Sao Joao – Porto
9 April 2018
0.0km (Bus day)
35.8km (If you do walk this stage)
It was raining, bitterly cold and my feet were hurting … so yes, we’ve taken the bus 😔
We were woken up by rain splattering against our window! I gave Berto one look and, after 21 years of marriage, he knew exactly what “that look” meant … I was adamant – no walking today!
FOOT INJURIES & RAIN: Not even mentioning the other four blisters, I now also had a big new blister underneath my left foot that almost made it impossible to walk. And in this rain, I just did not had the energy to try and balance my walk between painful blisters, a painful ankle and the pouring rain!
We’ve booked accommodation in a hostel in Porto a week ago, because we wanted to explore Porto before we continue our Camino. Hopefully, two days of rest in Porto will hopefully give my body enough time to recover for the last part of our Portuguese Camino!
Berto became the “ultimate partner” and took the bus with me to Porto.
With the above in mind, we cannot give you an overview of the hiking route between Sao Joao and Porto. We did read in our Brierley guide book that there was a short stretch of the old Roman road through woodlands, but that the rest of the road was pretty much a slog into the centre along hard city pavements. Maybe we did not miss too much of this stretch, but I always feels miserable when I’m not walking a stage on the Camino …
After we’ve had a hot coffee, we found the bus stop and bought two tickets at €8.50 to Porto. We’ve left Sao Joao in pouring rain and arrived in Porto in pouring rain.
Even though it was grey and raining, our very first sight of Porto gave us a glimpse of just how beautiful this city is. We’ve crossed the rio Douro (River of Gold) and immediately fell in love with Porto!
Accommodation – Porto:
Although we wanted to start exploring Porto immediately, our first priority was to find our hostel. We’ve taken the metro, which took about 15 minutes, to Oporto Music Hostel. It’s a beautiful hostel with very friendly staff. We’ve ended up in a teensy-weensy room – just enough space for a bed and our backpacks – but it was a BIG double bed with luxurious linen … more than what any pilgrim can ever ask for!
After we’ve booked in, we immediately took the metro back to the historic city centre. It was really, really cold … we were almost dressed in all our clothes, but we had to see more of this city!
We’ve walked down to the rio Douro to have some coffee and something to eat at one of the plenty restaurants on the bank of the river.
Berto in front of the statue of Henry the Navigator.
The historical centre of Porto was declared a World Heritage site in 1996 and in 2001 Porto was chosen as the European City of Culture
The colourful buildings on the bank of rio Douro
The magnificent bridge Ponte de D. Luis I over the rio Douro
We’ve walked over the famous bridge Ponte de D. Luis I to explore the other side of the river bank.
On the other side of the river with the historical centre of Porto in the background
And then it was time to taste the famous port of Porto! The oldest port wine lodges in Portugal will be found here and there are several restaurants that offers port tasting sessions. In this cold weather, I could not think of anything better to do!
Tasting port … and they were all great!
We’ve also stopped at the famous rabelo boats on the rio Douro. These boats were used to carry barrels of Porto wine from the Douro valley vineyards to the Port Wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia – these days they are laying quietly by the riverside.
The famous rabelo boats on the rio Douro
Dark clouds were gathering again and as we’ve walked back to the historical centre, it started to rain again. This was the perfect opportunity to have a late lunch and we’ve managed to find seats inside a small restaurant.
Lunch in a pan – chorizo, olives and pickled cauliflower
Miraculously, the sun came out just after we’ve had our lunch and we’ve explored the city more. It was still freezing cold, but at least it was not raining. We’ve walked over to the main rail station which was built in the 16th century. The grand entrance hall is breathtaking beautiful with over 20,000 tiles that reflect the history of Portugal.
The main rail station named after the Benedictine monastery and built in the 16th century
The magnificent entrance hall with over 20,000 tiles on the walls
It was getting late and we’ve sensed more rain on the way. Although we did not walked a far distance today, my feet was complaining. We’ve taken a couple more pictures as we’ve slowly made our way back to the metro.
The buildings in Porto is beautiful
We are planning to take a trip on the Hop on Hop off bus tomorrow to see more of Porto (at least I don’t have to walk then ☺️). We’ve bought some snacks on the way to our hostel and spent the rest of the evening in the communal hall. We did not meet any other pilgrims, but it was great having conversations with the locals.
I can honestly say that Porto is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen and we were looking forward seeing more of this city tomorrow.