Porto to Vila do Conde

Lying awake in bed in the earlier hours of the morning I’m thinking of what lies ahead of me on this walk to Santiago de Compostella. It must be foggy outside as through the shuttered window I can hear the fog horns of the boats coming up theDuoro river. It seems like a dream. Are they calling their ancestors through the mist. Just like me they are leaving their footprints in the world.

Our first day on the trail certainly didn’t disappoint. We caught the bus from Porto to Matoshino . This cut 12 k ‘s out off day. After arriving at Matoshino central market we headed over the lift bridge down a few side streets and we were on the beachfront heading north.  The Atlantic Ocean Looked beautiful, still slightly foggy. There were ships further out heading to who knows where.

The boardwalk was great to walk on, soft and gentle on the feet not like the Cobblestones that were to hit us later in the day. We saw only a handful of pilgrims walking today. The boardwalk seemed to go for miles and miles. Great cafes along the waters edge.

We walked through some very quaint fishing villages. The people are very friendly and some even wishing us Bom Caminho.

As we left the boardwalks and headed inland the arrows were a little confusing . I think they are trying to re-route around a new housing area. But our instincts fared us well as others walked in different directions, we followed our instincts and did well. We hit the cobblestones and our feet didn’t appreciate them at all. K after K ouch!!!

Finally arriving in Vila do Conde . What a wonderful small town on the river. Extremely old , in fact one of the oldest settlements in Portugal. After arriving at our accommodation Eva Dolce House we couldn’t wait to lie flat and elevate our cobblestone aching feet. Our dinner was right next door to a Tapa bar. A plate of mini butter beans, peanuts in their shell, a plate of Padron peppers . The saying is that every 100 th pepper is unbelievable hot and wouldn’t you know it, Susan’s first time she got the hot one. They were yum. Followed by a bowl of clams cooked in wine , beer and garlic. After a couple of glasses of wine, a Vinho Tinto Sangria and walking 27 k’s we were are ready for bed.

Ville de Conde to Rates 17.6k
Beautiful weather today and as we walked out of the front door of Erva Doce the view across the park to where the boats were moored and their reflections on the Rive Ave was just beautiful.

Today we are walking and old route to join the Camino Central and as I understand not marked. But we have directions in our guide we can follow. It was truly lovely walking along the river but we were drafted by the magnificent Church and Monastery of Santa Clara.

We we standing on a corner deciding which fork in the road to take and a lovely old gentleman on his morning walk pointed us in the right direction. A little further down the road he went past driving his car and gave us a big toot going past, we gave him a big wave.
It wasn’t long and we were back on the cobblestones, grrrr!!!!!!

We weaved our way through lovely little villages and farms. Beautiful vegetables growing , very envious of bright red tomatoes just waiting to be eaten.

The people are so friendly here, some saying Ola , Bom Caminho and when I came across a lady working in her garden I said hello and admired her Roses . She was so gorgeous and even picked a rose for both of us. While standing talking she was even pulling the thorns off with her fingers.

Accommodation tonight was an interesting exercise. Way back in Porto we were trying to get in contact with our accommodation in Rates. I had left several messages on different phone numbers.
They wanted my credit details and when I rang them I kept getting the same old man and I couldn’t understand him. Think he likes a bit of Vinho Tinto. So, I asked the girl at Happy Porto to ring for me. She got the same man who was talking to her and she still couldn’t understand him.  She said to me he was just a drunken old man. In the meantime a nice lady rang me back and I gave her my credit card details.
When we arrived and rang the gate bell , who should open the gate but this old man. Wow how could this happen. I still don’t know but there must be 2 places which have the same name and what I had booked was miles away from where we were. Another pilgrim walked past and he had a look at the room but said “no thanks “, he said because they didn’t have wifi. We were both not comfortable staying here so headed up to the Albergue. Susan didn’t have a sleeping silk and they had no sheets. Now to find alternative accommodation. The lovely girl at the Albergue rang someone who has rooms. The lady walked up to the Alberque to pick us up and the room was more than comfortable for €20 each. Going out for dinner we ran into the same man that we had seen earlier. I said how come you didn’t stay at the Casa and he said that he was un-comfortable with the man. He also told the lady that he was a vegetarian and she said “but I have just killed a chicken with my sister this afternoon”. A fitting end to today’s travels.
But not to end the story here. I got a call from the other place and they said that because we had just cancelled she was debiting my account for the whole amount which is €80. Hmmmmmm!!!!!

