Signs along The Way

The signs along The Way are many. When I first started planning my Camino I joined a number of Facebook pages and groups and started reading blogs. And, although I saw a few photos of the Camino waymarkers and some of the yellow arrows, I didn’t realise how plentiful they would be.

camino portuguese coastal route

Bom Caminho Buen Camino Good Journey

My initial impression was that you would HAVE to follow the guide books and to that end I bought one about the Portuguese Coastal Route, which I studied intently, meaning to take copies with on the journey, but forgot. So, while in Porto, in a panic and before I started, I had my daughter photograph each relevant page and whatsapp them to me. For no reason. As it turned out, the signs were virtually every 500 meters.

The Way is incredibly well marked with arrows, the Camino scallop shell signs and waymarkers showing the distance in kms, until they didn’t – weirdly they came to an abrupt end just as I reached Santiago.

Leaving from the Sé Catedral in the old town of Porto, a remarkably historic building in it’s own right, it made a fitting location to start my journey. It was also recommended in the book. Now I didn’t go in ‘blind’, I sussed out the route a few days before – didn’t want to get lost on my first day on the Camino LOL. So, on the day I left, at approximately 07:30, it was easy to follow the downward spiral of steps to the riverfront.

camino portuguese coastal route porto

Sé Catedral, Porto, Portugal, view of the river and of the route, San Tiago, a pilgrims shell and hat, my passport with stamps from the 8th

1. ancient route

The route down from Sé Catedral to the riverside

Although I didn’t see any arrows or markers at that juncture, and since I took the bus to Foz do Duoro, having already walked that section beforehand, the first time I saw anything resembling a ‘sign’, that I recall anyway, was well after I had left Matasinhos at about 14:13 – a yellow arrow painted on a lamp-post. Now, I’m almost certain that there were many others before then, but either I didn’t see them, or was so intent on walking that I didn’t stop to photograph them…that aspect changed further along on my journey.

camino portuguese coastal route

The first arrow that I noticed on the Portuguese Coastal Route

Truthfully, what I did was ‘follow that pilgrim’. For most of my journey and where applicable, I followed the pilgrims up ahead.

camino portuguese coastal route

Follow that pilgrim

There was one place where I came unstuck, on the road to Esposende, and I’m still not at all sure how, but I just trudged along following the footsteps in the sand. There was one set of shoe tracks that I could recognise, so I followed those all the way through along winding sandy paths, and shrubby land till suddenly I could see, in the distance, a road and some buildings…at last civilisation. I was beginning to think I’d be wandering around there forever!! And at some stage along the route I ended up walking through thick brush and undergrowth with zip, zero, nothing and nada around me except for undergrowth, thick brush, trees and deep sandy paths. I did see a few diggers and excavation equipment but no people. It was weird and a little unsettling.

But to get back to The Way and the arrows. They are plentiful. In some areas there are 3 or 4 and in other areas you have to have faith and search.

camino portuguese coastal route

Tilting at Windmills – spot the arrow! If you’re not concentrating…

Most of the time I walked I was enjoying the scenery or in a day-dream, so occassionally I ended up suddenly stopping and realising I hadn’t seen any arrows or scallop shells or waymarkers for quite some time. This usually brought me to a standstill and a panicked look around! Did I miss the arrows?

camino portuguese coastal route

How could you possibly miss this!!

At that point I’d stand still, take a deep breath and having faith that I was still on the correct route, I’d walk on and sure enough there it was; whether a small arrow painted on a rock, or a faint outline on the road, maybe even, as in one spot, painted on an ivy covered wall…..the ivy carefully cut away around it like a frame! The Signs were there. Marvellous.

camino portuguese coastal route

Learning where to look and eventually knowing where to look

There was one day however that I did seriously go way off and as I was swinging along, I heard distant shouts “Senora!! Hello. Hello. Hello.” Eventually I stopped to look around and see what all the fuss was about, and about 500 yards away, distant figures were shouting and gesticulating wildly in my direction then pointing along a path that was not where I was on? LOL Initially a tad confused, I suddenly realised that I had been so deep in thought that I’d not kept my eye on the route. I scurried back laughing and we all agreed I could have ended up who knows where, but it wouldn’t have been Santiago. I still wonder that if they hadn’t drawn my attention, where on earth I’d have gone to?

camino portuguese coastal route

In case you were not aware…this is the Camino de Santiago..weirdly these signs were all in Spain

But on the whole, the route was amazingly well marked. People have been really inventive in where they painted the arrows and or made the markings to show which route you’re on.

8. fields and houses

Camino de Santiago – signs along The Way

10. I spy with my little eye

Camino de Santiago – signs along The Way

11. blink and you'll miss it

Camino de Santiago – signs along The Way

In fact I often wondered about the person/people who painted the arrows and made those markings, or put up the scallop shells and installed the waymarkers. All I can say is ‘thank you’. Whoever you may be, you were in many instances blessed by me. 😉 I got really excited when I came across the Caminho Beach Bar. I’d seen photos of this on the Fcabeook page and the board of shells (behind me), so I stopped, bought a shell, put my name on it and hung it up…@notjustagranny was here 🙂

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Caminho Beach Bar – Santiago de Compostela 265 kms!!

As I said, most of The Way was very clearly marked and I seldom had any problems, especially after 3 or 4 days, in locating them up ahead…although some were far between, if you just keep walking you will eventually discover them. One of the things that I enjoyed was discovering the yellow X! Sometimes you’d be walking and what looked like the logical route, is not. Then you’d see a big, or as in many cases, small yellow X – this not The Way. So you’d look around till you found what you were looking for…a Yellow marker…this is The Way. My favourite markers were the brown metal plates with yellow arrows.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

X says “no, this is not the way” – even though you may be tempted, but no…this is not The Way

As you wind your way along the Potuguese Coastal Route the signs are varied. Once you get into the forests and hills, you have to be a little more inventive in where you look.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

keeping your eye on the route, sometimes you had to just be a little more aware, they were not always pretty

A tiny yellow arrow pinned to a tree trunk, a scallop shell attached to a wall,

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

show me The Way to go home…oh wait, this is my home!! I loved these ceramic wall plaques

and frequently just two little lines, one yellow, one white to say ‘don’t worry, you’re going the right way’.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Crossing Paths – the Portuguese Coastal Route blends with the Littoral Route

I loved seeing the different signs, some were freshly painted, others a very faint outline that if you were not looking you could miss it altogether, and others were right across a busy road that needed to be traversed.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

sometimes it was right in front of you, and others …..well suffice to say, you kept your eyes peeled

The waymarkers were the best, I loved seeing the kilometers measured out, and note my progress… my steps eating up the miles.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Santiago 165kms – my 4th day of walking and I still had 165 kms to go. Ouch

I think I photographed about 95% of them all the way from Valenca in Portugal to the last one at Santiago. Weirdly though, the very first concrete waymarker I saw showing the distance, was in Valenca; 117,624 kms to Santiago. I saw countless after that. Perhaps they only have them from that point.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Following an ancient route in modern shoes – leaving Valenca, last town in Portugal before crossing to Tui in Spain – 117.624 kms to Santiago

I loved the many many scallop shells that decorated O Porrino, one of my favourite overnight stops.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

The scallop shells of O Porrino, Spain

And I really loved the signs that showed there was a rest stop nearby!!

