We stepped out of our hotel, the Convento San Benito, in A Guarda into another clear morning. A nice cool sea breeze made our departure that much more comfortable as we climbed up and out of town. Today proved to be a very quiet day. We only encountered a few pilgrims and other than a huge motorcycle club (100+) passing by and a rather good sized cycling club all was rather peaceful. A good portion of today’s walk was by the water and that continued to bless us with some cool sea air throughout the day. We chatted with an American from Boston for awhile. He was stopping in Oia for the day so we pulled over for some refreshments as well. It is a pretty, but very small, seaside town that had just absorbed two buses of tourists as we entered the village. It was like an army on maneuvers but less regimented. But the beauty of walking the Camino is that you can just walk on. Which is exactly what we did. An hour later we arrived in Viladesuso, and our hotel for the night, the Casa Verde. We were greeted at the reception by a pleasantly vivacious young lady who spoke excellent English. As she checked us in we inquired about laundry service (fingers crossed) and bingo she gave us the good news that they provide a laundry service for 6 euros. She said it would be done in two hours and it was. When one arrives soaked in sweat finding a lavandaría or a hotel laundry service is a gift from heaven. So far we have been lucky. So no smelly pilgrims. Yea.
While the laundry was being done we slipped into the dining room for a lunch of pulpo (after all we are in Galicia), grilled vegetables, and a grilled veal chop (huge). We are now horizontal waiting for the sun to ease off a bit. I think a stop at the bar, a bit later, for a glass of wine to enjoy while viewing what should be another beautiful sunset is very much in order. Such is the pilgrim life. Buenas noches from Galicia.
We had a short beautiful day’s walk from Vila Praia de Ãncona to A Guarda. An early morning start helped us with the heat as we made our way out of town towards Caminha where we would cross the Minho into Spain. We moved along enjoying the coastal views as the day progressed. We saw a few pilgrims but not as many as before. But, for us, it was pleasantly quiet. We had the coastal wind keeping us alert, but absent that we had a quiet path to to the Minho ferry.
Arriving in Caminha, a bustling border village, we quickly found the ferry terminal. At the bar we were told we could catch a skiff across the Minho in just a minute for the same price as the ferry. So off we went and a few minutes later were in Spain
Once in Spain we followed the Camino path into A Guarda and settled into our hotel. We have now finished with lunch, our laundry is done and now we are just strolling along the sea front enjoying the end of the day.
Today was a hot one with temps finally topping out around 87. We left Viana do Castelo in cooler weather but as we pushed along the side streets out of town the sweat was already trickling down. It was a quiet day with surprisingly few pilgrim encounters, maybe 6 or 8.
Once clear of Viana we found ourselves being directed along a series of connected quiet lanes with a few forest tracks included for good measure. The eucalyptus scent in the forest was ever present and quite pleasant. One thing that seemed a bit odd was during a break in Carreço, at the only bar in town, no one mentioned the fire that was still smoldering along the Camino trail.
We enjoyed our brief rest at the bar and shoved off not expecting anything out of the ordinary. As we entered the forest smoke was visible, hanging close to the ground and then rising with the coastal winds into the trees. It was apparent that a recent wild fire had burned through this area. It was also obvious that at one point the fire had burned right across the trail. All around us the charred landscape was actively smoldering enveloping our path in a smoky haze. It was a bit disconcerting to realize that a major fire had recently burned through and no one thought to mention it to those of us who were about to transit that area.
But, onward we went, now free of the charred and smoking landscape to enjoy the quietude of the lanes and forest paths that eventually led us into Vila Praia de Ãncora, our destination for tonight. We are booked into a basic tourist hotel right on the Atlantic coast about 13 kms south of the River Minho, which is the border between Portugal and Spain. Now with laundry done and dinner settled I am sitting in a seaside restaurant enjoying a final glass of tinto as I write this post. The sun is just slipping below the horizon signaling that another wonderful day on the Coastal Way is now officially over. Hopping over to Spain tomorrow. See you there.
Another blue sky day greeted us as we departed Esposende. We jumped ahead to the village of Belinho which was to give us about a 17 km day. We started walking at 10:00 and arrived at our hotel in Viana do Castelo at 3:00. We did take a half hour lunch break, but it seemed like we should have covered more ground in 4.5 hours of walking. But who knows.