Photos of Rates

One the whole a great day, finishing with a lovely Pilgrims Meal for €8.5

Rates to Barcelos

Today turned out to be around a 20 k walk with a few optional extras thrown in. The weather again is very warm. Suntan cream is out and hats are on.

Early morning bread delivery

We left the sleepy town of Rates early with mist slipping through the valleys.

Views of doorways along the way.

It was lovely walking today even though we are still grumbling about cobblestones. We walked in and around villages. There are a few more Pilgrims around today so it was nice to talk to people from around the world off and on. After visiting the Cafe Pedro Furada for the usual Coke Cola pick me up we were up and climbing a  hill. An optional extra. The views were lovely and when we reached the top we had a lovely rest spot under the trees in the cool of the Convento da Franqueira built in the 16 th Century.

Arriving into Barcelos seemed to take ages. But Wow was it worth it. An amazing energetic, vibrant town . Not sure this was just because it was a Sunday . Walking to our accommodation we passed a park with lots of people dancing to music. I stopped to video them and one lady gestured for me to join her. If you want to see the video of a very tied pilgrim in full backpack trying to dance elegantly have look on my Facebook or Instagram page. It’s not a pretty site. Another funny thing that happened was after we reached the accommodation we did our laundry as usual. I hung my shorts and Tshirt out on the balcony. A bit later Susan went out to hang hers out and across the way in an apartment a man was waving to her, she waved back being polite. He waved again , then she said I can’t work out why he keeps waving. I look out to see that my Tshirt is missing. After looking over the balcony I see 2 hotel staff on the ground and what is hanging on a drain pipe but my Tshirt. All were trying to work out how to get it down. Luckily there was a piece of bamboo on our balcony and standing on a chair leaning over the balcony I could retrieve it. Happy faces all round.

Lots of people out walking, sitting in outdoor bars or just people watching. Just fantastic. After a clean up and ‘let’s lie flat on our backs for a while’, we went out to join them and to have dinner.

The following photos are of our rest day in the beautiful city of Barcelos, meaning Rooster.

Barcelos to Lugar do Corgo

As I’m writing this I am sitting in the beautiful twilight at Casa Fernanda in Lugar do Corgo . A few wines later talking to other pilgrims from Germany, Ireland,Portugal, Israel and England all is good with the world on the Camino. What a mixture we are , all swapping stories, jokes and sharing our lives. This is the Camino to me.
We set out early this morning, the mist sleepily surrounding the town and the hills. We set out very early to avoid the heat as it is going to be in the 30’s . Tomorrow even hotter.
It was a bit sad leaving Barcelos as it was a beautiful city, the people were so kind.

Leaving Barcelos there was a tribute to those walking the Camino. Heading upwards through the outer suburbs , dotted with old and new houses and even sheep and cattle in paddocks in close proximity to the houses.

Walking up a stone walled lane way I could hear the strangest noise. I thought it was a chicken but further along we met the local Parrot who wishes the pilgrims Bom Caminho . It was so funny. To see the video go to my Instagram or FB page. We stopped just past there and had a coke cola and a crunchie chocolate for morning tea. I know not healthy. Opposite was the most lovely church. Capella de S. sebastiao.

The walk today was on soft dirt, small and medium cobblestones and large cobblestones. The heat was quite extreme. We were in high spirits singing any one liner songs we could think of. I am  loving walking through the acorns that have fallen on the ground. Crunch , crunch. Lots of hazelnuts also that have fallen from the trees.
We are also amazed at along the route pergolas full of grapes. No one seems to worry about them and most have dried on the vine.

