Google

Camino Portuguese: Day 5

10/13/12 Ancora to Tui (foot and train), about 2.5km of walking from Valenca to Tui

This was the view from where I stayed in Ancora.  Not bad, huh?

This was the view from where I stayed in Ancora.  Not bad, huh?

Today was a difficult decision day for me.  My feet, body and mind really took a beating yesterday.  The route finding without proper maps is really starting to feel unsafe to me.  As luck would have it, the train picks up right behind the hotel.  I wandered over there to check the schedule and it was picking up in twenty minutes.  Decision made.  I took the train to Valenca, then walked over to Tui.

It was a little bit wet on the walk over.  But so pretty!!!

It was a little bit wet on the walk over.  But so pretty!!!

I wasn't sure where I was going to stay, but I needed a new SIM card for my phone, so I started off following the Camino, knowing it would take me to the old part of town and to the tourism office.  I found an Orange shop on the way and stood in line forever.  the guy ahead of me was asking a lot of questions.  Finally I was able to get the SIM card.  It worked perfect and I'm not having the same battery issues with the the Vodafone SIM card I bought in Portugal.  I found the tourism office and decided to go to a private albergue called San Clemente.  For 10€, it was right on the Camino and close to the Cathedral.  Ivan, the hospitalero and owner, was so sweet.  The albergue just opened in February this year.  He has great plans for the place and I cannot recommend them enough.  They also have private rooms available as well, reasonably priced if you want more privacy.

I relaxed for a bit, then took off to see the Cathedral and buy groceries.  I finally saw pilgrims!  I also got a sello from the Cathedral.  I went back to the albergue and the doorbell rang.  I was the only one there as Ivan was gone and the albergue technically wasn't open yet.  I decided to answer the door and there were four French pilgrims!  I invited them in and explained the hospitalero would be back later.  Later seven German pilgrims arrived so we went from just me to a full house!

Ivan offered to take me to his parent's restaurante later so I decided to take a nap since it would be a late dinner.  I had grilled squid, rice and pasta salad plus a bottle of vino tinto, bread plus yogurt and cafe con leche for dessert.  All for 9€.  Ivan picked me up and dropped me off at the albergue where we said our goodbyes.  We talked about many things and he was really cool.  I had no trouble getting to sleep once my earplugs were in!

 

Camino Portuguese: Day 4

0/12/12 Viana do Castelo to Ancora, 12.6km

I didn't get a picture the day before, but this is the Eiffel Bridge.  Pretty cool.

I didn't get a picture the day before, but this is the Eiffel Bridge.  Pretty cool.

Looking back at Viana do Castelo.  I would really like to visit this town when not walking on the Camino.  They seemed to want tourists and I am happy to oblige them in the future.

Looking back at Viana do Castelo.  I would really like to visit this town when not walking on the Camino.  They seemed to want tourists and I am happy to oblige them in the future.

 I grabbed a quick breakfast at the hostel before setting out.  Today was supposed to be another long day, 27km to Caminha or so I thought.  The walk out of Viana do Castelo had two options and I chose what I thought was the easier option, to walk along the coast. At some point I moved inland and I followed that through some woods before coming to a crossroads.  I had lost the yellow arrows again.  This was a common occurrence on this trail.  At the crossroads, both directions had yellow "x"s on them.  The "X" means the Camino does not go through there.  There was a "third" option but it had a sign that looked like it said "no trespassing" so I decided to head back down the hill and get reconnected with the coastal route.  This would be known as "THE BIG MISTAKE".  I ended up walking on more boardwalks, then the beach, then through more forest and so on.  Not to mention, there were no yellow arrows, so I was essentially following a Google map printout plus the map on my iPhone and hoping I was where I was supposed to be.  I had wasted so much time finding the Camino, my mind was toast, much less my body.  I made the decision to get a room in Ancora, still about 9km from Caminha.  I found a hotel for 39€ for the night.  It was perfect.

This picture does not do justice to the amazing meal I had here.  One of my most memorable meals on this walk.