Camino de Santiago - portuguese route

Refreshments along the way…

One of my favourite places (of which there are quite a few) along The Way was Mos.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese route

Mos. Oh what a delightful stop this was. A small but pretty little town with a church, restaurant and shops.

Admittedly though I was very disappointed coming into Santiago from Padron. All along the route I had seen yellow arrows, scallop shells and waymarkers, and then suddenly I didn’t.

camino portuguese coastal route

the signs along the way. I found these to be most helpful. It was also fun to see how the kms were going down. down. down 🙂

I was expecting the countdown to continue right up until you reached the 000.000 kms to Santiago and frequent arrows or scallop shells….but no….the last one was the last one and it wasn’t 000.000 kms. The last waymarker I saw on the perimeter of the city said 2,329 kms. After that, the scarcity of arrows and scallop shells was very disappointing. I think perhaps they feel that once you reach the outskirts of the city, you can jolly well find your own way LOL.

camino portuguese coastal route

I saw very few signs after this. They seemed to get scarcer the closer we got to Santiago

But a few pilgrims felt the same way I did…or did I just walk the wrong way? I don’t know.

But what I do know, is that they were a life-saver. There was something incredibly reassuring about finding/seeing the signs. I’m on The Way to Santiago de Compostela.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Camino de Santiago – I’m on The Way

Trust, that was one lesson I learned on the Camino, to trust in the signs, to trust in the route, to trust in myself. And I made it. 🙂





Hola dear reader. It’s been 4 days since I returned from my first Camino in Europe. What an extraordinary experience. It was so amazing, if I’d had sufficient funds I would have cancelled my flight home and set off to walk another route….that time will come. I did try to post articles about my journey while I was there, but after starting my walk, within a couple of days, by the time I got to the albergue after an 8-12 hour walk, all I wanted was something to eat, a shower and bed. Not necessarily in that order. LOL

My first Camino was along the Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Caminha. From Caminha I took the train to Valenca and then followed the Central Way from Tui to Santiago. I loved every step of The Way.

The road to Santiago do Compostela

The road to Santiago do Compostela; my Pilgrim’s Passport, the Compostela and my Certificate of Completion

Seriously though, the days were exhausting and one of the things I was grateful for at the end of a long day was not having to search for accommodation. I pre-booked all but 2 nights of the 11 days of my journey, and in retrospect, I’m really glad I did. I was brave though and left 2 nights to chance. Both of which I’m glad to say were easy enough to find a place to sleep.

Since I have a back-log of about 8 days of walking adventures to update, I thought I’d start with the places I stayed at while on my journey….since sleep is definitely a pilgrim’s best friend.

The accommodations were varied and depended entirely on whether or not I was planning on just passing through or staying for a few days and wanted a bit of luxury and very definitely based on spoiling myself after a long day 😉 I seemed to have hit the nail on the head in most places.

I will list them, not in order of when I stayed there, but rather based on which I thought was the best.

1) O Recuncho do Peregrino – Estrada de Soutoxuste 45, 36810 Redondela, Pontevedra, Spain.
Tel: +34 617292598. Proprietor: Miguel.
I have listed this venue first because this was for me one of the nicest places I stayed. This was one of the nights where I had not booked ahead, but relied on the Camino to provide the best place. I spotted Miguel’s advertisements a few times on that day, but it was only at the very end of the day with just on 1.5 km to go till I reached Arcade that I finally stopped and phoned the number. He had a room available. Hoorah!! The accommodation itself is unfortunately right on the main road, but was easy to access without having to search along tiny, confusing lanes and almost immediately after you exit the route from the mountain. The albergue is simply furnished but very comfortable. Cleanliness was of the highest standard. I booked a double room which was furnished with 2 single beds each with a side cabinet, and the communal bathroom, also very clean, was just down the hall. It was one of the few places I stayed where I felt I could actually walk barefoot and not get my feet dirty. There is free wi-fi and a garden leading to the seashore (10 minute walk). Miguel provided a beautifully set out and substantial continental breakfast for 2.50euro at a time that suits the pilgrim from 6am onwards. He provided a same day wash&dry laundry service for 8 euro. What impressed me the most about this accommodation was the host; Miguel, the personification of the perfect host; kind, gentle, helpful, accommodating and a really humble person who was keen to ensure that his guests were comfortable and had all they required. I give this venue a 5 * rating based on how lovely the host was, cleanliness and comfort. For me it’s not always about luxury and facilities, but very much on how I felt at the time. And this certainly fit the bill. Miguel is a superb host and has also done the Camino, albeit on a bike.
I phoned ahead on the day to book and was very lucky there was place available. I notice that they are on booking.com
The website: http://orecunchodoperegrino.com/

O Recuncho do Peregrino Albergue

O Recuncho do Peregrino Albergue – Miguel our host; the best

2) Erva Doce Guest House – R. do Cais das Lavandeiras 39, 4480-478 Vila do Conde, Portugal
Tel: +351 919 058 715 Reception: Susana.
This was without doubt my 2nd favourite place to stay. Located right on the marina within easy access from the pilgrim’s route into Vila do Conde, I received such a lovely welcome from Susana, so I simply have to list this as my 2nd favourite place to stay. The guest house is a delightful, tiny abode over 3 floors with an outside and inside eating area/café, it is very clean and comfortable and the beds were made up on arrival. I went for a bit of luxury here and had a private bathroom which was wonderful. The room I booked, CINNAMON BELICHE caters for 3 people which made the beds very close together, so expect to have very little privacy if you are sharing a room. But it was only 15euro with breakfast included. I stayed here 2 nights and shared with 2 different but lovely ladies. My bed was very comfortable, albeit a single. I shared supper with 2 of the people I had met along the route the first day, both of whom were also staying at the guest house. The café serves pastries and small meals and offers a quiet, friendly location for breakfast, lunch or supper. Vila do Conde is lovely town on the Portuguese Coastal Route and offers much to see by way of history. I’m happy to give this venue a 4.5 * rating as it fit the bill in terms of friendliness, cleanliness, location and facilities.
The website: http://www.ervadocehouse.pt/

