Teo to Santiago de Compostella: Portuguese Camino

October 2nd 2019. The final leg of the Portuguese Camino de la Costa or Caminho da Costa from Porto in Portugal to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. 125 kms in total, today was a walk of approximately 15 kms.

St James, patron Saint of the Camino, holding his staff and sitting in a little nook on the side of the Capela do San Martino near the cross, Cruceiro de Rua de Francos, near Teo, Galicia

Retracing my steps from the night before, I left the albergue at Teo at 7.45am and began the last leg of this Portuguese camino. It was misty, cold and the path went steeply up. Thankfully the weather cleared later. I had to take painkillers for my foot for only the second time on this way. It didn’t hurt when I was sitting down – a clear message.

Lugar de la Grela with roof crosses typical of the region, Galicia

Overall, this way into Santiago de Compostella is hilly and it was hard going, however it was lovely countryside. I breathed in the fresh air before entering the city.

We hiked forested paths, up and down hills, crossed rivers and railways, passed shopping centres, went down narrow alleys between houses, climbed a steep hill beside a hospital, and then walked on city streets. Spencer Linwood’s blog of this final day
Capila de Santa Maria Magdalena, Galicia
Stained glass at the Capila de Santa Maria Magdalena, Galicia . She is often depicted with long flowing tresses, a cross in her right and in her left hand she presents an egg (in an eggcup?) to Emperor Tiberius as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. There are some great stories about Mary and her egg

According to tradition, after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven, the Magdalene…boldly presented herself to the Emperor Tiberius Caesar in Rome to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with an egg in hand to illustrate her message. Holding the egg out to him, she exclaimed for the first time what is now the universal Easter proclamation among Christians, “Christ is risen!” The emperor, mocking her, said that Jesus had no more risen than the egg in her hand was red. Immediately, the egg turned red as a sign from God to illustrate the truth of her message. The Emperor then heeded her complaints about Pilate condemning an innocent man to death, and had Pilate removed from Jerusalem under imperial displeasure. Mary Magdalene continued her mission as an evangelizer, contemplative, and mystic in the heart of the Church.

By Grechen Filz (link under photo above)
Autumn squash piled up after harvest, Galicia

At one point there was a cacophony of hunting dogs and two men wandering around looking very guilty, a huge 4×4 a little further on. The hounds seemed to be nosing around for something, but it wasn’t clear what and otherwise the area was deserted. Moving away, up a inclinne, I passed a female backpacker going in the opposite direction, so I repeatedly glanced back. I knew she would be passing the men and wanted to keep an eye out for her in case she needed back-up.

La magia del camino graffiti, underpass of the main AG56 road which goes past Santiago and on to Noia on the west coast

Much to my disappointment, I started to feel some back pain as I traipsed up towards the city centre, searching for signs and arrows to no avail.

Tip: Remember that google maps is all but useless in the Poruguese / Spanish countryside, but great in towns and cities, so at this stage when there is a dearth of directions, you can switch on the GPS.

The outskirts seemed to go on and on and so I took an elevenses pitstop in a city cafe enjoying some green tea and sweet Santiago tart which I remembered well from my first visit in 2016, when my life had already started to change.

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella, Galicia seen from the ground looking up

I arrived in the main square at 12.15. Someone asked whether I was going to lie down. I didn’t know about this, but apparently there is a tradition to prostrate, head towards the towering building and admire it upside down, so I did. Of course.

This was my second time in Santiago despite having walked three caminos. When I walked the Via de la Plata, I initially headed south, towards Seville (1000 kms away). Later I started there, walking northwards until I got back to where I had finished that section the year before. I didn’t do the final stage for a second time, and so didn’t visit Santiago. I didn’t go to the special Mass this October 2019 either, for the same reasons.

View of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostella from the balcony at the Roots and Boots hostel
The garden at the Roots and Boots hostel, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia

I had booked the Roots and Boots hostel in advance and was very happy with it. Very close to the centre, the rooms are small (no extensive dormitories) and mine had a magnificent view of the cathedral. There is a pretty, enclosed garden with tables and chairs by a reasonably priced, hole-in-the-wall, cafe. I sat out there until quite late at night, getting slightly chilly but enjoying the situation, especially given it was October.

I had lunch in a large restaurant, very popular with pilgrims. I was surprisingly tired and the large portions and very quick service suited very well!

Laundromat courtyard out back, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia
Frida Kahlo on tiny tiles in the courtyard of the launderette, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia
Glowing Petunia in the same courtyard

Then I left clothes to be washed at a rather nice launderette (as launderettes go) on Rua das Hortas which had a decorated and flowering courtyard. You can also get washing done at Pilgrim House, a veritable Santiago institution.

I had not planned what I would do next until a few days before, when I came across a post on the Camino forum which set me off on a new trail. I contacted the redoubtable Rebekah Scott at her Peaceable Kingdom to ask if I could stay with her at Moratinos on the Camino Frances, in the name of research. She kindly obliged, but later sent me an email saying that she couldn’t host me after all because she looks after a hostel on the Camino Primitivo and had to go up immediately. Unless, she added, I wanted to go too. More on this adventure later…..

Pavement message in the early morning of the next day: Europe was made on the pilgrim
road to Compostella

Excellent Stingy Nomads guide to the Poruguese Caminos – all the variations and pretty much anything else you want to know.

Parador (hotel) Santiago de Compostella

Footnote: If you have some cash at the end of your camino, you could try the Parador, one of the famous Spanish hotels which offers pilgrims a free lunch, so I am told.

The camino shell necklack I bought in Porto for 5 euros and which I wore as a talisman for the Camino to Santiago de Compostella

Herbon to Teo: Portuguese Camino

Camino Portuguese da Costa – Day 14, October 2nd 2019

It is 25 kms from Padron to Santiago and I was not confident I would manage that with the extra 3.2 kms from Herbón to Padrón, so I decided to break my journey in Teo, making two, admittedly short, days out of one longer one.

I took a last look at the gardens of the monastery of Herbón, Spain and spotted this little critter slinking its way amongst the stones

They played music to wake us up at the Herbón monastery and then there was a return to the large dining room for a shared breakfast. Although we had arrived through countryside, the path out, towards Padrón, was almost immediately into a village and then along a main road.

A typical Galician scene with terracotta rooves, fruit frames and misted mountains in the background, Spain

I was on the Ruta dos Xardins da Camelias, heading towards the home of padrón peppers which we had been told the previous evening didn’t really emanate from Padrón at all. It doesn’t stop them being one of my favourite dishes.

