On Monday morning I got up bright and perky to walk down into the centre of Figueira to buy milk to carry to Vigo with is. Because of our travel arrangements - we had decided that the train travel was no more convenient than accepting the offered lift to Porto to catch the bus to Spain - we were going to arrive in Vigo well after everything had shut up for the evening, especially as Spanish time is an hour ahead of Portuguese time. Goodness, I had only just adjusted to putting the clocks back an hour as we do every year around the end of October and now I am having to adjust to going forward an hour. And in just over a week and a half I’ll be putting all our timepieces back again to British time. No wonder my sleep pattern gets confused!
As I walked past the breakfast room of the hotel I noticed that all the curtains were closed. That did not bode well. On the previous Monday, and the Tuesday for that matter, breakfast had not been available in the hotel and we had had to go out for coffee and croissants. So on my return to the hotel I asked the receptionist, “Is there no breakfast in the hotel this morning?” “Yes!” she replied, getting my hopes up. “Yes, there is no breakfast.” I guess her English is only a little less limited than my Portuguese.
So I gave Phil the bad news and we went up the hill and down the other side in the hopes of finding the ”pastelaria Dionisio” open. They were closed on the previous Monday and this Monday was the same. I suppose they work all weekend and have Monday as their day of rest! But how very annoying! We had to go elsewhere for inferior pastries. So it goes.
We were being collected at 4.00pm from the hotel for the drive to Porto and so we had time to stroll out for lunch once we had checked put of the room. Giving everything a last sweep I noticed that we had almost left behind the charger for the laptop! Oops! Almost a nasty inconvenience. As we were a little early for lunch we strolled about in the sunshine, admiring the blue sea, declaring ourselves to have been very fortunate with the weather after a very inauspicious start to our stay in Figueira, arriving in a rainstorm!
We went back to the little Búzio restaurant where we have been several times before, twice on this visit. Now that I know that Búzio means whelk, the restaurant sign makes sense: it’s a whelk shell, of course. The waiter/owner was very chatty, telling me some tale about his cat, a tale I only half understood but I suppose his willingness to talk to me indicates that maybe my Portuguese has improved. Dump me here for a month or two and I’d be chattering away, shshing and zhzhing and making nasal vowel sounds with the best of them. We were offered some very tasty bacalao (codfish) croquettes, which a good friend of mine now assures me you can buy on a stall in Oldham market, a Portuguese-Brazilian fast food outlet. Small world syndrome strikes again!
At four o’clock, we and several other stragglers from the chess tournament set off for Porto. Our driver had already done a drive to Lisbon in the morning with another group. No wonder he had wanted to delay setting off for Porto until 4.00. We were dropped off at Casa da Musica, an impressive building, knowing that our bus “interface” was nearby, close to the metro station. But where exactly was the metro station? Eventually we found a helpful person to show us the way and then looked in dismay at the bleak set of three bus-bays, with little seating or shelter and about an hour to wait until the bus was due.
Wandering back along our route a little I spotted a cafe “Punto 2” so went along for “meias de leite” - white coffee - and “queiques” - cakes. Their payment system consisted of giving customers a little plastic card, credit card sized, which presumably held data about what had ordered. You took it along to the cash desk, where the data was read and they told you how much you owed. Clever stuff! Well, I was impressed anyway!
And so, late in the evening we arrived at the Vigo flat, which had that closed-up smell places get when left unoccupied for a some time. And we sat and shivered for a while with all the windows open. It’s a good job I had bought milk so that we could be very British and make a cup of tea.
And now begins the process of sorting out our belongings, getting rid of stuff we don’t need, and making the place ship shape so we can claim back the not inconsiderable deposit we paid on moving in. I suspect, though, that we’ll find time for some walks here and there, some visits to old friends and the like, before we say farewell to Calle Aragón and our 7th floor flat overlooking the bay - where a huge cruise ship was dwarfing the port area this morning! Nothing changes, not even in times of Covid!
Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone.