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When I first bought my fabulous Osprey Tempest 30 Mystic Magenta (don’t you just LOVE that name!) backpack I decided to name it Pepe. I wanted to take something with me on my first Camino that would be in remembrance of my Mom who died 34 years ago at the age of 52 and never had the opportunities I have had, or been able to do some of the amazing activities I have done or been to places I’ve been. So I wanted to take her (my Mom), on pilgrimage with me to Portugal and Spain when I walked my first Camino.

packing for the camino, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, solo travel for women over 60, walking over 60, preparing for the camino

However, bearing in mind that weight is an issue, I was reluctant to carry anything more than I absolutely had to, so I decided that I would give my backpack a name, something that signified memories I had of my childhood and something powerful that was linked to my Mom. So Pepe it is……

The back story to this is that when we were very young; 7 (me) & 4 (my sister) and just after my parents divorced, my Mom got us a dog. A little sausage dog. We named him Pepe after a little donkey I had seen in a film my Mom and I went to after my Grandmother’s funeral. Over the years we had a number of sausage dogs named Pepe and each had a number added; Pepe then Pepe 2 then Pepe 3. After that I don’t recall having any more sausage dogs, although we did have many pets in our lives. Pepe was reserved for a special time.

So every day while I was walking, with Pepe on my back, I thought of my Mom. Buen Camino Mommy.

In the meantime, besides the daily repacking on the Camino, I have repacked Pepe 3 times since I got back. Needless to say I’m preparing for my (unexpected) 2nd Camino; the Camino Ingles in September 2018. Unexpected because at the time I planned my 1st, I said I would do just the one and maybe another. Now I have 6 planned LOL It was that amazing.

To read more about my first Camino click the link 😉 Enjoy.

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About 6 months ago I decided to go ‘great’ free. I was having one of my ‘ffs I hate D. Trump’ days after one of his latest vicious bigoted narcissistic misogynistic rants on a video I saw on Facebook (why do I EVEN watch them???) One of his favourite words is ‘great’. So I decided there and then to never again use the word ‘great’ in any written articles, replies or responses to anything anywhere. Since I am a bit of a ‘linguaphile’ anyway, it suits me to try my darndest to find alternative words.

 

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English is such a magical language, it’s expressive, descriptive and manipulative, and by using certain words you can change the whole meaning of something e.g. I will toast my bread. If you do that you are toast! I particularly love/enjoy/like words that have the same spelling but have different meanings – consider the word ‘bow’ – depending on how you use it, it’s spelt the same, but has a different meaning in context of the action, and even the pronunciation changes accordingly:

Can you make a ‘bow’ out of this ribbon?

When you meet the Queen you must ‘bow’.

The front of the boat is the ‘bow’.

An archer shoots an arrow from his ‘bow’.

A whole sentence: When we loosen the bow, the Queen will smash the bottle against the bow of the ship, but remember to bow when she arrives or her archer will shoot you with their bow. hahahaha. I just made that up. I love it. 🙂

We have become incredible lazy when responding to a situation by using the word ‘great’ for just about anything…that’s a great hairdo. Your hair looks great. What a great party. I had a great walk. That was great fun. She’s such a great person. The sea looks great today….etc etc You get the picture. Urgh. Why do we use that simplistic word when we have so many interesting, splendiferous, expressive, descriptive words to use in the English language.

So here’s how we can change that:

That’s a great hairdo. = That’s a really stunning hair style, it suits you.

Your hair looks great. = Your hair is looking lovely today.

What a great party. = What a fantastic party. What an enjoyable party.

I had a great walk. = I had an enjoyable walk. I had an exhilarating walk.

That was great fun. = That was so much fun. That was terrific fun.

She’s such a great person. = She’s an admirable person. She’s so personable.

The sea looks great today = The sea looks beautiful/gorgeous/amazing today.

What a great day. = What a terrific/brilliant/superb day.

And so it goes. Since I made the decision to dispel that awful word from my vocabulary, when I’m replying to something on facebook or making a comment I try to find suitable words that are more descriptive, more expressive.Funny-Quotes-English-Language-1 - Mr Tumblr

When I write my blogs, I avoid the word great altogether. While writing this blog I did a google search ‘words to use rather than great’ and look at this ‘fun’ ‘funky’ ‘useful’ ‘brilliant’ ‘clever’ ‘interesting’ website I found 😉

111 words to use instead of great’ https://www.grammarcheck.net/synonyms-great/

I have managed very successfully to avoid using the word except now and then when I accidentally vocalise the word without thinking. Down with great I say….

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It’s exactly 2 months ago today since I arrived in Porto and although it’s taken a lot longer than I expected, I’ve now written about my fantastic stay in Porto, a wonderful day visit to Coimbra (recommended) and the first 6 days of my Camino 2017 from Porto to Valenca. Before I continue writing about the final 5 days walking in Spain, I thought I’d pause for reflection and consider what I learned and discovered along The Way on the Portuguese Coastal Route and The Portuguese Central Way (via Tui) from Porto to Santiago.

portuguese coastal route mapacoastal

The Portuguese Coastal and Central routes; Porto to Santiago de Compostela

Firstly I must just clarify that I didn’t walk the Camino for religious reasons, but rather to learn more about myself, and for the sheer adventure. I love walking and I love travelling, so the Camino was the perfect opportunity for me to combine the two. I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for ever such a long time and Porto was my desired destination, as well as which I love the ocean, so it made sense to start there and walk the Portuguese Coastal Route. But because I wanted to visit the walled town of Valenca and of course cross the famous bridge that I’d seen in photos and to also visit Tui, I decided to start off on the coastal route to Caminha and then head inland to Valenca and finish off along the Central Portuguese route to Santiago.

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I just wanna go on more adventures….

My goal was all about discovery. I wanted to see if this was something I could actually do. I’m a creature of habit and I love my home comforts. I get really grumpy when I have to get up early and/or go without my first cup of tea (usually preferred while relaxing in bed – with a couple of biscuits).

 

So it was going to be interesting to see how I would respond to both rising early and forgoing my cup of tea. I did take a packet of teabags with me….but in all the 21 days I was in Portugal and Spain I only used 6 teabags, and 4 of those were in Barcelona AFTER I finished the Camino 😉 So teabags won’t be on my packing list for 2018 then!

So although I didn’t walk for ‘religious’ reasons, I walked in the ‘spirit of learning’; about adventure and discovery, about what I can or cannot cope with, about the countries I walked through, and about their history. I walked with the aim of finding out how walking long distance, under sometimes challenging circumstances would affect me relating to my human spirit/spirituality or soul as opposed to relying on the usual material or physical things and my comfort zones. I could have planned a similar long walk in the UK but that would have fit in with my comfort zone….so Camino it had to be.

inspirational quotes

When it feel scary to jump….

I knew of and had read about the Camino in the past. My father had cycled various routes in his 70’s and 80’s and in 2005 we had toyed with the idea of doing a Camino together – except he wanted to cycle and I wanted to walk. So that never got off the ground. He died a couple of years ago, so that’s that in that area. In retrospect though, I doubt we would have made a success of it, we never really got on very well most of my life and being together day after day would not have been a picnic. However, my younger brother and one of my many younger sisters have cycled The Camino with my father, which is good. I have of course watched the 2010 film, The Way, with Martin Sheen and loved the idea of, but had no desire to walk the Camino Frances (then). Besides all that, I had been inspired to walk the Camino by someone I knew from 2009/2010; a lady in her mid 60’s who had walked the Camino Frances a few years before and loved it.

But because I planned on walking a different route, I didn’t have any preconceptions of how or what the route would be like beyond the fantastic photos I had seen on facebook and the many blogs I read before my September trip. I had read about how some people have major insights, or epiphanies, or religious experiences that changed their lives in a big way, but I wasn’t anticipating any of those and as it turns out, I didn’t have any.

But what I did have, was the joy of walking and being alone. I am a loner, I don’t have a large circle of friends and I am most certainly not a social butterfly; preferring my own company, social events are anathema to me. Even a tea-party or dinner out with a crowd gets me hot under the collar and I’d rather be ill in bed than have to attend a party. LOL

I had read that at certain points you encounter large crowds of people and apparently at the 100km mark (minimum distance required for the Compostela), the route is inundated with other walkers, but I didn’t find that at all, except for one day in Spain when I encountered a group of oldies on the way to Mos. But we soon parted company and in fact at many times I walked for up to 3-4 hours without seeing a soul except the odd local as I meandered by, or the occasional walker who whizzed on by at speed. So in all, the hours that I walked completely on my own suited me perfectly.

However, I did meet some wonderful people along the route in Portugal and spent an hour or so walking with a lovely couple from Poland; Jakob and Agata between Vila do Conde and Esposende. I was really sorry to lose touch with them after we parted ways for breakfast. But as mentioned in the blog, they were a lot younger than me, walked faster and were with a group of friends, and I dawdled a lot taking photos.

It was also going to be really interesting to find out how I felt about not having much by way of home comforts, about wearing the same clothes, not having the convenience of a washing machine, and carrying my belongings on my back day after day. My day job takes me all over the UK and I often get fed up with living out of a suitcase, so living out the backpack for 11 days was going to be a challenge…could I cope? How would I feel about not eating a proper breakfast? (you know what us English folks are like!! Full English and all that, or scrambled egg on marmite toast, but if not possible then oats and fruit, or granola and yoghurt with banana etc etc LOL). And I am not usually a coffee drinker…although the thought of pastries for breakfast every day filled me with joy!! 🙂 🙂 How would I manage? Weirdly it was these type of thoughts that I fretted about most prior to my Camino. Not would I be safe, not would I get blisters, not would I mind a mix-sex bathroom. No. My biggest worry was food!!

I am a magpie and a hoarder. I collect stuff all the time. I love books and am continually buying them (or should I say used to). Apparently my wealth profile is: ‘Accumulator’ – just a shame that didn’t apply to money!! If you saw my house in South Africa in 2001 pre UK, you’d know for sure that I collected ‘stuff’ – a lot of stuff. Since living in the UK the last 16 years, things carried on much the same…even though I arrived with very little, before long I was accumulating stuff; mementos, household items, linen, clothes and books; home comforts. But since I arrived back from my Camino, that has changed substantially. I had already started a few years ago cutting back on ‘buying’ and rather spent my money on travel and experiences like zip-lining. 🙂 which is quite simply awesome, and a must do again.

zip lining with zip world in london

zip lining with zip world in London. My daughter and I had so much fun

Cutting back on spending last year is the reason I had money for my Camino Journey, but now I’ve become quite militant about it. My daughter had already been discouraged from buying me things and has now been seriously encouraged/reminded to not buy me anything that I can’t eat, wear or experience.

inspirational quotes

Take a walk, not a pill….

So what did I learn along The Way?

  1. I can get up early and manage to not die without my first cup of tea…or any tea AT ALL for that matter. For someone who usually drinks 5-6 mugs full a day…
  2. I am fitter than I thought and certainly more agile.
  3. I can climb a mountain and survive.
  4. I can walk in the rain and survive, and I still loathe temperatures above 20 degrees centigrade.
  5. I really do love just being on my own and never once did I get lonely.
  6. I am not afraid.
  7. The scenery and the history of the places I walked through was more amazing than I imagined.
  8. I didn’t have any major epiphanies or insights or spiritual experiences.
  9. I’m still not religious.
  10. Although….I do and did love visiting the many churches along the two routes – so peaceful, real repositories of history, with a strong sense of spirituality.
  11. I can manage to live with only a bare minimum of life’s ‘necessities’.
  12. I loved calling out ‘Bom Caminho’ in Portugal and ‘Buen Camino’ in Spain, and getting a response in return…usually with a smile, especially from the locals.
  13. I enjoyed the brief connections I made with fellow pilgrims and locals; just enough to be fun, but not that long it got tedious.
  14. I can, if I make the effort, learn more of the native languages and managed to pick up quite a lot of extra words enroute. I’m currently learning more Spanish and my daughter is going to teach me to speak and listen comfortably before I go next year.
  15. I’m still an accumulator…..over 5,500 photos between 7-28th September bears witness to that LOL At least they’re light, albeit filling up my Dropbox.
  16. I really don’t want all the stuff I still have in my storage – in fact I nearly had a nervous breakdown when I returned home and saw all the boxes waiting. urgh.
  17. Food wise, I still stuck to what I know – like eating ‘tosta misto’ just about every day because I knew what was in it. And because I’m a ‘food coward’ I didn’t try the local ‘pulpo’ or anything too adventurous. LOL
  18. I left the maps behind, found my ‘Camino eyes’ on day 3 and never looked back.
  19. Despite my initial dislike of them, my walking poles became my best friend and my #1 item for future walks.
  20. After I reached Santiago, I could quite literally have just carried on walking…a bit like Forrest Gump, except I had a ticket to Barcelona booked for the 24th 😦
  21. Although it was tough at times, I loved every minute of the journey and even though I had NO PLANS AT ALL to walk a 2nd Camino before I started, I’m already planning for 2018, 2019 and 2020 – Camino Ingles, Camino Norte and Camino Frances respectively. Oh and not forgetting The Portuguese Central Route…I’m guessing that will have to be in 2021 hahahaha. Then there’s the Primitivo Route to think about…..hmmmm. The Camino bug has bitten.

So, having walked 240 kms through Portugal and Spain, would I recommend walking the Camino? Oh absolutely YES!!!! Is it for the faint-hearted? It can be if you allow yourself to open up and experience all it has to offer. It’s not a ‘walk in the park’, it’s tiring, and tiresome, it’s exhausting (especially if you mistakenly plan for long days e.g. 32 kms), but it’s interesting – the history is phenomenal and I really wish I’d had time to explore some of the towns more thoroughly. I’m planning shorter days for 2018. I have read about two nonagenarians (91 and 93 respectively) who have recently walked the Camino Frances, so pretty much anyone can walk it if they are of a mind to.

inspirational quotes

You are not too old and it is not too late

I would recommend packing light – somehow I managed to pack 11kgs which increased to 13kgs with my water-bladder filled. I don’t know how this came about as I weighed everything so carefully and totted it all up. But somehow I think in the final packing frenzy I bunged in a whole lot of stuff I really didn’t need. I won’t make the same mistake again and next Camino I will be militant about packing a maximum of 8kgs. In fact Pepe (my backpack) is already packed and ready for 2018. This is still to be reviewed.

I would recommend training first before setting off. You may think you’re fit. You may think it’s adventurous and fun to set off impulsively without proper preparation, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve read of walkers getting severe blisters, straining their knees or ligaments, damaging their feet or backs and one gentleman I met in Portugal actually had his stomach lining suddenly tear a few days into his walk which landed him in hospital for 6 weeks. It’s not just the distance you walk, it’s also the weight of the backpack that can cause injury.

Personally, I think the reason my walk went so well is because I spent 18 months in training prior to setting off and walked a total of over 800 miles in the 8 months preceding my Camino. Besides my almost daily 5 mile walks, I did two long walks; 1 of 60 miles and 1 of 19 miles in July before I left, and those gave me a really good insight into what I could cope with, how much I could comfortably carry and taught me to 90% read a map. The other 10% I made my own route when I got lost LOL. I also learned that it’s not a good idea to walk in wet socks!!!

I would recommend buying good equipment; a light-weight backpack – I bought the Osprey Tempest 30 L that weighs only 1.01kgs, the right shoes (I tested 3 pairs over the 18 months before leaving), 3 or 4 pairs of really good socks and 2 pairs of inner socks, and my absolute Number 1 essential – a good pair of light-weight walking poles. I absolutely would not have had as good a walk as I did or been able to negotiate those cobbled streets, sandy roads, steep inclines and declines without my walking poles. I most certainly would not have been able to climb those mountains in Spain.

As mentioned, some days were exceptionally long, and by the end of those days I was practically using my poles like crutches. Of all the equipment and gear I had, those would be the one thing I would recommend most highly.

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

a tad overloaded would you say? Laundry drying, my food bag…I looked like a bag lady!! LOL

I would even recommend walking The Camino to people who are afraid of being alone, of walking in a foreign country, or just fearful of travelling beyond the borders of their own country. The whole experience was wonderful. I was exceptionally lucky in that I didn’t have any unpleasant experiences, no illness, no tummy bugs, no bed bugs, no bites (despite an encounter with a very small snake in a Spanish vineyard), no theft of personal belongings, no dehydration (although I did get very thirsty on one day after running out of water), no sunburn, and only one small issue with my right ankle, a contracted muscle acquired while climbing those mountains in Spain, that soon righted itself after being massaged and strapped up. One thing I did suffer with, was swollen ankles. This unfortunately was not a new issue as I generally get swollen ankles when I’m at home too, but it was exacerbated by the heat and being on my feet the whole day, so by the time I reached my accommodation each night, they didn’t look good – however, I survived!! A hot bath/shower and a good sleep does wonders.

