I woke up and packed my bag and Leandra and I walked out into the rain to get a bite to eat. She really isn’t a morning person so there wasn’t too much conversation. We popped into a little café. She said the bus comes in 15 minutes so eat quickly. My croissant and juice disappeared in a blink and we went back out into the rain to wait for the bus to the bus station. We said our goodbyes and split at the station.
After an hour sitting on the floor near a plug, charging my laptop and Ipod I went out to get on my bus. Never have I traveled so luxuriously, this bus was fancy, we sat way up above the driver with a solid, one-piece windshield (Crystal once told me RVs with these are super expensive). It was just me a German backpacker who must have just finished the Camino and some other guy for the first hour or two but the bus filled up in Santiago.
We entered Portugal and missed the turn for the airport, the first drop-off point so we took an extra few minutes. after dropping off most of the backpackers we picked up in Santiago the rest of us were ditched in the middle of the business area where there was no tourist office to get a map nor any signs marking the way to the city Center.
I followed a few people for a block or two but they seemed lost so I asked two girls who spoke English from the bus and they pointed the direction to the center or what they thought was the center. Finally I figured my best bet was to ask a local. At the bus stop I gave my Spanish a try and thankfully Portuguese is close enough to Spanish that they can understand. Although this guy couldn’t point out our location on the map at the bus stop he did give me good enough directions to get to the center.
At the first major landmark I crossed, Igreja do Dos Clericos, I took a seat and texted Ola my location so she could come get me. She flew into Oporto in the morning and had been there for 5 or 6 hours already. “stay put, don’t move don’t breathe” were my orders. After about 20 minutes Ola finally arrived with two of two different maps. We sat and studied the maps for a few minutes trying to locate Step’s house, our hostel, on some tiny street. But gave up to instead go to a wifi café to look it up.
I had barely eaten so it was good that we went to look for Wifi since we simultaneously found a great restaurant. In Spain they don’t do rice like they do in the Hispanic restaurants in the US so I was super excited for such a basic staple plus the fish wasn’t half bad either.
We had an idea of where the hostel was but just wanted to make sure so we asked as we went making sure to stay on the right track. We were getting pretty close and popped into a café/pub that was dead and asked them; before I could finish the guys said, “we are a café not a tourist info center”, in an economic crisis especially one as bad as Portugal’s you would think these would be the friendliest business owners ever… you can guarantee that they lost my business… I have never had that happen to me on any of my trips. Anyway, it served for an endless joke every time we thought about asking for directions.
Our hostel, Steps House, is a block from the river up about 50 steps, tucked back in a tiny alley. We were let in and shown around the hostel, which is the nicest hostel I have ever been in. It is more like a 3 story 3 bedroom house done in IKEA, modern, clean lines, with a bit of warmth from some furniture and wooden floors. The place was remodeled 2 years ago and is still in great shape despite thousands of people going in and out day after day.
After checking in we went back out to explore; Ola wanted to show me the bridge that was designed by Eifel and some old houses. Getting to these houses was tricky and a workout, having to climb stair after stair, but the view was worth it. Then we crossed the bridge on the top section, which if for people and the tram; the bottom is for cars and people. I took some pictures but the wind was blowing too much and it was too cold so we headed back.