Travel update: A near miss / crackheadageddon. I got to Porto yesterday evening as planned, it was difficult not to notice that there was a collection of homeless getting charity meals given to them at the top of the street I’m staying on (although I was glad to see them getting meals) My ‘hotel’ (I use the term very loosely) is right next to the central station and with Dublin’s homeless issue it (very sadly) wasn’t a new sight to me. I grabbed an early night so was bright & breezing this morning & ready to go. As soon as I got to the cathedral I was accosted by a particularity aggressive beggar but she was in her 40s and about 5 foot so I wasn’t shaken cause I reckoned if it came to it I could take her 🙂 After a look around I decided to go for a wander through the backstreets down to the river & pick up the tourist trail again down there. There’s lots of little cobbled alleyways (similar to the Alfama district in Lisbon which was lovely) and this whole area is, once again, a UNESCO site so I was confident it was safe enough. As I headed down one street at around 11:30 this morning though my, lets call it ‘travel sense’ kicked in & I felt a bit uncomfortable so I ducked into a little shop to get a bottle of water. I exchanged some basic pleasantries in broken Portuguese with the 2 clearly local old ladies inside, bought a bottle of water then left with plans to retrace my steps. It was after I left the shop I realised the source of my unease. I was being watched, but not just by one person. There were 3 or 4 ropy looking blokes watching me very closely from various points on the street and no one else around (I’ve worked in enough city centre pubs to recognise a crackhead when I see one) Realising I needed to get off that road quickly I ducked down a side road towards a busy looking square, and I was right, it was busy. Because that’s where there were either 3-4 groups of about 4 people each (I didn’t stop to count) all smoking crack pipes. I did that turn around without breaking stride thing so many sitcoms have taught me. I was thinking I’d need to make a run for it but when I got back to the first street there was one of the old ladies from the shop. She must have seen the panic on my face as she stopped & asked where I was trying to get to. I said (well, mimed) the river & she motioned to go to the end of the street & go left. Then she looked up, shouted something in Portuguese and the lads tracking me scattered leaving the route free. Not 20 meters later I was back on the main road trying to figure out wtf just happened. I’ve decided to stay on the main roads in Porto.


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