Crossing the River Sar with a wonderful view of the Iglesia de Santiago de Padrón. Still dark enough to merit headlights. Spain

I waited in a bar for the pharmacy to open so I could get some anti-inflammatories for my left foot which was still very painful.

Flattened graves surrounding a traditional Galician church, Padrón, Spain
Perhaps that is Monte Meda (1454 feet) in the distance, half hidden by low cloud cover, the sun trying hard to shine through, Galicia
Approximately half way there and I came across the Santa Maria de Cruces Church with its ornate twin steeples, A Escravitude, Galicia
I heard them before I saw them! Hunting dogs keen to get a look at the pilgrims
One was really determined – squeezing sideways under the fence!

And then I was in the rural landscape I love so much. Grass and sheep, scarlet willows with yellow branches stemming from a single point, just a few green leaves left now as winter approaches – nothing too carefully kept.

It’s when the pine needles turn brown and fall. They catch on branches below and create this chopstick effect
Look carefully and you will spot the yellow arrow on the tree in the centre. Getting close to Santiago de Compostella now – ‘the end of the road’, Galicia
Onto the Ruta Saudable de Teo, the healthy route, where you cannot pick flowers or frogs, but you can hike!
Autumn crocus in hazy sunlight
Capela de San Marino de Ruta de Francos: modest, solid, ancient, Galician

The country roads were lined with almond trees, almost neon in their greenness, and forming a backdrop to lush undergrowth, rough-stalked bracken. I happily trotted along, constantly overtaken by others rushing to the finish line.

The albergue Xunta de Teo (municipal albergue at Teo) is in a beautiful spot, a drop down from an extremely busy main road, but accessed by the walkers from the opposite, safe side. There are cafes both down and uphill, and they are equally idiosyncratic. Shops can be found even further on: the one at a service station is often open, the much smaller village store is shut for hours at lunch time.

The albergue was closed on arrival, only opening much later (4pm) with a queue, and filled up very quickly, so that many were turned away. It is run in a haphazard sort of a way and there are no utensils in the kitchen.

While I waited for it to open, I sat under a plastic awning and wrote and read and ate p. peppers and drank beer and it was expensive, in comparison to other places.

In all I went up and down that road a few times, eventually getting supplies for the evening meal, and then wandered back through the forest, past the church and other very smart looking buildings, several of which were supposed to be a restaurant and up-market accommodation, but both looked uninhabited. It was like a rekkie for the next day (in the opposite direction), very pleasant, and I returned to sleep when it was almost dark.

Sunset through the treest, Teo, Galicia

Caldas de Reis to Herbon: Portuguese Camino

Camino Portuguese da Costa – Day 13, October 1st 2019

Leaving Caldas de Reis

Caldas means hot springs and although a foot fountain was right outside my hostel, there was no encouragement to bathe mine as they dissuade you for hygene reasons.

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Towering palms beside the Igrexa de san Tome Becket (the British St Thomas a Becket), Caldas de Reis, Spain

There is a Bishop’s mitre on the door and otherwise I cannot find out what the connection is between St Thomas a Becket and Caldas de Reis – although of course he may have made pilgrimage here.

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Street art, Caldas de Reis, Camino Portuguese, Spain

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One of the many beautiful stone fountains you can see on the Portuguese Camino. Here emblazoned with the shell symbol of paths meeting at Santiago de Compostella

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Walking out of Caldas de Reis, I looked down a long valley, the view spoiled by a pylon, Spain

huge orange feild pumpkins
Field pumpkins. Although there were squash everywhere in the fields and gardens, I never saw them offered on a menu

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Reflections in the traditional, central washing area with what appeared to be self-seeded white lillies randomly dotted around. Carracedo, Spain

Further down the road were clumps of pink lillies growing wild on the banks like the lupins do in Scotland along the motorway between Edinburgh and Perth.

Iglesia San Clemente de Cesar, outside Caldas de Reis, Spain

edible plants in growing situation
Tall brassicas growing in O Cruceiro, Spain

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Three Bird Toadflax (Linaria triornithophora). I used the Leafsnap plant identifier app – free)

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Memorial and location of Albert’s ashes, left by his friend. They had planned to walk the Camino together, but Albert had died on the operating table beforehand. Camino Portuguese, Spain

There are many such places to be found along the paths of the Caminos de Santiago.

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Cemetery, Camino Portuguese, Spain

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Sunshine in the form of canna lillies with their buxom seed pods, Spain

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Gourds (used for carrying water by early pilgrims) and a camino shell on a rusty metal cross with plants and inscriptions, Camino Portuguese, Spain

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Prickly pears, Spain

Pontecesures (on the way)

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Coming into Pontecesures with its industrial pollution, Spain

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This cafe was recommended in a guide which I read. It was truly idiosyncratic, run by one man who has his own way of doing things, takes offence easily, and is dedicated to the Camino. Pontecesures, Spain

Just before crossing the River Ulla, on the right at a corner (if I remember correctly) is the place in the above photo. With makeshift furniture and varying quality of food, it is a somewhere to sit out of the sun and get refreshments. It appears to be donativo, but the maitre d’ expected payment and it was obviously a rather random affair. He was not chatty with me, but did serve up the ‘last’ bowl of vegetarian stew (it came recommended). He took a liking to the young couple who came in later, but sent another man who asked questions, packing! The flags and the individual nature of this place reminded me of Manjarín on the Camino Frances.

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The Rio (river) Ulla, Pontecesures, Spain

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The Glory Bush (Tibouchina urvilliana) flower. (Thanks to Name That Plant on houzz.com)

After crossing the bridge at Ponte(bridge)cesures and climbing up the other side in full, hot sun, the path took me along the banks of the River Ulla towards the San Antonio (St Anthony’s) Monastery of Herbón.

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These kiwi fruit were drooping off the stalks and there were acres of them, on the way to Herbón, Spain

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The route wound along the banks of the River Ulla, sometimes amidst the undergrowth, although the signs were pretty clear, Camino Portuguese

This time I did not bathe as I was keen to get a bed for the night in the monastery on the opposite bank.

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Weir, River Ulla, Spain

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Red as well as yellow arrows here. Up and down I went, towards and away from the river, before crossing and climbing uphill away from it. Camino Portuguese, Spain

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A small salamander basking in the sun!

Herbón Monastery

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Walking around the walls of the Herbón Monastery looking for the entrance I spotted this shrine, Spain

I was pushing myself (not great for the still-painful foot) because of spening time over lunch and knowing that there is always competition to get a bed at the Herbón Monastery. I passed a couple who were clearly needing some ‘romantic’ time by the river. They were in no hurry to get there before me.

