Today is Day 2 in Porto, early morning at the Light Point Hostel. After six nights in hotels, I’m beginning the Camino. Sleeping in shared rooms, confining my possessions to a small space, listening to night sounds, once again remind me the reason I returned: to walk, to meet new friends and places. And that is finally how the Way is unfolding.
Yesterday was full of surprises and from the beginning I was back into being open to the ways the Camino Provides.
Up early and prepared to walk back to the Vigo–Guixar train station after one night in Vigo. No data, so my phone map didn’t work, but the paper map in my hand and less than 24 hours in this big city, made the few kilometers easy. I was ready to leave one big city for another. But I had no idea how big!
Arriving in the busy Campanha-Porto station, a hub of long distance and local commuter trains, I couldn’t find a tourist information center or a a map. Not wanting to take a taxi the short distance, I added 24 hours of data to my phone and Google led the way. And. . . We are in Portugal, so English and Spanish are not necessarily spoken or understood here. Deep breath and walk on.
Earlier on the train to Porto: the journey was one hour longer than I planned because of the hour difference, Spain to Portugal. I now had enough time to view the coast I will walk, and pass Valença where I started the Portugues Route last June. I recognized the Camino, and had written and rewritten my life story all within the invisible space of time zones.
After six days in big cities I want to just start walking. But three more nights booked into this hostel in very exciting and beautiful Porto are my true initiation to the Portugues Coastal Camino. Finally!
I walked into the historic center to discover the Baroque Church Bell Tower, Torre Dos Clèrigos and up at least 240 narrow, stone stairs to highest point (not that high) and added that experience to my list of “Climbing to the Heavens by Way of the Camino.” Spectacular vistas!
Next, I visited the Cathedral, starting point for the Camino from Porto, and collected my first Camino Portugues sello.
Stunning architecture, the Riverwalk, perfect weather – I joined thousands of tourists in the too-crowded-for-me lines and gathering places.
As I walked around I saw pilgrims with backpacks. And I started up conversations with a few who were just beginning their Camino including a group from Northern California, planning to leave the next day from Porto to Santiago.
So much to see, but I walked back the few Kms to complete my hostel registration.
I’m writing this only a day later, but The Camino Provides in a big way, friends. After checking out my form and bed, I walked downstairs and met two women who were just leaving to go to the historic center. We chatted and I learned they were long distance walkers and pilgrims, (Australia and Germany) who had met while walking the Camino Norte Way. They are both world travelers, seasoned pilgrims, have walked on even more Caminos and have great stories to share.
For the next two days I was lucky to join them, riding the amazing Metro, sharing walks and meals and ice cream, walking across the Ponte de Maria Pia Bridge, built in 1877, attributed to Gustave Eiffel.
The pictures are almost a jumble of time, as in a short three days, walking in and out of the historic center of Porto provided unforgettable encounters with people speaking every language, masterpieces of nature and art and architecture created by human hands.
Our dinner tonight and walks around Porto were great fun. I love meeting these adventurous peregrinas, who truly are inspiring with their solo walks, Caminos and travel, and unique life stories.
Views of Porto: (look for Lello Bookstore linked to Harry Potter)
Walking to Matosinhos, on the coast tomorrow, with my new peregrina amiga.
Bom Caminho, Irene