7 Countries in 30 days. Step 16: Porto (Portugal)

A Porto anche la stazione ha gli azuleios
In Porto even train station has azuleios
Città "alte"...
“High” cities…
Città "alte" di notte
“High” cities by night

All uphill. This is the first impression about Porto. It seems that the streets in plain, here, are not designed. The hostel is a pleasant surprise: it’s called Porto Wine Hostel and it is, obviously, themed on Vinho do Porto. Each room has the name of a different kind of wine and the corridors are full of wine bottles on the walls. In our room we meet Stefàn, a German guy who’s travelling for 3 weeks around Iberian Peninsula, with an only little backpack, which contains an only change of clothes.

In a huge square (obviously uphill), a signboard on a guitar perch says: “Take your imaginary guitar”. Behind each corner we find a little churches decored with azuleios, typical tiles which color throughout the city. Pasta with tomato and olives is the best we can trot out from the shelves of a minimarket: we invite Stefàn to join us for dinner. In the simplicity of a dish of pasta and a couple of beers, it reveals one of the funniest dinner of the journey. The crazy German ingeneer offers to us a verysubbrand of beer that, because it is a german one, he bought it for patriotism. When I’m searching our SuperBock in the fridge, he says that I put it in the freezer. To my “You are a fucking genius!” he answers “Hey, I’m an ingeneer! It is colder there: I put it there!“.

A young American film director joins us at table. He tells us something about the movie on which he’s working on, but it doesn’t seems to much interesting. The spontaneous collaboration in washing dishes demonstrates how to stay in a hostel helps people to meet each other and to live together, sharing the daily life. After dinner, in a close pub there is Couchsurfing meeting. In a conversation group with at least 8 different nationalities, our new friend proves to be the most hilarious. “Wait wait wait… you have a queen?!? Since when?!?“, said to a Netherlander, is the top of the conversation.

Trasporti eccezionali sui treni portoghesi
Exceptional transports on Portuguese trains

The city is fantastic. Stairs and lanes climb the hill from the mouth of Douro river, charming me every moment more. In the air we breath the taste of ancient, of tradition, which mingle with the odor of sardines grilled on little barbecues along the river, putting me much more appetite than the disgusting biscuits we bought for breakfast (that not even the fishes we put them to, wanted to eat). We climb on the biggest of the bridges which link the two parts of the city. The giand of steel on which cars, trains and peatons cross the river, gives an incredible view. The overhangs covered by houses give to Douro shores an unreal aspect. The afternoon in a seaside place at 20 minutes by train is a flop. From the scorching sun of the city, we advance into a cold fog which wraps the coast in a spectral way.

Monumenti importanti in città
Important monuments in city

Francesinha is one of the typical dishes. We try it but we are not so enthusiastic about it. Walking on the river bank, animated on saturday night, we stop at a stand where a man makes leather bracelets. I take one asking to engrave on it “InterRail 2013”, in memory of this journey that’s going to te end. We reach the terrace of the monastery which overtops the hill: the night view from here is breathtaking and I lose myself in my thoughts, surprised about the road traveled until now. Two caipirinha to start the evening and we join the group of guys of our hostel. We have to wake up at 7am tomorrow morning, but this is one of the last evening of the travel, it’s to live through and through. Some beers and a lot of different discopubs, to meet at 5am, in the kitchen of the hostel, talking with two unknown Germans about travels, draws and diaries, writing these lines before to sleep a couple of hours.

Andrea Cuminatto

READ HERE THE STEP N°1: Munich (Germany)

READ HERE THE STEP N°2: Bayreuth (Germany)

READ HERE THE STEP N°3: Bruxelles (Belgium)

READ HERE THE STEP N°4: Bruges (Belgium)

READ HERE THE STEP N°5: Antwerp (Belgium)

READ HERE THE STEP N°6: Delft (Netherlands)

READ HERE THE STEP N°7: Rotterdam (Netherlands)

READ HERE THE STEP N°8: Amsterdam (Netherlands)

READ HERE THE STEP N°9: Luxembourg (Luxembourg)

READ HERE THE STEP N°10: Marseille (France) 

READ HERE THE STEP N°11: San Sebastian (Spain)

READ HERE THE STEP N°12: Guernica, Bermeo, Mundaka, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (Spain)

READ HERE THE STEP N°13: Bilbao (Spain)

READ HERE THE STEP N°14: Lisbon (Portugal)

READ HERE THE STEP N°15: Ericeira, Obidos, Figueira da Foz, Coimbra (Portugal)


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