This time I didn’t forget to leave the key at the hostel reception… a 5 euro key deposit was a sufficient reminder. Passing through narrow streets on my way to Avenue Boavista (nice view) which leads to the sea.
On my way there is park with another monument to the Peninsular War. A tall column on top of which there is a statue of the lion (representing the British Empire) devouring the eagle (representing France under Napoleon Bonaparte). An interesting difference in historical perspectives. For the Portuguese Napoleon was an aggressive invader and for the Croatian region of Dalmatia a benevolent despot who built roads, introduced the first newspaper in Croatian language… one of the main streets in Split, Croatia bears the name of his marshal Marmont.
Porto is not so sleepy this early in the morning. Some of it is due to people heading back home from a night out on the town and some of it due to people heading to work.
Heading west on the Boavista Avenue I come across a section of luxury boutiques and banks… each with several homeless people sheltering in the doorway, wrapped in blankets with some cardboard for insulation. A striking contrast.
The morning is a bit chilly… 14°C according to the pharmacy billboard.
Finally the sea… the Portuguese don’t call it the ocean… probably a linguistic heritage of maritime superiority. Seagulls are singing out loud, they look happy to see me.
The beaches are large and sandy… not a boring straight line like some sections of eastern Italian coast. Every now and then there are slight open coves and multitude of reefs.
The first place on today’s route obviously had a party last night. The seagulls are feasting on the leftovers. It feels like I stepped into Hitchcock’s movie set.
At the outskirts of the fishing village there is a small outdoor chapel. According to the info board on May the 3rd 124 AD the sea has thrown the painting of Good Jesus.
A bit further ahead I meet up with an English pilgrim continent… heavily reinforced by friends and relatives who joined them in Porto … Claire, Linda, Annie, Amber and Joe.
Next village ahead is getting ready for the fiesta. The marching band is practising its tune and people are making interesting decorations on the pavement… like a flower path. Local taverns are warming up the grill.
Continuing onward to Labruge where I planed to stay today. As I’m trying to find the albergue location on the tourist billboard a couple of locals call out “… hey Croato… where are you headed”. No I didn’t encounter a meeting of Portuguese Sherlock Holmes fan club… they saw the flag sewn into my backpack. So I explained about the Caminho de Santiago and got a “Bom viaje” in return.
The albergue is muito bem (very nice) … one of the nicest I saw. Single beds and plenty of space. Later on I am joined by a group of Brazilian ladies and Italian gent, my old buddy Jorge, a girl from Luxembourg and Mathilde from Belgium.
Dinner was a joint effort, the Brazilians made turkey with rice, I made spaghetti with tuna and Jorge got the desert.
Since Mathilde is carrying a small guitar, after dinner we threw a duet.. Hallelujah and the House of the Rising Sun … it wasn’t bad, though we could probably use more practice before starting a concert tour.
That was day no. 18.