Porto is a perfect holiday town for anyone. Lots of history, entertainment, food, and if you like drinking Port, it’s the world’s capital.
I was welcomed to town by the another Marathon, as well as, a huge bird market that went on for a couple of blocks. Once again, I was surprised by the runners who noticed my backpack and greeted me with a Buen Camino.
The majority of activities are along the waterfront on both shores of this divided city. So when I came upon a Boat/Hotel I could not resist. I booked two nights. Not only was it elegant and perfectly located it was more reasonable than the other options and included a wonderful breakfast. And a pretty good view too! No sooner had I checked when I got a message that my Irish friend Timothy had just arrive in town too. But he had walked from Santiago! That boy is fast. I first met him on the airport bus in Lourdes September 13th.
Porto has a myriad of transportation options. I took a water taxi to the south shore where the Port producers have their caves for aging the wine as well as lots of outlets and restaurants. I then took a gondola to the upper level of the bridge designed by Eiffel and walked across the upper level back to the north shore. One could the have the option to walk down a few hundred stairs or take the funicular back to the wharf level.
I rented a car at the airport for my drive to Lourdes (as the pilgrim way of life begins fading to memories). Almost two months since I was in a car. I also had to remember how to drive a stick shift! That very American sense of freedom of getting behind the wheel had not left. The highway system is impressive and the countryside lovely. I dove past many miles of charred forests from the recent fires. Though it was impossible to tell the extent of the damage from this limited vantage point.
I arrived in Fatima on another sunny afternoon in time to tour around and attend a mass in English at the shrine, which was welcome after so many Spanish services on the Camino. After mass I spoke with one of the attendants and showed him the copy of the October 1947 letter I was carrying from Sister Lucy to my uncle Joe. He had written to her asking for prayers for himself and his wife. He said that they would be interested in having it so I left it with him along by with my contact info.
Fatima was the last of the three goals on my Spiritual Hat Trick Pilgrimage. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to make this journey and for all the support I have received from family and friends. I once again prayed for all those who sent names for my prayer list and lit candles.
I wanted to visit this seaside resort town west of Lisbon because my parents once visited there in the early 1960’s. They went with my Aunt Helen. As soon as I arrived I knew who had chosen the destination. Helen loved to gamble….This was too much of a city for my taste and “in season” it must be a zoo. However the waterfront walkway was magnificent and appeared to be a surfing hotspot. It was soothing just to hear the sounds of the surf after so much time inland.
Today’s main activities included laundry, shopping, return the car to the airport and a stop at the hospital. The last due to the cold I developed which doesn’t want to go away. My visit to the emergency room lasted about an hour, was quite a contrast to Yale New Haven Hospital and the US Healthcare system in general. I was very well taken care of in a first class facility. The entire ER bill was 90 euros. I was given prescriptions for antibiotics, decongestant, 600mg Ibuprofen which I took to a local pharmacy. The bill was 19 euros!! Total.
After, I treated myself to lunch by the water and a long walk before heading to the airport to drop off the car. The drive was dizzying with a million roundabouts to negotiate enroute.
My original plan had been to enjoy whatever excess time I had after walking the Camino relaxing by the water here in Portugal. However the Camino had other plans for me. Tomorrow I am off to Holland to visit the lovely lady I walked with for a couple of magical days halfway across Spain. After which I’ll be off to Toulouse France to visit Deni, who I met my first day walking from Lourdes, and his family. Stay tuned….