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.