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And there was the queue stretching back from the entrance in the wall – only two spaces were left and approximately four hours to wait before opening time, Herbón Monastery, Spain

It was nice and warm and there was plenty to see (photos below). People came to join the line, but were too late and left again – it was a little way into Padrón because it is a detour to get here.

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Old friends met up and new ones were made while waiting, Herbón Monastery, Spain

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The church of the missionaries, Herbón Monastery, Spain

The young couple sauntered in after quite a while, but were too late and went off again.

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Seriously old trees – all knarled and full of character, Herbón Monastery garden, Spain

There were others with injuries far worse than mine. A small group decided to leave, calling a taxi, whereupon exactly the same number arrived late (after others had already turned away) and so they found that there were spaces for them. It just goes to show!

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French map (1648) on the wall of the reception area of the Monastery at Herbón, showing the many caminos converging on Santiago de Compostella.

Eventually, after a light shower, we were let in and welcomed by the volunteers. It was very efficient. The accomodation was in small cubicles of two bunks each, ranged along a corridor. (That’s my mess on the bottom bunk!)

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Franciscan Seminary 1891-1991. This monastery is in danger of being shut down because there are no young monks coming into the Order, but they do a lot in the village, so it is hoped that it will survive. Herbón Monastery, near Padron, Spain

After a break in which I spent time meditating in the sun, we were taken on a tour of the chapel, cloisters and other parts of the building. This is practically compulsory and very interesting. The monks were missionaries, sent overseas to spread the word of God, and those left at home ran a school on the premises.

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The sparkling golden altar, Herbón Monastery, Spain

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I loved these little angel heads with wings holding up the column, Herbón Monastery, Spain

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Cloisters, Herbón Monastery, Spain

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Stone statue and cross in the garden, Herbón Monastery, Spain

The large garden sports vineries (there is no-one to keep them going now, sadly), kitchen garden (partly in use, as far as I could see), water which has been tested and found to have lots of minerals in it so is truly healing, and various levels and attractive sections making it really interesting.

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A place of meditation, Herbón Monastery, Spain

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View from the garden, Herbón Monastery, Spain

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Healing waters at Herbón Monastery, Spain

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Dry, brown Autumn leaves and sweet chestnut prickles bursting open

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Untended vines, Herbón Monastery, Spain

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Wall shrine and fountain, Herbón Monastery, Spain

To reward us for such a long guided tour and talk, we were given a good meal (included in the 6 euro price) around long canteen tables and there was a lovely atmosphere there.

Note: There is always a decent vegetarian option at the shared meals on the Caminos

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Yours truly, Herbón Monastery, Spain

Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis: Portuguese Camino

Camino Portuguese da Costa – Days 11 and 12, September 29th – 30th 2019

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How many kilometers between Pontevedra and Santiage de Compostella?

Pontevedra to San Mamede de Portela

I left the Casa A Grade air bnb (see my previous day’s walk for details) in the almost-dawn, and continued along the Rio Tomaza into Pontevedra, a 40 minute walk.

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Glorieta de Compostella – Fuente de los Niños (Fountain of drinking children) at the interseccion (intersection) Rúa (Road/street) Peregrina con (with) Rúa Fray de Navarette 36001 Pontevedra, Spain

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The Capela (chapel) de Peregrina (of female) pilgrims, Pontevedra, Spain

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Detail showing St James, The Capela (chapel) de Peregrina (of (female) pilgrims, Pontevedra, Spain

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Convento (convent) do San Francisco, Pontevedra, Spain

The Top Ten Things to Do and See in Pontevedra website (not mine)

Leaving the city, I once again rejoined the Via Romana / Portuguese Camino

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Via Romana XIX and yellow arrow / iconic signposting for the Camino de Santiago, Spain

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The Virgin on decorative tiles, Spain

Being a Sunday, the cyclists were out. When you are walking quietly, focusing on the way your feet meet the ground, allowing thoughts to meander in and out, and then a cyclist shoots past your left elbow with a whoosh and, very occassionally, a Buen Camino, it is a shock. When it happens over and over again, it’s more akin to a small trauma and there is no possibility of resting in your rhythm and pace, you must stay alert.

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Sunday cyclists on the Camino Portuguese, Spain

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It rained on and off as I passed a cemetery, near San Mamaede de Portela, Spain

Shortly afterwards, it poured and it was not possible to take photos. Arriving at the hostel of San Marmede de Portela in the middle of the countryside, there was no-one to greet me, just a couple already drying off. Thank goodness the door was open! I was soaking, wet through. It was a large dormitory and I chose a corner away from the door, not knowing that there was no heating and that by the end of the day the room would be completely full to overflowing (there were pilgrims sleeping in the eating room etc). It was also very dark and although some of us tried to open windows, they were always immediately closed by others.

Wet walking clothes are stinky, especially when there is no drying room or anywhere to hang clothes / store boots except narrow corridors. If you sleep on the bottom bunk and they are like drapes all around you, there is no getting away from the smell. People were using one hair drier between 20 or more, but it takes a long time to dry sodden socks with one. There is a big garden and other buildings outside, but the weather was too terrible to contemplate unless you arrived very late in which case I did see folk sloshing across, seemingly with no other opton, but I didn’t know where they were going.

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I am not good at these sorts of photos but you can see the world map on the wall on the right and the numbers of hikers who have written on it, plus the table laid and the scrum of diners waiting to eat

Run by volunteers, this is a donativo hostel and the men who came along later knew what they were doing and were well prepared. Being well away from shops or restaurants, a great meal was produced and tables and chairs arranged and rearranged to fit everyone in. Sitting alongside all nationalities, it was a jolly occassion (there was nowhere to get away from it if you had wanted privacy). There was wine and hot soup, vegetarian tortillas with salad and, if I remember rightly, a desert too. Clearing up was a communal event and the partying went on, as ever, late into the evening.

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All ages, all nationalities, many fixed on screens. Other than the bunks, there was nowhere else to sit until we were given permission to be at the table. Hostel San Marmede de Portela

San Marmede de Portela to Caldas de Reis

The next day it was still raining, but luckily it cleared. Ugh, putting on wet boots and clothes is one of the worst things after a broken night!

I walked through Santa Maria de Alba, A Cancela and Albergue de Briallos.

