter and possibly darker. Sheryl would never stand for it, though.


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One Comment on this Dispatch:

July 25th, 2008

Hi guys,
Just thought I will point a few links to you, for discount airlines in Europe. You may know about them already, but here it is:
And for general info http://www.skyscanner.net is supposed to be good.

Just make sure to read the fine print, and pay attention to where the airports are. Sometime the cab ride from the airport to the city may cost you the discount. They often are pretty stingy with weight allowance, so make sure to check it out.

Happy travels,


¬ klaudia
July 26th, 2008

Thanks Klaudia! Much appreciated.

¬ 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.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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