On the phone, I wait as I am transferred from one person to another and listen to Portugal’s version of Muzak in between. Eventually, I’m able to communicate in English and learn once again that there is no way to get to Madrid from Aveiro.
Returning to Lisbon feels emotionally out of the question, so I make the seemingly logical choice to travel north to Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. From there, my guidebook informs me, one can travel by train to Madrid. Surely, a city that size will have a direct route.
I return to the bus station to buy a ticket to Porto, I am directed once again, to confusion. The only bus to Porto is on Saturdays, several days away. The ticket master adds that it would be much better to go by train.
Returning to the train station I’m told the only train to Porto leaves at 5 a.m., an ungodly hour. There’s too much to do to get to the train on time; besides, I don’t like the idea of walking to the train at that time.
Before I leave this scheduling nightmare I stubbornly ask one more person, this time at the opposite end of the lobby, and I score a goal!
Not only do I buy a ticket, but I also discover that each end of the train station sells tickets only to their own trains. They’re competitors! Neither company mentions the schedules of the others, nor do they suggest or direct me to the bus office. I additionally learn that trains leave for Porto every hour all day long. I can leave whenever I choose.
After a leisurely morning I leave this “Venice of Portugal” that is rich with canals, bridges and beautiful tiles. With ticket in hand, I now have the time to appreciate the beauty of where I am.
The railroad station that yesterday caused so much grief consists of white walls stretching up to the balconies, porticos and multiple red-tiled roofs. Blue and white azuelos line the lower floor—both inside and out—with scenes of history, the countryside and village life.
These days the train station is a protected monument and worthy of my notice. How nice it appears today, when viewed in such a different light. As I change my viewpoint, I change my view.
In reality, it takes less time to get to Porto than it did for me to find out how to get here in the first place. As soon as I arrive I buy a ticket to Madrid and quickly learn that the only way to do that is to go south, back through Aveiro to Lisbon, then take the train that leaves from 10 p.m.—the train I originally did not want to take.