There was a most unusual cafe where many of us stopped for a hot drink that morning (some were taking shots of orujo (a sort of grappa) with their coffee, perhaps a way of warming up from the inside). There was only one, older and innovative man serving us all. It looked as if he had used his garage for this purpose and, after serving us, I noticed that he disappeared through a side door. On further investigation, I spied huge vats of grapes steeping.

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Crowded with pilgrims ready for morning coffee, A Cancela, Spain

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A garage reimagined as a cafe, A Cancela, Spain

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And winery in a side room – the smell was amazing as he stirred the great vats releasing the aroma of rotting and ripening grapes. A Cancela, Spain

I am always coming across dead animals on the camino, but today’s fox was still alive. I crouched down and whispered to it, knowing that it would not live long, wishing it well on its journey.

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I thought perhaps you would not want to see a photo of the fox, but this was nearby, always a reminder, Spain

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It continued to drip and drizzle, puffy rain clouds on the horizon, some walking with umbrella, past vines heavy with fruit

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I can never resist a chat with a donkey

My In Praise of the Donkey blog

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Black grapes heavy on the vines, Camino de Santiago, Spain

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Letter box and bread slot

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A speckled, camouflage-yellow canna resplendent against a dull sky

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Caldas de Reis, a most attractive place at the confluence of the Rivers Bermaña and Umia, Spain

I stayed in the private Albergue Peregrinos Posada Doña Urraca and I do not recommend it, despite the fantastic location. It was dirty and crowded, the rooms are almost at the front door so anyone can walk in and out. The photos on the website do not show it as it is – do not be deceived. It is not a municipal one – I have never seen a government-run hostel be filthy like this.

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Accumulated dirt in one of the 2 tiny bathrooms at the private Albergue Peregrinos Posada Doña Urraca, Caldas de Reis, Spain

There was some lively conversation around the table, however, from the US as well as Germany, and a crowd of Polish pilgrims (I have not met people from Poland much at all on the Camino) at the hostel.

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Caldas de Reis, Spain

It’s a busy and normal town despite all of us traipsing through, with friendly local people and lots of facilities – a big supermarket, cafes and loads of banks. I tried the three cashpoints in one street – one was charging 3.50 euros, one 1.50 and the third nil, so watch out for this when getting cash out. It wasn’t my bank which charged me, nothing to do with getting money from a British finance organisation, it was the cashpoint machine company and I found this all over Portugal and in some parts of Spain. (I use a Post Office Travel Money Card via an app on my phone which charges for the exchange, but doesn’t have an additional service charge like the Bank of Scotland does if I use my everyday debit card when I am abroad).

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Stunning bridges, some reminiscent of Oxford or Venice, and clean rivers in Caldas de Reis, Spain

Have you walked the Portuguese Camino? Maybe you are planning to? Leave me a comment to let me know 🙂

Mos to Pontevedra: Portuguese Camino

Camino Portuguese da Costa – Days 9 and 10, September 27th – 29th 2019

Mos to Redondela

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I walked along avenues of acers only just starting to turn yellow where it rained slightly (as it is prone to do in Galicia)

Walking this Camino was a prize for the long year I had spent writing my first book and the exciting but stressful dash to submit the manuscript to the publishers by the end of August. I had sat down – researching, typing while travelling – and eschewed long distance walks for that reason. Today, as I was ambling along, I realised that there was now some space into which a new project might come – and it came! The great Camino de Santiago forum is absolutely chock-a-block full of interesting information about pilgrimage in Spain and elsewhere. There is a mind boggling amount of collective knowledge in it, submitted by enthusiasts from all over the world, and when I am on the road I often consult it for hostel information, path directions and more. My searches the previous evening had led me to interesting topics related to my previous explorations and that then trickled through my mind as I made my way towards Redondela. Walking is such a great way to allow those creative thoughts to flourish!

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Typical Camino de Santiago stone with the familiar shell and an unidentifiable coat of arms with a stemmed rose and daisies

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Another sign of grief? Stone statue of a woman covering her eye

Food and Wine on the Portuguese Camino

Local food
Pulpo (Octopus ), a Galician delicacy, on a stall outside

What, you may ask, can a vegetarian eat while walking the Portugues Camino, when meat is such an important part of the local diet? You can usually find eggs and vegetables (though they are often cooked rather longer than we might do them in the UK) and of course salad galore, though if we are walking out of season we might find we are served the packaged iceberg which is familiar back home. What we can never eat unless we beg at someone’s front door (no, I haven’t done this myself!) are the wonderful tall greens which so many grow in their front gardens, but which are not to be found, not in local shops, supermarkets or restaurants.

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Tall brassicas growing in O Cruceiro, Spain

So, look out for Padron peppers (very small and grilled ones which are not really from Padron, but more of that in another blog), caldo verde (warming cabbage soup) which is usually not made with a meat stock but check, and also be careful that they don’t garnish it with sausage; bread and olive oil of course; roasted chestnuts (see below); and you most definitely can eat pastel de nata (the most delicious bijou custard tarts) as long as you are not vegan because they have eggs in them.

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Lea and friend, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal (not on the Camino Portuguese da Costa) with whom I shared 100s of roasted chestnuts – yum!

Fun Fact

Conventual deserts: Traditionally, eggs whites were used in convents to starch the priest clothing and the nun’s robes. Left with the egg yolks and time to kill, the nuns had to get creative. Making the most delicious and famous desserts became a tradition in Portugal.” From Authentic Food Quest

huge orange feild pumpkins
Field pumpkins. Although there were squash everywhere in the fields and gardens, I never saw them offered on a menu

If you are pescetarian (that is, you also eat fish, but not meat) you will have no trouble because Portugal is well known for sardines (although very attractive, don’t buy the smartly decorated tins as they are many times more expensive than the ordinary ones – make sure they are Portuguese) in the smaller shops or supermarkets); bacalhau (salted cod fish – variable, some stupendous, some just salty), octopus (pulpo, see above) and other delicacies from the ocean.

plant detail and Latin name
Moss Rose (Portulaca gradiflora, a semi-succluent) with red and yellow flowers indicating a mixed seed bed. Thanks to the helpful folk on houzz.com for identifying this for me

Finally, these stages of the Camino Portuguese are close by the Soutomaior, one of the sub-regions of the DO (denominacion origen) the vineyards of the high-quality, light-bodied white Albarino wine, produced by the Rias Baizas.

