I know, I know……I’ve turned into a Camino bore. The Hermitage has been very quiet all winter, as Hermitages should be. The main activity has been working on getting a 62 year old body back into shape to do the next hike in France: treadmill, weights, yoga and iTunes. No complaints – there are worse ways to spend a winter.
I thought I’d do a quick post about the Camino Portuguese to commemorate it and to thank my sister Ellen for going with me this time. She never aspired to be a hiker/backpacker, but agreed to go anyway on this long walk starting in Porto, Portugal and ending in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. And afterwards, she still doesn’t aspire to be a hiker/backpacker, but she was a trooper, we made it to Santiago, and hiking with a partner was considerably easier.
Above is a strange little tableau set up on a street in Porto and including a nod to the symbol of Portugal, The Rooster of Barcelos. The tale of the Rooster of Barcelos is very similar to the that of the the Rooster of Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino Frances in Spain. Loosely, there was a young man traveling through town who found lodging at an inn where the innkeepers had a daughter who wanted the young man’s attention. When he refused her, the girl told the authorities that the young man had stolen some items from the property. Seems petty theft sentencing was a bit more draconian in those days, as the young man was to be hanged. But just before they hauled him off to the gallows, the young man said to the magistrate, who was in the middle of dinner: “if I am innocent, that rooster on your plate will come to life”. As roasted roosters do, of course, the rooster came to life and the young man was spared. And most likely didn’t seek lodging again where there were any vengeful teenage girls…..
The Rooster himself, in Barcelos itself
Porto is a lively, forthright place with plenty to do and see. It’s fun to just wander. You can catch some live Fado along the Ribeira. Here’s a beautiful performance of this passionate, melancholy Portuguese musical tradition:
We stayed at the trendy BlueSock Hostel on the Ribeira, the Ribeira being their riverside in the city. If you ever get a chance to try a Francesinha, they’re incredible. They’re allegedly the Portuguese version of a Croque Monsieur, although there wasn’t much of a taste-similarity. Francesinhas are full of various meats, bread, then smothered in a cheese sauce that involves
a b out a liter o f beer and various spirits.
Porto’s two-tiered Dom Luis I bridge over the River Duoro – the top part is a pedestrian bridge and is a little un-nerving to cross, as it’s shared with the metro and there are gaps with views 146′ down. It was started in 1880, a tidbit learned beforehand that didn’t make crossing it any easier.
Cathedral do Se, Porto where you can pick up Credenciales for your Camino if you can get to the desk through the throngs of other tourists.
Sao Bento train station, Portuguese tile work
Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, Porto
Coastal walk to Matosinhos
Tui and Cathedral. There was a medieval festival going on, seemingly mostly on the plaza outside our room. Drums and bagpipes until 02:00.
Correo Horreos (Correo = mail, Horreos = traditional raised grain storage structures found around Galicia)
The scaffolding was still up on the Cathedral in Santiago, but you will likely have more pictures of the Cathedral inflicted on you in the near future…..
We slipped through London two days after a nearby subway blast and a few days before a car plowed into tourists between the Natural History Museum and the V&A on the street we used every day by the hotel this time.
St. Pancras Station, London. At the Victoria & Albert Museum
Dining room at the Victoria & Albert, or possibly Hogwart’s.
Next up, the GR-65/Chemin St. Jacques Le Puy Route.