Country no. 17

Trip Start Feb 22, 2005
Trip End Feb 11, 2006

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Flag of Portugal  ,
Thursday, October 27, 2005

Well here I am now in country number 17, Portugal, I arrived late last night in Porto and then managed to sleep in about 3 hours after I'd hoped to get up this morning so I haven't seen as much as I probably should have so far but what I've seen so far has been impressive. Porto is the second largest city in Portugal is only just inland on the Nw coast and the hostel I'm staying at is just west of the city centre so is in sight of the coast with a great view over the Rio Douro. All I've done so far is aimlessly wander the streets of Porto which I didn't realise until I picked up a tourist map from the tourist info, is largely a world heritage sight. The town is full old quite run down looking buildings but they still maintain what I guess you would call their 'rustic' charm, with lots of narrow hilly streets threading their way around the town. Some parts are almost reminiscent of some places I saw in china, with some rather shabby looking buildings with washing hangin out the balconies and what not. While I say they look shabby though, I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, it gives the place a rather different feel to the rest of western europe which I guess illustrates the fact that Portugal is still somewhat poorer than the rest of western Europe. I really didn't know what to expect arriving here in Portugal but what I have seen so far is quite impressive, along with all the old buildings, Porto itself has quite a dramatic landscape, with quite a steep river valley running throug the middle and some terrific views over the city from in between the hill top buildings. For the engineers there is a very impressive bridge running across the river which would have to be about 100m above the water at a guess, and today while I was walking along the river I looked up and saw one car on its roof and another half off it's truck. I don't know the details of it but obviously one of those trucks that carries new cars around (I don't know if they have a specific name) had had an accident and lots it's payload in the middle of this bridge 150m above the water, pretty hairy I'd imagine!!! It fits with what you hear about the roads in Portugal though, portugal is supposed to have the worst road fatality rate in Europe.
Anyway, I guess I'd better get back out there touristing it up and hopefully I'll some more interesting stuff to fill you in on in a couple of days.
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