Civic buildings Redondela
The Concelo (government offices) de Redondela, Spain

Xunta sign entrance outside Pilgrim Hostel
Albergue de peregrinos rennovated 16th century Casa da Tore, Redondela, Spain

There are 42 beds, it costs 6 euros, opens between 1-10pm and is open all year round.

urban Redondela
View from the hostel window with a large blue and yellow camino sign, typical stone balconies and showing the narrow streets of the town, Redondela, Spain

Because the room opened straight into the middle of the town, it was extremely loud with revellers late into the night and early hours of the morning.

interior hostel with bunks
Metal bunks in crowded rooms, full to bursting in late September 2019, Xunta (municipal) hostel, Redondela, Spain

Redondela to Pontevedra (almost)

This was a good day despite my foot /feet still hurting. Such wonderful scenery and sun! That’s why I love to walk like this – to be in nature, to be surrounded by beauty, to be amazed, step-by-step.

map of Camino route
This part of the Camino Portuguese, Spain

I left just after dawn, the lights still on under the aches of the bridge.

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Heavy mist in the valley making the view mysterious and other-worldly, Camino Portuguese, Spain

water fountain
Water stop – natural, fresh water from the fountain at the junction, Camino Portuguese, Spain

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Shells and other Camino paraphernalia, Camino Portuguese, Spain

Long view of river and Arcade
Looking down onto Rio Verdugo and Arcade, Spain

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Eucalyptus catching the morning sun

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Down now to a welcome stall set up by local weekend volunteers offering tea and snacks (for donations). You can see the partially wet ground from the regular showers of rain, Spain

Saturdays are very busy days on the Camino with cyclists and local walkers as well as those who are making their way to Santiago de Compostella.

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A town which celebrates the Camino and its pilgrims – silhouette cut-outs on the walls of this hostel, Spain

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A way-side grotto with Camino knick-knacks, Spain

horreo
The first horreo (stone shed for storing maize over the winter, on stilts to keep out the rats and the wet) with plenty of religious protection, Spain

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I crossed the Verdugo river by the Ponte Sampaio (or San Paio) bridge getting a good view of a more modern one further along, Arcade, Spain

The Puente (Ponte) San Piao: ‘It is here where a decisive battle for Spain’s independence was held against Napoleon’s troops in 1809 which ended the five month French occupation.’ from Santiago-Compostella.net

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Another horreo – blue skies at this stage and so it was hot for the climb up the hill on the other side of the river, Arcade, Spain

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Back into the countryside and more paths made up of large stones which would be running with water and very slippery if the weather hadn’t been fine, Spain

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Pine and other mixed woods, trees towering over me, Spain

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Deep in the woods was a rare peregrina (female pilgrim) statue and lots of shells. There was no difficulty finding the way, Spain

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Plastic chairs ready for resting and enjoying the dappled surroundings, Galicia, Spain

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I spotted huge slugs of all shapes and sizes amongst the sweet chestnut prickles and ferns, Galicia, Spain

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If you look carefully, you will find little mementoes in the rocks, Camino Portuguese de Santiago, Spain

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Actual crowds of pilgrims in great chattering groups, Camino Portuguese, Spain

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I crossed the Fatima Camino here: Santiago in yellow, Fatima in blue

Fatima travel blog link

The final stage of this day’s walking through the Valley of Tomeza and Salcedo, took me through a riparian area (a wetland by a river). The ground is peaty in places (as in Scotland – there are many connections between Galicia and Scotland), moist forests of alder and willow, oak, ash, birch, chestnut, brambles (blackberries) and even cherry blossom (Prunus padus or Cerdeiro de acio in Galician) and hops can be found (as in my native Kent). The sign said that the presence of otters is a sign of good water quality. It certainly looked bubbling and clear, but sadly, I didn’t see an otter.

stone bridge Rio Tomeza Spain
Ponte da Condesa (stone bridge) over the Rio Tomeza, near Pontevedra, Spain

This last part was particularly gorgeous – green, verdant and peaceful apart from the trickling water and birds chanting around me.

rural Galicia
Rio Tomeza near Pontevedra, Spain

Accomodation: The previous evening I had come across an air bnb called Casa A Grade online and tried to find out if there was a space, unsuccessfully. I had even phoned and the woman said they did not have any single beds. Well, as I was walking through these wonderful woods, there was a hostel sign. I crossed the quaint bridge and wound my way through what turned out to the the end of the garden. There I came across a plunge pool glittering in the hot sun and it was the same place. And they did have a single bed for me!

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I lay in the garden, dipped into cool water, washed and hung out my clothes (which dried in the scorching sun), bought vegetables from their garden plus bread and prepared food for the evening meal. Breakfast was included in what i think was the 25 euro price. All the beds were full – a family room was taken by a mother and father who were accompanying their daughter to a Rhythmic Gymnastics competition – she was a champion), and 4 singles (2 pilgrims and 2 holiday makers) along a corridor and separated by curtains. There is one bathroom and everything was clean. The owners were very friendly and helpful.

Finally, it was only 40 minutes into Pontevedra, but that was another day!

La Guarda to Mos: Portuguese Camino

Camino Portuguese da Costa – Days 7 and 8, September 25th – 27th 2019

La Guarda / A Guarda, Galicia, Spain

La Guarda is in Spain, even though it is a town on the Portuguese Camino. I was happy to be back in Galicia, one of my favourite parts of Spain. I should have liked to see the Celtic hill fort and village of Castro de Santa Trega which connects with Scottish history (I live in Edinburgh) on the top of the hill that La Guarda sits beside, but I was not comfortably ambulant.

In the morning, I walked a short way (30 minutes, 2 kilometers) from the Albergue Municipal in La Guarda where I had spent the night, to visit the churches, but it was a strain and took me much longer than it should have. As a result of the pain in my foot, I decided to turn back and take a different route.

church architecture and detail
Santuario de San Roque, Parroquia de Salcidos with Saint James in the front

Saint James in traditional costume
St James carrying his crook with wearing his hat with the camino shell on it. Also with an angel and a dog. Apologies for the quality of the photo, but I thought they were charming tiles

The two churches (above and below) are almost next to each other and I was the only one there. A few people were on their way to work and school, on the main road, and the churches were closed as they always are unless there is a service on. However, I admired their grandeur and solidity, the Santuario de San Roque having seen many pilgrims over the centuries.

