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

 

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

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

When you meet the Queen you must ‘bow’.

The front of the boat is the ‘bow’.

An archer shoots an arrow from his ‘bow’.

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

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

So here’s how we can change that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. 🙂

 

 

 

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Day 13 Tuesday 2017.09.19 Arcade to Caldas de Reis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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walking through Spain on the Camino de Santiago Portuguese Route

camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese central way

I loved these ‘lavandarias’

camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese central way

Concello do Soutmaior

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

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

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

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

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

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reaching Arcade and the Ponte Sampaio. marvellous

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

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the fabulous Ponte Sampaio, Arcade

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

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walking in history

Needless to say I took lots of photos.

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

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crossing metaphorical boundaries

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

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Camino Xacobeo Portugues.

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

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following the Portuguese Camino through Spain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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69.971 kms to Santiago

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

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

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

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17th century chapel; Capela da Santa Maria

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

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Rio Tomeza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A fantastic fountain in Pontevedra, Spain

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

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Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra

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Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra

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architecture of Pontevedra, Spain

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scenes of Pontevedra; loved the pedestrianised streets

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I loved the ancient architecture of Pontevedra.

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

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decisions! which way to go to Santiago…..

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

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

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

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

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Camino Portuguese a Santiago

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

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follow the signs along the way

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Santiago that way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hoorah!!!! 49.995 kms to Santiago

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

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49.121 ms to Santiago and the shadows are drawing in

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

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

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

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

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my heavenly bunch of sweet, juicy grapes.

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

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

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

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Igrexia de Santa Maria de Caldas de Reis

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

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

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

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

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

Thankfully I only have 19 kms to Padron tomorrow.

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

 

 

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Day 12 Monday 2017.09.18 and Day 2 of 5 of my Spanish pilgrimage – O Porriño to nearby the small fishing village of the San Simon Inlet (just beyond Soutoxuste and 1 km before Arcade).
The only way to climb a mountain is to put one foot in front of the other….

santiago de compostela, walking the camino, portuguese camino route, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. Nelson Mandela, inspirational quotes, climbing mountains,

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. Nelson Mandela

Time left O Porriño 08:30. Time arrived at San Simon 17:30. 9 hours including stops for meals and rests. Walked 21.87 kms. 48437 steps. Elevation 287 metres. Felt like Mount Everest.

Today was the first time I experienced rain on the Camino.
After a really good night’s sleep despite there being 6 people in the room, I left the hostel at just on 8.30am. I had planned to leave at 7.30am but my body was still tired and I’m trying to be sensible and listen.

About 5 minutes after I left the hostel as I was walking towards the Camino route I had a dizzy spell so immediately went into the first cafe I saw; Cafe Zentral and ordered café con leche and a croissant, delicious. By 9am, I was on my way. I mosied on thru O Porriño following the tiled scallop shells and ubiquitous yellow arrows; on the road, sidewalk, walls…ever so handy.

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Breakfast in O Porrino at Cafe Zentral

O Porriño was one of my planned cash withdrawal points so I stopped at one of the ATMs…have you ever tried to withdraw money in a foreign language? I remember the first time I needed to withdraw money in Portugal….The instructions were in Portuguese and initially I tried to guess which buttons to press based on the configuration I was used to in the UK. Uhmm, yes rather LOL. Eventually, I realised there were a number of icons; flags of various countries on the machine. Press the Union Jack…voila English. What an adventure. Admittedly though, I was terrified the machine would swallow my card if I made too many mistakes.

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learning the language is a good idea LOL

After withdrawing my cash I set off with determination; destination Arcade. This end of O Porriño was very industrial and not as pretty as the side I entered and as I rounded a corner, I saw there was a Lidl supermarket!! What?? Lidls in Spain? Bizarre. LOL

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leaving O Porrino via an indusrial estate

Shortly after that I had to negotiate a nasty round-about that was exceedingly busy but I finally got a gap and zapped across. In front of me lay a long stretch on the motorway; Estrada Porrino Redondela aka N550. Horrible.

It was thereabouts that I encountered my very first large group of Pilgrims. It was weird to see so many people occupying this space and I felt affronted by the noise of everyone chattering away and grateful that I was on my own and didn’t have to participate. I know it was really unfriendly of me, but I tried my very best to lose them…eventually after realising that they were walking faster than me – they had daypacks, I was carrying Pepe – I fell back and finally they disappeared into the future. The next time I saw them was at Mos, they were leaving as I arrived. Perfect.

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finding the way and encountering the N550 and large groups

I had noticed a metal plaque attached to a rock wall with famous mountain peak elevation comparisons and thought “oh please let us not be climbing mountains today!!!” Well, ultimately my prayer was not answered. OMG 😱😱😱😱 it’s hard going and it’s raining, a fine soft rain that soaks through everything.

Still following the tiled scallop shells and yellow arrows, on walls, stones and trees the route took us away from the highway and on a scenic tour through the suburbs. I saw a cute little doggie face peeking over the top of a wall from a distance and stopped to chat. He was sitting with his paws resting on his chin just watching all the pilgrims walking by. 😊😊😍

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how much is that doggie on the fence there…keeping an eye on the pilgrims

After crossing beneath the A52; Autovia das Rias Baixas, soon I was out of the city precincts. The route took me onto a fairly rural stretch where I started to see more and more pilgrims. The weather was inclement with spurts of soft rain and bursts of sunshine.

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a scenic route through Galicia and yes, those grapes were very tempting, and no I didn’t 😉

After a short while once again across the Estrada Porriño Redondela, and onto a more pleasant road; Camino das Lagoas. Except for the odd stretch of motorway, or crossing said motorway (N550), this was a pleasant route that zigged and zagged, this way and that, and stretched pretty much all the way to Redondela.

