8 September 2010

Old men in speedo's - Porto [Day Two]

It was a weird (but amazing) sensation to be staying in a hostel, and being able to stay in bed. Normally I only stay a weekend, and am up at 9am to pack and check out. Today, I was the hungover guy that gets to lye in bed while everyone else has to drag their asses up and out the door. Bliss.

My plan for the day consisted of only one thing - the beach. Living in London for the last 18 months has meant extremely limited beach action, and intended to make the most of it. When I woke at about 10am, the weather outside was decidedly average - warm but not hot and plenty of grey clouds hanging around. So I didn't feel to guilty about going back to sleep for another hour.

When I finally resurfaced, the weather was not much better, but the helpful staff informed me that it was due to clear up during the afternoon. It was also forecast to rain the following day - so it was now or never. I made my way down to the bus stop and proceeded to wait at least 40 minutes for the bus. Little did I know, but the outward journey was to be much, MUCH better than the return.

I got off the bus about 1km too early, but it was all coastline so I decided to go for a walk up along the beach. There were lots of people around (mainly older men in speedo's... *shudder*), sunbathing on the sand or swimming in the water. Most of the beach was covered in huge rocks, only leaving small bays of sandy shoreline.

The further I walked, the less rocks there were, until finally I was faced with a huge golden beach, covered in people, umbrellas, sun chairs, and row upon row of colourful beach tents. I relaxed, read my book, watched people play in the surf. All in all, a nice, relaxing afternoon. There was also a few cool structures around - the photographer in me couldn't pass up the opportunity...

The city park is just across the road, so I went to take a look. On the way finding this massive red... thing... in the middle of the roundabout. No idea what it is about, or what it means - even a quick search on the internet didn't turn up much, but I thought it was quite impressive, so took a snap to show ya'all. I had imagined the park being nice green grass, trees, maybe a small lake. This (below) is what I got. Yeah, I decided to flag.

Sitting at the bus stop, watching three, four, maybe even five of every other bus number go past was extremely frustrating. After probably 90 minutes mine finally came. Maybe I expect too much of european public transport? Anyway, it was one of the most strange bus rides I have ever taken. When I got on the bus was full. I didn't take much notice, just stood and stared out the window. We then stopped a short while later where there was a group of about 30 old (I mean OLD) people waiting to get on. At a squeeze, everyone was on. This was when I started looking around. I could not find one other 'young' - I use this term loosely, I'm talking sub 40 - people on the bus. Next stop - another massive group of old people! This was just plain weird. And there was one old lady with a 20kg bag of onions. Was this a dream? They all squeeeeezed on. It was like being in a mosh pit at an Engelbert Humperdinck concert. Not pretty.

After my surreal bus trip, I made my way back to the hostel, where this evening it was €1.30 mojito's! As I knew the weather was meant to be wet for the following day, after a couple of drinks I decided to go out and take a few photos of the city at night. The buildings around Aliados were amazing. I also visited the Igreja dos Clerigos - a church built in the 1700's which is the cities most famous monument.

While wandering the streets I came across the most innovative beggars I have ever experienced. One woman came up to me and started with 'I'm not crazy'. Good opening I guess. They all speak English very well - better than most of the people in the souvenir shops. They also have some 'interesting' stories, and have a never give up attitude. You find yourself just throwing €1 at them so they will just leave you alone. 10 minutes later I was again offered hash - two from two, not bad!

That wraps up day two, stay tuned for day three.

Next Post - 'On the Port in Porto'

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