We passed many Quintas with their spas, swimming pools and we dream of their white fluffy beds and pillows. We keep trudging along one foot in front of the other. Of course the mileage is out and it is getting hotter and hotter. At last we arrive in the village of Lugar de Corgo. We are nearly at the Casa Fernanda and Susan is feeling the heat. She sits on the road and I go and find the Casa. Fernanda is fabulous and comes running out with a glass of iced water down the road to Susan, spilling it as she is running along the lane way.  Arriving at the Casa we sit, have water and the other pilgrims are so welcoming.
For the next hour other pilgrims come and we sit around talking to them, then it’s time for shower wash the clothes and get organized for the next day.
Little bit later, still sitting outside and the wine is flowing. We have a very yummy sausage which is cooked in a dish with flames in the bowl but under the sausage.
Roger from Ireland is holding fort and making us laugh. The stories are coming thick and fast. 2 ladies from Israel are lovely and give Susan some electrolyte which seems to do the trick. I gave one a band aide for her blister on the back of her heel. Even the cotton and needle is doing the rounds. She already has cotton through some tied beautiful with a knot. Her foot looks like a little rag doll.
Dinner was a communal affair. Just wonderful. This is Camino for me. Food is getting past along the table, the red tomatoes, cabbage salad, soup, rissotto, meat, wine and water. After all this, the white and red port come come out. I try the white port and it’s not bad.  Okay it is now time for me to go to bed. Night Night.

Here are a few scenes from the Casa Fernada

Lugar do Corgo to Ponte da Lima

After a great night, we headed out of Casa Fernanda early once again to miss the heat. It is only a short day today 16.1 K’s. It turned out to be a lovely day, walking was great and the scenery walking through valleys and small hamlets on tracks and minor roads was wonderful. Locals waving and also wishing us a great journey. Off and on we would catch up with the other Pilgrims who we stayed with last night. Still the jokes were coming from Roger the Irishman as he passed.

Here are some photos of our journey today

Ponte da Lima to Rubiaes

We really didn’t want to leave Villa Merceria at Ponte Lima this morning. It was a lovely place to stay and a beautiful town. They say the oldest town in Portugal.

We knew it was going to be a climb in fact the highest for this Camino. The mist has shrouded the towns and the hills beyond. Quite peaceful and beautiful. Up narrow paths into the mist, a combination of dirt and cobblestones. We came across some beautiful old properties, friendly farmers and once again meeting up with our Camino friends. 2 Irish couples quite enjoyed our singing of ‘Give me a Home among the Gum Trees. ‘There is a big group of students and also a group of 28 Germans on the trail today but it still seems like there is very few people around. Also groups of bike riders go whizzing past. It is a public holiday today. Only at the cafe’s do you see more than roughly  4-6 or so together. The weather is perfect for climbing. Up and up we go.
When we thought we were at the top the path led us to an opening and a magnificent view of the hills beyond. But alas we weren’t at the top. A wider road then leads us to a rocky narrow path and severely goes straight up. We pass the spot where Napoleons troops were ambushed. Can’t believe my footprints also will walk this way.
An amazing view opens up at the top and a clearing with water fountains and shaded areas to sit. We decided to have lunch and have our little picnic here.

After lunch it is down hill all the way through beautiful arches of vines. Their leaves turning from green right through to red. We are also crunching the walnuts, acorns and as we walk over the fallen grapes a wonderful fragrance hits us. Can’t be vino time yet.

Our accommodation today was in a Small house with private rooms and multi rooms but unfortunately the private room that we had booked, they had added other people in it. The girl was wonderful and apologetic and rang around to find us a room. I had rung a Quinta earlier but no one  answered. Luckily they rang back and the girl could speak to them in Portuguese .
This place is around 400 years old and has been lovingly restored. It has its own church and the room is wonderful. They even came to pick us up and will take us back to our starting point tomorrow. They are also going to drive us down to a restaurant later tonight for another very satisfying Pilgrims Meal.
A wonderful warm family. This has been a lovely stay at Quinta da Gandra and for €25 each great value.