I eventually caved in and stopped at one point to put on my poncho and the backpack cover on. I got myself into an awful tangle with trying to straighten the poncho out after I got Pepe back on, so a tiny little Spanish lady assisted with straightening me out. She rattled away in Spanish but I had absolutely noooo idea what she was saying. I just kissed her cheek and said “Grazias Senora” and chau as I waved goodbye, ever so grateful for the assistance. It’s been hard work trudging up hills but I’m getting there…. wherever there might be 😂😂

I loved walking through the fields and vineyards, admiring the Spaniards creative recycling; using plastic bottles to make scarecrows, of which there were many and they were inventive and adorable. There were a number of the hórreo; Spanish granaries on the route, as well as some really beautiful shrines, some of which were works of art.

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a stroll through the Galician countryside on a cloudy day, lots of hórreos scattered about and beautiful shrines

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a beautiful shrine and creative scarecrows

It rained on and off the whole morning. Well done to my Mountain Warehouse backpack cover, absolutely brilliant. Kept everything dry. My Mickey Mouse poncho, bought in Florida in 2003 and never yet worn, was put to the test. It passed.

Finally I reached Mos, not that far from O Porriño as the crow flies, but bleeding hell going up those steadily increasing inclines. Murder. I hadn’t ever considered there might actually be mountains on the Way to Santiago LOL.

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Mos was such a pretty little hamlet.

Mos was a delight!! Beautifully paved road, a few houses and a scattering of restaurants, a Pilgrim’s gift shop and a quaint little church; the church of Santa Eulalia. I decided right there and then to stop for another café con leche and a rest. But first I had to investigate the gift shop; Bo Camino, and have my passport stamped.
Stamp. Carimbo. Sello. Timbre – catering for many languages!

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Bo Camino, Mos. Get your passport stamped here. I loved the way they used the scallop shell to register different languages

93.194kms to Santiago.
I tried to find out more about Mos but there is very little by way of information on Wikipedia and don’t even bother to look at TripAdvisor: Type in keyword Mos and you’ll get dozens of responses, none of which are actually in Mos, but mostly miles away. Urgh. All I got was “There is no significant urban nucleus and most of the population live scattered across the municipality. Family-owned farms and vineyards are very common.” And that was that then.

By 11:15 I was on my way – 92.936kms to Santiago; barely 200 yards LOL

I was amazed to discover I was still on the Roman route: Vias Romanas A Tianticas!! Part of the 19th Roman road on the Antonine Itinerary. Whoa, okay! Awesome. I did some research while writing this blog and found an absolutely fascinating website (you’ll need to translate it) that lists a number of routes and places. Awesome http://www.viasromanas.pt/

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the route out of Mos and onto the ancient Roman roads; Camino da Ponte da Roma and “Cruceiro dos Cabaleiros”

Leaving the Pazo dos Marqueses behind, you start climbing the Rúa dos Cabaleiros up to the cross of “Cruceiro dos Cabaleiros”, a polychrome 18th century cross, on one side the image of the Virgin and on the other of Jesus Christ, named for the horse fair that is held here. Also called “Cruceiro da Vitoria” to signal the victory over Napoleon’s troops, the milestone not only worked as a boundary marker, but it’s also believed to have fertility powers for women who want to have children. After opposition from the locals it was left insitu and not moved to the Museum of Pontevedra.

After leaving Mos the route takes you along Camino da Rua onto the Estrada Alto de Barreiros Santiaguno and eventually onto Camino Cerdeirinas and back onto the Estrada Alto de Barreiros Santiaguno. It’s not a straight road to Arcade!! You have to wonder about the all the mead those Romans drank. The route switched back and forth between Via and Estrada to Camino and Egrexa (?) and a sign saying Camino de Santiago. At that moment I kinda wished that I was in Santiago, I was that tired. But….not to be wishing the days away, I was loving my Camino.

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following the yellow arrows and scallop shells; the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago. I loved the sculptures

A Roman marker; fascinating discovery

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a Roman marker indicating the remaining miles, much like the markers we have today

Time 12:43 Walked 11.80 kms. Approx 10 kms to go to Arcade. Thankfully it’s mostly downhill now. About 5 minutes ago I missed the turn off from the asphalt and walking determinedly head down ‘in the zone’, when I heard people shouting “Hello, Hello. Hello Senora!!” I looked back and a group of pilgrims I’d seen a few times were shouting for me to indicate I’d missed the turn LOL Who knows where I’d gotten to… probably not Santiago.

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Camino de Santiago…but if you’re walking with your head down, you won’t see it!!!

It’s been really challenging all this climbing, but according to a couple I met yesterday, I’m walking strong and that’s encouraging to hear. I truly could not have done it without my walking poles; Gemini. I stopped in a forest glade to recuperate. The pilgrims are all whizzing by me now as I sit relaxing and finally eating the trail mix I’ve carried around for the last 12 days hahaha. 300 grams off the load soon. It’s been raining on and off most of the morning and Mickey Mouse has given me a free sauna. Jeez it’s hot under that poncho. I’m hoping to reach Arcade today… Hold thumbs 😉
Galicia is poetically known as the “country of the thousand rivers” (“o país dos mil ríos”) and although I don’t recall crossing many rivers today, I did see and pass a number of streams. I guess the rain helps to keep them filled.

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Estrada de Padrón and those downward inclinations that I was not inclined to walk down. Level ground was gratefully received. My walking poles a life-saver

Enroute I walked along the Estrada de Padron!! But not the Padron I was aiming for located just before Santiago, although it was marvellous – lots of trees and greenery. And now we were into the serious inclines….up and up. It seemed never ending. The views, albeit misty were amazing. I got all excited when I spotted some boots on a wall, being used a flower pots. I remembered seeing this on Facebook!! My spirits lifted and I grinned from ear to ear. I so loved discovering these little scenes.

