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27.12.97 - Travelling to Porto

After sleeping the night of the 26th away on the metal seats in CDG airport in Paris we boarded the 7am flight from Paris to Porto in Portugal. The flight was delayed because the black box failed or something - no big deal. Slept most of the way to Porto - it's easy to sleep in bad places when you're thoroughly exhausted.

We got off the plane and it was a bright, sunny day outside! We were all very excited about seeing sun again after weeks in grey, miserable Paris and London weather. We caught a bus into Porto city (which was a fair distance from the airport) and then caught a taxi to the hostel (or where the hostel was meant to be). Unfortunately the hostel had moved and we were forced to catch the same taxi to its new location.

We checked in to the hostel, which was nice but a little institutional (which we would find HI (Hostels International) hostels were generally like) and wandered down to the river to wander around for a bit. We walked down the river to the ocean and along the coast for a bit and then cut back up the hill back towards the hostel. After we got back I crashed straight away, sleeping for 14 hours or so -- I must have had a lot of sleep to catch up on!

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28.12.97 - Day 2 in Porto

We wanted to see the city, but it was pouring down with rain all day which really sucked! Plus it was Sunday and everything was shut in what seems like a very religious city (everyone seemed to be in church). We gave up after only a few hours and spent the rest of the day indoors and ate a huge dinner that night -- we ate a big vegetarian pasta dish we made ourselves which wasn't bad considering.. We spent the rest of the night just chatting with some of the people from the hostel.

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29.12.97 - Departing Porto, Arrive Lisbon

We planned on visiting the Internet Café in Porto but ended up not having enough time - had to go straight to the train station
"I lost my fucking Eurail ticket!! I threw it in the bin in the hostel thinking it was a Eurostar ticket! I'll find out tomorrow if it is recoverable, otherwise it is $450 down the drain!" - mark
Eurail tickets look just like Eurostar tickets. Unfortunately for me I had decided to clear out my travel wallet, throwing out all my used Eurostar tickets and my Eurail ticket with it. The Eurail ticket was meant to cover all my travel through Europe - guess that plan is down the drain..

We got off the train in Lisbon and checked into the HI hostel there (we would learn later that HI hostels suck). We wandered around the city for a bit which has some quite nice parts, we found a really cheap Internet Café and got our email hit for the week.

30.12.97 - Laundry

We didn't do anything much of note in Lisbon today but wash our needy clothes. It had been approaching emergency conditions on the clothes front and we were all glad for the opportunity to have our clothes clean again. We wandered around for a bit but didn't see anything of particular note except perhaps a castle near the city which actually kind of sucked because it was under renovation and not particularly attractive to look at - good view of the city though.

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Lisbon was quite a nice city, I preferred it to Porto which was just plain dead, especially with all that pouring rain all the time. Perhaps we should have flown straight into Lisbon rather than Porto, or maybe even Madrid which is where we were heading next.

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We caught the overnight train out of Lisbon after many desperate and frustrating phone-calls by myself to the hostel in Porto in a fruitless attempt to recover my Eurail ticket. We ended up having to take a major detour on the train to get to Madrid since the direct train was full - it took us 15 hours of travel to get to Madrid. We got no sleep on the train or during the midnight stopover at some small town in Spain (or was it in Portugal?) where the guard kicked us off the floor and made us sit on the wire-frame seats where sleep was all but impossible.

We almost missed our connection from the stopover when we didn't realise we had passed through a time zone and thought we still had an hour before our train was to depart. I only figured out at the last second that the train sitting at the station was, in fact, our train and that it was, in fact, just about to depart. We all ran for the train and completed our journey.

Document: 971227.shtml
Published: 13.08.98
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