Archive for September 13th, 2017

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

Walked 27.71kms. 65029+ steps

The road to Esposende is not paved with gold.

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

time to go – Vila do Conde to Esposende

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

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

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

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

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

sunrise in Vila do Conde looking downriver towards the sea

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

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

watching the sunrise in Vila do Conde

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

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago


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

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

Povoa de Varzim

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

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

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

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

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

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

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

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

Finding the signs along The Way 🙂

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

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

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

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

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

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

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

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

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

such a gorgeous day and the boardwalks are fantastic

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

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

chapels, windmills, memorials

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

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

loved this little building.

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

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

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

I was blessed with some wonderful days

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

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

QuiAo and my first Super Bock of the day

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

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

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

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

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago the caminho beach bar portugal

The Caminho Beach Bar 🙂

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

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

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

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

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

the boardwalks were marvellous, made following the route so easy

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

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

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

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

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

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

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

Diversion?! No thanks!!!

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

Caminhos De Santiago – Apulia – Esposende

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

not a happy bunny, but still taking photos LOL

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

seeing the signs, albeit scare was very encouraging.

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

this was not a happy place to be on your own

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

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

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

Hoorah! Signs of civilisation – Portugal I ❤ you too

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

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

Hostel Eleven. Fao. Esposende 2kms 🙂

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

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

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

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

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

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

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

Caminho Portugues da Costa - Esposende

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

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

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

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

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

the road to Esposende is not paved in gold

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

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

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

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

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

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