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One of my delightful discoveries. Just before Bar Corisco

8 kms to go to Arcade. I’ve stopped again 😉 Barely made 1 km progress in 1 hour but OMG that was the worst incline I’ve experienced so far. What goes up, must assuredly go down again. If I’d known what was waiting for me, I’d have stayed in that forest glade. Blimey. The downhill gradient was so steep that I couldn’t actually go down straight. I took it in a zig-zag fashion and hopped sideways. My right ankle is unhappy and my left knee even more unhappy. I wish I had a sled.

Meanwhile it seems I’ve walked 5 kms since I saw the sign for the Bar Corisco on the Camino Romano. When I saw that I had arrived at the place I decided to stop for lunch. Many other pilgrims had the same idea and the place was full. Incredibly, with all those patrons, there was just the one Senora rushing about taking orders and serving food. Poor woman. I felt like I should help her. The soup was just amazing and I ordered a 2nd bowl. Food for the soul and spirits. For someone who doesn’t normally touch Coke, I sure drank a lot on the Camino. Gave me energy.

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Lunch at Bar Corisco. Best vegetable soup ever

I left her a whopping big tip. I know you’re not meant to, but by golly she was working hard. They also have an albergue here. Camiño Romano, 47 – SAXAMONDE – 36816 – Redondela (Pontevedra) If you’re interested in finding out more about Bar Corisco https://www.paxinasgalegas.es/corisco-194770em.html

After leaving Bar Corisco I continued walking downhill on the Camino Romano. Just after the bend I saw a tractor chugging up what is a very narrow road and steep incline so crossed to the other side and stopped to wait for it to go past. As soon as it was far enough past me, I turned to my left to look for traffic and a car raced past so close I’m sure my pants cleaned the side of his car!!! I shudder to think of how close he went by. If perchance I had stepped forward just one step first and then turned to look he would have knocked me down. If I’d been unfocused before that moment, I was hyper alert after!!!

Hint: Just after Bar Corisco the road narrows substantially and is very steep going downhill (Camino Romano).

The route from here was horrid….exceptionally steep declines. What goes up, must I guess, eventually go down. Very uncomfortable to walk along. I can’t remember much of the walk after that, except that there were uphill and downhill challenges to get through. I do remember a group of about 13 cyclists whizzing by at one stage, most of them calling out “Buen Camino” I shouted back “grazie, Bom Camino” and tried to not feel envious at how quickly they flew by. I did call them bastards in my head. Petty jealousy LOL

Continuing along the Camino Romano which blended into Camino dos Frades and then after about an hour or so I was back on the N550; Rua do Muro/Estrada Porrino Redondela…..blah blah blah. I was too exhausted to care about much except a bed.

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Reaching Redondela.

And then I was in Concella de Redondela, passing along a stretch of the N550 which was exceptionally busy and quite horrible. Mostly industrial. I finally entered the town proper and was so glad I’d decided to go to Arcade instead of stopping there. I passed a handsome church as I entered the town; Convento de Vilavella, aka Vilavella Ensemble – a combination of convent, church and monuments. Construction started in 1501 and completed by 1554. After various changes, it now functions as a restaurant and wedding hall. I wished I had the time to visit….

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Convento de Vilavella, Redondella. circa 1501

I passed some fountains and a few interesting features but there was nothing to get excited about until the route took me through the old town which was just charming. Since I stuck religiously to the Camino route, following the arrows and tiled scallop shells, I didn’t venture off course and thereby I suspect I may have missed the more picturesque areas of the town. When I look at my route on mapmywalk I can see there is a large park-like area alongside the canal/river.

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passing through Redondela on the Portugues Camino de Santiago

I passed the house, built in the classic Galician style, where Casto Sampedro y Folgar lived; lawyer, archaeologist and folklorist, he was apparently one of the most emblematic characters of Galician culture. The streets along this section were absolutely fascinating and I briefly wished I wasn’t just passing through. A priest asked me, in Spanish, if I was looking for a place to stay or passing thru. I had no idea what he actually said, but with my few snippets of Spanish and some sign language I got the gist of it. I’m passing thru grazie. We waved goodbye. A few paces on and some random gentleman walking past wished me Buen Camino. Even after all these days, it still catches my heart and I just wanted to kiss him. Instead I shook his hand and thanked him with a big smile.

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passing through Redondela on the Camino Portugues

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Right in the centre of town; An hórreo is a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula built in wood or stone.

hórreo galician granary, concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

passing through Redondela. Wish I’d had more time to explore

Apparently Redondela is where the Portuguese Way of St James becomes one; coastal via Vigo, and central via Tui.

Redondela is apparently most famous for its viaducts. Two viaducts built in the 19th century meet here; the viaduct of Madrid and the viaduct of Pontevedra. I think I shall have to walk this route again….I didn’t get to see the viaduct properly this time around 😉 There is also the church of Iglesia de Santiago de Redondela dating from the 16th century that I didn’t get to see.

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the viaduct of Madrid and the viaduct of Pontevedra meet in Redondela

It took 45 minutes to pass from one end of Redondela to the other!! I was in quite a lot of pain and hobbling more than walking. That right ankle was a bitch, but I didn’t want to stop. It felt like if I stopped, I’d not get going again.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

following the blue tiled scallop shells and the yellow arrows

And then I was into rural countryside and from 4pm onwards I barely saw a human being, till I reached the albergue.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

leaving Redondela and this chap was pretty much the last person I saw till Arcade.                     Rua Torre de Calle 81.775 kms to Santiago

The Rua Torre de Calle. 81.775 kms to Santiago.

The route took me past some beautiful areas, forests and farms. The only sign of life; a few sheep and birds. My right ankle was hurting terribly by then and I hobbled along like a decrepit hobbit. Hahaha. Oh I’d have paid a king’s ransom for any form of transport at that stage.