Erva Doce Guest House, Vila do Conde

Erva Doce Guest House, Vila do Conde – my first night on the Camino

3) Albergue Corredoiras, Corredoira da Barca, 10 baixo 15900 Padron (A Coruna), Spain
Tel: +34 981817266
I stayed here on my last night on the Camino before reaching Santiago. Without doubt, this was the most well-organised and efficient venue I stayed at. You are welcomed at the reception by an extremely organised gentleman (I missed his name unfortunately) and given a complete run-down of the small and compact albergue. The beds are all located in one large communal room and accommodates 26 pilgrims. Each berth is big enough to sit upright in, is solidly built so no disturbances from a restless sleeper above, has its own locker, fresh clean linen, a spare blanket and an extremely comfortable mattress (which I wish I could have taken home with me), and has a small light and a curtain for privacy. You do however have to make your own bed. The locker has a socket for secure phone charging. There are communal bathrooms and a small kitchenette with all mod-cons a pilgrim would need. You are welcome to make yourself a hot refreshment on arrival with one free serving of milk. This albergue was super clean and you are required to remove your outdoor shoes before going into the communal sleeping area. A cabinet in the hall caters for shoes. There are 2 communal computers if needed, free wi-fi, a library and a small reception area with chairs and loads of informational pamphlets and they provide a laundry service for a minimal fee. I had sent my backpack ahead on this day and it was safely packed away in my dedicated locker. There is a lights-out and a ‘be quiet’ deadline of 11pm for which I suspect most pilgrims were grateful. The albergue is easily found just a few yards from the church and river, and virtually right in town for exploring. An exceptionally clean and pleasant venue in a good location just a few yards from the start of the pilgrim’s route to Santiago. I can easily give this venue a 4.5* rating for price (16 euro), cleanliness, general organisation, location and convenience.
Website: http://www.alberguecorredoiras.es/index.php


Albergue Corredoiras, Padron

Albergue Corredoiras, Padron

4) Hostel Eleven, Rua Narcisco Ferreira 57, 4740-281, Esposende, Portugal
Tel: +351 253039303
Towards the end of a very long day, I received a phone call just as I reached Fao, which was the last town before Esposende; it was the host of the hostel enquiring as to whether I was okay and if I needed any help. It had taken me that long to get there, he was beginning to think I wasn’t going to show up. LOL Hostel Eleven was a very fresh, clean and hospitable venue with super clean facilities, a welcoming reception area and free wi-fi. The rooms catered for 4 occupants but I didn’t find this an issue as I was lucky enough to share with only 1 person. Each bed had its own locker with a key which is very useful and I found the bed linen to be clean and fresh and the bed was made up and comfortable. Hoorah. The kitchen and bathroom facilities are well organised and very clean and you are able to prepare a simple meal for yourself with your own provisions and make a hot drink with the hostel’s provisions; milk and tea/coffee ingredients available. I found the bed to be extremely comfortable and it was a pleasure to not have to make my own bed. Located along a side road just off the pilgrim’s route, I did find it quite difficult to locate, but I suspect that was because I was extremely tired and unable to read my map properly. But a quick phone call and I was soon there. The area was very quiet and also within easy reach of the town centre. I am happy to give this venue also a 4.5* rating based on hospitality, cleanliness, facilities, and location. I paid 16 euro and this included a very good continental breakfast.
The website: http://www.hosteleleven.pt/

Hotel Eleven, Esposende

Hotel Eleven, Esposende – I loved this venue. Bright and airy

5) Hostal Anosa Casa, Entremurallas, 9, 15702 Santiago, Spain.
Tel: +34 981585926
I found this hostal to be very comfortable and I had a super room. Very conveniently located just a 5-8 minute walk to the cathedral, the hostal is located down a side alley and fairly quiet albeit near to a main thoroughfare and close to the traditional pilgrim’s route into the city of Santiago. The lobby is quite dark and small and there are no remarkable features, but the room I was in was pleasant and I had a lovely double bed that was extremely comfortable with lovely fresh linen. The luxury at this venue was having a private shower/toilet area, although it was very tiny it came with lovely fluffy towels, shampoo and conditioner and shower gel and a shower cap. I had a table, wardrobe, bedside tables, a T.V. and free wi-fi. The walls were quite thin and I could hear the occupant of the next room moving about but since they were relatively quiet it wasn’t really an issue. The staff were friendly and they offer a same day laundry service of 8 euro for 4 kgs. The area is close to shops and restaurants and cafes with many small squares and much to see and a very short walk to the Alameda Park. I paid 55 euro per night with no breakfast. I can comfortably give this venue a 4* rating for location, comfort, cleanliness and facilities.
The website: http://anosacasa.com/?lang=en

Hostal Anosa Casa, Santiago

Hostal Anosa Casa, Santiago

6) Residential Arca Nova, Largo Sidonio Pais, 4910-120, Caminha, Portugal
Tel: +351 935390402
Again I had booked a room for myself and found the venue to be perfectly adequate for my needs. The room was large and clean with a very comfortable bed, fresh linen and a private bathroom with towels. The brightly decorated dining area had a cosy snug off the area and a large verandah. The hotel was close to the station and a very easy walk into the centre of the town and not too far from the river. The venue was clean and the staff very friendly. I paid 40 euro for this room and a very substantial breakfast was included. I rate this venue at 4* for cleanliness, location and the facilities. They don’t appear to have a website but they are on booking.com

Residencial Arca Nova, Caminha

Residencial Arca Nova, Caminha

7) Alojamiento Camino Portugues, Av. Buenos Aires, 40, 36410 O Porriño, Pontevedra, Spain
Tel: +34 886 13 32 52
This was the second hostel that I phoned ahead for on the day and was fortunate enough to get a bed. I had seen it recommended on a facebook page and decided to wing it on the day 🙂 The young lady who welcomed us (a group arrived at the sane time) was lovely and very helpful and had us all marching in time; very efficient. LOL I really enjoyed my stay here and although the rooms were of the mixed dormitory type and we were 6 in the dorm, they were clean and comfortable with comfy mattresses and clean fresh linen. We were also required to leave our outdoor shoes in the entrance hall on each floor, so the floors were clean. The bathrooms were of course communal and there were no lockers, so it was a case of leaving your bag next to your bed but not your valuables. The venue was close to restaurants and an easy walk into town and not far from the pilgrim’s route. I was quite happy with my stay here and happily rate it a 3.5* for location, comfort, cleanliness and friendliness. I paid Euro 12.00, no breakfast.
The website: http://www.alojamientocaminoportugues.com/

Alojamiento Camino Portugues,

Alojamiento Camino Portugues,

8) Hotel Poveira, Rua da Estacao, 56, Campanha, Porto, Portugal 4300-171
Tel: +351 22537 9844
This was the first venue I stayed at in Portugal. A very short walk from the Campanha Station the hotel is large and the gentleman who welcomed me was very friendly albeit with limited English, but even so, with my very limited Portuguese we managed to communicate quite well 😉 I had a private room and bathroom with a bath and shower and clean towels with little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. Although I’m not a fan of plastic and would prefer if hotels did away with them, they were useful. There was a t.v. in the room with a BBC news channel and free wi-fi. The room was large with a small balcony and the bed, a double was fairly comfortable. They did a good continental breakfast at an extra charge of 2.50 euro and offered a next day laundry service for a very good rate. The venue was clean albeit quite noisy and close to shops, restaurants, café and a local transport. I walk a lot so of course I walked into town whenever I went out to explore, but it is quite far from the town centre. The area is pleasant, albeit not scenic. I rate this venue at 3.5* for access to transport, cleanliness and good facilities. I paid 45 euro per night with no breakfast which I thought after seeing the venue, was quite high after all.
The website: http://www.hotelpoveira.com/ Please note that their website has a slide show of images of Porto, they are not near the centre of the city even though the images give that impression.

