Loving Vila Do Conde

Yesterday was another interesting day on the Portuguese Camino Coastal Route.

We were supposed to walk 25km but a few detours from the hard to find route probably added a few to that number. Good times!

The day started out with a great breakfast from our Albergue, Hostel Eleven, and their much appreciated help sending our bag from Viana to Vila. (Oh and yes that is chocolate cereal you see and absolutely I poured the left over ‘chocolate milk’ into my coffee!)

After breaky, we stepped outside to a beautiful day and our hostel lady smiling, waving and wishing us Buen Camino at about 830am. We knew which direction to start and had a chocolate cereal spring in our step!

A few photos on the way out of town below. The rooster is the symbol of Barcelos, this region of Portugal. He is everywhere, cute as a button with his big heart and I love him! (Is it appropriate to warn my husband via this blog post that I am bringing home some kinda of statue or stuffy of this rooster guy!?)

After a number of kilometres of clear way markers our luck started to run out a wee bit. We had a choice to take a Coastal option or stay on the main Camino path.

Well we chose Coastal of course and that was our demise. We ended up all over hell’s half acre just off the coast in some farm land stretch with markers that made no sense at all! We finally decided to just revert to finding a milestone noted in the guidebook and using Apple Maps to get there. We finally made it back in civilization after walking many roads as designated by Apple Maps but which were actually a sand track with some old tire marks. All in all, we determined we had spent an hour guessing and hoping and walking only to realise that the Camino has white and red markers and the national park in this region has yellow and red markers – we were following both and basically chasing our tails. Insert forehead slapping motion here! When those colours are faded or rusted out they look the darn same!

Any who, we made it to a wee village called Apuila. Once there we stood on a street corner, ironically with a statue of Saint Santiago on it, looking confused again when a local guy drove by in his car and slowed to give us directions. Amazing! We ‘leap of faith’ followed what he said and headed in the direction he pointed. When we tried to take a right where we thought he had indicated, a cafe shop owner came out to give us the X ‘don’t go there’ symbol with his arms and pointed us to keep straight – we were making the right turn too soon it seems. A couple blocks later, the first guy came back around, put on his car’s hazard lights, got out, and showed us personally where the right turn had to be made. And as the sound of angels singing from heaven rang out a Camino shell and arrow appeared on the stone wall to confirm! Wow!

So we were on our way again …

Only to quickly see that the signs were clearly indicating that there had been Camino detour that we never saw one sign for 2 hours ago/ had we saw a sign maybe we could have headed in the right direction.

A detour explains a few things!

Ok so for real back on track and making good time, we hit our next ‘detour’ of the day. A street we needed to walk on was torn up and under construction. Just as we started to wonder where and how do we get around this without getting lost (important point), the construction worker waved us to just walk through. What? I don’t have hard hat or steel toed boots? Where is Worksafe? So we walked through – it was an excellent photo opp!

Ok for real, for real on our way on The Way now, we started to make good time. We were hoofing it through farmland at a great pace and passing loads of pilgrims making their way in the opposite (and usual) direction to Santiago.

Then all of a sudden the pilgrim steam ran out and the Camino markers did too. Crap! But do not worry some Portuguese lady working in the field waved us down and pointed the direction to Porto for us. Yahoo for the locals. We of course turned in the direction she pointed and kept on keeping on. Well oops. At our next intersection kilometres later we couldn’t find a way marker and still hadn’t seen one for a long time. Crap again.

With no idea where we were again, we did the most logical thing and popped into the pastry coffee shop on the corner and had a coffee and a pastry! There is nothing like some caffeine and a donut to get you sorted!

We also again used Apple Maps to find a another milestone from the Guidebook to help us get back on track again. Turns out, thanks to the well intention but not exactly helpful lady, we were (insert groan here) 2.7km off course. No problem. We can knock that off in 20mins and be back to the Way – we had sugar and caffeine fuel now!

We stepped out of the cafe to literally a drastic change in weather, a storm was rolling in. Come on really! Lost and raining – is this a joke? Are we on candid camera or Punked? Ah well nothing to do but get the rain gear on, make some jokes and get back on course. It didn’t take long to be back on track or for the rain to stop. Yah us!


Seems the rain brought out our rain jackets and the snails! They are flowers, decorations for wine bottles, crossing roads, climbing walls and more. Weird and cute and gross really. We took it as a sign that our mascot was cheering for us.

Finally, we were back on the right track again. We were passing pilgrims coming the other direction again, we were spotting Way markers again and having fun. It’s a little stressful being lost and having little knowledge of how to ask for help IF there is even another human around to ask. So you fake it and hope for he best. When the sun came out again we knew (hoped) the rest of the day would be a good one.



We stopped for lunch on the boardwalk after while. Enjoying our pre-made sandwiches which included a little mustard thanks to the couple I scooped from a restaurant – they gave it to us technically but perhaps to use while in the restaurant not days later?!

Well we made it Vila and wow is it lovely! Here are a few pics of our town as we came in last night!

We toasted our crazy day with some vino at Cafe Cacau and had these amazing but a great odd hot dog with special sauce (which was poured on top instead of out inside) sandwiches. Wow delicious – might be something I crave when back home!

Then a glass of wine at a cool little cafe called O Navel which was built out of old doors and neat nautical stuff and there house wine (white and red was super yummy).

We then headed back to our lovely little home for the night called Erva Doca Guest House and got ourselves organised for today’s walk.

We are now off to walk the 33km into Porto, the end of the Fisherman’s or Coastal Route and our last day of walking. Feels weird to stop walking but we are also excited to just be tourists for the last week as we so smartly planned in advance. Yah us!

Buen Camino!
Brande

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