Rubiaes to Tui (Spain)

After our lovely stay at Quinta da Gandra and a beautiful breakfast we were a little late starting out. Our host drove us back to the Camino from where they picked us up last afternoon. Immediately we were greeted by a very friendly farmer sorting her corn out for storage.

The path led us down a track which again was edged with vines, it is going to be hot today so the mist will be a refreshing change. There will be another small climb today and the scenery is beautiful again.

I am nearly over the cobblestones. Who knew they came in all sizes.

We venture over an old Roman bridge over the rio Coura. The path meanders through small towns some with Cafes some just with a church and surrounding farms. It seems as we enter a town the church bells go off. Very nice welcome. We sit in a park with other Pilgrims mid morning chatting and having a cold drink.

Today we leave Portugal and enter Spain via Valenca. It always seems to drag a bit on the outskirts of the cities, especially being hot as the pavement seems to come up to hit you in the face with the heat. Nearly there and we climb to the top of the fort in Valenca which gives us a brilliant view to Spain. We cross the car , pedestrian bridge and before you know it we are in Spain. Our leg In Portugal has finished and now onward to Santiago de Compostella

Tui is an ancient town with great history. The buildings are larger than life and tomorrow we will have an extra day here to have a look around . Although today was only around23 K’s , we arrived late but also Spain is an hour forward  in time as well.

By chance we meet our Israeli girls and have a terrific tapa dinner with them.

A day in Tui.
First of all we were going to have breakfast at 8.00 am but due to some very much over sleeping we had it around 10.00. Our poor old bodies must have needed the rest.
We wander the town, Susan looking for some new sandals as her feet have a few blisters. Walking up to the Cathedral we spot Martin the Englishman who we hadn’t seen for a few days . He was treating himself to the Parador for a couple of days. This is around half way on our Camino so I think a good time for a rest. While sitting chatting opposite the Cathedral a wedding came out with a full band playing. It was wonderful to watch. The band was  playing as the Bride and Groom came down the stairs and then later the guest all danced in the square to the band. We were clapping and swaying our hips. Don’t know why we wouldn’t have got an invite in our hiking gear.
The afternoon finished with a lovely wine sitting in the shade of the garden of our hotel. They have a 300 year old Magnolia tree in the garden. Magnificent . I am all rested and charged up for tapas tonight and another day on the trail.

Here are a few photos of time spent in Tui

Tui to O Porrino

Early in the morning I was looking out my window from the Hotel and could see in the shadows the early Pilgrims leaving. Click , clack with their walking sticks. Not too much of a rush for us today as we only have about 19 k’s. There seems to be a lot of Pilgrims around at the start of the day, hopefully they will single out as the day progresses.
The yellow arrow weaved it’s way through the cobblestone streets and out of town. The sun is still coming up and there is a lovely pink to the sky.

A encouraging sign sends us off with so called 114 K’s to go.

Masses of leaves cover the ground shedding Autumn tones along the trail. We walk along the edge of a minor road for a short while then into the Forrest.
We come across a shepherd and a few sheep, it was funny to see them munching on the wild mint that perfumes the air. Maybe they don’t worry about the mint sauce here if the sheep are already eating the mint.

As we walk through a small Hamlet we have a smile on our faces as there is a person who has made ducks for her garden out of the traditional Pilgrims Gourds. Very clever.

A man comes past on a beautiful horse and the sound it makes as it moves along the pavements is wonderful. He gives me an Ola and a friendly wave.
Yahoo we have reached the 100 to go sign. As we a standing taking photos of the sign next to a river we hear the acorns falling around us. We didn’t hang round to long just in case we got hit in the head. Crossing a gorgeous little river with its Roman bridge the leaves of the trees are fluttering down in the air and hitting the river and floating away like little boats.