Every now and then I encountered the dreaded N550 again!! ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ – Cesantes 0.5kms. I passed loads of sign boards advertising the names of various albergues, but I wasn’t quite ready to stop just yet…I had planned on reaching Arcade before nightfall with the hopes of finding somewhere to sleep there.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

shady glade, inclines, declines, and the dreaded N550 ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ – asphalt and gravel were my constant companion LOL

Traversing the slopes of A Peneda, a mountain with an elevation of 329 meters, was a real challenge. Dragging myself up inclines and zig-zagging down the declines, I walked through lovely, green forested areas, so quiet and peaceful. Thankfully the route didn’t take me all the way over the crest of the mountain, but rather along the sides…still, it was high enough!!

I passed an installation near Cesantes covered with dozens of scallop shells, all with dates and names written on. If I’d had a marker handy I could have left a message.  I hadn’t seen anyone since I left Redondella and was entirely on my own.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

the scallop shell installation near Cesantes and O Recuncho Do Peregrino 🙂 and the sun was now behind me

I noticed a sign-board with details for an albergue that I’d seen at least 3 times before now; O Recuncho Do Peregrino (raven of the pilgrim), and suddenly I just made up my mind; this was the right place and exactly at that minute I phoned and asked if they had a room available for the night? Yes, a double room. I don’t care that I’m paying double I just want a bed and my own space. I booked it. Arcade can wait till tomorrow!

79.122kms to Santiago. I could scarcely believe that it was now less than 80kms to go.

It was completely wild here, lots of trees. Galicia is one of the more forested areas of Spain, mostly eucalyptus and pine and shrubbery growing with wild abandon. The route is incredibly variable; asphalt, gravel, sandy and cobbled and as I hobbled along I suddenly noticed glimpses of what I thought was the sea through the trees!! It was in fact the Ria de Vigo lagoon.

o recuncho do peregrino, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

The Ria de Vigo Lagoon, and my journey’s end O Recuncho Do Peregrino and my bed!! Hoorah 🙂

And then finally, O Recuncho do Peregrino; 250 meters. I had arrived at my destination. The albergue is just 250m from the Pilgrim’s Way and despite being right on the verge of the N550, it wasn’t noisy. As it turns out, Arcade was only another 1 km further, but I was in no mood for walking…I wanted a shower, food and a bed. Pronto!!!

This albergue is excellent, very simply furnished, and very clean and Miguel, the proprietor is wonderful. So welcoming, friendly and helpful. I had a fantastic hot shower, which was blissful. In O Porriño the water was cold by the time I got to shower so this was sheer heaven. Miguel organised my laundry for me; washed and dried for €6. Brilliant. He also organised to have my backpack transported with Tuitrans to the motel in Caldas de Reis. I quite simply cannot carry it again through the mountains and tomorrow is a 32/35 km day. For €7 it’s well worth the cost and will take the pressure of my ankle. I hope I can actually walk tomorrow.

Not so much a #buencamino at this stage than a mere #camino. If I wasn’t in polite company I’d use that word that Helen Mirren advocates, I was that tired LOL I would have loved to take a walk down to the beach, but just the thought of walking even 10 feet, never mind 30 meters was too much for me. I repacked my bag and went to bed, too tired to even be hungry.

So wow my Camino 2017 set about throwing up some interesting challenges. Never once in all the planning and researching I had done prior to walking the Camino had I registered/realised that I would have to climb ‘mountains’. I couldn’t believe how many inclines there were. Okay it wasn’t really proper high mountains, but I can assure you, that with Pepe on my back and my ankle playing up, it felt like Everest.

Places I walked through today: O Porriño, Ameirolongo, Veiga Dana, Mos, Santiaguino das Antas, Saxamonde, Redondela and stopped just 1 km short of Arcade near the fishing village of San Simon Inlet. I could see the shimmer of blue of the lagoon from my bedroom window. I’d forgotten there was the island nearby, but truly, I was too tired to care. Even if Queen Elizabeth had come to visit, I woulda said – terrific, I’m glad for her. And still gone to bed!! LOL

FYI the albergue; O Recuncho do Peregrino, is closed during 2017 for the months of November, December, and January and February 2018. This albergue is listed as #1 on my Places I Stayed on the Camino If you’d like to know more for 2018; his website is http://orecunchodoperegrino.com/

If you’re interested in learning more about the Roman routes, I found this website linked to the Portuguese aspect of the Roman roads. http://www.viasromanas.pt/vrinfo.html

Tomorrow: Arcade and the marathon to Caldas dei Reis.

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Day 11 Sunday 2017.09.17 – Valença to Tui and onto O Porriño (part 1)

A Sámi proverb states, “How it goes with the first day’s travelling, so it will be with the rest of the journey.” – and in this instance that proved true; I had an awe-inspiring journey, an mix of early mornings, beautiful albeit tough terrain, cool air, peaceful forests and joyful greetings. I was on my Way.

This was day 1 of 5 walking from Tui to Santiago de Compostela; no rest days inbetween. With my alarm set for 6am, I woke with an overwhelming sense of anticipation, finally the day had arrived for the push through to Santiago de Compostela and excited beyond belief, I felt like I wanted to run every mile and jump with joy. I didn’t of course 🙂

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117.624 kms to Santiago – this was the first of many such route markers I saw along The Way.

I set off really early at 06:43 while it was still dark, and made my way to the walled city. Thank goodness I had found the route last night. Thanks to Mel for the heads up!

Although still quite dark I could see the sky lightening in the east. The streets were eerily quiet and while navigating the city I saw only 3 people the whole time I was walking through. The air was fresh and cool with the wonderful stillness of pre-dawn. I faffed around taking photos of each section of the route, recorded the church bells (because I am like that!) and took a few selfies while keeping an eye on the time. I was keen to watch the sunrise from the bridge into Spain.

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Fortaleza de Valença do Minho (Valença do Minho Fortress) boasts over 800 years history.

