Day 2 – On a Porto Mountain Tour
Tuesday, 20th June
As we explored Porto yesterday, I wondered what this place looked like before there were houses here. Before the first settlers, Porto was a paradise for free climbers, rope climbers and mountain walkers of all kinds. The world's mountaineering elite would have trained here. Plans would probably have been in the works to snow the area here on a large scale so that extreme skiers could also get their money's worth. All this was prevented by the fact that 4000 years ago some madman started building here. Just 4000 years ago, the area was not as densely populated as it is today. A building site would have been free to choose.
If someone here told me something was only a hundred metres away, the first thing I would ask is whether it was metres in height.
The city is insane. Incredibly beautiful. Although there are a lot of cars here, there is very little honking. The car lanes are very narrow, but the buses are very high. Almost only double-deckers. Reason enough to get into one and see the whole thing from above.
Promptly we experienced an extreme situation. A bus came towards ours. I prepared myself for the worst. The oncoming bus was waiting at a convenient spot. Due to the hilly location, it must be very difficult to plan all roads in such a way that two large buses can pass each other comfortably. I didn't expect this harmless bus ride to degenerate into a research mission.
Mein Platz ganz oben war weise gewählt. Ich konnte das Manöver genau beobachten: Unten war der Abstand zwischen den Bussen etwa einen Meter, oben nur noch handbreit. Dass das unfallfrei geklappt hat, hat mich dabei weit weniger erstaunt, als die Tatsache, dass alle Verkehrsteilnehmer dabei ruhig geblieben sind. Keiner bekam einen roten Kopf, es wurde nicht rüde gestikuliert und ich habe nicht ein Schimpfwort gelernt. Eine ziemlich magere Ausbeute für so ein Ereignis.
But I didn't have to buy a bus ticket to cause a traffic jam. Any conventional cyclist can successfully hold up traffic because no one can overtake. So far, I've spotted exactly one cycle lane. In all other streets, cyclists, cars and buses share the lane. I don't know who to admire the most: The bus drivers who manoeuvre their huge vehicles through the streets without a scratch, the car drivers who don't honk their horns, or the cyclists who set an amazing pace in this hilly world.
I should have been suspicious of Matthias' holiday plans. After our holiday, he still wants to go out with his climbing friends. So far, he has always trained diligently in the weeks before such a tour. Of course Coesfeld is unsuitable for this. But Porto is. In the meantime, I discovered my climbing boots in his hand luggage suitcase. Probably more places await me where friends of mountain sports settled a very long time ago.