Lovely dirt paths today, NO cobblestones .!

We come across a beautiful mural on the side of a wall. We couldn’t find out much about it but we could still admire the work that has gone into it.

Just past here we can turn off to an alternative route into the Forrest. The locals would like you to walk the road route and maybe buy goods from there shops. The markers and signs get taken down quite regularly by the look. The yellow arrows are also painted black. We find the alternative route and down through the trees and aren’t we glad we did. Later we saw many Pilgrims who didn’t find the turn off and had to walk all the way on the road. They looked unhappy and very tired.
Further along we come to a lovely area which maybe a times floods and we have large stepping stones to walk over. Very pretty area.

We run into Martin our English friend again and walk with him for awhile. As we come past a house on the outskirts a small boy poked his hand through a fence and offered biscuits to us, Martin took one and we gave him €.50. He was so excited and rang and told his father then his Mum. So cute , we also gave him and his sister a small Aussie badge each.
Just before O Porrino there is a little road walking before a turn off along a river which brings us into the town. We pass the Albergue with people lined up and waiting for it to open. Being Sunday the town is very quite and no shops except for a few bars are open.
We are hoping we will be able to get dinner. Our Hotel in Tui has booked us a room in the Hotel Parque. Hmmmm what can I say !!!!!!!

O Porrino to Arcade

What can I say about Porrino. You are greeted as  you walk into town by an Albergue, then an extremely run down building hits you and you think Wow, it’s true what people are saying that it is an “Interesting place”. But we settled in our Hotel which I think is stuck in the last century and a not so co-operative owner  we made our way down a pedestrian street at the rear of the town and were delighted by the buildings and Restaurants.

There was a children’s fair right outside our window but I must have been tired because I slept like a baby. Best nights sleep for a while.

We have a long hike today so we were up early , went down to breakfast and the owner wanted to charge us again so we didn’t have anything and we gone in the dark at 7.15 , head torches on.

It really was lovely walking so earlier and we got some k’s under our belt before it got light.

We came to a town called Mos and it was fun to see that the farmers had a sense of humour as there were scarecrows of different styles and colours in their paddocks.

it is hot again today and the trail lead us through pine Forrest, eucalyptus trees, cobblestones, roads and dirt tracks. It was a pleasant surprise to see the water that fronts Arcade in the distant and only a couple of hills in front of us to go. Pleasant room and view to the sea. Not quite sure if we have the energy to walk another k down to the sea for dinner or have something nearer to hotel. On the whole a lovely day.

Here are some scenes from today.

Arcade to Pontevedra

Easy 16.4 k’s walk  today. After walking over the 1795 stone bridge and having a wonderful coffee and ghulten free bread at the Romana cafe . It was so funny we asked for toast and jam and with a huge smile got toast and Jamon.

It was a steep climb through the town and out to the countryside A really lovely walk  today a little bit of everything. Cobblestones, friendly people, past farm houses with fruit trees laden with fruit.  Also along the trail the wild mint is growing and the smell is lovely as you walk on it.

The last 6 k’s we walked by the river into the city of Pontevedra. It is quite a large university city and trying to find the hostel was a little bit challenging as the temperature soared to 31 degrees. Finally found the hostel after we asked a very friendly policeman where we were.

The Slow hostel is very nice with about beds for 10 people. We have a private room with shared bathroom and kitchen lounge area.  We will go and investigate the city after the usual rest ,shower and washing of clothes.

We went out to early as no restaurant was serving dinner till 8.30. Tried some type of prawn tapa but not so nice. A trip to the supermarket and we finished up having banana, orange and chocolate chip cookies.

Ready for a good nights sleep.

Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

After a very meager  breakfast at the Hostel we headed out in the dark (8.15am) to make an early start to the day. We are walking to Caldas de Reis.

The sun hadn’t yet appeared and the reflections on the water as we crossed the old stone bridge were beautiful.