The city felt timeless as I made my way along the quiet streets, stopping briefly at the Roman milestone and Santa Maria dos Anjos church. If you walk this way look out for the Roman milestone dating from the 1st century AD. It marks 42 Roman miles (62 kms) on the road from Braga to Tui, and has the following inscription:

TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS CAESER AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS. IMPERATOR V CONSUL III, TRIBUNICIA POTESTATE III. PATER PATRIAE BRACARA XLII.

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A Roman milestone dating from the 1st century and Igreja de Santa Maria dos Anjos; the mother church of Valença do Minho consecrated in 1276

Finally I set my compass for Spain, my ‘Camino eyes’ carefully scanning for the yellow arrows as I trod gingerly along the cobbled lanes, down numerous stairs, through tunnels and beneath the fortified walls; muralha primitiva. It felt primitive.

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along the narrow lanes of Fortaleza Valença – a fortress started at the beginning of the 13th century and relating to the reign of King Sancho I

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Fortaleza Valença – a fortress started at the beginning of the 13th century

It was thrilling thinking about all the thousands of pilgrims who, through the aeons, have walked that route before me. The history of this awesome place is mind-blowing.

Then suddenly I was on the bridge and standing on the border, with one foot in Portugal and the other in Spain. My excitement knew no bounds. 🚶‍♀️👣🚶‍♀️👣🚶‍♀️👣👏👏👏

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Tui International Bridge (known in Portugal as Valença International Bridge), completed in 1878 is on the Portuguese Way to Santiago de Compostela

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Tui International Bridge leading to Spain (known in Portugal as Valença International Bridge)

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Tui International Bridge leading to Spain crosses the River Miño from Valença in Portugal. In the distance to the right you can see the cathedral of Tui on the hilltop

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In the past, pilgrims coming from Portugal had to reach Galicia, Spain by crossing the river Miño on a boat, but lucky me I could walk across via the bridge 🙂 These shoes are made for walking…

Tip: when you walk across the International Bridge from Portugal into Spain, be sure to walk on the right-hand side looking upstream, for the markings on the walkway. A footnote (pun-sorry LOL): I was so impressed with my walking shoes; a last minute buy a couple of weeks before I left, these shoes have done me proud: 123 kms so far…good support and no blisters!! The socks; brilliant combination of IsoCool liner socks and double layer anti-bacterial socks worked really well for me. But back to the sunrise…..

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The river Miño flows between Portugal and Spain.

Tui International Bridge leading to Spain crosses the River Miño from Valença in Portugal. I watched a magnificent pink-hued sunrise, took dozens of photos and finally once the sun peeked above the horizon in Portugal, I walked the final yards into Spain…. Hurrah, now I was on the Camino Portuguese Central Way to Santiago de Compostela. (Compostela (comes from the Latin “Campus Stellae” (i.e. Stars Field) – love that!!! ❤ 

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España 🙂 finally I was in Spain for real and on my way to Santiago de Compostela – Camino Portugues – Camiño de Santiago

Unbeknownst to me at that point, I was also going to be walking along sections of the old Roman Road ‘Via Romana XIX’ – see pic in top right hand corner. I just liked the design without realising the connotations 🙂

Tui, one of the seven capitals of the ancient Kingdom of Galicia, is the first town in Spain on the Camino Portugués Central Way and has an awesome cathedral just waiting to be explored. I met two ladies who told me the hotel; Parador Nacional San Telmo, would stamp my passport so I popped in and got my first Spanish pilgrim’s stamp. There was no way I was going to leave without visiting and getting a stamp. Hint: It’s advised that you get your credential (pilgrim’s passport) stamped at least twice a day between Tui and Santiago de Compostela to qualify for your certificate. This is not too difficult as there are so many churches and restaurants etc enroute where you can get a stamp (sello).

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Tui was the capital of a province in the Old Kingdom of Galicia, Spain.

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Parador Nacional San Telmo where I got my pilgrim’s passport stamped, the view across the River Miño and a final photo of me before setting off

Then it was a strenuous but picturesque climb up steep winding streets to the cathedral.

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Benvidos a Tui – Welcome to Tui on the Camiño de Santiago Camiño Portugués : 115.454 kms

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Tui, Galicia in Spain – 1st town on the Portugués Central Way to Santiago de Compostela

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the medieval narrow cobbled streets and lanes of Tui. I loved it 🙂

Tui has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Evidence of this are the sites found during construction of the highway Vigo-Tui, on the border with Porriño. The medieval city was composed of three elements; the cathedral, its hamlet of dwellings, and its city walls. After a very steep climb I finally reached the cathedral.

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Catedral de Santa Maria, Tui. On the top of the hill, the cathedral, begun in the 12th century, preserves Romanesque elements and has a Gothic façade.

Wowwww what an awesome church. Begun in the 12th century, during the Romanesque period, it has a Gothic façade, one of the first in this style in the Iberian Peninsula. The interior is, like most of the churches I had seen so far in Portugal, very elaborate with a number of chapels, altars and shrines to various saints. There’s a fantastic scallop shell as you enter the church and a number of references to St James and decorative scallop shells. In a corner near the front of the cathedral interior is a statue of King Alphonso.

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I explored every corer of the church and the museum. It’s absolutely beautiful

The cloister is also of Gothic style; the oldest in any Galician cathedral. Along the walls and over the archway of the 12th century Chapter Room are a number of intriguing Roman numerals.

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The Cloisters and Romanesque Chapter Room of the 12th century, the primitive meeting room of the canons of the first temple of the city. Just mind-blowing.

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The Cloisters of Catedral de Santa Maria, Tui

I had my pilgrim’s passport stamped at the Tourist Information Centre next to the church, my 2nd of the day in Spain…too exciting. I paid the €4 entrance fee at the cathedral which gave me access to the church, museum, cloisters and battlements, and spent a good 45 minutes exploring and, despite saying no more climbing towers, I climbed the tower battlements for some amazing views. The steps were so high you almost needed a step ladder to get up them!!! Going down was tricky. 

