Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Day 2 - 8 May - Porto to Angeiras

As Musical Youth famously sang:

Pass the Douro ‘pon the left hand side.

It was a typical first night away from home in a strange room (dormitory) in a strange bed (bunk) with a strange pillow (breeze block). One room. Six people. Add in a bit of snoring, stomach gurgling and farting (just me) and it all made for a night of not much sleep. Oscar and Annie vacated the room at just before four in the morning, probably to get away from me to be honest, which at least meant that the four of us now had the room to ourselves by the time we were stirring around two hours later.

We were out of the place shortly after seven and grabbed a coffee and toast at the nearby Snack Bar O Banquinho before taking the metro into Porto. From Trinidade station we walked to Porto Cathedral, the official starting point of the (Porto) Portuguese Camino. 

The weather forecast had promised us a cloudy day but cloudy in Porto bears little resemblance to cloudy in Burnley. In fact, cloudy in Porto equates to summer in Burnley. Lovely.

Having collected our Credencials (pilgrim passport) from the cathedral, we walked the steps and narrow passages down to the banks of the River Douro and headed West towards the Atlantic. The high banks on both sides of the river and the road bridges they carry make for some spectacular scenery, so much so that we stopped to admire the view at the small Bar Douro Chique where the first beer of the day went down splendidly. Chique (as in chic) by name but not by nature unfortunately as the toilets set the lowest bar of lowest bars with a score of “nil points” in the how-nice-are-the-toilets stakes. 

Bar Douro Chique toilets aside, Porto is an attractive city and the four mile walk along the river was delightful, as were the next three miles tracking the Atlantic whilst we still remained in Porto’s outer reaches. The town of Matosinhos marks a temporary change of scenery with its fishing industry infrastructure and numerous fish restaurants. A bit tatty in appearance but it smells great.

Once out of Matosinhos, the spectacular seascape and beaches take over and the whole effect is enhanced by the fact that your are walking on boardwalks, so much so that you hardly even notice the huge oil refinery on your right hand side. 

Porto’s cloudy weather continued to delight, leading to two more refreshment stops having been taken by the time we arrived at the Angeiras camp site, it being our destination for the night and where we had booked a holiday cabin. After a long, long time waiting to check-in to the site, we were provided with the key to cabin no. 230. After a long, long time trying to locate the bloody thing amongst all the nice white cabins, it turned out that our cabin is in fact a candidate for a blue plaque having previously belonged to the Clampett family of Beverly Hillbillies fame.

No matter. The camp site itself has facilities including a large swimming pool, bar and restaurant, albeit only two of which we made use of. We enjoyed a very passable meal from the restaurant’s pilgrim-menu offering with entertainment provided by the small, elderly Portuguese waiter who appeared to have learnt his trade from Mrs Overall or perhaps Manuel from Fawlty Towers. Delivery of four bowls of soup on one tray was a particularly fraught moment but we survived without mishap although his juggling skills later proved rusty when attempting the difficult challenge of removing my empty bowl and spoon.

Over final cocktails in the bar, a discussion ensued around the most appropriate undercarriage wear for blokes whilst on Camino. I am firmly (pun intended) in the boxer shorts camp but I acknowledge that they might come up short in the emergency swimming trunks category. Perhaps the next day or so will provide opportunity for further research and discussion in this respect.

We departed the bar at around nine o’clock and Mrs C entertained us with her impression of falling off a chair. It had been a long day.

In other news, Ashley has had a quiet day albeit his owner (no names remember - confidentiality is key) is now also the proud owner of a new set of panda eyes. Remember, always apply Factor 50 to your face when walking in the Porto cloud.

All in all, it has been a wonderful first full day on our Portuguese Camino. Time for bed.

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