Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   down the Lamego steps
Wednesday, November 22 2023

Room 215 on the Andorinha on the Douro River in Pocinho, Portugal

I woke up early, before dark, and went up to the deck to see the situation we'd spent the night in. Out boat had been tied up against another similar boat, making it so one would have to walk through that boat to get to ours (a fairly common thing among riverboats).
It had been cloudy and a little cool for most of the cruise, but once we'd gone to Salamanca, skies were clear and conditions were warm enough for people to enjoy lounging outside, at least in the Douro Valley.
We spent most of the morning going down the Douro through a series of locks, ultimately ending up at the city of Peso da Régua, where, Carmem pointed out, the highest bridge across the Douro is located.
At lunch, Gretchen and I were dining with that older British couple from Valencia and talking mostly about pickpockets, which came up yesterday when Carmem warned us about them being a problem at the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca. I told the story of witnessing a purse snatcher in Lisbon. But the British couple had a couple stories of their own, including one where a pickpocket apparently chickened out and returned her purse to her (discreetly dropping it on the floor next to her) without taking anything from it. It didn't make any sense for the pickpocket to double his risks by stealing and then returning the purse, but perhaps he was worried he'd been observed doing it.
Eventually we docked in Peso da Régua. Gretchen had arranged with Cathy & Simon, the retired flight attendant couple from Chichester, for us to take a taxi to Lamego, skipping the expensive bus excursion most of the other people on the boat would be taking there. But then when we were trying to figure out how to order a taxi while all the others were boarding the excursion bus, Dirk (the guy who runs the excusions) was irritated by the delay we were somehow causing. Dirk loves Simon, and eventually he said we could just with the others who had paid for excusion, treating the bus as a "free shuttle." So there we were, back in the bus, listening to Carmem natter on about, for example, the big Sandeman cutout at the crest of one of the hills along the way. (Years ago when I bought Gretchen a bottle of port for Christmas, I wrote "ENTER" above the Sandeman logo, thereby making a bit of word play connecting one Portugal's biggest wine companies to America's biggest heavy metal band.) Gretchen nearly lost it when Carmem told us that the little villages high on the mountainside were in fact reachable by roads, some of which were big and some of which were small.
Eventually our bus reached Lamego, and then climbed up through a forest of surprisingly big, tall trees (at least by European standards). There the bus disgorged everyone, with everyone but Simon, Cathy, Gretchen, and me going with Carmem to hear what she had to say while we checked everything out on our own. There's a tall, narrow chuirch in the baroque/rococo style at the top of the hill called Santu´rio de Nosssa Senhora dos Remédios. As we were about to walk into the church, there was a woman at the door to shush us and tell us not to take pictures. Inside, a service was happening, and it was being led (at least in part) by a woman. They tried to warn us what bra-burning would lead to! The interior and exterior of the church were predominantly white, which made it a lot less gloomy (and visually a bit of a disappointment compared to other churches we'd seen).
Leading downhill from the church in a straight line northeastward directly into the heart of Lamego is a long stairway featuring something like 1000 steps. Supposedly pilgrims occasionally climb these steps from the bottom in hopes of furthering their prayers for things like "new jobs." I need a new job, of course, so when we got to the bottom (it wasn't a difficult walk) Gretchen took some pictures of me climbing the steps on my knees. Along the way, we passed a number of interesting pieces of statuary and a strange rustic manmade cave complete with a staircase and balcony, all of it created with jumbles of random pieces of rock (all of which were now covered in moss). It looked like an early 19th Century attempt to recreate the majesty of nature, which is likely exactly what it was (since that was the "Romantic Period").
Down at the bottom, we walked to the Lamego Cathedral, where services were not ongoing and had a look around. Well, Cathy and Gretchen had a look around while Simon and I discussed our landlording adventures. Simon said that he had a management company find his tenants, and they take a 7% cut. He figures this is worth it, since he'd have trouble deciding on a good rate. As for the repairs, etc., he does all of those himself whenever possible. But in order to avoid getting sucked into the landlord-tenant vortex (which typically involves the tenant coming up with additional demands while the landlord is there), Simon claims to just be a contractor, hired to fix a specific issue.
Next we tried to find a place to get a drink, but we kept finding reasons not to go into various businesses. The first one we came across had some other people from our boat with Carmem, so kept walking. And then other places either featured too much meat or some other problem. Eventually, we found the perfect place. The only problem was a couple customers standing around blocking access to the bathroom I desperately needed to use (and I don't know what "excuse me" is in Portuguese). But I squeaked past them and by the time I got back to my friends, there was a Super Bock (not an especially good Portuguese beer) and a glass of champagne (technically it was a sparkling wine) waiting for me. A little later, the woman running the place gave us a complimentary bowl of salty lupini beans.
That was fun, but we didn't leave ourselves enough time to get to the rendezvous point with the tour bus, and by the time we got there, it was gone and nobody else from the boat was waiting. At first we thought we'd have to call an Uber, but the Carmem appeared out of nowhere to tell us the bus was parked around the back of one of the buildings and was waiting for us. She would've been well within her rights to pull a Bucharest on us, but she did not.

I don't remember who we had dinner with tonight, but after dinner Gretchen decided to watch Amsterdam on the cabin television. As I said to Gretchen later (only partially in jest) "I had too much talking and not enough explosions." It made both of us sleepy, and we didn't stay awake for the whole thing.

Fishermen on the Douro. Click to enlarge.

View from the back of our boat near Pocinho. Click to enlarge.

The train tunnel through the rock just upstream from the Valeira dam on the Douro River. Click to enlarge.

Another boat going upstream leaves the lock area as our boat prepares to enter that lock to go downstream. Click to enlarge.

Cormorants on the rocks below the Valeira dam. Click to enlarge.

Onlookers watching us go down in the Valeria lock. Click to enlarge.

Landscape with terraces along the Douro River. Click to enlarge.

The highest bridge across the Douro (and a lesser bridge as well) in Peso da Régua. Click to enlarge.

Statues at the hilltop church in Lamego, Santu´rio de Nosssa Senhora dos Remédios. Click to enlarge.

Outside of Santu´rio de Nosssa Senhora dos Remédios. Click to enlarge.

A fountain below the church. Click to enlarge.

A closeup of that fountain. Click to enlarge.

That rustic Romantic fountain made of random rocks. Click to enlarge.

Simon below the rustic fountain. Click to enlarge.

The outside of the Lamego Cathedral. Click to enlarge.

A Madonna in the cathedral. Cathy joked that she was "Madonna Scissorhands." Click to enlarge.

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