Church architecture
Igrexa Parroquial de San Lorenzo de Salcidos, Portugal

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The mountain was just visible above the clouds as I looked from Salcidos, a borough of La Guarda, Spain

Then I rested for 20 minutes and took the bus. It runs from Salcidos to Tui (get off / on near Repsol gas station (estacion de servicio) on N-550) regularly and takes around an hour. This was the second day that I could not walk, something that had, thankfully, never happened to me before, and it was very hard to accept. The journey took me through urban areas with grey stone buildings boasting elegant balustrades around the windows, along the northern side of the River Miño, and deposited me opposite some public gardens bright with bougainvillea and sporting a grand metal statue of cantering horses, the Monumento al Caballo Salvaje.

horse statue bougainvillia
Monumento al Caballo Salvaje (wild horses monument) in the park, Glorieta de Vigo, Tui, Spain

Tui

Tui is a busy city, full of hustle and bustle and with all facilities you could possible need. There is an excellent market, with cafes and shops galore. Not far from the Albergue is a friendly eating place / hostel (Albergue Ideas Peregrinas – not the cheapest, but with a European atmosphere and great, healthy breakfasts, including vegan food), and that is opposite one selling crêpes, and so on…! All tastes are catered for and many people holiday here even if they are not hiking. There is an extensive Natural Park to the north west with hills, Monte Aloia, for excellent views of Baiona, Vigo and the whole region.

I picked up a copy of Jim Crace’s The Melody in the hostel the night before and made the most of my enforced resting time to have a good read. Described as a meditation on grief, it connects with all my recent writing on the subject – there’s no such thing as a coincidence!

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See St James peeking out from behind the column where Arzobispo (Archbishp) Lago Gonzalez (1865-1925) sits. His high cheekbones and benign expression make him look as if he is listening to a child telling him a story.

urban and rural vista
The location of the Albergue de Peregrinos is magnificent with views from the rocky hill across the river Miño and hills of northern Portugal

Chapel architecture location
The Capela da Misericordia is right next door and only slightly uphill (Rua Parroco Rodriguez Vazquez) from the Albergue de Peregrinos. Situated at the back of the Santa Maria Cathedral of Tui, it is simpler and almost unadorned. Spain

location city establishments
The hostel is wonderfully situated in this historic city. Elegant cafes are to the right of the Plaza da Concello, opposite the Concelo (the government offices of the social security finance department) and the Police. The side of the Santa Maria Cathedral is in the middle (in the background) and just past the flags, on the left and down the steps is the Albergue de Peregrinos, Tui, Spain

Roman and Medieval architecture cobbled street ancient arch
Through and archway in the eleventh century city walls you can see the old Roman street which predates it, giving a sense of the elevation of the town, Tui, Spain

signage albergue hostel
Entrance to the Albergue de Peregrinos with the typical Galician government, metal sign of a cartoon-type pilgrim with her water gourd over her shoulder, Tui, Spain

I was early into the town from La Guarda and encountered a difficulty: the hospitalera behind the reception at the hostel was talking animatedly to a gentleman who was lounging nearby. On seeing me, she launched into an attack on pilgrims who pretend to be walking, but actually must have come by public transport because they would never, otherwise, have arrived by this time. She laughed, he laughed, they compared notes and got increasingly irate about such behaviour.

I was dying to get the weight off my back and feet, and trying to explain in Spanish that I had not done this before, but had no choice with my foot pain. She ridiculed me and said I shouldn’t be carrying such a heavy load. It was most upsetting and as I became distressed she started to shout, saying that she wasn’t being nasty, just that ….

It is true that the municipal Xunta (the Galician council) albergues are for the pilgrims and that, increasingly, people are either not carrying their own packs or are taking buses and trains some or all of the way. It may have been an external voice, too, uttering the very words which I was hearing inside my head, and been part of my having to come to terms with being human and not always strong. Anyway, I said I would go away and then she started calming down and took me through the familiar process: passport check, credential stamp, payment (cash), and bedding. I was shaken.

It is a large hostel with solid wooden bunks. Although there is a sitting area where you can eat inside at the back, the kitchen is across the little garden and so I sat there for my tea as the sun set and it cooled down.

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I delighted in the little face peering over as if she was having a chat with what look like two shepherds (there is a lamb at the feet of the right hand character). Catedral (cathedral) Santa María, Tui, Spain

You can see the beautiful cloisters and internal gardens of the Santa María Cathedral de Tui in the photos on their website.

detail statuary carving ancient stone portal cathedral Tui
The very grand entrance to the Santa Maria Cathedral on San Fernando Square, Tui, Spain

The tourist information is also in San Fernando Square and the staff are extremely helpful and kind there.

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The seventeenth century, richly attired King Fernando carrying a sword and globe with a cross on it representing the might of the expansion of his Catholic empire around the world

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The Virgin with a halo of golden stars, robes flying and cherubs dangling in the interior of the Cathedral Santa María, Tui, Spain

city outdoor market stalls produce
Market stall with salami and cheese – local products of the area, Tui, Spain

Tui to Mos

It is 25 kilometers to Mos and even though I had rested up for 2 days (well, a lot less walking than usual), it was too far, so I took a bus part of the way and trekked the rest (only 8 kilometers) to see whether I could manage. It was such a beautiful day and I was so happy to be on my feet again under the blue sky.

rural Spanish Galician landscape
Vines loaded with dusky black jewels are spied between tall, thin trunks with mountains in the distance

I am walking along the Via Romana XIX linking Braga and Astorga, enjoying listening to the birds and smelling the countryside after being in towns for the last few days. Sometimes the signs are hidden amongst pink roses. In the distance the open fields are empty now after harvest.

rural landscape plants
Ferns and lush farmland. The Mos population is spread across the region, with no one major centre. It is at a relatively high altitude commanding open views

Catholic shrine by the road
This quiet area has a respectful energy about it with fresh lillies and roses decorating this wayside shrine

rural mountains village church houses
Belltower of the Iglesia (church) Santa Eulalia. Nearby there is a very tall column with a crucified Christ at the top. It is a well-to-do area in places with carefully kept gardens (white camelias were spotted) and expensive cars, not like some parts of Galicia on the Camino Frances

close up flowers
Beautiful tall flatsedge, nutgrass or umbrella sedge (Cyperus eragostis)

There is a native, milky coloured drink called horchata de chufa or horchata de Valencia which is the region where I first came across it. It is made from the tubers of the nutsedge (not the type in the photo above). (Thank you to floral_uk on the ‘name that plant’ forum of houzz.com for this information). It is similar to a Mexican version except that the latter is made from rice, not this sedge.

Mos, Galicia (Redondela Region)

I stayed at the Casa Blanca hostel near the Santa Baia church where I sat in the evening. The albergue is new with a bar that serves ice cream and snacks, and there is a restaurant oppostite which cooks wonderful Padron peppers and does breakfast as well as evening meals. The accommodation is in a separate building and all are situated on quite a hill. There is a coin-operated washing machine and I shared a load with others after much negotiation, however there is not enough room to hang the clothes to dry outside and, anyway, it was already cold at night so my things had to come in at bed time to avoid being damp by morning.

