Pre-Dawn 🌅 ……and like the 💪 Caministas we now are ; we regretfully but swiftly pack up our apartment into our backpacks 🎒 rainy , still dark – we hail a cab and at the station for 7.00am . Time for a superior station breakfast ! and ready for the Vigo train .
It’s unsettling to see our walk of the previous 9 days unravelling at such speed as we reverse our trail on the way back to Porto.
But first – we have cross back into Portugal to go via Vigo – not on our previous route .
“YOU CAN’T GET TO PORTO BY TRAIN”
All the travel sites , inc’ tbe good ones Trainline.Com , Rome2Rio etc won’t give you a rail connection from Santiago to Porto. “Just take the bus” they say – I wondered why – I found and booked the connection – but now I know why .
They don’t believe you can arrive on the 8.33am at Vigo Urzáiz ……..
And get across the city in time to Vigo Guixar for the 8.58am to Porto ( 2 trains a day – the next at 5.30 pm !!! ) …… and ….
…… having done the mad taxi 🚕 ride across town … ( Driver seemed to relish the challenge 🤣) …. I can see their point ! – but you CAN make it – we did ! 👏 👏 .
Worth it though . Cross the border in the middle of the river Ria de Vigo we had previously walked across – upriver at Redondela a week ago .
It means we’re in Porto , a full day ahead and sat out on our own Perfect Pan-tiled Porto Patio by 11.00am ….. lush .
Tonights hotel – The hugely over-ornate 5 Storeys folly of a house known as the Castelo Santa Catarina is a hoot!
Clad in Millions of Blue Tiles , it’s own Chapel , own Victorian Grotto – bizarre with rooms made out of random parts of the house – ours is the middle right Pic next to the blue vase – vast – that used to be an entrance hall , patio and staff quarters 100 years ago – quite eccentric .
We head out to see the town – immediately taken aback by the mix of beautiful , historical and modern mixed with dilapidated, & wrecked buildings – just 10 mins walk from the centre.
Gradually you begin to get a feel for the place – the faded grandeur on one hand and the vibrant future on the other.
Still – a property developers dream
Under-dressed for the fabulously baroque /kitsch Café Majestic ( when you carry everything you own on your back – fashion sacrifices have to be made 🤣😇 )
We follow the descending tram-tracks and more blue-tiled magnificence to the almost Parisién pavement cafés of Praça de Liberdade –
…….. remember we’re still in the Santo Ildefonso parish same as the hotel and the wrecks
I have some places I want to go – we have best part of 2 days …… bars , bridges culture , cathedrals, religion , Douro riverside , restaurants ….. so where to first ?
Yep …… H&M ….. the tweenagers fave clothes shop followed by McDonalds 🙄.
Apparently I (May) have suggested a shopping day at the end of our trip as motivation – ( bit of a blur really ) .🤣
At least we are in the Via Catarina 🛍 Shopping Centre – with that quirky approach to street art I’ve only seen in Portugal 👏
….. and if you’re going to have A toy shop at least you should have a separate entrance for the children! After all it’s their show.
🙏 ….. released from the bonds of waiting outside changing rooms and making approving noises ; we head for a welcome glass of Vinho Verdé on the main square again – people (and 🐻 bear) watching.
……. and yet more imaginative street art – and one of my top 5 favourite pictures of the trip.
….. while being stalked on the way back to the Hotel ………
And head out to Dinner – uphill to Praça do Marqués de Pombal – new outfits of course !
its a cool , quiet evening on this square – in the opposite direction to the main attractions . All local “Porto-istas” – around here . I learn that lesson about Porto again – “not judging a book by its cover”
We pass this …….. Café Pereira – looks perfect for dinner …
…… but we jumped out when – BIZARRE – they have a “reverse” smoking policy !!
Inside – thick fog – everyone , EVERYONE smoking : Outside – very nice facing the square for NON- smokers . Ha ! 🙄.
Next door what looks like a run down bargain-booze shop …….. ( Book and Cover )
Turns out to be ……… high end Italian !
…… Great food & wine and a calm space to end our first day in Porto .