Hotel Poveira, Campangha, Porto

Hotel Poveira, Campangha, Porto

9) Residencial S. Giao, Avenida S.Teotónio 17, Bl. 2 1ºandar -594 Portugal, 4930 Valença, Portugal
Tel: +351 251030040
This location is hard to rate. It is located fairly close to the main station hub, an easy walk, and is located right on the doorstep of the walled city. The apartment was part of a high-rise building with no lift to the 1st floor, although obviously this wasn’t an issue for me, it could be for someone less able. The ‘apartment’ was made up of a number of rooms on the same floor. There was nothing at all interesting about the reception and I only saw the proprietor for the few minutes it took to check in and pay and show me my room. The room was pleasant with a lovely comfortable double bed, clean linen and fresh towels and a private shower room with toilet etc. Facing onto the street it was unfortunately very noisy and I had street lights shining through the blinds all night. There was a wardrobe and dressing table and bedside cabinets and free wi-fi. I think, but am not sure if they offered breakfast so can’t comment on that. I paid 30 euro and feel that was a fair price considering the size of the city and its location. The walled city was a 5-8 minute walk and provided all that I needed in terms of shopping, restaurants and sight-seeing (in fact it was brilliant and one of the most exciting discoveries of the whole journey). The venue is located very close to the pilgrim’s route and is about a 10-12 minute walk to the bridge that crosses into Spain. I will rate this a 3* since the apartment itself was very utilitarian, but the location, cleanliness and room were good.
The website: http://www.residencialsgiao.com/

Residencial S. Giao, Valenca

Residencial S. Giao, Valenca

10) Motel Caldas, Follente Bemil, s/n, 36659 Caldas de Reis, Pontevedra, Spain
Tel: +34 986 53 00 11
This venue caught me out; it was 1.6 kms outside of Caldas de Reis and I had to take a cab to get there. It is in every sense of the word a motel. There was a heavy metal gate across the entrance with a speaker phone which was not very welcoming. Initially I thought I had stumbled into a private gated community of apartments. Each apartment has its own garage and separate staircase leading to the room. I eventually located the proprietor, who was very friendly and kindly brought me a free coke when he saw how exhausted I was. But the room was amazing; a very large room with a fantastic double bed, a marvellous mattress, lovely pillows and fresh crispy linen and fluffy towels and a private bathroom with the most divine bath and shower.  This was a real luxury after what had been a 32km day. There was a small dining table with bench seats, a wardrobe, bedside cabinets, a t.v. and free wi-fi. However it felt the way it looked; like a motel. But the staff were friendly and helpful even though we had to resort to google translate to be understood. I had a very good night’s sleep and for the 22.50 euro I paid which included a basic breakfast of coffee and croissant, I felt it was satisfactory. I’ll rate this 3* as well since the room was wonderful. But it was far from the town centre, I couldn’t see any restaurants close by so didn’t get to eat much that night, although the proprietor kindly made me a sandwich and a drink. Not quite what this pilgrim was looking for after a 12 hour and 32 km walk, but the bath and bed were marvellous. They don’t have a website but are on Facebook.

Motel Caldas, Caldas de Reis

Motel Caldas, Caldas de Reis


11) HI Hostel Viana do Costelo. Okay, so I’ve left this one till absolute last. The only positive aspect of this hostel was the location; just off the bridge over the river and to the right as you cross into Viana do Costelo. I found this place to be quite unsuitable and unpleasant and even though I only paid 12.00 euro, it was the same price as a couple of other venues that were of a much higher quality and a more friendly environment. The reception staff were very nice and helpful but the venue itself only had one thing to offer…location. The building is a bland, blank 60’s concrete edifice. The reception area is okay but the rooms were utilitarian, cold, blank and very unwelcoming. Although we did each have a locker the lock was broken. There was only one electrical socket to service all the occupants, and the facilities, both bathrooms and kitchens were not of a very good standard, and I had to try 3 different showers before I got one that worked; the water was tepid and only came out the pipe in short bursts. If I had to rate this place I’d say 1.5* rating and that would be for location and that the linen was clean, although you have to make the bed up yourself. The room had a small verandah which was nice and had lovely views over the harbour, if you can overlook the massive car-park right in front. I cannot under any pretence recommend this location except if you’re looking for cheap and can’t find anything else. Viana do Costelo is however an amazing city with so much to see and do that I was quite worn out by the time I eventually went to bed, which fortunately was clean. I have not put address or telephone details since this venue was such a huge disappointment. They are listed on Booking.com

HI Hostel, Viana do Castelo

HI Hostel, Viana do Castelo

And that concludes my article on places I stayed on the Camino. It was as I expected; some were very good, a couple were wonderful and one or two not so good. One of the main issues was cleanliness and on the whole that was not a problem. I had heard some real horror stories of bed bugs and dirty linen and took along a travel pouch for sleeping in which I never used. The albergues I did stay at were very very good.

I’m planning on walking another route in 2018 and hoping to walk either the English Way or the Frances route so I’m sure my experiences will be very different.

I hope you find this list useful. If you have any good locations from the Portuguese Coastal Route or The Central Way from Tui, please do leave a comment and let me know. Thank you and Bom Caminho and Buen Camino 🙂

The Camino Provides - 2017

The Camino Provides – 2017

2017.09.14 Day 8 – a morning in Esposende and then onto Viana do Castelo

After yesterday’s marathon walk I was pretty much exhausted by the time I arrived at my hostel. I had decided to bus today instead of tomorrow and give my hip and ankle a rest. They were fairly painful and I didn’t want to do any damage. So after a quick meal, a lovely hot  shower and putting out my clothes for the morrow and repacking my bag (done at night so as to not disturb my room-mate in the morning), I settled in and soon fell into a deep sleep. The foam earplugs I carried with me were an absolute bonus. I could have slept through an invasion and not heard a thing! I loved that the bunk had a dedicated locker, so I could pack Pepe away along with all my valuables and not worry about any of it continuing along the Camino on it’s own. 😉

Come morning, I needn’t have worried about disturbing my room mate! By the time I woke up she was long gone LOL. I dressed and popped downstairs for a lovely breakfast and then checked out officially…but left Pepe at the hostel while I went walkabout. Having decided to bus to Viana do Castelo and discovering that the buses are not that frequent, I had time for a brief explore of this town of Esposende, which is apparently a city!! There you go then!! Esposende gained city status on 2 July 1993 🙂 In 1801 the population was 4,157 and in 2011 34,254.