How did I feel when returning to ‘civilisation’? Overwhelmed!! I recall with clarity the shock and horror I felt as I entered the old city of Santiago.

I arrived at the old town via the Parque de Alameda and approached the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela and the Praza do Obradoiro via Rúa do Franco. The sea of pedestrians walking towards me, the crowds bumping against me, the beggars shoving cardboard in my face asking for money, and the sheer volume of noise was overwhelming. I was already exhausted, extremely emotional at having finally arrived, struggling to hold back my tears, and the noise and sounds were too just too much. I nearly turned and ran.

arriving in santiago, santiago de compostela, walking to camino, porto to santiago

arriving in Santiago old town

I stayed in bed, in my hotel room the next day until I was starving and had to get out for something to eat. It took a lot of energy just to face the crowds of people again. If you’re expecting peace and tranquillity when you reach Santiago…dispel the thought. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like at the height of summer.

When I got to Barcelona 3 days later, once again I was overwhelmed at the crowds and the traffic noise of the big city. It nearly spoiled my visit on the first day, fortunately I immersed myself slowly and with 4 days to explore I didn’t rush about too much, sticking to quieter roads and areas where possible.

Arriving back in the UK was also overwhelming. The rush and the crush of commuters at the airport, on the trains; being on the tube between stations was a living nightmare. Oh where was the wonderful peace and tranquillity of walking through forests and along deserted roads, the sounds of the ocean as I strolled along the boardwalks, sorely missed.

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a good ocean breeze and a tumble down fort…what more could I ask for?

Thankfully my base is in a fairly quiet seaside town and the house in a cul-de-sac.

broadstairs, viking bay, isle of thanet, english coast, seaside towns of britain

a winter’s sunrise – Viking Bay, Isle of Thanet

Even so, being back in civilisation was a shock to the system. And as for my store-room; I took one look at all my possessions and nearly had a nervous-breakdown. Time to downsize once again.

The most important lesson of all that I learned on the Camino? I didn’t need 99.9% of the possessions I own in order to survive and be contented and happy.

Bring on Camino 2018.

To read more about my #Camino2017 adventures, my journey started here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 13 Tuesday 2017.09.19 Arcade to Caldas de Reis

I must give Miguel of Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino a shout out. Such an amazing host. If you walk from Tui, then I can recommend a lovely albergue on the stage between O Porrino and Arcade. Just a few kilometres after Redondela and just 1 km before Arcade. The place is spotless and bed comfy. €10 per person per night. Breakfast is €2.50. Laundry €3 to wash. €3 to dry. (these were the rates at the time of my stay). Excellent value. Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino, Estrada de Soutoxuste, 45, 36810 Redondela, Pontevedra 617 29 25 98

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a band of pilgrims at breakfast and our lovely host, Miguel

A band of pilgrims at the fantastic Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino. I had planned on getting up at 6.30 for breakfast and an early start, but I decided to hold off till the more reasonable hour of 7.30 and so I got to join a lively lovely band of Spanish pilgrims. Even though I could barely speak their language, one of the group Antonio, who was a delight, translated for me and them. We had a lively breakfast. Then it was time to go.
Just said goodbye to Miguel and the band of pilgrims. I was to see them on and off over the rest of the day and one last time in Santiago…but more about that later. Aww I’m going to miss Miguel, he was genuinely lovely person. What a great host.

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buying a cup of coffee and getting your passport stamped along the way. 77.870 kms to Santiago

By 08:30 I was on my way and at Miguel’s suggestion I stopped at the roadside café; Conchas del Camino, just 250 meters up the road from the albergue, and had my passport stamped, a cup of coffee and a chat then started my walk into Arcade – Destination today is Caldas de Reis. 35 kms or so. 😱😱😱 I’m feeling very emotional today. I cried a lot today. I’ve only got 3 days left till I reach Santiago. It’s too soon. I’m loving this journey.

Crossing back over the N550 ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ I set off somewhat lighter than the last few days…Pepe had been left behind at the albergue for transport with Tuitrans to my motel in Caldas de Reis. I’m missing him already 😉 No not really.

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Taking care on the Camino and following the signs along The Way

Today was tough. I was looking forward to reaching Arcade. After leaving the N550, pretty soon we were onto the Rua de Portas, another decline. I saw so many wonderful quirky features; scallop shells strung across the wall and gate of a house, beautiful tiled pictures on walls, a delicate shrine, the Fonte da Lavandeira, along the Rua das Lameirinas, and into the Concello de Soutomaior. A tiny church (just begging to be explored – but no time), suburban streets, an hórreo (I just love them)

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walking through Spain on the Camino de Santiago Portuguese Route

camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese central way

I loved these ‘lavandarias’

camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese central way

Concello do Soutmaior

At some point I decided to phone ahead to the Motel to let them know that I was sending my backpack with Tuitrans and my eta.

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wonderful Spain. The landscape and terrain changed dramatically once I left Portugal

But the lass who answered the phone had no English and I had my minimal Spanish. So I hurried into an hotel nearby; Hotel Duarte on the Rua das Lameiriñas, and asked if anyone could speak Spanish…no!! Panic. I had asked the lady in my best mix of Italian and Spanish “excusi Senora una momento grazie”, so the poor girl was still holding on. Then in my best South African voice I yelled “does anyone here speak Spanish?” to which a young man in the garden in front of me replied, “I don’t, but you see that lady walking there (in the distance), she does”. He yelled after her, she stopped, he explained, I ran, she indicated ‘slow down’, so in my best hobble I caught up with her, explained the situation, handed her the phone and she spoke to the ever patient lady at the motel and explained what I had wanted to tell them. Whew. Panic over LOL Lesson #1 – learn the language. Tut tut. I had been lazy.

Not too long after that, I reached Pontesampaio, already in the municipality of Pontevedra. Its Roman bridge used to have 10 arches, although the current bridge dates from medieval times. It crosses the River Verdugo and played a key role in the battles that ended the French occupation in the 19th century. Nearby, you can find the river beach and several miradors over the Ría de Vigo. Oh I wish I had time to explore!

Tah dah!! Puente Sampaio Bridge the 10-arch Roman bridge (what you see today is the medieval structure), crossing the river Verdugo. Finally!

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reaching Arcade and the Ponte Sampaio. marvellous

This was one of my ‘must see’ points along the Camino and I was delighted to finally be there. It is stunning. I diverted off the road and onto the wooden platform that runs alongside the river and approached the bridge from that angle. Apparently Arcade was the setting for an important battle during the Napoleonic Wars. Between June 7 and June 9 in 1809, The Battle of Puente Sampaio was fought at the mouth of the Verdugo River. Wow, talk about walking in the footsteps of history.

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the fabulous Ponte Sampaio, Arcade

Arcade is a pretty little town with houses scattered across the hill tops and along the slopes down into the town. Walking across the bridge was exhilarating and we’re still on the Via Romano XIX. Just mind-blowing to think that this was once a Roman route.

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walking in history

Needless to say I took lots of photos.

And then, once over the bridge we were suddenly in the Concello de Pontevedra.

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crossing metaphorical boundaries

After Arcade the route once again had us climbing a mountain. Camino Xacobeo Portugues.

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Camino Xacobeo Portugues.

From here we went up and up and up and up and then down and down and down, along narrow lanes between gorgeous houses, a number of hórreo – practically every house had one. Along gravel paths amongst fields of bamboo, shady trees, and vineyards. We passed another scallop shell installation and climbed some hellish boulder-strewn paths.

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following the Portuguese Camino through Spain

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me. a scallop shell installation. resting on my walking poles…exhausted. 73.813 kms to Santiago

See this path with the large rocks, well just behind me was a lady on a mobility scooter. Two gentlemen were carrying her and all their equipment up the mountain and over all that. I can’t comprehend that. I just complemented them and said “bravo”, buen camino.

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climbing this path was tough going…it’s here that I did some real damage to my right ankle

On top of this hill (mountain) at the 72.020 kms to Santiago marker, there was a table set out with some gentlemen giving information and selling trinkets and fruit. I bought an apple and they reliably informed me that it’s all downhill from here and 7 kms to Pontevedra. Hurrah. Lunch. They also told me about a tiny church at the bottom of the route where I should stop to stamp my passport.

