Yesterday we completed our final and fourth Camino in our Camino Mash Up Adventure!
The Camino de Santiago (St. James Way, 285kms of the total distance) the Camino Finisterre, the Camino Muxia and now the Camino Portuguese Coastal Way (Fisherman’s Route). A sort of Camino-a-pooloza! We walked the sections, or stages as pilgrims and guidebooks like to call them, that we thought we would get the most joy from step by step. Overall, despite some sore feet and muscles and a few detours and lost moments, our mission of joyful walking has been accomplished.
Here is how we wrapped up our final day …
We started the day earlier than usual at around 6am. As you have probably read, we have had some issues getting our extra bag with all the heaviest stuff transported to the next place we are staying. It seems there are very few companies who do this for the Portuguese Way compared to St. James Way and even less who are willing to help a couple of pilgrims walking ‘backwards’ away from Santiago in Portugal. But the company Top Santiago did us a favour the last two nights and made it happen – what a crew! However, we did have to have our bag ready for 7am which was early for us. The sun is not even close to being up at that time, let alone the other peeps in the hostel.
At 7am, after saying best of luck to our roomie from France, we were waiting in the lobby of the Erva Doce Guest House for Top Santiago to pick up our bag. Here is our Guest House. So pretty and feminine, but as Lana is demonstrating below also a veritable death trap for top-bunkers!
At 720am the Top Santiago guy came screeching quite literally to a halt in front of our home, grabbed the bag and gave a quick Bom Dia (good morning or good day) and was outta there to assist other pilgrims!
Bag sorted, we got to walking right away – we did have breakfast included in the Guest House cost but it didn’t start till 830 and we had 33km to Porto to cover to best to not set out so late. We determined we could catch a cafe on our way for breakfast instead.
Some of the views on our way out of Vila do Conde:
For the path, we knew right away there was bridge to cross into the next town called Azurara. Then we could sort of see on the guidebook map (which is way too high level to follow with any confidence and it rarely has street names) that we needed to then take a left for the Way that was all inland to Porto or a right for the Way that was all Coastal to Porto. Well I am sure you know where this is going – we went the Coastal Route and there were absolutely no Way markers to help us find our way. Now what?
Well when in doubt, go with your gut! A few times over the course of this trip Lana has said ‘let’s turn right’ – so that’s what we did! It hasn’t let us down so far and didn’t this time either. In about 40mins we found a marker or two. The markers were few and far between but we had the ocean directly to our right all day so that gave us all the compass we needed!
We soon started to see pilgrims coming the opposite / usual direction. Another welcome confirmation we are on the right route.
Some morning highlights:
At about 845am we walked through a tiny little village – the smell of coffee and cafe sounds brought us into this tiny, local cafe. We had wished for real breakfast but the cafe, in Portuguese fashion, only had sweets. So we shared this puff pastry, chocolate covered, custard filled cone of goodness. Wow and yum and wow! The place was full of mom’s and kids – we assume the mom’s getting their coffee fix before dropping the kids at school, and seems the kids were getting their morning candy fix. (I wish I had a pic of that pastry to show you – clearly I was too excited to eat it to pause for a photo opp.)
About 20mins later we were back on the Way. The sun was fully up now and it was hot. I was already considering when and how many times I would be putting on sunscreen – the pilgrim tan lines I have developed are not hot!
At about 1130 we stopped for lunch. As much as we loved our pasty it does not fuel the pace and distance we were walking. We found an awesome little place right on there beach:
We ordered a Somsersby (they have them everywhere here, like everywhere – Portugal has a Somersby addiction) and a famous Portuguese sandwich called the Francesinha. Basically a delicious combo of multi meats and cheese and special beer sauce on a bun. Wow! This one was a Francesinha Especial and included an egg. Brunch it is! (And yes that is the baggy of pepper I have been carrying around and using anytime we get eggs.)
Completely stuffed and relaxed an hour later, we got up to enjoy (aka wrangle and ramble instead of power walk) our last 18km into Porto. We were full but the weather was beauty, the coastline was magnificent and it was easy walking. We decided it was a good time for some headphone and tunes (audio book for me) to get going.
A few highlights of our afternoon:
At around 4pm we were really into Porto proper now. Our feet started to bark quite a bit louder from the cement boardwalks and cobble stones, and the number of people (insert not-paying-attention-cut-you-off-as-you-walk tourists here) were increasing quickly.
We were ready to hoof it to make the meet and greet with our Porto Air BnB contact, and then we saw this wee, old tram …
Well why wouldn’t ya?! We hopped the rickety tram and caught a ride the last 6km or so into old city centre in style. Well truth be told it was a very bumpy and jarring ride and as we were standing was not really a break on our feet, but it was an old fashioned tram in Porto and that’s awesome!
The tram conductor (I think that’s what he would be called) literally moved the big cable from one end of the tram to the other and flipped the seats to face the other direction at each end of the tram line – which went from the old Fort to the bottom of hill up into old city. So we got to stand at the back but in the other direction would be the front of the tram, and stage a little photo shoot of sorts!
We got off at the bottom of the massive hill into the old city centre, hoofed our way up to pick our bag up at the Hostel Invictus (were are not staying here just needed a place to send our bag forward to) then enjoyed a ‘cheers Camino complete’ glass of wine before meeting our Air BnB.
Wow here is our Air BnB in the middle, dead centre of the old city – we are so lucky! Here in Porto Lana gets the room and I get the futon – it’s this amazing studio and we love it.
We are here in Porto till Monday before making our way to Lagos by train. Expect a Porto blog post on Monday with a summary of what we already can feel will be an awesome city!
Porto look out, we are here!