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climbing the church tower of the Cathedral of Tui

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the view across Tui, the river Mino and in the distance the International Bridge and on the hilltop, the walled city of Valenca, Portugal

I was, at about 9:20am, startled to discover the time!!! Wow, I figured that I had been exploring the church for 2 hours, but in fact I had forgotten that the clocks went forward by 1 hour between Portugal and Spain LOL. Whew. Nonetheless, it was time to get going. As I was leaving I stopped to photograph the elaborately carved doors and noticed the cross pattée (?) carved into the walls on both sides of the entrance…intriguing.

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A cross pattée carved into the walls and the elaborate doors

As the bells chimed 10, I reluctantly left the cathedral area and made my way along steep winding picturesque streets, only this time downhill. I looked out for the Camino markers, which were plentiful and believe it or not, I photographed every one of them all the way through Tui and just about the whole 18.39 kms to O Porrino…just because. 😉

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looking back at the cathedral, charming little pilgrim sculptures, streets of Tui

I just loved the little pilgrim sculptures on the walls.

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a little pilgrim sculpture shows the way. if you look above his head you can see a faint yellow arrow

I passed the Hospital for the Poor and the Pilgrim’s, past the Convent of Las Clarisas where I saw my first rather large groups of pilgrims,convent of saint domingo tui, church of saint bartolome tui, Camino Portugues, Camino de Santiago, tui, spain, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, portuguese central route to santiago, walking the camino, porto to santiago, walk 1000 miles, over the hill and still travelling, baby boomers, silver surfers, the boomer generation, things to do in your 60s, bucket list for the older generation, walked down stairs, through tunnels and along deserted downward sloping streets and lanes. It seemed spookily deserted!

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Tunel das Monxas and following the Way through the streets of Tui in Galicia

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the route is so well marked with yellow arrows, scallop shells, shell tiles and various other markings, you can’t fail to find your way. I walked completely sans maps or guide books.

I saw only a few of the locals along the route, and occasionally a few pilgrims, certainly not in the large numbers I was expecting.

There was one sculpture and cross that absolutely intrigued me; located on the wall of the bridge that crosses over Rúa Canónigo Valiño, it looks like a sculpture with religious connotations; souls burning in the fires of hell?? Intriguing.

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an intriguing sculpture

I have not been able to find out more information about this despite extensive google searches.

(2017.11.13 – addendum with huge thanks to Maria of  ‘Spanish Tuition Services‘ “I can help you with the “intriguing sculpture”. This type of construction is called “peto de ánimas” (roughly translates as souls’ money box) and they are quite common in Galicia. They represent souls in the fire of purgatory, with some figure watching over them (in this case, the dove/Holy Spirit). They also have a “peto” or money box for passers-by to leave an offering for the salvation of those souls. When a soul is saved and goes to Heaven thanks to your offering, they will later intercede on your behalf, so you can go into Heaven too”. – so there you have it; I’m so delighted to finally know what it signified)

Passing a number of fascinating historical buildings and churches I was longing to tarry awhile and explore further, but O Porriño waits and I can tarry no more.

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The Judaic Tower, the Convent of Saint Domingo (built 1330),  Praza San Bartolomé bandstand, the Church of St Bartolomé and an ancient communal washing area.

I was absolutely amazed to discover that I was also walking along the Via Romana XIX!!

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walking along a section of the Via Romana XIX

It always gives me a thrill, no matter where I am walking, when I discover links to Roman times…the thought of those Roman soldiers marching along the roads…I can almost hear the tramp tramp tramp of their sandalled boots on the cobbles….ahead of me was the tramp, tramp, tramp of the modern day pilgrim in their special super duper gortex, arch-supporting inners and uppers, special lace-up, isogrip boots in leather, fabric and waterproof, with  performance soles and protective toe bumpers!! I wonder what the Romans would make of today’s hiking footwear. – according to wikipedia:  Caligae (heavy-soled hobnailed military boots) were constructed from three leather layers: an outsole, the middle openwork layer which formed the boot’s upper, and an insole. They were laced up the centre of the foot and onto the top of the ankle. Additionally iron hobnails were hammered into the soles to provide the caligae with reinforcement and traction – okayyyyy, not quite what we wear today then. 

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a few pilgrims on the way; Bom Caminho – 114km to Santiago de Compostela

Suddenly I was out of urban Tui and into fields and the rural landscape of Galicia.

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and suddenly I was in the countryside…..

I was seeing more pilgrims now as well as locals. I called out “ola, bom dias” or “ola, Buen Camino” to everyone I saw and got many a cheery wave and “Buen Camino” in return. I’m on the Camiño de Santiago 😁😍🚶‍♀️

Continued….Part 2 Tui to O Porriño.

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2017.09.16 Day 10 – an evening in Valença.

Walked 4.5 kms / 8563 steps

After leaving Caminha, I soon arrived in Valença 🙃🙃 – only 20 minutes by train but a whole days walking. Sadly this was one of the sections I had to cut off my route once I completed the #SouthwarktoCanterbury and #WayofStAugustine walks in July and realised that with the backpack on, my pace is almost half what it normally is and I’d have no rest days.

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Valença station and the apartment block I stayed

instagram post: So the section from Esposende to Viana do Castelo and Caminha to Valença were my rest days. I’m glad of the breaks, it helps me physically and mentally to prepare for the next day. I finally located my lodgings and checked in at Residencial S Giao (graded #9 on my list of places I stayed on the Camino). I have a private room and ensuite bathroom for €30. The prices in this country are astounding, everything is so cheap, even the train ticket was only €2.95. Valença is a whole lot bigger than I anticipated so I’m guessing I won’t be exploring as much as I’d like to. Cest la vie 🙃🙃 I’ll have to come back for another Camino 😂😂😂💞

I was delighted to finally arrive in Valença after reading so much about it. I had read that it was a walled city, but by the time I arrived I was so tired that my brain didn’t really clock the ‘walled’ part of the city that was right in front of me when I arrived at the hotel. I thought it was just the wall of another fort, albeit a very well preserved fort in comparison to the others I had seen enroute from Porto to Caminha. So I didn’t really think much of it. As mentioned I was really tired, so as soon as the proprietor shut the door behind him I whipped my shoes off and crashed on the bed. I tried but couldn’t sleep. The noise from outside was horrid so I decided to close the windows (I’m a fresh-air fiend and usually love the windows open). As I leaned over the sill to close said window I happened to notice the wall properly and the turret I could see intrigued me, so I thought I’d at least make the effort to go look and possibly get something to eat. Woww.