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71.687 kms to Santiago. Maybe like Dick Whittington I could persuade the cat to go with me 😉

And it’s now 71.687 kms to Santiago and we’re on the flat again. Thank the lord, those hills were a killer. I saw a beautiful black cat sitting on the path, but it didn’t cross my path so I should be okay LOL

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70.955 kms a-sing-a-long in progress and then just 70.273 kms to Santiago

Despite my aching ankle, I was eating up the k’s. 70.955kms to Santiago. At a bend in the road a group of Irish pilgrims with whom I had walked, chatted, shared stories and crossed paths with all morning had stopped for a rest and a spontaneous sing-song. As I walked past they were singing ‘Molly Malone’ so I picked up on the chorus and sang along as I walked past. Too much fun. 70.273 kms to Santiago. 🙂

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69.971 kms to Santiago

Finally, now we’re below 70kms; just 69.971 kms to Santiago. I was getting really excited now. The k’s were flying by and I eagerly awaited each marker along the way.

And there it was; Capela de Santa Marta c1617, just like he said it would be. A number of pilgrims were standing in a queue waiting to enter and stamp their passports, so I joined the back and eventually made my way in. It was simply beautiful. I did feel for the local lady sitting at the front, clearly in quiet contemplative prayer, her peace disturbed by all these noisy pilgrims in and out. I made a point of leaving a donation at every church where I got my passport stamped and always bought coffee or food of some sort at any café where I got my passport stamped.

11:49 Now we’re in the Concello de Vilaboa. Walked 3 hours and 20 minutes

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17th century chapel; Capela da Santa Maria

Not long after leaving the church there was a diversion that would take the route along the Rio Tomeza, a tiny stream that meandered beneath cool green shady trees…yes 🙂

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Rio Tomeza

I crossed paths with a group of pilgrims from the UK and struck up a conversation with a gentleman; Gregory. We enjoyed a most interesting conversation right along the diversion chatting about Geoffrey Chaucer, the Canterbury Tales, the Camino and walks in the UK. It seems his mother named him Gregory after Pope Gregory. How cool. The time passed quickly and my mind was diverted from the pain in my ankle.

Once we reached the edge of Pontevedra I decided to stop for a rest at Taperia Casa Pepe, something to drink and a pee. Not in that order. LOL The best part of the day. Super Bock. I’m having the Negra today. It’s delicious. Quite strong and should go some way to numbing the pain. My poor poor feet. 22 kms to go to Caldas de Reis 😱😱😱 Sending Pepe (my backpack) ahead with Tuitrans, although really hard to let it go, was the best decision I’ve made so far.

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you have no idea how delicious this beer tasted after hours on the route

Not long after that, and there were a lot of pilgrims. The route got really busy from here onwards and I was seldom alone for long. I also bumped into the band of pilgrims from breakfast 🙂 Awesome.

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O Camino Portugues a Santiago – Tui (Tuy) to Santiago de Compostela – can you see how far I walked!!! Insane

Then finally the city of Pontevedra. With the River Lérez at its feet, Pontevedra has been given many international awards for urban planning due to revitalisation in recent years and the prioritisation of pedestrians over cars. The old town is considered the second most important old town in Galicia after Compostela where you will find the church of the Virxe da Peregrina, and many small and lively squares: Praza da Ferrería, Praza da Leña and Praza da Verdura. I spent about an hour in this lovely city.

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A fantastic fountain in Pontevedra, Spain

I stopped at the chapel of the Virgen Peregrina; Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra, circa 1753, an absolutely beautiful church with many reference to Saint James; scallop shells; symbol of the pilgrims adorned just about everything. I spent quite some time here, had my passport stamped and bought a memento. Afterwards I sat outside on a stone bench just resting and looking – it’s so beautiful. As was the day.

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Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra

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Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra

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architecture of Pontevedra, Spain

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scenes of Pontevedra; loved the pedestrianised streets

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I loved the ancient architecture of Pontevedra.

Soon it was time to push on. I will however definitely plan this as one of my sleep overs when I walk the Camino Portugues again in 2021.

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decisions! which way to go to Santiago…..

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Ponte de Burgo, Pontevedra, Spain – originally it had 15 arches

The first references for this bridge date from 1165 , when the kings Fernando II of León and Galiza and Afonso de Portugal signed a peace accord. Ponte de Burgo crosses the river Lérez near the estuary, a 60 km river born in Serra do Candán. What a thrill to finally see this bridge. I had seen so many images on Facebook, and now I was here!!

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Ponte de Burgo, Pontevedra on the Camino de Portuguese. what a thrill to see this 🙂 Note the scallop shell reliefs carved on the bridge

Crossing this bridge was really exciting. I was nearly half way to Caldas de Reis and just 63.183 kms to Santiago. By now I had walked 14.69 kms over 6 hours including rest stops.

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Camino Portuguese a Santiago

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still on the Via Romana XIX 🙂 amazing. 62.086 kms to Santiago

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follow the signs along the way

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Santiago that way

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after walking for quite some time I came across this lovely little statue and church. Igrexa da Santa Maria del Alba

Located in the parish of Alba, an area through which the Camino Portuguese passes, the place is known as Guxilde. In days gone by it housed a large number of pilgrims, one of whom was the Queen of Portugal, Doña Isabel, who in the year 1325, made a pilgrimage to Santiago to pray for her late husband. The little statue is D. Juan Lopez Souto, a parish priest. I sat for a while and kept him company, wondering what he saw with his stare.

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a ramshackle house along the way; I wonder how many pilgrims it has seen over the years

One thing for sure, the ever changing terrain kept you on your toes….

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cobbles, stone slabs, muddy paths, rock strewn and gravel

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Supper time. It was just on 5pm when I stumbled into Barros. I spotted a cafe and stopped for something to drink and eat. Got my passport stamped too. The orange juice is like nectar

I was shattered by this stage and still had quite a way to go. I could quite easily have just curled up in a ball and slept….. 54.786 kms to Santiago. Whew.

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slowly slowly the km’s went down down down….

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Hoorah!!!! 49.995 kms to Santiago

OMG finally. I’m at the 48.995 kms to Santiago marker. Hallelujah. Thus means I’m very close to my destination for tonight. I hope 🙏🙏🙏 I’ve been walking since 8.30am except for a few rest stops. I’m so looking forward to my bed 😂😂😂💞💞

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49.121 ms to Santiago and the shadows are drawing in

The sun was beginning to sink towards the horizon, the shadows were lengthening and I was beginning to get a bit panicky. I still had some way to go to Caldas de Reis but I simply couldn’t walk any faster. And then whoopee

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oh my gosh….the very first roadway sign for Santiago that I saw 🙂

My excitement levels escalated exponentially and suddenly I was infused with a renewed energy; Santiago 🙂 I cheered.

After safely negotiating this horrible road, the N550, the path steered into a vineyard. As I walked along the dusty path between rows of vines hung with thick juicy red grapes that smelled like thick syrupy juice, I saw what I though looked like a small snake on the path ahead of me. As the thought went through my head that it looked like a snake, it moved. IT WAS A SNAKE. I ran. I was exhausted. But I ran. I didn’t even stop to take a photo for proof, I just ran LOL Up until that very second it hadn’t entered my head that there were snakes in Spain!! I mean seriously?? Why wouldn’t there be? It’s a hot sunny country. After I recovered my equilibrium I continued on my way, somewhat more alert now. Just beyond that I happened upon an elderly couple snipping bunches of grapes off their vines. I greet them “ola, buenas dias” and was rewarded with a reply in English 🙂 Seems their daughter lived in London and the lady had been over to England for 6 years…hence her English. We exchanged stories and they offered me a bunch of those heavenly grapes. Oh yes please, gracias. 🙂 They tasted as amazing as what they smelled.

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my heavenly bunch of sweet, juicy grapes.

After my brief encounter with the snake I decided that there would be no more visits to the bushes LOL. My bladder would have to wait.!!

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46.787 kms to Santiago. Concello de Caldas de Reis. Capela de Santa Lucia

46.787 kms to Santiago – As I approached Caldas de Reis I started to see more and more suburban habitation. I passed a tiny little church; Capela de Santa Lucia and a farmer on his tractor. There were more and more scallop shells to be seen.

