There actually is “life after the Camino!” It isn’t easy, though, because there are no yellow arrows pointing the way. The Camino is a “no brainer” in that respect. We never had to figure out where we were going; we were shown. Now it takes a lot more effort to get around. We’ve landed in two cities – Porto and Lisbon – and were so utterly confused about where to go. Why is it that street names don’t appear on our maps and why street names on our maps can’t be found on street corners!?
We did no research about the rest of Spain or Portugal because all our focus was on the Camino. These extra days before we fly back to Canada on November 12th were “just in case” our Camino journey was longer than we expected due to shin splints, blisters, sore this or that, etc.
We spent two nights in Santiago (not quite long enough to see everything) and we didn’t get to the end of the earth, Finisterre, due to the rain that drove us away. We were southward bound, looking for sunshine.
A four-hour bus trip from Santiago brought us to Porto, famous for (what else?) port wine. What a picturesque, historic city it is, with the Duoro River flowing by.
We took an all-day train/boat excursion up the Duoro River valley, where their famous grapes are grown on terraces. It was a beautiful, sunny day (the first we’d seen for awhile) and the last regular excursion for the season. We went up the river as far as Regua by train and cruised down the river through two dams/locks. It was twilight by the time we returned to the city and came under the its many bridges.
One of the bridges, the Dom Luís I Bridge is a double-decked metal arch bridge that spans the Douro River. At the time of construction its span of 172 metres was the longest of its type in the world.
The government held a competition for the construction of a metal bridge over the Douro River on a site that was adjacent to an existing bridge that it would replace. Téophile Seyrig had engineered the D. Maria Pia Bridge project nearby, while working as a partner of Gustave Eiffel. He took sole responsibility for the new, major Luís I Bridge. The construction was begun in 1881, the upper deck opened in 1886, and the lower deck opened in 1887.
After three nights in Porto, we took the train to Lisbon. It ended up being one of those days that was going so wrong for awhile, that it is hard to believe it turned out right in the end. We were so confused by the lack of information at the Oriente station that we took one of the first trains out of the city and landed in Sintra. Each station we stopped at en route we thought, “Oh no! This is a huge mistake! We can’t wait to get home.”
But here we are in Sintra at a fantastic little hotel perched high off the main street with palaces all around. What an amazing, picturesque, quieter place to be. Tomorrow we’ll explore.