So yesterday I took the opportunity to try out some public transport options in Portugal. First I bought myself a coffee at the nice corner cafe, I also bought myself a Nata (custard tart) and a spinach and cheese pastry to tuck away in my pack. So off I went to the tram station. The conductor helped me buy the ticket.
I went the four stops to the end and then discovered I had to walk about 20 minutes to the bus stop. Of course I arrived just as the hourly bus was leaving so I sat myself in another cafe and drank more coffee and waited. Anyway for a grand total of 5 euros I managed to relocate from the Senda Littoral back to the Central Portugués Camino.
I found my hotel (yes I wanted a night with my own bathroom for a change!) and, because I was so early the girl told me to leave my pack and go and have a look at the pottery museum. “Just walk down the hill until you see the big cock and then turn left” were her exact words. I was somewhat concerned but walked to the bottom of the hill and there it was!
Fräulein walked the distance and stayed at a hostel over the river but we caught up for dinner and a wander around the old city but before dinner we dropped in to a cafe so Fräulein could have a snack (or three).
At dinner I tried to explain to the waiter my preference for lighter red wine such as pinot noir and was somewhat disturbed by the 15 minute lecture on why the doura valley wines are different before he poured me a glass of a drop so terrible I swore then and there that I would drink only gin and tonic in Portugal and would await my return to Spain before again ordering red wine!
Before leaving this morning I wanted to visit the market which is supposed to be the biggest in Portugal. This meant leaving much later than usual so I planned to take a taxi to the outskirts of town. I ate a leisurely breakfast in the hotel and headed up to the market to have a wander through (that’s what you do when you are a wandering Aussie apparently). Anyway at first I thought I was too early but as I wandered further and further on I saw they sold everything from handmade furniture and second hand clothes through to fresh fruit and vegetables and chickens and rabbits. The chicken displays were a little disturbing yet I imagine the local ladies have been selling their produce like this for centuries.
I returned to the hostel as U ber didnt seem to work here and I asked the lady to call me a taxi to drop me on the camino at the edge of town. Just like the people I’d seen on the Ingles, I found it was an exhausting journey! Actually it was an expensive journey because the darn taxi driver had no idea where the camino was so I seemed to have a tour of Barcelos and its surrounds before I eventually spotted a pilgrim and asked him to let me out!
I walked on to Casa Fernanda and finally enjoyed my first genuine pilgrim experience of the Portugues camino. Fernanda gave me the option of the window bed as Fraulein had already arrived and chosen the outside bunk! It was beautiful looking but I was worried about animals dropping in to visit her during the night. Little did I know what was to come!
We had a lovely afternoon with soup and bread (okay I had some white wine) to tide us over until the evening communal meal. We met some lovely people and the Canadians from Metasinos also showed up again making it feel like we had just caught up with old friends. There were two Aussies from Brisbane, a German, a Spanish girl, an American, and another two young danes among some other Germans of course! But these young danish people are everywhere!
After a lovely meal some dessert and of course some Port we headed off to bed in our 12 bed bungalow!
I slept soundly for about oh, I’d say two hours! I had my high velocity earplugs in and my eye mask on and was in a somewhat deep slumber when I heard a great racket in my dream and something fell on my leg from the window! If this was Australia I’d be scared! I’d be very very scared! Actually it was Portugal and I was still very very scared!
What the hell falls through a window at night in Portugal? Logic told me it was a cat but there was not a cat to be seen. I had jumped in fear. Pulled my earplugs out and removed my eye mask. I could see nothing! It was pitch black. If it was a wild cat it might sit on someone and suffocate them. Or, even worse, it might pee on a backpack. I could not just go back to sleep so I became a hunter!
I got down on the floor with my phone torch and crawled around trying to locate the potential cat – or something! I still wasn’t positive I was looking for a feline! Perhaps it was some other local wildlife! I went back to bed sitting bolt upright and I waited – phone in hand! I somehow nodded off and I felt something jump on my leg again! My leg kicked out and the warm furry animal fell to the floor. Back down on the floor torch phone light in hand. Nothing to be seen! Back again bolt upright! Adrenaline pulsing through my veins! I nodded again. It was back but this time I was ready. First I took a photo. Then. My leg was over the side and I had it by the scruff of the neck and it was out the window and I had slammed it shut before you could say buen fantastic camino el gato!
Aaah the joys of sleeping near an open window and having fresh air.