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Igrexia de Santa Maria de Caldas de Reis

Days end. Time 20:20 and after a very very long day of approx 32 kms I literally staggered into Caldas de Reis as the sun set. Not a recommended distance if you want to be able to walk the next day.

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Finally: Caldas de Reis. Crossing the Rio Umia at sunset and the town centre is in sight

When I arrived in Caldas de Reis, I discovered the Motel I had booked to stay in was another 1.6 kms outside of town. I simply couldn’t walk another step, so hailed the very first taxi I saw. Because my Spanish was so bloody bad, he couldn’t understand me. Finally I showed him my calendar with the details noted. Thankfully I had had the foresight to do that. When we arrived at the massive, unwelcoming red metal gates of the motel I put my phone down on the seat while I paid the driver…..and forgot said phone in his car. I only discovered this disastrous mishap after I had located the reception, been shown to my room, had Pepe delivered, had a drink and something to eat and lay down on the bed to send a message to my daughter to say I had arrived. MAJOR PANIC ensued. All my photos and phone numbers were on that phone. Thankfully I had my 2nd phone with me and had obtained a receipt from the taxi driver, so I phoned him and he agreed to bring it back… I had to pay another €7 to get it delivered. Expensive end to the day 😱😱😱

Panic over, I settled down. I had a lovely room, a huge bath (bliss) and Pepe had arrived safely via TuiTrans. Hoorah. I’m sending it on again tomorrow for the leg to Padron. I may just smuggle myself in the bag too 😢

Slide48

Despite being really really long and very tough with lots of hills to ascend and descend, it was a most enjoyable day, lots of pilgrims to chat to – the groups ebbed and flowed, ever changing scenery, beautiful buildings, churches, towns and villages, a few animals, a tiny capella for a pilgrim’s stamp, a few rivers and thousands of steps. And not forgetting I crossed paths with that snake; and despite being exhausted and barely walking I jumped and ran… I also used a lot of South African swear words. White girls can run!!! LOL It never entered my head there would be snakes, but of course there are. I just hadn’t yet seen any 😂😂😂😂😂

Thankfully I only have 19 kms to Padron tomorrow.

In case you wondered where Ponte Sampiao was…. https://mapcarta.com/18571126

 

 

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2017.09.16 Day 10 – Caminha. Today is a rest day and time to explore Caminha.

Walked 4.89 kms / 13,506 steps – if nothing else, I was sure keeping well above the recommended 10,000 steps per day!!

Lina and I rose early, she was keen to get the early ferry across to Spain and I was keen to explore the town before heading to Valenca for the night. We partook of a superb breakfast at the Residencial Arca Nova; a delicious selection of juices, fruits, bread rolls, cheeses and tea or coffee. For the price I paid for the room…excellent value breakfast.

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the breakfast room at Residencial Arca Nova. I didn’t take photos of the breakfast coz there were too many people I didn’t want to disturb

Then we said goodbye, she to the ferry, me to explore.

Firstly let me just say; if you have the time, I can highly recommend some time to explore Caminha. With a fascinating history Caminha was once a walled city. Manuel I of Portugal (1495-1521), passed through on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1502. Caminha was called Camenae or Camina during the period of Sueve (a large group of tribes who lived in Germania in the time of the Roman Empire) domination in the 5th century. By the 13th century, Caminha was just a fishing village. King Afonso III decided to build a modern castle and fortified village, finished in 1260 and later, reinforced by Kings Dinis I.

instagram post: It’s 16th September and 10 days since I arrived in Portugal and 5 days since I started on my Camino walk. Presently I’m in Caminha which is a lovely little town/city on the River Minho. Over the river I can see Spain. Today is a rest day before I train up to Valenca. Tomorrow I start 5 days of straight through walking crossing over into Spain first thing in the morning, no rest days *ouch* till I reach Santiago on Thursday evening.. All being well. This morning I’m meandering, visited a 500 year old church, explored ancient cobbled streets and courtyards, and as I reached the old city wall I said #BomDias to an elderly gentleman who was carrying a box of grapes to the market, he immediately insisted I take a bunch of the grapes.. So sweet, both him and the grapes. So I’m now sitting on the ancient city walls of Caminha eating grapes, basking in the early morning sun and enjoying the views. I got my 1st pilgrim’s stamp this morning. Life is good #Camino2017

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Torre do Relógio (Clock Tower), Rua Direita (Straight Road) – renamed Rua Ricardo Joaquim Sousa, this straight ancient street is still known locally as Rua Direita and leads directly from the archway in the clock tower to the river, a courtyard alongside the church, a gateway in the city walls.

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alleyways of the old city; Caminho, Portugal

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scenes of Caminha, Portugal

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The Gothic parish church (Igreja Matriz) at the end of Rua Direita was built in the 15th century

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Igreja Matriz; this large Parish Church, begun in 1488, is one of the most significant buildings illustrating the transition from Gothic to Renaissance in Portugal, with Manueline influence. The wooden ceiling is richly decorated showing Moorish influences (Mudéjar style).

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sitting on the defensive walls of Caminha in Portugal, eating grapes, basking in the sun and enjoying the views across to Spain! Bom Dia 🙂

Even though I was disappointed to not be walking today to Valenca, I am so glad I made the time to explore this fascinating town. It’s the kind of place where I could spend a few days just relaxing in the sun, drinking Super Bock, eating nutella and banana crepes and reading a book before heading up to the fort to watch the sunset…hmmm, next Camino?

instagram post: Rua 16 de Setembro 😊😊😊 what a perfectly apt street name to discover on the day I’m Caminha 👏👏👏💞 What a charming little town. I’ve had a good exploration; walked through the streets, lanes and courtyards, found the fort and admired the fabulous views. It’s really weird to realise this is my last day in Portugal. Tomorrow it’s into Spain and the serious walking starts then. Won’t be much time for exploring or visiting churches but I’m going to do my best. The days will be shorter in terms of distance, but only by 5-10 kms except for Tuesday which is 32kms. Not sure how I’m going to do that. 🤧🤧 I’m sad to say goodbye to Caminha it’s lovely.

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Rua 16 de Setembro – How auspicious to find this on the actual date 🙂

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Rua Direita (Straight Road), Caminha, Portugal

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old and new. I loved the contrasts of old and new buildings right across Portugal

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Caminha Portugal, fabulous architecture and the famous tiles

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remains of fortifications from the 13C to the 18C, Caminha, Portugal

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remains of fortifications from the 13C to the 18C, Caminha, Portugal

Chafariz do Terreiro in the Praça Conselheiro Silva Torres; more of a circle than a square, the area radiates from the central chafariz (fountain; once the main source of drinking water in the town. Built in 1551, it is the work of João Lopes o Velho, a master stonemason in the 16th century.

After a wonderful few hours meandering around the town, all too soon it was time to go. After collecting Pepe from my lodgings, reluctant to leave, I set off for one last circuit before heading over to the station.

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the signs are there….one last circuit of Caminha before travelling to Valenca

Stunning azulejos, a mini-museum of Caminha’s history hand-painted on tile decorating the walls of Caminha’s Railway Station.

These tiles are  protected by law against theft and vandalism.

Goodbye Caminha! You were marvellous and definitely one of my favourite places so far on the Camino. Hope to see you again…

And so to Valenca.

In case you missed my other articles on my #Camino2017, you can read them below:

Day 5 – Porto to Vila do Conde

Day 6 – Vila do Conde – rest day

Day 7 – Vila do Conde to Esposende

Day 8 – a morning in Esposende

Day 8 – an afternoon in Viana do Castelo

Day 9 – Viana do Castelo to Caminha

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2017.09.15 Day 9 – Viana do Castelo to Caminha – sunrise to sunset

“Bom Dia” a cheerful, jaunty greeting that sums up every day I’ve had so far in Portugal.

Walked 30.28 kms / 65573 steps

Along The Way, I walked through a number of villages; Areosa, Afife and Carreço along old narrow roads that split several 19th Century farmhouses, until the old fishing village of Ancora on the Rio do Paco, through Fontela and finally into Caminha.

So yes, another very long day from Viana do Castelo to Caminha, after which I still had energy to rush over to the estuary and watch the sunset and take a brief exploratory walkabout 🙂

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from sunrise in Viana do Castelo to sunset in Caminha. what a fantastic day.

I’m insane, truly. I need to learn the meaning of……

Rest: verb : cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength.

rest: noun : an instance or period of resting. LOL – difficult!!