The important point is that we continue injury free and with just a few aches that are normal and manageable. So put that aside and let’s talk about the route. It is a truly enjoyable Camino. We have been most pleased with the path, the signage and the beauty of the land. We do notice a somewhat more mellow attitude with pilgrims on this Camino. Perhaps it has something to do with less stress regarding lodging. In any event everyone seems to be moving along in good form and in good spirits. We encountered our first few climbs of this Camino today. Nothing strenuous but a good proving ground for Robin’s back as we push onward. Happy to report that all went well. For now we are relaxing in a local bar next door to the lavendaría awaiting our laundry to finish up. All is well.
We awoke this morning to another splendid day. Clear skies and temps in the upper 50’s. Later in the day temps rose to the mid 70’s. The NW’ly wind of yesterday was still there but less boisterous than forecasted. We taxied ahead to try and create around a 16-18 km day, but in fact it seemed to be more like 20.
In any event we held together and chugged along enjoying the beautiful coastal views, fresh air and simply reveling that we are able to walk. A few aches and pains remain but compared to not that many days ago this was a significant improvement. Robin is in very good spirits which also means I am as well. We had a splendid day’s walk and still had some steam in the engine when we crossed the threshold of the Hotel Suave Mar in Esposende.
Fortunately the hotel restaurant was still serving lunch so we quickly ducked in to see what was on the menu. For me a grilled dorado with veggies, and for Robin spaghetti with meat sauce. This was all chased down with another outstanding Portuguese Albariñho from the Moncão region near the Spanish border east of Tui. So in short our cautious optimism has been ratcheted up a notch and we feel as though our old Camino legs have been resurrected. Let’s hope that is the case. I will let you know more about that tomorrow after or walk to Viana do Castelo. Oh, and btw we traveled in pretty solid company today with a couple of dozen pilgs shuffling along the boardwalk with us. Lot’s of German being spoken.
After some fun days catching up with friends in Santiago we moved on to Porto to walk the Coastal Camino back to Santiago. Today our journey actually began.
This has been a challenging time for Robin and I as we have had to confront some physical issues that have plagued Robin since February when her Uber was hit in Los Angeles by another car. At first it seemed all would be well but later a stubborn back pain emerged that has proven tough to rehabilitate. At this point we were already fully booked for our upcoming Camino so what to do? Robin saw all the docs and followed all the guidance but the pain was in a world of its own. Each day there was some incremental improvement but would the improvement be enough to allow Robin to walk and carry her backpack?
Today the answer was a resounding yes. We left Porto and jumped ahead to a point where we only had about a 14 km walk to Vila do Conde. All went well with our first day walking. I carried some of Robin’s things so her pack weight was manageable and despite a brisk NW’ly headwind we chugged along in good form arriving in Vila do Conde just after 1:00 pm. I have to admit this was some sort of miracle after watching Robin for the past few months gritting her teeth against the pain. So, we are now cautiously optimistic that with a bit of luck and God’s grace we might just inch our way to Santiago once again.
The weather is beautiful, but windy. Tomorrow the winds will kick up even higher, 20-30 gusting to 40 and yes it will be a headwind again. But, we count our blessings and will take things one day at a time. One thing is for sure, when Robin makes up her mind to walk the Camino she damn sure is going to walk it. So that’s our plan, just walk on and hope for the best.
Camino tips. Vila do Conde is a very nice town. We are back again at the Hotel Brazão and recommend it. It is a basic, but very clean hotel with a very nice staff. A restaurant recommendation is the Restaurante Ramon. It is a family run business that we head to for a good meal.
We are now showered, the laundry is strung across our room and so it is time for a stroll around town. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
We are just finishing up a wonderful 3 night stay in Lisbon. We prowled around the city and spent a day out in Sintra. Gobbled down great seafood and enjoyed wonderful wine as well. Managed a lot of walking so the waistline hasn’t taken too bad a hit. The weather has been sunny and seasonably cool, but very pleasant for managing the hills. Off to Amsterdam tomorrow and home the next day. Cheers for now.