The Senda de Auga

Rain was pouring down as we threw back the drapes this morning, but as luck would have it clearing was on the way. We lingered over breakfast to give the rain a chance to pass through. It worked out just fine. By the time we were ready to get underway there were patches of blue sky emerging.

Again we opted for a lift out of the city center and found ourselves atop a steep hill at an intersection with a walking path marked as the Senda de Auga. Yes that was how it was spelled. Whatever it was called it was our Camino path for today and it was splendid. It basically was a level ridge that went from the eastern edge of Vigo to almost Redondela. It was a stable, well maintained and tree shaded path that made the short walk to Redondela quite pleasant. We had been in Redondela before when we came up the central route, but today’s approach was so much nicer. Close to perfect. We once again checked into the Alvear Suites Apartments and found a lavandaría just around the corner. All is well with laundry and lunch behind us. Now we are in a corner bar a few steps from our apartment catching up with our correspondence and simply relaxing. Off to Pontevedra tomorrow. Lots of pilgrims now joining from the Portuguese central route, fewer ( it seems) from the coastal route.

Off to Vigo

We enjoyed a nice stay in Baiona, had a hearty breakfast and then grabbed a taxi to move along a bit. No particular reason, just felt a bit lazy. We jumped out of the taxi at Priegue, saddled up and started off uphill. We made our way up through a beautiful eucalyptus forest with lots of tree cover. It was just wonderful. This part of today’s walk was, by far, the best. Unfortunately all good things come to an end, so to did the forest path. Now we were entering the outskirts of Vigo, Galicia’s largest city. Onward we trod along city sidewalks that never seemed to end. Eventually we were directed into some quieter areas but in the end it was back pounding out the kms on busy city sidewalks. It took us about 2 hours to get to our hotel from the time we first hit the outer suburbs. So at 2:15 we walked in the door of the NH Hotel Collection Vigo.

This was supposed to be a short day but the city transit sorted that out. None the worse for wear, we checked in, found a lavandaría just around the corner, and still were able to slip into the dining room and order lunch just before the siesta break at 4:00. All went well. We have since strolled about the town, visited the church of Santiago, enjoyed a glass of cava in the leafy Praza Compostela, picked up some water for tomorrow, and finally made our way back to our hotel where we are now horizontal. Another day done. Rain tomorrow for sure, but only in the morning. Having fun, and enjoying this Camino. Talk tomorrow from Redondela.

Race day

Today we set out for the port city of Baiona. It was foggy overnight but it slowly withdrew out to sea as the morning warmed up. We took a little diversion from the main road to Baiona, but rejoined it a half hour later. As we were coming up to the road a few bicycles flew by and then a few more and then a torrent of flashy race bikes crowded the road. We couldn’t quite make out what was going on but the road was closed for whatever this competition was. We carried on along the road’s multi-use path and enjoyed the sights until we departed to head inland over a hill that took us to Baiona.

We enjoyed a cooler day and pleasant walking conditions, chatted briefly with one Australia couple who had a small gas cooker out making tea (go figure), and found ourselves walking into Baiona around 12:30. Once in town it became clear that the bike race was actually just part of a Triathlon competition based in Baiona. We scooted around assorted barricades and taped off areas and climbed the hill leading to the Parador our lodging for tonight. Lots of folks in finery at the Parador. Perhaps it was a wedding. Also there was some classic car rendezvous going on as well.

On a side note the Camino baggage transfer services got jammed up in the Triathlon road closures so a lot of pilgrim luggage was circling Galicia as we headed out to the lavandaría to wash our pilgrim finery. Another fine day. Rain is now in the forecast starting tonight. Tomorrow we shall rig for the rain and head out to Vigo. All is well.

Some quiet time by the sea

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.

Our journey continues

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.

Almost into Spain

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.

Continuing to improve

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.

Still inching along

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.

Off again

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.

Our final stop, Lisbon

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.

Our hotel near the river