This picture does not do justice to the amazing meal I had here.  One of my most memorable meals on this walk.

   After a shower, I set off to find an ATM and a grocery store.  I also wanted to find a place for dinner later.  I found all three.  I got off the tourist track on the beach and discovered a lovely restaurant for dinner.

   The waitress spoke some English and I ordered Caldo Verde, a local specialty.  It's basically kale in pureed potato soup.  It was delicious.  For my second course, I had salmon with potatoes, carrots, green beans and cabbage.  It was so good.  Of course, I had a hearty glass or two of vino tinto with dinner.  After dinner I enjoyed an espresso and a local digestivo made with honey.  It hit the spot.  All for 20€.  Totally worth the splurge.  I went to bed happy and content but undecided about tomorrow.


Camino Portuguese: Day 3

10/11/12  Fao to Viana do Castelo, 27.5km

Morning view, heading out of Fao.

Morning view, heading out of Fao.

This stream crossing was so tranquil and quiet, I could have sat here all day just enjoying myself.

This stream crossing was so tranquil and quiet, I could have sat here all day just enjoying myself.

   Today's walk started out following along the coast then moved inland as I walked the "Costa" route.  I found an albergue in Marinhas that wasn't listed anywhere.  It looked really nice.  It was closed, though.  The "Orla Litoral" route looked sketchy so I decided to play it safe and stick to the other route.  There was a great stretch through the woods and a river crossing with a stone bridge.  I could have stayed there for hours.  The rest of the day was a slog through neighborhoods, eventually leading up to the Eiffel bridge.  Yep.  Designed by the same guy as the Eiffel Tower.  

I'll freely admit.  I spent a LOT of time here.  These goats were very curious and so cute, I couldn't help myself!

I'll freely admit.  I spent a LOT of time here.  These goats were very curious and so cute, I couldn't help myself!

   As I was coming off the bridge, a guy on a bicycle offered to take me to the local church where the priests hosted pilgrims.  I had my mind set on cleaning my clothes in a washer and dryer at the youth hostel so I declined his offer.  I found the hostel, and on check-in asked about the washer and dryer.  Sadly, they were out of order.  I was pretty tired, so I took a shower, skipped dinner and spent some time chatting with the front desk person at the hostel.  She was very kind and I really enjoyed the conversation. Still no pilgrims and as near as I can tell, there weren't a lot of people in the hostel either.  I had another 4 bunk room to myself.

Camino Portuguese: Day 2

10/10/12  Azurara to Fao, 21.5km

Not a lot of waymarks, but this one was pretty obvious. 

Not a lot of waymarks, but this one was pretty obvious. 

   Today started out well, until I crossed the bridge into Vila do Conde.  Then I lost the yellow arrows and was sent the wrong way by a well-meaning woman.  She thought I was trying to reconnect with the Caminho Central, which is the most common route.  Eventually I found the way again, not before finding a Franciscan monastery and getting completely turned around!

Just across the bridge, if you take a right  you can end up back on the Caminho Central....I did not want to do this.  The route continues straight ahead before turning left, if I remember correctly.

Just across the bridge, if you take a right  you can end up back on the Caminho Central....I did not want to do this.  The route continues straight ahead before turning left, if I remember correctly.


I spent a lot of time walking along routes that followed local paths along the beach.

I spent a lot of time walking along routes that followed local paths along the beach.

This stretch involved a lot of town walking before eventually doing more coastal walking.  There was a good mixture of wooden boardwalks (which I love) and "senda" walking.  The most fun part of the day was when the trail left a campground and I ended up at a four way intersection with no idea where to go.  A car came along and pointed me in the right direction.  I kept walking through essentially local farmland.  At some point, I reconnected with the Caminho Orla Litoral and began a long 2km slog down a street full of seafood restaurants.  I wanted to stop and eat but I really wanted to get to the hostel in Fao.

Portuguese Campground.  In the US, I think we call this "glamping".

Portuguese Campground.  In the US, I think we call this "glamping".

The last several kilometers were along this boardwalk and I really enjoyed figuring out what these buildings are.  My best guess: windmills.  If anyone knows, please let me know!

