Monday, May 01, 2006

Viana do Castelo.

What a charming little town. Decided to stay here a day, instead of pedalling off immediately, what with the lure of the beaches, the nice peaceful town center, but most importantly, because I knew this would be the last Portuguese city I would be able to spend any time in before crossing onto Spain, and there were a couple of errands I still needed to run and loose ends to tie up (I wanted, for instance, to obtain a CD from famous fado singer Amalia Rodrigues, which I forgot to do in Porto, and once outside of Portugal seemed difficult to find).

One of the interesting things in Viana do Castelo is the hospital ship Gil Eannes (see pictures here), which is docked here for visiting after being retired back in 1974 (when it was to be sold for scrap! Luckily the citizens of Viana rescued it before that happened...). This ship serviced the cod fishing industry, running along and helping any injured fishermen it could find, and unlike most generic ships you can visit in almost any port city, this one is very nicely organized inside with engaging exhibits and explanations, and of course since it was a hospital ship the way of adapting hospital equipment to sea life was quite interesting, for as you know hospitals require a high level of hygene and technology that is not usually practical in your typical ship (the picture above, by the way, is a little present for you Trimble folks, I'm sure you've caught that, of course ;))

Another neat thing about the Gil Eannes is that it has been turned into a Youth Hostel. Cool, huh? Unfortunately, stupid Let's Go guide neglects to mention this very curious and exciting fact, with the result that I ended up staying at the other Youth Hostel in Viana do Castelo (a very nice YH nonetheless, I think it is the best I have stayed in so far in Portugal). I have a feeling, that these Harvard folks don't update their trademark guide as often as they claim (supposedly once a year?), or if they do, they miss important stuff, and their history and culture blurbs suck, and so therefore I think this is no longer my favorite guide after all. Yeah, I'm moving to The Rough Guide next at the earliest opportunity. I'll let you know how that one goes.


Speaking of tourist guides, if you recall from Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the best advice Arthur Dent ever got was: "Bring a towel". You know what the best advice Arthur Dent never got was?

"Bring a spoon".

Otherwise, how else do you get to eat the yogurt and pudding and other various and sundry things you may buy at the supermarket on a lazy afternoon in a little beach town? And everyone always brings a pocket/penknife on trips, especially if "roughing it", and fingers may substitute for forks, but a spoon is a different matter, and not so easy to improvise. So far, I've been "borrowing" the spoons from the Youth Hostel kitchens at breakfast, and return them promptly before leaving. But if things continue like this, and I don't find a shop where I can buy just one instead of the full set of cutlery for 4, the way it is commonly sold, I think I may just have, as nefarious and shameless as it sounds, to simply "borrow one indefinitely" one of these days...

1 comment:

Gurcan said...

Yes, we do read your blog...err... sometimes.
But, at this speed, you will never make it to Istanbul due to continental drift...