It was a mixture today of dirt paths, lovely country lanes and also walking among the gum trees which of course we had to sing Give me a Home amongst the Gum Trees. No one around to hear our bad singing thank goodness.

quite a few Pilgrims out early but it is amazing how we all seem to thin out and only then catch up at the Cafes. Walked with a young man from Norway today for a little while. He had started from Lisbon and walked mainly along the beach to Portothen the Coastal route. He had also walked the Camino Frances.

Lovely stop at a cafe today , the best omlet really filled the spot to go on.

Rows and rows of vines followed us and also cover us from the sun as we walk under the terraces. Very handy to pick a few as you walk along. The chestnuts, mint and acorns cover the trail to today. In the little towns at night thre are vendors selling the roasted chestnuts.

A little bit of road walking towards the end of the day makes the rest spots even more special. Our usual glass of coke cola edges us on the the Termal Springs Hotel in Caldas de Reis.

8.30 Dinner again to night. Can we last????????

Interesting place our Hotel was last night. Think it is in a bit of a time warp, but the thermal springs looked amazing. Wish I had brought my bathers to give my muscles a good old soak. I guess a Spanish Gin and Tonic will have to do the trick.

Setting out a bit later today as we only had around 20 k’s and it was relatively flat. As we left down the Main Street Pilgrims were coming from all directions, after a few kilometres we all had spread out.

The mist had settled for most of the morning but later as the day progressed it got hotter and hotter.

Lovely tracks today, covered by overhanging trees. We meet a group of Spanish women who had set out this morning. We had crossed paths off and on through the morning and when we caught up with them late in the morning we discovered that one of them was struggling as she had done something to the ankle and could hardly walk. I offered tape but she said she would manage.  Think her walking is over for a while.

The cafes along the way are always busy. Usually only one or two people working so it is a struggle to feed the impatient lot of Pilgrims. Only have meet lovely owners and workers and they  always encourage you on for the day.

We arrived in Padron around 3.30 Can’t wait to have some Peppers. The cafe we had lunch at had them in a bowl then I spotted heaps in a bucket, hope I don’t regret not having them. Fingers crossed I will have them tonight. It is getting to the end of the season.

Another great day on the Camino.

Tomorrow Santiago De Compostella

Padron to Santiago de Compostella

Last day on the Portuguese Camino, an expected 30 k walk today and mostly on sealed roads. There were a few relief moments when a dirt track appeared. The weather has been amazing , we have had no rain at all.  Once again up early or it seems so early as it is still dark at 8.30 we leave the Hotel and hit the road.

Can’t say much about the road as I really don’t like walking on it, either do my legs or feet. We walk through several lovely villages. Lots with great vegetable patches, cats & dogs pleased to see us. There seems to be a lot more pilgrims around. All looking very fresh and clean, some carrying nothing but a handbag. We are amongst the very few carrying our backpacks. Also it appears the modern GPS system might enable people to perhaps walk a more direct route from A to B. Anyway that is not our Camino.

We visited a beautiful church along the way and received one of our last Sello’s for our Credentials.

A cheeky little kitten tried to hitch a ride with me.

A welcome stop was at a Casa Rural for a lunch of Lentil Soup which was delicious.

The count down starts with each way marker getting lower and lower.

Within the last few kilometres we stop at wayside cafe and have a coke cola and some freshly roasted Chestnuts.

It’s a funny feeling getting to an end of a walk like this. It certainly is challenging at times and I have loved this Camino but to me it doesn’t hold the connection to a pilgrimage as the French Camino does.

We go to the Pilgrim office to receive our Compostella but it has a line a mile long so decide to comeback at another time. We attend the 7.30 Mass but no swinging of the Botafumeiro . Hopefully we will see it before we leave.

Santiago is wonderful, full of excitement . So happy to be here . We hit the tapas bar that I had been to when I walked the French Camino ,we eat , drink wine and have a great time.

Here are some scenes from our days in Santiago.

I have received my Compostella and now looking forward to my next adventure the Camino Ingles.