What a delightful ‘city’. Just a short walk away from the hostel was the main square, the roads are mostly narrow and cobbled, gaily coloured awnings covering cafe tables set out for patrons, and brilliant to see artisan shops and local stores rather than streets lined with charity shops, one-pound stores and ubiquitous high-street grocers. #noTesco

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the streets of Esposende

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The main Square, the beautiful Teatro Club with a fabulous interior, a church, the fantastic cycle and pedestrian lanes, an interesting coat of arms, and the Maritime Museum

I was well impressed with the pedestrian and cycle lanes. They are light years ahead of Britain in this respect…although to be fair, these lanes were not in the city centres or older towns. Still I think our road people should have a look.

Occupation of the area of Esposende, dates back to pre-history, but nowadays there are only artefacts of stone or ceramic, with Roman occupation known through archaeological finds, including the barbarian kingdoms and Middle Ages.

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Esposende – Coat of Arms – The arms were officially granted on April 27, 1995.

There are some fantastic churches in the town, and as with all the churches I had visited so far, the interiors were stunning. One of the churches, the Church and House of Misericórdia dates back to 1579, while the current building dates back to the 1893 renovation works. The interior is of Rennaisance aesthetics and the chancel has a beautiful baroque woodcarving, surmounted by a 17th-century altarpiece where Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia (Our Lady of Mercy) is presented. The church had a pilgrim’s stamp set up, so you could just stamp your own passport, and to my delight I found a small statue of St James perched on a decorative sconce on the wall with a Camino sign beneath 🙂 So exciting!!! The ceiling was absolutely stunning, decorated with polychrome woodcarvings representing the prophets.

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Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia (Our Lady of Mercy)…so beautiful

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the mouth of the river, ship in the children’s playground, fantastic sculpture; Monument to the Men of the Sea, the town square and an intriguing sculpture; bust of a firefighter

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scenes of Esposende – note the stunning boat sculpture in the fountain. The statue is of King Sebastian who, on 19 August 1572, by Royal Charter, turned Esposende into a village

The boat sculpture was inaugurated in 2010 as a tribute to the Atlantic fishing vessel of the fishing community of Esposende. The Catrain is a traditional open boat (although in this instance they took the concept of ‘open’ a bit far ;). The tiled wall I saw inside the Teatro Club and the view of the square is from the balcony of the same building.

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scenes of Esposende – Capela do Sr. dos Aflitos, old buildings, a sea-side sculpture; Cavaleiro and map of the river and estuary

And then it was almost time to go. Esposende to Viana do Castelo. Sadly I would be missing out on visiting the Monastery and seeing the Ponte Sabastiao enroute. Oh well.

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Camino de Santiago – Esposende to Viana do Castelo – the signs are there 😉

After checking out of the hostel Pepe and I took a walk along the road to visit the fort and lighthouse. Set in front of the Forte de São João Baptista de Esposende. The 15 metre tall lighthouse that dates back to 1922 is unusual in that it is made of metal. The fort dates back to the late 17th century and was built to guard the mouth of the river Cávado just behind Esposende’s beach. The fort looks very derelict, but from the washing on the line, I’m guessing someone lives there.

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The Farol de Esposende (Esposende Lighthouse)

While exploring I noticed some tiny blue arrows and white metal church shaped insets in the paths and streets. Seems there’s a mini-camino route in town that takes you to the many churches in the area. To much for me on that particular day….but if I ever return!!

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The estuary and Camino dos Mareantes, Esposende…intriguing

On the bus to Viana do Castelo, my next overnight, looking out the window as the countryside and villages whizzed by nearly killed me…. seeing all the photo ops I’m missing 🤧🤧 But better to rest than not be able to walk at all by tomorrow. It’s 24kms from Esposende to Viana do Castelo. I’ll walk again tomorrow. Once I leave Tui on the weekend there will be no rest days.

I was blessed with another fantastic day of blue skies and sunshine……

Buen Camino 🙂 I’m loving my #Camino2017

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Bom Caminho

and whilst the road to Esposende was not paved with gold, the gold from Brazil reached Esposende during the age of the great Atlantic voyages 🙂

If you’d like to read more about my Camino adventures
Day 5 – Porto to Vila do Conde

Day 6 – Vila do Conde – rest day

Day 7 – Vila do Conde to Esposende

2017.09.13 Day 7 – Vila do Conde to Esposende – expected distance: 22kms (not!!)

Walked 27.71kms. 65029+ steps

The road to Esposende is not paved with gold.

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time to go – Vila do Conde to Esposende

My post on instagram: It’s 7:07 on 13th September and I’m on my way. This is my 2nd day of walking on the Portuguese Coastal Route. Sad to be leaving leaving Vila do Conde but I’m excited to be heading to Esposende, which is apparently 22kms away (as it turned out, it was substantially further, but that may be because I kept going ‘off-piste’ to explore LOL).

It was a stunning day on the coast of Portugal. I left the guest house in Vila do Conde at 07:07 and got my wish for the day; I watched the sun rise.

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sunrise in Vila do Conde looking upriver towards the Santa Clara Convent

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sunrise in Vila do Conde looking downriver towards the sea

Fabulous. I stopped here for a while and ate some of the breakfast the Erva Doce Guest House had prepared for me. Watching the sunrise is such a privilege.

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watching the sunrise in Vila do Conde

I eventually left VdC at just after 8am after faffing around taking photos of the various sculptures, my shadow (?) and then re-visiting the chapel on the seafront.2 vdc day 64 the chapel I particularly loved this sculpture….she looks stoic, resigned, and sad…waiting for a boat that never returned?

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This section of the route was so beautiful and I was hard-put to not stop every 5 seconds to take photos. I spotted a most gorgeous church with a beautiful memorial in tiles.

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Povoa de Varzim

Along the way I met a delightful couple from Poland; Jakob and Agata. We chatted all the way to Povoa de Varzim and I barely noticed Pepe weighing me down. We stopped to admire a fabulous tiled wall. I love that there are so many of these fabulous tiles right across Portugal; azulejo with Povoan boats and siglas poveiras marks; a form of ‘proto-writing system’ thought to derive from the Viking writing system known as bomärken from Scandinavia.  Archaeological finds in the area, including stone tools, suggest that the Póvoa de Varzim area may have been inhabited as far back as 200,000 years ago. 

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Me, Agata and Jakob in front of the Muro de Azulejos in Povoa de Varzim

Once we reached Pavoa de Varzim I sadly parted company with Jakob and Agata who rejoined their group to go find breakfast whilst I went in search of coffee. I spotted a little wooden shack on the beach, one of many, and stopping at the 3rd one along I ordered my ‘cafe com leite grande y croissant por favor’. Yummy; I really got into the strong coffee and pastry for breakfast thing. My language skills had by now gone from ‘hola, camino?’ and ‘gracias’ to a whole sentence hahaha. I was ever so pleased with myself.

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practising my Portuguese and asked for coffee at Jóse and Teresa’s shack in Povoa de Varzim.