Seriously though, I wanted to make the most of my Camino, to see as much as possible without being hospitalised for exhaustion LOL. I have a philosophy in life; when I visit a place, I extract as much as possible from myself to see as much as possible before I move on. I never know if I’m likely to pass that way again, and being of an exceedingly curious nature, I find it impossible to be somewhere and not explore it thoroughly. So cest la vie…explore away.

Once again I met some lovely people along The Way, greeted everyone left, right and centre with “Bom Dia” and a big smile, or “Hola, Caminho?” and a huge grin when they responded with “si! Buen Camino”. The feeling of camaraderie on the Camino is amazing. I loved meeting people from all over the world, but today I just greeted, exchanged brief details and didn’t stop for any meaningful conversations.

Today I decided to instagram more often and to keep track of my distances as I went. I think I succeeded 🙂 So instead of writing a whole long epistle about my ‘step-by-step’ guide along the Camino from Porto to Santiago, I’ll let my instagram posts do the talking! – addendum (I did try, but verbosity overcame me once again, sorry LOL).

1) It’s 07:15 and incredibly, not only is it almost the exact time I left Vila do Conde on Wednesday, but the weather is gorgeous, I’m seeing the sun rising and I’m walking today… Wish me luck, I hope it bodes well. #bomcaminho #Camino2017 #VianadoCastelo to #Caminha

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07:21 sunrise on the banks of the River Lima, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

I took a walk down to the riverside to watch the sunrise. The colours were exquisite. I could get used to this. I’m not usually an early riser, but being on the Camino was such an incentive to get up early and enjoy walking before the day got too hot or busy. Saying goodbye to the Eiffel Bridge and a sad farewell to the town as I walked alongside the river, I soon reached the harbour.

2) It’s 9.15am, I’ve walked 5.28 kms and only now leaving the precincts of VdC. 😀😀On the way I stopped to capture the sunrise, a group of fishermen preparing their net, visited a church and got a stamp in my passport, then crossed 2 fields, a hedge, a ditch and a wall to get to the ocean and visit a tumbled down 18th century fort.

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fishermen in Viana do Castelo preparing their nets

Once I left the harbour I decided to visit the church I could see in the distance; Capela de N. S. a da Agonia, Viana do Castelo. It was still closed when I got there, so I sat on the bench in the gardens and ate my breakfast, and after a short interval, by a stroke of luck someone came along an unlocked the doors 🙂  Said person was also kind enough to stamp my passport….after much gesticulating on my part and showing him my pilgrim’s passport, with the word ‘caminho’. voila.

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Capela de N. S. a da Agonia, Viana do Castelo

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

Of course by taking this little diversion I totally ended up on a road where I didn’t want to be; the dreaded N13. I wanted to walk alongside the ocean, not along a busy highway. So spotting a sliver of the ocean on the horizon, I headed west….and as the instagram post says….’2 fields, a hedge, a ditch and a wall’ later I finally reached the ocean.

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detours…..getting from here to there was like an obstacle course, although it looks flat, it wasn’t

I was undeniably unimpressed with myself. But it was worth it. Walking alongside the ocean was wonderful with the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks and a cool ocean breeze blowing over me. And I found my first fort of the day….

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a good ocean breeze and a tumble down fort…what more could I ask for?

Never one to pass by a good ruin, I stopped briefly to explore. wow. 1703!! awesome.

camino 2017, viana do castelo, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

Forte de Rego de Fontes (1703), Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Then stretching my legs, and with Pepe settled comfortably on my back, and my walking poles, nicknamed ‘Gemini’ by now (twins haha), in full swing I strode along a superb pathway of gravel; ocean to the left, heading north. I absolutely love Portugal.

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following The Way

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following The Way

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

following The Way; both Coastal (red) and Littoral (white)

3) 9.58 kms walked. It’s just on 11am and Pepe and I have had enough so we’ve stopped for 2 cafe com leite and 2 buns. I’m hungry. It’s been a wonderful walk along the ocean, sometimes gravel, sometimes cobbled paving (hell on the ankles) and sometimes boardwalks which are my favourite. This place was like an oasis in the desert. I need caffeine and sugar. 😂😂💕 According to the map I’m doing okay. Slow but steady with an ankle that keeps shouting rude words at me and a hip that’s not happy.

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an oasis…Tea and buns never tasted so good. I was sorry I didn’t have my metal mug that I’d bought especially for the Camino. Left at home due to weight

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

back to the boardwalks….bliss to walk along

The scenery now was just majestic! I relished in the discoveries I made along the way; quirky round stone buildings, old windmills, tumble-down stone houses, ancient forts and scarcely a place to stop for refreshments. Hah! I wish I had known how scarce the cafes would be! I’d have stocked up on goodies to eat and drink. Although I did have my water…a life-saver!

4) Walked 14.58 kms. After leaving my oasis, I headed back on to the boardwalks. That didn’t last long and I soon found myself following some seriously challenging pathways. It’s just after 1pm, I left my hostel 6 hours ago, and I’m taking a rest stop in Afife which is almost halfway 😀😀😀👏👏👏. The heat is horrible, the path is tough and I’ve done rock climbing, traipsed along boardwalks and dragged myself along the beach and along winding, rocky, ankle wrenching sandy paths. I’ve no idea if I’m following the correct route most of the time unless I see a marker, which I haven’t for quite some time now, but when I do, it appears I’m following the coastal and Littoral route; a bit of both. After stumbling out the trees I saw red tarpaulins in the far distance, and diverted my course in that direction. It turned out to be a garage which is what I suspected and I’m currently sitting in the blissful cool air of a roadside garage cafe drinking a Liptons iced tea and eating what is a delicious pineapple tart which was a gift of the proprietess after we chatted about the Camino. 😊😊😊💕 She also stamped my pilgrim’s passport. I may just reach Caminha this century 😂😂#bomcaminho

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tumble down fishermen’s cottages

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

follow the signs…..from and to….keep your bearings; Littoral and Coastal

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

I stopped off to admire this rock…it has a story but I forgot what it is LOL sorry. something to do with stone-age peoples

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

finding the signs along The Way

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

spotted….when I saw this I got serious travel envy. I mean look at all those places visited.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

absolutely NO fun at all to walk along these sections, but I was on the right path…

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

never boring….this way and that way, along The Way, the signs are there

The path was a bit like a switch-back route along this section. At one stage I passed an open-air shower stop…probably for beach goers, and the temptation to just strip off to my undies and stand under cold water was overwhelming…but I desisted. I had places to go. I also didn’t want to get arrested for indecency!! hahaha.

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Praia de Paco, the showers, fab boardwalk, Forte de Paco, information board

First gravel, then suddenly boardwalk, then ankle-tugging sand, surprises round the corner (another fort!), in the space of 6 minutes you could go from rocky, sandy terrain and gravels paths to walking on the beach to striding along boardwalks (Oh how much I loved those boardwalks)

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

a visit to the beach along The Way. Just beyond this point I was plunged into brush again

Then deep groves of trees that looked shady but weren’t, and hot, hot, hot hot…….I have to admit that although I was really loving the blue skies, the heat was horrendous for me. I cannot tell you how stressful it was walking through ankle-tugging sand, dust puffing up with every footstep, the heat and flies sapping your energy and totally deserted. The only way I could keep my spirits up was by observing the footprints in the sand… grateful in the knowledge that other people had been this way. Again I locked onto a particular set of tread-marks and followed them. There were no desiccated bodies or skeletons lying about, dried up from heat and lack of water, forever turned to dust, lost, unidentified, unknown,eaten by coyotes or vermin….hahaha, you get picture. That was my state of mind. Sometimes, walking through this terrain, was just.hard.as.you.know.what!!

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not fun…it was hot and dusty with lots of flies but no dead bodies. LOL Follow those footprints?

And flies!!! OMG!! flies in my hair, up my nose, around my mouth, sitting like suction caps on my arms…fcking gross. I did have an insect repellent spray called incognito, which is a natural product with no chemicals, in my bag, but I simply didn’t have the energy to stop, take Pepe off (heavy old sod), undo all the 10million ties and clips, dig through my bag….and blah blah blah, then go through the reverse before carrying on. So instead I just stomped along swatting and cursing and suffered on. blergh. horrible. LOL

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civilisation in the distance, a rest stop at Afife (I stayed here for about 30 minutes)

After my brief respite at the garage cafe, I walked along a busy tarmac road. As I crossed a small stream I saw my first memorial; a sobering reminder that people die on the Caminho, and to be vigilant despite being really tired. I had noticed on mapmywalk that there was a turn-off further along that would take me back to the ocean side, so that’s what I did. I had no desire to be dodging traffic. And tarmac is hell on the heels.