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Fortress walls of Valenca – similar to what I saw from my hotel window

I was enthralled! Initially I could not quite get my head around what I was seeing. Then suddenly the penny dropped…ping!!! THIS!! was the walled city!! OMG. My head was spinning, from tired and surprise. Suddenly I was like “Oh no, I only have a few hours before sunset…will I have enough time to see it all?” I tried.. I think I pretty much succeeded.

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Porta do Sol, Valença Portugal

Valença; Northern Portugal’s fortress town, contains a settlement and has origins that date back to Roman times.

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descendants of those Roman horses?

Initially known as ‘Contrasta’ which means ‘village opposite to another’ – in this case Tui, across the river Minho in Spain – the name was changed to Valença by King Alfonso III during the 13th century.

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Entering the Fortress of Valença, Portugal

The ‘walled city’ is actually a fortress built across two hills with an enormous military advantage and cannons still adorn the ramparts facing across the river towards Spain; a reminder of Portugal’s military history in the days when the invading Spanish were not quite as peaceful as they are today.

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cannons; quite impressive. decorative rather than useful now, but still quite awesome

The first walls, a piece of gothic and baroque military architecture, were built in the 13th century and upgraded during the 17th and 18th centuries, and form the current bulwark design.

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Acougue Gate above and the walls that look pretty impregnable to me!!!

D. Afonso or Acougue Gate in one of the best preserved sections of the medieval fortification in Valença built during the 13th Century. Opened on the western side of the fortification is provided access to the Fonte de Vila located on the exterior. Archaeological excavations have yielded ancient remains dating back to Roman times.

The fortress walls have been destroyed several times; variously by the Barbarians, then the Moors, the armies of Asturias and Leon as well as  French troops in the 19th century.

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can’t imagine they would have been that easy to destroy

They were restored each time and are very well preserved. On 12 June 2009 Valença was officially made a city. It was absolutely thrilling to discover this place.

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Porta do Sol; entrance to the walled city of Valença, Portugal

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Paths of the Sacred Way of Valença.

There are a number of churches and chapels within the walled fortress of Valença. I managed to see a few of them in the short time I had.

1. Capela Militar do Bom Jesus and São Teotónio the first Portuguese saint was born in Ganfei near Valença, and was the confessor of King Afonso Henriques. The statue of S. Teotónio is a sculpture from the 20th century and evokes the figure of the 1st Holy Saint – the inspirer and protector of nationality.

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Capela Militar do Bom Jesus and statue of São Teotónio, Valença Portugal

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Capela Militar do Bom Jesus

Born in 1082 in the Valencian parish of Ganfei,  St. Teotónio died in Coimbra on February 18, 1162.  He became the first Portuguese saint to be celebrated as the reformer of religious life and is known as the patron saint of enslaved Christians, for having supported 1000 Mozarabic men, women and children, captured in an incursion to Andalusia by D. Afonso Henriques. Cannonised 1163, by Pope Alexander III, Rome.

2. The church of Santa Maria dos Anjos is the parish church of Valença built inside the medieval fortress.

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Santa Maria dos Anjos, Valenca, Portugal

This is where I bumped into Mel.

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Santa Maria dos Anjos, and Capela da Misericordia, Valenca, Portugal

Capela da Misericordia Valenca. Next to the altar of Christ aux Outrages, there is a niche added in recent times to highlight the Triptych das “Almas Pertencentes”.
This triptych, is listed in the parish registers since 1758. It represents a Last Judgement with a spectacular representation of Hell, in the flames of which are consumed the rich and powerful among which a king , a pope, a bishop, a monk … and many others! 

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Capela da Misericordia Valenca, Portugal

Founded on the eighth day of July of 1276. In the church are several altars and altarpieces built in a rich Baroque style. Although the church has a funeral chapel, the wooden panels that pave the floor of the entire church are the burials of wealthy families of the city. This was an absolutely fascinating church to visit.

3. Church of Santo Estevao, a 13th century temple located in the historic centre of Valenca. Reconstructed in the 18th century to a neoclassical design.

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Church of Santo Estevao a 13th century temple
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Capela de São Sebastião – The chapel of San Sebastián represented the last of the four stages of Via Sacra de Valença.

instagram post: Well what a surprise I got today. When I initially arrived at my hotel I wasn’t really in the mood for exploring and thought I might just rest. Hah!! Till I put my head out the window and glimpsed what looked like the edge of a fort. I immediately decided to get out and go see what it was. So at just after 5pm I set off….. Well, were my socks ever knocked off!!! 😳😳😳😳 It wasn’t a fort, but only a walled city!! Yes!! A whole city within the walls. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Of course my poor camera worked overtime as I whizzed around this marvellous place just revelling in the sheer amazingness of the place. I had my passport stamped at the main church and after wearing my feet out, I finally settled down to some supper and then went to watch the sunset. Eventually my battery died but not before I managed to capture my last Portuguese sunset 😊😊😊 I Sat on the ramparts for well over 30 minutes just enjoying the quiet and reflecting on the journey ahead. At some point in the city I bumped into Mel who I met on my first day out of Porto. What a delight to see her again. Andddd she told me that you can walk through the tunnels and walled city to reach the bridge that crosses into Spain 👏👏👏👏😀😀😀💕 So from tomorrow I’ll no longer say #bomcaminho but #buencamino as I start on my final 100 kms to #Santiago following the #CentralWay through #Spain Hurrah 😊😊😊 I’m so excited. 