Just on 11:22 after my coffee at Teresa’s shack I set off and soon saw my first Camino markers; now that’s more what I was expecting. 😉😉😉

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Finding the signs along The Way 🙂

I met some really lovely people on the route and it was most enjoyable just chatting away as we walked. The disadvantage of course was that I missed quite a few photo opportunities that I wanted to capture, but felt like I didn’t want to hold them up. Which is one of the reasons I prefer to walk on my own…even though it’s really lovely to meet folk from all over the world.

I’ve got 25.1 kms to Esposende and done 7.98 so far. Bom Caminho I’m loving my #Camino2017

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

I had such a fantastic day. On the route I met two ladies from Ireland with whom I chatted for a while. When I commented on how little luggage they had, they laughed and told me about Tuitrans, they had sent their backpacks ahead. Hmmm…food for thought.

Waving goodbye I set off jauntily, waving at everyone and wishing them Bom diaz or Bom Caminho depending on how they were dressed; no backpack and boots = local – a backpack, boots and waking poles = pilgrim ;).

A young lady sitting on a wall chatting on her phone wished me Bom Caminho as I whizzed by which nearly made me cry. It was so unexpected and so wonderful. 💞💞🙃🙃🙃 I stopped in my tracks and with tears in my eyes; “gracias Senorita”. If she hadn’t been on the phone I would have hugged her!! I’m loving my #Camino2017

Getting back onto the boardwalks was fantastic. They were so easy to walk along and allowed you the freedom to enjoy the scenery while walking without having to worry about which way to go.

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such a gorgeous day and the boardwalks are fantastic

There were so many wonderful sights long the route; chapels, windmills, memorials….

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chapels, windmills, memorials

I loved these little structures….haven’t been able to find out what they were.

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loved this little building.

I really got into the spirit of the camino and wished just about every soul I passed ‘bom caminho’ Mostly they responded, sometimes not. In truth, the locals were lovely. Mostly pilgrims responded in kind, but the people I found the least friendly (sorry guys) were the German men. The German ladies on the whole were friendly enough, but the most friendly were the Irish, Portuguese, Eastern Europeans pilgrims and occasionally the Americans, who tended to be very focussed. I didn’t meet anyone from France.

Just after 11am I reached QuiAo; walked 9.73 kms. The weather was stunning, and I was blessed with a beautiful day, albeit already hot….which I did not enjoy.

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I was blessed with some wonderful days

11:15 and time for my first Super Bock of the day. Okayyy, I know, I know we hadn’t crossed the yardarm yet, but it was hot 😂😂😂

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QuiAo and my first Super Bock of the day

By this stage I was beginning to struggle with my backpack, but motoring on. I tell you what, my walking poles were a blessing. I was able to set an easy flowing pace and with the momentum I whizzed along the boardwalks…which btw are bloody marvellous. The poles will be my #1 essential item for any future walks, whether in the UK or EU.

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my wonderful walking poles….they were a life-saver

Suddenly to my delight I came across the Caminho Beach Bar!!! I had seen photos of this place on facebook and instagram and was hoping I’d see it too 🙂 And there is was!! I stopped and bought a shell on which I wrote my name and hung it on the board. I wonder if they take some down each night, wash them and sell them again LOL I also bought the first ice-cream of the day!! Magnum Double Framboesa. Delicioso 😉

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The Caminho Beach Bar 🙂

Whizzing along, in the distance I spotted the spire of a church. Never one to miss the opportunity to visit another church, I diverted from the track and made my way along a narrow winding road. I didn’t see many people except for the occasional car going by…usually at speed!! Hello!! narrow roads? Slow down buddy. The houses were painted a delightful array of pastel colours, and some a brilliant white that hurt the eyes. The area is very dry and the fields don’t look as if they could support any sort of vegetation, never mind anything useful. I found a whole new appreciation for England’s green fields, trees, bushes…you get it 😉 Mind you the blue skies….heavenly!!

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Aguacadoura, Portugal; blazing hot and very dry. I think the idea of siesta is very sensible.

The church was beautiful, albeit closed. Darn!! Opposite were the ruins of a beautiful chapel. Aguçadoura is a Portuguese freguesia (“civil parish”) and former civil parish located in Póvoa de Varzim. I spent an hour here, resting in the shade. If I saw 3 people, it was a lot. Siesta, maybe. Good idea 😉

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Igreja de Aguçadoura, in the parish of Povoa de Varzim, Portugal

Setting off just before 2pm, I found the boardwalks once again…they stretched into the distance. Betwixt and between, I was wishing by this stage that I had planned a shorter day, but I was still loving the walking and the boardwalks which went on and on and on.

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the boardwalks were marvellous, made following the route so easy

Just after 2pm the boardwalks ended and the track changed to road and paths, I didn’t like them at all!! The markers were still prominent and I had no difficulty finding them. I had stopped off at a roadside cafe for a drink and nibble, and another Magnum Double Framboesa, shortly before the boardwalks ended…thankfully. What lay ahead was not fun at all.

Still following the markers which were a welcome sign. It got hotter by the second and within no time at all I’d emptied my 2ltr water bladder and my 750ml water bottle was being used sparingly. There were no cafes, restaurants, hotels or lodgings to speak of and I didn’t want to divert in case I got lost trying to find a non-existent mirage.  But I carried on; staggered on more like – exhausted and overheating, I was soaked with perspiration. And sun-burned. 😦 Hot. Hot. Hot.

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I did not like this new terrain. I had been perfectly happy with the boardwalks…thank you!!

After an exceedingly long, tiring and energy draining stretch I back-tracked slightly and turned off along a side road, that I’d passed earlier, which lead to a caravan park hoping they’d be able to give me water. I was desperate by then. Thankfully they were open and bliss of bliss had a cool, shady cafe where I holed up for an hour downing a couple of delicious, ice-cold Coke-Cola (horrors! I usually avoid coke, but omw it does the trick when you’re dehydrated and exhausted). I removed my shoes and socks and rested my legs which were horribly swollen by then, the cool air on my feet was blissful. I topped up my water bladder and had something to eat.

An instagram post: “Apparently it’s another 9.8 kms to Esposende, so all told I’m doing okay. If I didn’t stop to take photos every 5 seconds I could be there by now 😉😉😉”

The Orbitur camp site was a blessing, albeit 1.6 kms off the route, I’m so glad I back-tracked and made the effort. As I arrived at the camp I met a lovely young man from Cyprus with perfect English who had the same idea as me, get out the sun…except he checked in to the camp and stayed overnight. Clever lad. Unfortunately I had booked accommodation in Esposende so had to crack on.

Setting off again just after 4pm, and an hour later, just before Apulia I saw a sign that made my heart go cold. A diversion!!! What to do? Oh lord. I had read on the facebook camino pages how some albergues change signs to divert you to their premises, or weirdos change signs around for nefarious reasons. So when I saw that sign I literally stopped in my tracks. I decided right there and then (excuse the french) “fck that, I’m carrying on in the direction I was going! No desvio gracias”, and anyway I could still see signs showing the way – not the diversion. And then a short distance later, the reason for the diversion became apparent LOL They were digging up the road. Bless them, the workers, they stopped everything and let me squeeze through.