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the varied terrain was unreal. You just never knew what to expect round the next corner

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

I loved walking alongside the ocean. I stopped off in this area to rest and just enjoy the scenery

I didn’t stop for resting as often yesterday as I did the day before but I certainly did stop to explore this fort. It was so intriguing… People used to live there. It’s obviously very ramshackle and tumbled down now, but so fascinating. I think I saw 4 in all enroute.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

5) Walked 18.5 kms and now just 8 km to Caminha. Look how far I’ve travelled : 95kms from Porto!! Brilliant. It’s been a challenging day but a good day. I’m so glad I made yesterday a rest day. My mindset is good and I feel strong albeit tired. I’ve loved the challenges that have come my way, and it seems that I have chosen to not do this the easy way 😂😂😂 if there was a difficult route to follow, I found it. #Camino2017

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Look how far I’ve come!! 95 kms from Porto and 8 km to Caminha. What I didn’t realise is that 8kms was till the outskirts of Caminha urgh.  We won’t even mention how many kms to Santiago!

I loved seeing all the little hamlets, windmills and forts along the way, and much of the route was easy walking, but there were sections where I just wanted to sit down and cry or have a tantrum. Surprisingly I hardly saw anyone for ages along this stretch

camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

in the distance I could see buildings – it wasn’t Caminha LOL I still had another 8 kms AFTER that. The sands are reclaiming the boardwalks here

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I loathe railway crossings. Literally 2 minutes after crossing here a train came racing through. Horrors.

If I had but known, the trail actually continued along the beach. But I didn’t, so ended up adding 2kms to my journey going through the above section 😦

camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

Praia de Vila Praia de Ancora – not Caminha LOL urgh.

I was so disappointed when I realised that the town I had seen in the distance an hour earlier was not my destination but the fishing town of Praia de Vila / Praia de Ancora. The bridge you can see in the distance (bottom left image above), was where I would have crossed if I had but known the trail continued along the beach.

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Forte de Lagarteira, Ancora, Caminha, Portugal –  a Small fortified naval fortification covering mouth of the Ancora river; attributed to the reign of Pedro II of Portugal (1667-1705)

Discovering this fabulous fort cheered me up no end. I spent some time exploring.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

and then it was back to the Camino; a pedestrian path alongside a side road, then past a tiny chapel; Capela Santo Isidoro and then left back to the beach ‘Bom Caminho’ 🙂

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você está aqui – it was terrific to see my progress. these maps along The Way were brilliant.

I really enjoyed finding these maps along The Way. As you can see the trail, a mix of boardwalks and gravel paths, is being developed right along the seaboard from Esposende to Caminha. Magic. Green = completed sections. Black = under construction

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Before too long I was back on cobbled roads and walking through fields.

If you look at the top middle image above you will notice a yellow X painted on the pole. These were so helpful. If you felt tempted to walk that way because it looked like you should, these tell you ‘NO’ this is not The Way. Although you can’t see it, at my feet was a painted arrow on the edge of the sidewalk indicating the direction…..Follow the Yellow Arrows 🙂 which is what I did, through the tunnel beneath the railway line, past a small holding where a couple were digging up crops from a small garden, then after passing some empty fields the arrows directed me onto a road, Avenida Santana leading through the town of Moledo.

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following the signs – the outskirts of Caminha

Urgh, Once again I had to cross the railway line. One of my worst nightmares. Gives me the heebie jeebies. The trail now took me through industrialised areas. I think I may have seen about 3 people in 30 minutes. Lots of ramshackle buildings and the much loathed tarmac. You’d think because its flat and smooth its easy to walk on, but the impact is hard on the feet. I was ever so grateful for the arrows. I was so very tired by this stage that I really couldn’t even think anymore. Suddenly I was onto the Avenida Dr. Dantas Carneiro aka N13 which is a very busy road that runs from Viana do Castelo to Valenca. Fortunately I didn’t cross paths with this monster too often.

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and then finally… Caminha

I found a sudden burst of energy when I realised I was on the edge of Caminha; the town proper. The river Minho estuary is exceptionally beautiful and I was keen to find my lodgings and then head back to watch the sunset. The town of Caminha is marvellous. I cut away from the N13 at the first opportunity and by following my nose and mapmywalk, now I was passing real houses with people going about their business. I walked right through the old town centre, left and then right and left again and then suddenly there it was Residencial Anosa Casa 🙂 Hoorah!!

6) Well Pepe and I finally reached Caminha and the hotel after 30.28 kms : 12 hours 3 minutes and 14 seconds door to door via a few diversions 😊😉🙃 Absolutely shattered. After quickly checking in I raced back to the sea front to watch the sunset… (I know, insane. I could barely walk, never mind race anywhere). But it’s my last coastal route sunset. Tomorrow I will be inland at Valenca. By an amazing coincidence I popped in at a crepe restaurant for supper and there was my lovely Russian room-mate from the last 2 nights; Lina. I was delighted as I wanted a photo of the two of us and had been sending the universe some messages to say I wanted to see her again. It turned out she was staying at a horrible albergue, so I invited her to share the twin room at my hotel ☺️☺️☺️ So for one last night we’ll be room mates

37 sunset 19.34 caminha

19:34 and sunset in Caminha 🙂 12 hours and 30 minutes and across the estuary; Spain!!

As soon as I had checked in and settled Pepe, I grabbed Gemini and made my way through the town to the river front, just in time for the sunset 🙂 It was sooo beautiful and I felt truly blessed to bear witness to such an amazing sight. I had been blessed with amazing, albeit very hot weather the whole day and to witness both a sunrise and a sunset was extraordinary.

I had arrived in Caminha, my last Portugese coastal town. I had indeed taken that young man’s words to heart; keep the ocean on your left and head north. What an absolutely fantastic journey. I find it hard to find the words to express how I was feeling at that moment. Exceptionally tired, but amazingly blessed 🙂

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The wonderful walled town of Caminha. So happy to be able to add this to my Project 101

After watching the sunset I made my way back into the town centre to explore and find something to eat. The fantastic clock tower was once the main tower in the medieval castle incorporated into the city walls and sat atop the main entrance to the citadel and the Rua Direita (Straight Road) that sliced through the centre of the citadel (top left image). During the 17th century a timepiece was installed and it came to be known as the Torre do Relógio (Clock Tower). To the right is the Igreja da Misericórdia.

Caminha has a history that dates back to Roman and possible even Phoenician times.

I was seriously hungry by now and decided to treat myself to a really special meal. I noticed a creperie and decided that would be perfect. .noterreiro was the perfect place to eat. As I sat down, to my absolute delight and surprise I saw Lina. We had been room-mates the previous two nights and I was thrilled to see her. We chatted for a bit and she mentioned that she was staying at a horrible albergue so I invited her to share my room at the hotel. She hurried off to fetch her backpack and belongings and I ordered a cheese omelette which was very different to the omelettes in the UK. Still hungry I then ordered a banana and nutella crepe…delicioso 🙂 They soon disappeared into my tummy. I had thought of having a Super Bock, but truthfully they taste so much better when you’re hot and bothered. So instead I settled for a coke. Sugar rush needed.

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.noterreiro, Praca Conselheiro Silva Torres, Caminha 4910-122, Portugal +351 258 728 017

And then it was time for bed. Lina and I meandered through the town chatting away. She was crossing into Spain on the ferry in the morning to follow the route to Santiago via Vigo. It was so lovely meeting her; a Russian lady from New York!! Awesome. Camino 🙂

Exploring Caminha 2.10 kms / 5364 steps

Tomorrow morning I would explore Caminha thoroughly and then take the train to Valenca for my final night in Portugal before crossing into Spain. I was well excited!!