The international road and rail bridge, inspired by Eiffel (as in the Eiffel Tower) across the River Minho was built in 1879, once invasions had become a thing of the past.

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The bridge to Spain; The Way to Santiago de Compostela – Tui in the distance

And what an extraordinary city it was. I can highly recommend that if you pass this way and have the time, you spend at least a few hours exploring this amazing place! People actually live there and have for centuries.

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ancient cobbled lanes and houses.

There are churches aplenty, restaurants, markets, outdoor eating and cool green squares and fantastic cobbled lanes (hell to walk on, especially when wet) and narrow streets lined with houses and shops offering a variety of goods from clothes, to marvellous embroidered linen, gorgeous painted china and tat (the £1 shop kind of tat LOL) and lots and lots of souvenir shops with an array of things to make your head hurt.

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scenes of the Fortress city of Valenca, an important city on the Camino route

The architecture is absolutely amazing and the houses are built higgedly piggedly virtually right on top of each other. I was seriously blown away. As mentioned in my instagram post, my poor camera worked overtime and eventually the battery ran down and the phone switched itself off just after the sunset. I was so mad at myself for not having my battery pack with. urgh. I always carry it. Anyway there it is. I think I captured pretty much just about every street, corner and building in the city that I passed along.valenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagrannyvalenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagrannyvalenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagranny

The views were spectacular and I so enjoyed my few hours walking around the walled city of Valença. As mentioned I bumped into Mel near the Igreja de Santa Maria dos Anjos at the far end towards the river. We chatted briefly. She was looking for their Priest who was to conduct the service at this church later on. Before saying goodbye again with the promise to meet up in Santiago on Friday, she told me that there was a Camino route through the walls and tunnels of the city!! What???? Seriously!!! I was totally intrigued by that snippet of information. Okay, so that was right up my alley (pun!! LOL) She didn’t have time to tell me more and where etc. and I was determined to find this route and follow it in the morning.

Time was marching on, so before heading over to watch the sunset, I decided to have something to eat. There was a little cafe nearby so I made my way  there and had another (the umpteenth) tosta misto and coke. The only thing I could order in Portugese that I was sure didn’t contain chicken or octopus LOL. It did contain ham, but cest la vie….a girl has to eat. I am so going to make sure that I speak and read a lot more of the language before my next Camino.

But first the sunset…..

I was just enthralled to be in Valença. It was totally surreal sitting on the walls of the fortress, aeons old with stories to tell that I couldn’t even begin to imagine. Besides that, I couldn’t quite believe I was actually there. It felt like a dream. I climbed right up onto the walls and sat in a gap between the ramparts, totally on my own – I felt so chilled, relaxed and amazed. What a life.

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sunset over Spain viewed from the Fortress in Valença. Isn’t life just amazing.

After sunset and before it got too dark, I walked back out the walled city, down to the river, so excited that I couldn’t wait for the morning….so I crossed the bridge on the downstream side to Spain (just because I could 🙂 ) and then back again on the upstream side, and on my return I looked carefully for the exit from the fortress. To my delight I found it quite easily and climbed a long, steep set of stairs and into the tunnels. The route was intriguing, twisting and winding through the tunnels, along ancient cobbled lanes, across the walls and arrived eventually back at the church where I had met Mel. Delighted that I had managed to trace the Camino route, I made mental notes of where to go; landmarks for the morning. I am soooo glad I did. What an extraordinary feeling to be walking in the footsteps of countless pilgrims who had followed this route over the centuries. I can’t describe fully how I felt….it was extraordinary.

The route; Valença is also a passage for the Way of St. James on the way to Santiago de Compostela, although many pilgrims now follow the road; Av. de Espanha that skirts the fortress (a real shame in my opinion. If more people knew of the route through the fortress I’m sure they would rather walk that way and enjoy the intriguing route). See Day 11 – my 1st Day of 5 from Valença to Santiago. – post to follow shortly.

After that little adventure, and totally excited that I’d found the route, since my battery was flat and I couldn’t take any more photos, I went shopping….as you do!! 🙂 From the next day onwards, I used the bag and wore the cap 😉

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time for a bit of shopping

And then it was time for bed. I had earlier, on arrival, bumped into my lovely group of 5 from Australia in the foyer of the hotel…seems they were also staying there. We had tentatively agreed to meet up later but when I knocked on the door there was no answer. Instead of a natter I had a fantastic hot shower and before long I was tucked up snug in bed. Goodnight Valença, I do wish I had another day to stay….next time 😉

Although my mind was whirling with excitement and thrilling in the knowledge that on the morrow I was to cross into Spain, I was really tired and despite the traffic noise I was soon fast asleep….my alarm set for 6am!! Whoooo!! Tui, Spain in the morning and the final 100kms to Santiago de Compostela…I could hardly wait to discover what adventures lay ahead?

In case you missed my morning in Caminha; a gorgeous town on the Portuguese Coastal Route of the Camino de Santiago.

(addendum. Unbeknownst to both of us at the time we bumped into each other outside the church, sadly Mel’s Priest had died. There in Valença. So tragic. I only found this out much later when I was near Padron in Spain by a very strange coincidence.)

 

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

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

Walked 30.28 kms / 65573 steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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fishermen in Viana do Castelo preparing their nets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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following The Way

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following The Way

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

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

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

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back to the boardwalks….bliss to walk along

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

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

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tumble down fishermen’s cottages

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

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

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

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

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

finding the signs along The Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

following the signs – the outskirts of Caminha

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

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

and then finally… Caminha

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

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

37 sunset 19.34 caminha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exploring Caminha 2.10 kms / 5364 steps

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

 

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