Use code SXZRYS at checkout for a special 10% discount off markup until 11/14/19!
The next stop was Coimbra and a few other towns heading North. Lovely, but the usual travel stuff. First, had to find a budget place to stay, then look for some food, then look up in the guide book or maybe ask around on the street what unique things Coimbra is known for, then wander around aimlessly. Finally, I’d dare adventure fate to take the reins. The usual.
Might’ve called it too quick, but after a good hike around the town, checking out the University campus, and a couple of the parks… it basically just felt like any other cozy college town. Small bars and coffee shops, pretty landscape, and mostly quiet. Figured it might take more time to find any potential adventure than I’d afforded to this one location. I’d only stopped in Coimbra sort of randomly on the way North anyway. Not even sort of randomly. Literally at random. I met another traveler who said he liked to jump on a bus going anywhere, then get off at one of the stops randomly. Sounded cool and so I tried it out with Coimbra.
Definitely, a lovely place to go to school and live, but wasn’t quite giving me that adventurous edge I was hoping for. Pleasant, but decided to cut bait and keep on moving North toward Porto.
When I made it to Porto, near the border with Spain and the Northernmost port city in Portugal... named after and known for its delicious port wine, I felt the travel magic start to kick in much stronger.
I’m not even entirely sure of the moment the travel vibe shifted from rote to full-on mystique. Might’ve got a hint of it in the ancient Porto train station as I gazed at the giant clock’s antique second hand begin to move in what I began to perceive in slow motion. Or, it could be when I took the train for the day, passing through the vineyards in the rainy emerald green countryside. I looked out the back window of the last train car, through the raindrops collecting on the glass... the vineyard-lined tracks appeared to fall away faster than the train was actually moving.
It’s bizarre how the perception of time can so drastically change in psychedelic ways when you’re traveling. It speeds up and slows down in ways that can sometimes induce mild vertigo. That’s when you know it’s about to get good.
The moment in Porto that was likely the strongest trigger happened later that day and is also the most vivid.
The port of Porto is fed by the sea and into the Douro river. The sides of the Douro are lined with tug boats, colorful architecture, and lovely silver bridges. You can wander all day along both sides and will perpetually be presented with the most amazing views across the Douro from just about any point of view.
Near the mouth of the Douro are dozens of places where you can taste fine port wine from various vintners for only a few euro. This is what I’d spend the afternoon doing after the train returned from the vineyards. The sun was now out and the sky defined the words Royal Blue. Contrasted with the colorful tug boats and architecture… it was simply sublime.
Tried to keep my wits about me and pace myself with regard to the wine tasting. The port wine was so incredibly divine that this conservative task of pacing myself was hopelessly futile. Before I knew it, I was so intoxicated that walking and remaining upright had become a bit of a challenge.
Luckily, while I could still mostly function I realized the beautiful warm light falling all over the uniquely curved and stacked architecture. I knew this would be my last chance to get some final photos before moving on into Spain in the morning so it was time to voluntarily cut myself off from the sweet port nectar.
Meandered and wobbled my way into the shadowy passageways decorated with flourishes of laundry hung to dry with pigeons swirling about. I could mostly still function well enough to compose a few quick images. I hadn’t counted on the buildings blocking the majority of the best golden light rays streaming across the city. Most of the corridors had already fallen into the darkest shade.
I panicked that because I’d once again been too lazy and not bothered taking the needed time to capture this special place. Started darting quickly from passageway to passageway, desperate for any bit of leftover light I could find. Moving like an early evening moth drawn to the last diminishing pockets of sunset light. There! I spotted a final sliver of amber rays shooting down a long dark tunnel. I quickly made my way toward the end and when I popped out the other side, I was instantly blinded by last rays of sun burning directly into my retinas.
Tried to shield my eyes but couldn’t see anything at all until several seconds later when they finally acclimated. Reached into my pocket for a cigarette and lit it to kill time. At this point, I was reserved to the fact I’d have to give up. I’d lazily let the day slip away and wasn’t going to get anything decent after the sunset. And, I didn’t have the time or funds to stay on another day. Besides, had I stayed another day, I’d have likely tried to do the exact same port wine tour I’d just done and would make the same mistake again. I know myself too well.
Inhaled the cigarette and exhaled slowly, watching the last of the rays dance in the swirling smoke. There was a sound that I couldn’t quite make out. Sounded like small seeds or small pebbles being shaken onto a big tin plate. I looked to my right. My eyes had finally adjusted and noticed that the last shaft of sunset light was illuminating an old Portuguese woman standing on her balcony tossing refuse down below. It was as if she was in a theater with the main spotlight illuminating her. The sound I heard was whatever she was tossing from her balcony, landing on a large tin roof below. There were about a dozen cats scrambling across the tin roof for the discarded treats. I could also now hear the cats meowing and scrambling for the best bits. A large, lone seagull watched the cats from above as sentry and I noticed the shaft of light diminishing rapidly as it moved past the opening between the buildings.
Didn’t even have time to check my camera settings or consciously frame the image. Still partially blinded, I raised my camera up quickly, turned it vertically to my right side and blindly snapped one image. Then, just like that, the magnificent light was gone and the old woman went back inside her home. The cats scattered away and the seagull flew off.
Frantically checked to see if I got the lucky shot. I had. This was the precise moment the pure travel magic truly kicked in.—Skip Hunt
(from Absinthe Carousel - A Novela by Skip Hunt - Available as ebook on Apple Books + In Print and on Kindle at Amazon + As a PDF Download from skiphuntphoto.com
I don’t get to order that many prints for myself unless I’m getting something as a gift or a new photo for my portfolio.
Every time I order a new print for myself, or anyone else for that matter… from the second I submit the order I get a tingle on the back of my neck anticipating opening it up. And, no matter how fast the printer can get it completed and delivered, it’s never fast enough. That feeling when you see it for the first time after you’ve carefully removed it from the shipping container is magnificent. It is for me at least.
I’ve decided to try something a little different than what I’ve done in the past. I’m going to have a little flash sale. It’s my very first one so I’m going to keep it simple. It’s just one image, one size, and luster paper finish. The shipping is included if it’s delivered in the U.S. (for international orders, message me and I’ll see what I can do)
This one will be discounted significantly from my normal pricing and you’ll be ordering it directly from me. I’ll fill the order and have it shipped to whichever address you provide on the form. Since I haven’t done this before, and because it is a “flash sale”, it’s only going to be available for a few days.
Click to See Special Limited "Cat Feed" Flash Sale!