The last several kilometers were along this boardwalk and I really enjoyed figuring out what these buildings are.  My best guess: windmills.  If anyone knows, please let me know!

The hostel in Fao.  Nothing too fancy, but it was warm and dry with wi-fi. 

The hostel in Fao.  Nothing too fancy, but it was warm and dry with wi-fi. 

   The youth hostels in Portugal offer a 10% discount to pilgrims with a credential and don't require you to be a member.  For 9,90€ I had a bed and breakfast in the morning.  The hostel was pretty dead and I had a 4-bed bunk room to myself.  There were a few other people, no pilgrims, though.  I spent the evening relaxing and snacking on some food I was able to buy at a local store.

Camino Portuguese: Day 1

I know some of you have been waiting with baited breath to read of my adventures along the Camino Portuguese.  I enjoy reading travelogues.  I've decided to share this adventure in more of a travelogue/journal style. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing photos and my journal entries from this trip.  I hope you enjoy following along.

Selfie at the metro stop.  I've got some crazy eyes going on there.  Sorry.  Selfies aren't really my thing.

Selfie at the metro stop.  I've got some crazy eyes going on there.  Sorry.  Selfies aren't really my thing.

Day 1: Matosinhos to Azurara, 22km

I spent last night at a hostel in the central part of Porto.  It's called the Garden House Hostel and it was impeccably clean, organized and roomy.  The rooms have high ceilings and there was lots of storage space in lockers underneath the sturdy wooden bunk beds.  The hostel offered breakfast so I ate quickly with a Kiwi friend I made the night before.  I had some things I needed to send ahead to Santiago de Compostela, so I found out where the post office was and set out in the pouring rain.  Yep. Rain.  On my first day of walking.  And humid as can be.  I never found the post office so I decided to catch the metro to Matosinhos to start walking, and hopefully find a post office.  Today was my lucky day.  There was a post office close to the metro stop, so I was able to post a box to Santiago de Compostela with my post-Camino things.  I chose to start walking from Matosinhos because all the guide books said the slog from Porto to Matosinhos was mostly industrial with a lot of concrete, pavement and cobblestone walking.  This turned out to be a good decision.

The first yellow arrow I would see. 

The first yellow arrow I would see. 

I started walking around 11a, crossing the bridge, turning left and about 25m down the street, I saw my first yellow arrow!  I also received my first "Bom Caminho!" from an elderly woman who asked if I was a pilgrim.  I'd say that's a good start to a new walk, don't you think?

I followed the arrows until the boardwalk then I continued on my own.  It was extremely foggy so I never saw too far ahead.  The visibility was poor, and gave the path a somewhat eerie feeling.  There were quite a few people out on the boardwalk or the beach, which was surprising considering the weather wasn't optimal.  The most exciting event of the day was coming across a guy masturbating behind a memorial of some sort.  Ewwww!  I don't know what it is with European men and their need to expose themselves in public.  A similar incident happened in Spain when I walked in 2010.  I wrote about this before, you can find the post here.

Even though it was foggy, it was a really lovely walk, alternating between boardwalks, packed trail and occasionally cement sidewalk.  There was an entire section before Azurara where the Camino takes you through a nature preserve.  I didn't realize that until I left it and turned around and saw the sign.  It was very confusing to me, the waymarking wasn't great and I found myself keeping right unless given a clear sign to go elsewhere.  With this section, it might have been easier to figure out a way to join the Caminho da Costa, instead of sticking to the Orla Litoral route.

Fishing for mackerel.

Fishing for mackerel.

I had arranged a couchsurf for the night and arrived at Ana's place around 6:10p.  Her apartment happened to be right on the Camino.  There was a yellow arrow on the wall as you leave her apartment.  I felt like it was a sign of good things to come.  She arrived shortly after I did and we instantly became friends.  She cooked me a lovely dinner of salmon, potatoes and bread.  I went to bed happy with a full belly.  Oh, and I did acquire two blisters because I wasn't listening to my body.  Oops.