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Diversion?! No thanks!!!

And then to my delight I spotted a church! Bonus. 🙂 If I’d followed the diversion I wouldn’t have seen it. But, if I’d followed the diversion, apparently, as I found out later, I could have not only found a cafe to buy water, but I would have walked back to the beach and avoided what came next!! I wish that I had thought to get some more water at that stage, even knocking on someone’s door would have been sensible!!

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Caminhos De Santiago – Apulia – Esposende

It was now just on 5pm and I had left Vila do Conde at 7am…I was tired, and hot and thirsty. What to do? Nothing except keep walking. I located the markers and carried on.

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not a happy bunny, but still taking photos LOL

The road to Esposende was NOT paved with gold. In fact it was, at some points, just bloody awful. But hey, I’m here writing to you so I must have made it through LOL. Still following the markers which were scarce and not always easy to see, the path went off into brush and trees with only a very narrow sandy road to follow; it was horrible. The profusion of footprints was encouraging. Pilgrims came this way…..

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seeing the signs, albeit scare was very encouraging.

It really was blazing hot and I could not bear the sun any more. It was also terribly dry and arid on this section and there had been no sign of habitation for about 6 kms and the worst was still to come. When I hit the next section I was about ready to give up and this was the first time on the Camino that I felt uncomfortable. I remember stopping briefly and looking around thinking that if I disappeared here, I’d never be found.

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this was not a happy place to be on your own

Thank goodness the signs were still there or I’d have thought for sure I was lost.

The distances were really confusing. Depending on which guide you read, or which site you visit, the distances to towns along the way were different. It would help if you knew from which point they take their measurements. And don’t even mention Google maps!!!

Then finally, just as I was getting really desperate….signs of civilisation! Hoorah!!

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Hoorah! Signs of civilisation – Portugal I ❤ you too

As I reached Fão, I got a phone call. It was the young man from Hostel Eleven who was calling to ensure I was okay and hadn’t had any mishaps – it was that late in the day. I assured him I was just a short distance away. The last 15 kms were sheer hell. Hot!! Dry! Dusty! So many times I was sure I was going the wrong way and then I’d see a Camino marker… And so it went, through very rural Portugal along deserted, cobbled streets, sandy lanes, thick dry brush, scrub and scrappy trees and sometimes a mix of both. It all started so well 😉

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Hostel Eleven. Fao. Esposende 2kms 🙂

I remember how excited I got when I saw the Hostel Eleven van…I thought I was near… I wasn’t. 😦 When I reached Fão I noticed the Camino signs taking the route across the road, past a church and presumably along the riverside. But I didn’t have the energy to cross the road so just carried on. Not my brightest idea as the pavements were scarce and I was battling a tide of vehicles coming from behind…some of which passed within a whisker….probably cursing this stupid woman walking along the road. I cannot tell you my overwhelming relief when I arrived at the bridge….nearly there. I was shattered.

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Ponte metálica de Fão – the bridge between Fão and Esposende – Cávado River

But the Camino wasn’t finished with me yet!! Just after I crossed the bridge I missed the turn, the safer route….and as a result I had to contend with traffic at a round-about, walk along a road with a 50 miles p.h. speed-limit and cross a very busy, narrow bridge. At times I had to step down into the water channel alongside the tarmac and squeeze myself into the bushes lining the road to avoid the traffic going by. Urgh. Horrible.

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despite the signs, this was not the best way to go….But I was in Esposende 🙂

I staggered into town stopping the first 2 people I saw and in my broken Portuguese (read: non existent Portuguese) I asked if they knew where the hostel was? Hah! Imagine my surprise when they replied in English with a very British accent; sorry but no. LOL. I finally arrived at the hostel in Esposende after wandering about a bit trying to find the place and finally resorting to mapmywalk. Hostel Eleven #4 on my list of places I stayed on the Camino. A nice little hostel, very clean. He welcomed me in and immediately gave me something to drink, saying that most pilgrims get in mid-day or early afternoon. Hmmm, yes, well not every pilgrim is daft enough to keep stopping to take photos…of everything they see; 100’s of photos. hahahaha.

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Hostel Eleven, Esposende. The 2nd place I stayed on my Camino

Time of arrival: 19:07 – Bless him, he had been really concerned about me. He showed me around and to my quarters for the night. Bright, colourful, breezy and clean!!! I was suitably impressed and rather glad I could use the kitchen to prepare a meal…finally the packet of 2-minute curry noodles I had been carrying around were put to good use. LOL

I made a very welcome cup of tea, ate my noodles, had a shower and went to bed and sleep. 😕😴😴😴😴 I didn’t even have the energy to go out and buy a proper meal or explore. The day had started so well.

27.71 kms Vila do Conde to Esposende. 12 hours 21 minutes and 15 seconds from the times I started walking. 😢😢😢😢

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the road to Esposende is not paved in gold

I’d made it, albeit very very tired. But today’s walk caused me to change my plans for the next two days. I had planned on walking to Viana do Castelo on 14th and bus to Caminha the 15th, but I swapped that around. Took the bus to Viana do Castelo and walked to Caminha. Good plan. It also gave me the opportunity to explore Esposende for a few hours in the morning. And a much needed rest day. The bus ride to Viana do Castelo was terrific and I saw more of the area than I would have walking along the beach.

My favourite people of the day were Jakob and Agata from Poland. I was so sorry to lose touch with them at Povoa de Varzim when I went off for coffee and they went to get breakfast, but I suspected that they would walk a lot faster than me, and they were with a group of friends, so I didn’t want to hold them up. Besides the fantastic conversation we had while walking, Jakob was wearing a pair of pants that I greatly admired…which he loved hahaha. I hope someone knows them and I can connect with them again.

Since I started my Camino on Monday in Porto (seemed much longer than that already) I’d met a couple from South Africa, and then in order of appearance I met people from UK, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Poland (the lovely Agata & Jakob), Ireland, Spain (Barcelona), a lovely Portuguese gentleman who lived locally in Povoa de Varzim with whom I had a most marvellous 10 minute conversation, and the young man from Cyprus. I had conversations, some just briefly, with all the people I met, mostly because I said “hello”. Wonderful!!

Today was a very tough walking day and except for the Camino markers I would have thought I was lost. At one stage there was quite literally nothing I could see in front, back, to the left or right except trees and dusty road…. I was grateful for the footprints in the sand; there was one set of prints I locked onto and followed, they were like a beacon in the night…I was going in the same direction. I’m mentioning this again because it was a very isolated section, between Apulia and Fão. and if you’re on your own like I was….so just a heads up. I felt really uncomfortable and remember thinking that if anyone with ill intent came along at that point, not only would I have not had the energy to scream or run, but there was no-one to hear. I could have disappeared and no-one would have known where I was. It was one of two days of the whole walk that I felt really isolated; perhaps I was picking up on some vibes. Who knows. The only other time I felt the same was between Viana do Castelo and Caminha where I encountered a similar environment.