I went up looking for a fruit and veg shop. Instead, I saw a man on the top of a ladder picking grapes who told me I had gone in the wrong direction. On the way back down a woman pulled up in her car and spoke to me in French. She took me through to the back of her gradmother’s house (derelict) into the stepped garden full of fruit trees and picked figs. We stood and chatted over these juicy fruits and then she introduced me to her husband. He filled my shopping bag with massive bunches of black grapes for sharing with the other pilgrims back at the hostel. I laid them on large fig leaves in the self-catering kitchens for folk to help themselves.

El Camino de Santiago con correos (post) blog

El Camino de Santiago blog (a different one)

Another way to Santiago blog showing a picture of the hostel at Mos

Colin Davies, Tui to Santiago blog

Viana do Castelo to La Guarda: Camino Portuguese

Camino Portuguese da Costa – Days 5 and 6, September 23rd – 24th 2019

Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo to Caminha is 28.2 kms which was too far for me because my left foot hurt, so I stopped in Vila Praia de Ancora instead which was approximately 23 kilometers.

architecture Viana do Castelo Portugal
Escola Dr Alfredo Magalhaes, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Through Areosa, Afife, then Carreco, and Vilarinho.

Carreco beach monument Portugal
Monumento Natural do Alcantilado de Montedor, Carreco, Portugal

remains of windmills Portugal
Old windmill round towers along the Cima coast, Portugal

This type of circular tower would have been a mill and there is one which still has its four wooden sails, nearby – see below.

detailed plant description
Wild Parsnip (yellow Pastinaca sativa). Red headed cardinal beetles love it. Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster)

windmill Portugal
Moinho de Cima, windmill, Portugal

Portuguese coastline detail shrub
Juniper shrubs (Juniperus turbinate) and hills in the distance (perhaps Vila Praia de Ancora or even La Guarda). The Atlantic Ocean battering against the rocks

Although my foot was painful, it was a wonderful walk across little bridges over the Ria Ancora and its estuary. I sat to look at the map and was bitten again and then kept going around the coast into the next town.

coastline Portugal
Overcast and atmospheric at Vila Praia de Ancora, Portugal

narbour Vila Praia de Ancora Portugal
Harbour, Vila Praia de Ancora, Portugal

dunes and inland water Portugal
Praia do Duna do Caldeirao, Ancora, Portugal

As ever, be careful of automatic translators on your phone / ipad as some of the Portuguese names are also words which mean everyday things and it can be very confusing.

Vila Praia de Ancora

hostel Vila Praia de Ancora Portugal
The wonderfully situated Hostel D’Avenida (private) opposite the harbour and ‘Children’s Beach’, Vila Praia de Ancora, Portugal

There are separate women’s and men’s dormitories at this hostel. The kitchen is quite sohisticated ie it has utensils and tables and chairs! The next morning I had breakfast in a cafe around the corner, admired the sculpture (see below) and then tried to walk, but could not put any weight on the ball of my foot, despite the pain being on the top around the metatarsal bones of the 4th and 5th toes (TH / GB for those of you who speak Shiatsu).

Town square architecture
Catholic church Vila Praia de Ancora, Portugal

Memorial to fishermen and their families translation
Homage to the people of Vila Praia do Ancora – the fishermen and their families. In recognition of the power of the sea to cause pain and tears as well as to feed those on land

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Holy House of Mercy of Caminha in Vila Praia de Ancora, Portugal

decorative tiles Portuguese town web link
Traditional blue and white tiles depicting a Portuguese fishing scene which reminded me of the Newhaven fisherwomen in Edinburgh, Scotland

I took the train (15 minutes) to Caminha (alongside a surpring number of other backpackers) and whiled away the time, first in a cafe and then with a picnic and a good book in the park near the ferry terminal. I was very sorry to have missed the countryside between the two places.

When I arrived I visited the Centro de Saude (Health Centre) in Caminha, using my European Health Card (which will presumably not be valid after we leave the EU – I cannot understand how that will be a good thing). There was a certain amount of hassle with reception photocopying my passport and staff asking each other questions while I waited. The doctor spoke good English and she wiggled my foot, looked at my rucksack disapprovingly, and gave me anti-inflammatory cream and pills. On top of that I had blisters on the other foot, perhaps from the extra pressure I had put on it by limping. One way and another I still had to walk approximately 10 kilometers in all.

The ferry takes 20 minutes, does not sail on Mondays and costs 2 euros.

River Minho Portuguese Spainish border landscape
Crossing the Minho in a small ferry from Caminha in Portugal to A Pasaxe in Spain.

The time usually changes between Portugal and Spain – one hour difference!

Spain from ferry
Getting closer to the northern side of the Minho River looking towards A Pasaxe in Spain.

La Guarda / A Guarda (Spain)

Note: there was no need to book at the Municipal Albergues at this stage of the Portuguese Camino, although there were a good number of pilgrims everywhere, but I did book the private hostels via booking.com

It was a further 40 minutes walk to La Guarda (by road), 3 kilometers. I could not walk, so I looked around the car park to see who was getting into their car and then asked the most friendly looking person if he knew whether there was a bus or taxi into the town. He said he didn’t know, but would give me a lift, which was what I was hoping! It only took 10 minutes or so and he kindly put me down close to the Municipal Albergue de Peregrinos (pilgrims), Rua Puerto Rico.

Luckily, it wasn’t far to the shop that evening for ingredients for my tea and I spotted a nearby bakery for the morning.

Days 1 and 2: Porto to Vila do Conde

Days 3 and 4: Vila do Conde to Viana do Castelo

 

 

Vila do Conde to Viana do Castelo: Camino Portuguese

Camino Portuguese da Costa – Days 3 and 4, September 21st – 22nd 2019.

Vila do Conde

20 kms from Porto; 24.95 kms to Esposende

architecture Vila do Conde Portugal
Admiring the Santa Clara Roman aqueduct in Vila do Conde which had 999 arches and, at 4 kms, is the second longest in Portugal

urban landscaping Portugal
Typical cobbled street, Vila do Conde

 

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Mercat cross Vila do Conde

Slightly dilapidated but charming architectural features, Vila do Conde

web link to Porto blog
Similar blue and white tiles to the ones I saw in Porto, Vila do Conde

stone monument to education Vila do Conde Portugal
I like interesting roundabout sculptures: Monument to Education and teachers, Benguiados Street, Vila do Conde

Portguese street scene
I am not sure what the name is of this pink church, Vila do Conde

Drying seaweed under white cloths on the beach – I could see these huge piles all along the coast as I walked

Idiosyncratic beach bar sign with the Camino shells as decoration

plant identification
Hottentot or Sour Fig (Carpobrotus edulis)

It was so very wet! All the rucksacks in the cafe where I went to shelter, were covered up. Only a few of my things got properly damp

It was in this cafe that I accepted a cap and guide book which belonged to a woman who I had been seeing at hostels along the way. I assumed I would see here agin and so took it with me for her. Guess what? I carried them to Santiago but never did see her.