 

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2017.09.12 – Day 6 – Vila do Conde : rest day (no not really!! LOL) As my daughter would say “Mom, you don’t know the meaning of ‘rest!” Walked: 13.29kms / 26595 steps+

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Washing day on the Camino

Laundry day today. Washed all my clothes by hand 😂😂😂 Longggg time since I’ve had to do that!!! There’s a self-service laundromat in the square but it’s more expensive to wash a small bundle of clothes than what I pay for my meals 😣😣 I love that their word for laundry is lavanderia… Sounds so lavenderish. 😊

After a delicious breakfast at the Erva Doche Guesthouse (they have an amazing selection of teas), I set off to explore on what was a gorgeous day. Sadly I’ve lost my Camino family for now, they’re going inland and walking to Barcelos on the Central Route today. But we’ve exchanged numbers and will hopefully meet in Santiago for the Friday night service next week on 22nd. I’m looking forward to seeing who I meet in the coming days.

camino portuguese coast route port to santiago

Breakfast at the Erva Doce Guest House in Vila do Conde

Had a fantastic walkabout around Vila do Conde, one of the oldest settlements in northern Portugal, where geological artefacts dating from 100,000 to 15,000 years have been discovered in archaeological sites in the parishes of Modivas, Malta, and Labruge.

camino portuguese coast route port to santiago

Vila do Conde, Portugal – on the Portuguese Coastal Route

First up to the Santa Clara Convent that I saw on the hill yesterday, which turned out to be an old age home!! I know where I’m going to retire to 💕💕 They stamped my pilgrim’s passport which was fab.

camino portuguese coast route port to santiago

Santa Clara Convent, Vila do Conde

One of the biggest and richest feminine convents in Portugal, founded in 1318, by Afonso Sanches and his wife, Teresa Martins Telo. Although I wasn’t allowed into the grounds to explore, I spent some time admiring the views of the River Ave and the town from the hilltop; absolutely stunning!! There’s a fantastic old church on the same grounds, sadly closed when I was there, and a small chapel, fortunately open, attached to the monastery; totally magic.

camino portuguese coast route port to santiago

Views of the River Ave and town from Santa Clara Convent, Vila do Conde

8 monastery chapel

the tiny chapel located next to the convent

Then I decided to follow the 999 arch aqueduct; Aqueduto de Vila do Conde. Just because.  Initially constructed between 1705 and 1714, the second longest in Portugal, it had 999 arches and ran for four kilometres; connecting a spring in Terroso, Póvoa de Varzim with a fountain in the monastery of Santa Clara.

camino portuguese coast route port to santiago

The 999 arch aqueduct in Vila do Conde

Well I only got about half way and it kinda petered out and only small sections continued that were mostly inaccessible. Thank goodness, just the bit I followed was over 2 kilometres. Twas meant to be a rest day. Along the way, under one of the arches, I bumped into my group of 5 that I had met yesterday. What a pleasure to see them. On my way back along the arches I went past a fab church that I’d seen earlier, Church of Sao Simao e Sao Judas Tadeu, but it only opens Sundays. So instead of exploring the church, I bought a delicious bunch of grapes from the market next door. 🙂

camino portuguese coast route port to santiago

Church of Sao Simao e Sao Judas Tadeu, Vila do Conde

I was absolutely fascinated by the railway tracks I saw. The same as in Porto, they are lined with grass and level with the surrounding roads.

camino portuguese coast route port to santiago

the railway tracks leading to Vila do Conde Railway Station

I visited the beautiful main church; Igreja Matriz de Vila do Conde, where I got another pilgrim’s stamp in my passport, and met a lovely young lady, also walking the Camino, with whom I had a wonderful conversation. Unfortunately, although I wrote her name down in my diary, I can’t seem to find it.

camino portuguese coast route porto to santiago

Igreja Matriz de Vila do Conde

 Construction of the church started at the end of the 15th century (1496-1497) and ended in the beginning of the 16th century (1514-1515). A National Monument since 1910 due to the importance of the building; regarded as a late Gothic and Manueline style church and its Renaissance tower.

It’s extremely hot and humid and my initial thoughts are correct, I really should have planned this journey for October during the cooler months. But cest la vie, I’m here on my Camino and loving it!!  “atm I’m back at the hotel doing what sensible people do; staying indoors for siesta and something to eat” 😉😉😉 Some days it wasn’t possible to find a place for siesta, and I had to be really inventive.

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

not the most substantial meal ever, but this was lunch LOL

Earlier in the day I had spotted an intriguing church atop a jut of rock; ‘Capela de Nossa Senhora do Socorro – the Chapel of Our Lady of Aid/Help’ is a beautiful Greek style white-washed, round-domed church that shone out in the afternoon sun. I simply had to find out how to get there. So after my siesta, I went walkabout and finally found the way along a steep, narrow, cobbled stone lane…

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

Capela de Nossa Senhora do Socorro), the Chapel of Our Lady of Aid/Help, Vila do Conde

Stepping into the courtyard to find this breath-taking edifice was worth the climb. Built on a square plan with rounded dome, the interior of the chapel exemplifies 18th-century architecture, with azulejos; painted tin-glazed ceramic tile work, showing the life of Christ, and a Rococo-style altar.

Capela de Nossa Senhora do Socorro), the Chapel of Our Lady of Aid/Help

interior – Capela de Nossa Senhora do Socorro), the Chapel of Our Lady of Aid/Help

I had seen similar ceramic tile work in many of the churches I visited and of course in the Sao Bento Railway Station in Porto. Absolutely stunning.

I spent the early evening exploring and taking 100s of photos.

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

scenes of Vila do Conde

The towns in Portugal are ever so quirky but mostly very poor. There are ramshackle tumbled down houses interspersed amongst the regular houses that you can see have been boarded up for decades.

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

scenes from my a.m. walkabout; Vila do Conde

In contrast there are a number of churches that although old are filled with very ornate decorations and sculptures. The Madonna and depictions of Christ are everywhere in every pose or decorative garb you can imagine. All very colourful.

The main square near the marina is very posh with sculptures and water features but just beyond is a different story. In the marina is a fantastic replica of a carrack; a three- or four-masted ocean-going sailing ship, developed in the 14th & 15th centuries in Europe, and first used for trade from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, then by the Portuguese for trade along the African coast. It was being refurbished when I was there so I couldn’t visit, but it looks amazing.

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

a Portuguese Carrack, Vila do Conde

Okay so, I finally caved in, my lavandar was not going to dry any time soon, so  took my very wet washing to the laundromat; the lavandaria, and after the lady there helped me to descipher the instructions, I popped my clothes in the secagem section 😉😉 I tell you what, this is the most posh, clean, beautifully laid out and friendliest staffed laundromat I’ve ever been to. The machines are all Miele… I mean seriously upmarket equipment. The UK could take a page from their book. 😀😀 €1.50 to dry my washing; bargain
Every day 😊😊😊 

After that, I decided to walk to the sea front to watch the sunset. I was excited about seeing a sunset tonight and when I started out the sky was still blue and clear, hoorah! But the seafront was a lot further than I thought and by the time I got there, 15 minutes later, a cold front of thick misty cloud had blown in and blew away my chances of a fab sunset. Although I’m sure it was fabulous somewhere in the world 😃😃😃  Maybe tomorrow. So disappointing. I remember thinking at the time; ‘ oh well, I’ll catch the sunset tomorrow night’.

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Guia at the seafront and my stunning sunset 😉

But it wasn’t to be, and the next sunset I saw was in Caminha 3 days later. But there’s a stunning memorial and a tiny little chapel that I couldn’t resist exploring, as well as the fantastic fort; Sao Joao – Fort St John. However, I did see many a beautiful sunrise 🙂

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

Forte Sao Joao, Vila do Conde

I had supper at a pilgrim’s restaurant where for €5 they offered a bowl of soup, a main course and a drink. Yummy and just what I needed.

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

a substantial meal for 5 euro

On my way to the sea front I had the sheer joy of listening to and watching a flock of swallow settling in for the night. Much swooping and chirping and I briefly saw a murmuration. Wonderful end to a fantastic day.

Then after one last wander I went to bed.

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

a late evening walk around Vila do Conde. – Erva Doce Guest House in the middle

It seems I also have a new room-mate; Helga from Germany.

Vila do Conde has a history that goes back 100,000 years and was once a large port.

camino portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

Port of Vila do Conde. Not as important as it was in previous centuries, but still a fantastic place to visit

The passage of King Manuel through Vila do Conde, during a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, in 1502, helped to develop some of the important infrastructures in the city. The late Gothic Azurara Church was rebuilt in 1502 by the people of the village to commemorate his pilgrimage to Santiago.camino de santiago portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

Walking tomorrow. Vila do Conde to Esposende.

Join me on instagram/notjustagranny for more images from my travels around the UK and Europe as part of Project 101

 

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