I spent some time thinking about the pilgrims who had gone before me. We are like seeds, all in one place for a brief moment in time, then scattered to the winds. As hard as the afternoon was, I’m still loving this experience. My #Camino2017 ❤ 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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


Day 5 Monday 2017.09.11 Porto to Vila do Conde

This is it guys!!! It’s 7.20 and I’m just about to start my Camino 2017 from  Porto to Santiago along the Portuguese Coastal Route and then onto the The Central Way at Tui in Spain… Hopefully this weekend 😉😉😉 

I’m going to try and update as I go, but forgive me if there are gaps… But ‘ll drop by from time to time and send you Postcards from Portugal… These can be seen on my instagram @notjustagranny 

After 4 days of brilliant sunshine and blazing sun, it’s overcast today. I’m glad for the cooler weather but sad coz I wanted some sunrise photos!! Oh well can’t have it all 😊😊

And here’s Pepe (my very heavy backpack) what have I got in there??? 😱😱😱 I forsee a lot of ‘must haves’ being dumped soon 😂😂😂 For now we’re ready to start our Camino.

My 1st pic as a bona-fide pilgrim 😁😁 and scenes of my journeys start.

 The second Cathedral, part of the route downhill to the riverside

and Foz do Duoro where I stopped for my first official pilgrim’s breakfast. I hope I remember to get my passport stamped 😁

It’s a lovely misty day, cool for walking.

After leaving Porto Cathedral and following the pilgrim’s route to the riverside I took the bus to Foz do Duoro where I took one last visit to the lighthouse.

 It was very overcast but already warm. I stopped for breakfast then since it had started to rain I took the bus to Matosinhos (in no mood to get wet on my 1st day) As we reached Matosinhos I saw a backpack coming down the stairs of the bus with a South African flag on it 😀😀😀👏👏👏 Turned out to be a couple from South Africa who were also starting their Camino today; Roger and Amanda.

How amazing is that. We chatted briefly swapped numbers and I set off. The first of my Camino family 💞💞

I set a good pace and before long reached the lighthouse where I met Mel from Somerset UK 😀 the next of my Camino family. 

Since then we’ve met had something to eat and drink and set off again, each at our own pace. We’re all staying at Vila do Conde tonight and may meet for supper. I’ve just stopped at a tiny restaurant somewhere, about halfway. I’m drinking a Super Bock beer!! 😂😂😂 yes beer.

 I think I’m going to be drinking quite a lot of this. It’s cheap. It tastes like nectar. It’s cold. And it’s a brilliant blue hot day.

Amazing day. Seen some awesome stuff. Love the boardwalks, miles upon mile. Makes it so easy to walk; ocean on the left, head north. I’m dying for a swim. 😂😂😂walked 15 kms so far.

Well I’m nearly there, Vila do Conde. I was reliably informed by the owner of the yellow cafe, where I bought a Double Raspberry Magnum, that I had 4 kms to go… That was about 2 kms ago. I think. I hope 😂😂😂 I 🙏🙏🙏🙏

 My feet are aching, my shoulders are aching. I’m ready for a hot bath.  I stopped at a small restaurant for a coke. I needed a sugar rush. So even even though I’m not a fan of the stuff, it’s going down a treat. The boardwalks have been brilliant to walk along and it appears that at some stage I crossed onto the Littoral Route. 

The wooden boardwalks are so much easier than cobble stones. I’ve seen loads of pilgrim’s and so many locals. I’m seldom alone for more than 5 minutes. It turned out to be a brilliant day and I anticipated a beautiful sunset in crossed paths with Roger and Amanda a few times during the day and it was fun to compare notes. 

20.4 kms. And I’m so close.

Arriving in Vila do Conde was amazing. Perfect weather, lovely walking, amazing scenery and a massive convent on the hill as we crossed the bridge.

The girl in front is Laura. I saw her ahead of me just before we reached the bridge and noticed she was limping. I caught up with her to offer any help needed, but she was okay. We walked into town together and discovered that not only were we staying in the same guest house, but were room mates 😊😊😊 what a delight.

Although I was quite tired after walking 25 kms+ I was so exhilarated that I went walkabout to the end of the marina to see the sunset. A superb evening

I had the best day. Met both these lovely ladies along the way and went out for drinks and supper with them after we arrived. All very coincidentally staying in same guest house 😊😊😊😊

The Erva Doce Guest House, a lovely little hotel that made us feel very cosy. Susanna who welcomed us was absolutely charming. 

Vila do Conde is fabulous. More tomorrow.

Postcards from Portugal 

What a fantastic city. Coimbra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and world famous University City is perched high on a hill that just goes up and up and up some more. But the views from the University at the very top are astounding and worth the effort. 

I started out relatively early and took the 08:52 train from Porto-Campanha which is conveniently a 5 minute walk from my hotel. Within a hour we were at Coimbra-.

I walked into the city from there and enjoyed the coolness of the morning ; the temperature changed fairly soon and I got very burned and hot.

The city as I said is perched on a hill. Winding cobbled lanes lead up and up, very steep slopes, the houses balanced haphazardly one in top of the other, so close together you couldn’t fit a sheet of paper between them.

The architecture is fascinating, but I was sad to see do many wonderful old buildings in a complete state of disrepair and dereliction.

There are te dozens of churches, monasteries and a few cathedrals. I managed to visit a few, all of which were wonderful. I’m always reminded that people built these places. The minds that conceived of them… I’m left amazed.

Coimbra is an 11th century city and some of the ecclesiastical buildings go back to the early 12th century. Awesome.

There are dozens of squares each with tables and gaily coloured umbrellas, lots of quirky shops with a delightful array of goods. I bought 2 tea-towels and an oven gloves as mementos. Like I need more weight in my bag LOL

I had a cappuccino and a custard cream pastry at this restaurant. Delicious.

I walked along the riverside. The River Mondego is incredibly wide! There’s a colourful pedestrian bridge I walked across that offered amazing views of the river and city.

I discovered an extraordinary Monastery on the other side of the river. Archaeological ruins offer a tantalising glimpse into the ancient past.

 On the hill is an amazing church and what looks like another monastery. I need to do more research on that.

Before leaving I stopped off at a cafe and partook of a cappuccino and a most delicious custard pastry.

Coimbra is an enchanting city with so much to see.

 Centuries of history in those cobbled streets that play havoc with your ankles. 

And then it was time to go. I took a taxi to the station. By 17:45 my feet, after 15 kms had had quite enough thank you.

Walked 15kms. 32,419 steps from when I got off the train until I stepped into the taxi. 

I mistakenly jumped on the wrong train, but since it was headed to Porto, it was all good and the ticket inspector didn’t come by.

After paying my bill at the hotel in preparation for my early departure tomorrow, I popped in at a local cafe and enjoyed a cheese and tomato omelette. Delicious. 

Tomorrow my Camino proper begins. Wish me luck, hope that the Camino does indeed provide and Buen Camino.