Esposende/Marinhas

Link to the municipal hostel in Esposende/Marinhas. The Albergue San Miguel is one of the hostels that you have to walk through the town and almost out the other side to reach. The building in front, nearest the main road, is not the hostel but the Red Cross centre (the 2 organisations are connected through the Marinhas council) and the people there are used to exhausted pilgrims trekking through by mistake!

Nearby, and within very easy earshot, was an annual festival venue with bands, demonstrations of rural activities such as threshing, and more food than you might have ever seen in one long hall. People flocked from far and wide to sit around long tables in large family groups and have a good time. It was not possible to sleep, so as they say, when you can’t beat em, join em!

Portuguese folk band instruments
The lively band ‘gieing it laldy’ – heartily playing traditional Portuguese music

folk costume and props Portugal
Women in folk costumes outside preparing for a demonstration of old-fashioned farming methods

I walked through Monte, Lugar de Cima, Outeiro, Barros Sao Fins, Santo Amaro, Estrada,

church Sain Michael Marinhas
Igreja Matriz do Sao Miguel Arcanjo das Marinhas. Leaving the next morning

Sculpture Archangel Michael
The archangel Michael with his sword and a huge phallic snake ie Satan, statue Marinhas

detail passion flower
Passion fruit (Passiflora) flower

Sao Joao church and cross Esposende
Sao Joao (Saint John) do Monte cross and chapel, Esposende area, Portugal

Portuguese landscape
Into the countryside, interior Portugal

lemon tree
Lemon tree, Portugal

Detailed plant information
Pokeweed (Phylotacca americana) also known as pokeberry. It has a poisonous root and mature stalks, although you can eat the young stalks if properly cooked. The berries have a red dye which is used to colour wine, sweets and cloth

Detailed plant information
Castor oil plant, ricinus communis (because it’s red?)

Portuguese landscape
A typical Portuguese dwelling in the distance

detail of plant
Morning Glory (Ipomoea)

working woman with goats Portugal
A woman leading goats to pasture

grapes vines Portugal
The grapes were being harvested all along the way and as many hung over the edges of the fences and supports, I sampled a rich and lucious few!

detailed plant description
African Milkweed (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) also known as hairy balls milkweed! If you look closely, you will see that there are small pale, milk-white flowers at the end of the stems. It attracts the Monarch butterfly in Australia and Madeira

I am reliably informed that this plant is one of the food plants for the Monarch Butterfly, in Australia. They prefer this, and another alien, over the native milkweeds.

church cross Portugal
Igreja do Sao Pedro Fins (Peter), Belinho, Portugal

detail church architecture Portugal
Virgin and Son with 3 supplicating little ones at her feet, Igreja do Sao Pedro Fins (Peter), Belinho, Portugal

architecture of Portugal
Capela de Nossa Senora dos Remedios, Estrada,  Braga, Portugal

detail oak tree and acron in Portuguese woods
Into the Oak (Quercus) woods

rural landscpae Portugal
The bracken (ferns) were starting to turn brown, but it smelled fresh and woody

woods Portugal
At some point in these beautiful woods I made a long steep climb behind a man who was walking fast

The way was made up of large boulders and unevenly sized stones, some wet. I went fast to keep up with him which was exhilarating, but I wonder if I twisted my ankle without quite noticing.

Portuguese woods and pool
There were pools of inviting water, so down went the rucksack, off came the clothes and oh! it was so refreshing

pool Portugal
Idyllic setting

Water ways Portugal
Water ways Portugal

And then the heavens opened. Before I could find a place to stop and take my backpack off to cover it and myself (even though I had, minutes earlier, been immersed in cool waters), I was soaked through. It was torrential. And steep, uphill. At the top I sheltered in a bus stop and watched the rain running down in torrents. More and more pilgrims joined me in that tiny space. There was a mobile shop on the Green opposite, but it was a bar – alcohol only, no hot drinks.

church Belinho Portugal
Igreja Sao Pedro (Peter), Belinho

Portuguese landscape and weather
However, the clouds rolled away and I steamed quietly as I walked into a sunnier landscape

monastery Sao
Mosteiro (monastery) de Sao Romao de Neiva, Portugal

detail of fruit and plant
Kiwi fruit (Actinidia deliciosa) hanging from their vines

Despite their appearance, I was assured that they would not be ripe for eating until December at least.

traditional Portuguese church
Igreja Parochial de Chafe, Viana de Castelo, Portugal

pilgrims woods Portugal
A long downhill stretch beside resting pilgrims

The way into Viana do Castelo is across the Limia – a long, metal bridge. The hikers share it with the vehicles, although there is a narrow shaft where we walked. I could see the water’s of the Lima River far below through the grid I walked on my walking shoes clanging. The width of one person, there’s no possibility of stopping to rest and as I was limping by this time I must have slowed because I was aware of a queue of others behind me, having to go at my pace. I kept doggedly on with no choice.

funicular Viana do Castelo Portugal
Funicular up to the castle, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

I allowed myself to be persuaded to take an extra trip that evening despite my sore feet. What a mistake! Although the sights were inspiring, my physical health suffered and I paid for it for many weeks to come.

Santa Luzia Portugal
Sanctuary of Santa Luzia, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Designed by Miguel Ventura Terra, this church venerates St. Lucy of Syracuse.

vista Portual Viana do Castelo
View of the Atlantic Ocean from the top of the hill, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

vista Portugal Viana do Castelo
Another view, this time of the River Lima and southwards from where I had come to Praia (beach) do Cabadelo, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

stained glass windows santa Luzia Portugal
Inside the Sanctuary Santa Luzia, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

fresco roof detail Santa Luzia Portugal
The stunning dome of the Sanctuary Santa Luzia, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

I am indebted to the people on the houzz.com forum who have an immense wealth of knowledge about plants and are so willing to help.

Previous blog – days 1 and 2 Portuguese Camino Porto to Vila do Conde

If you have also walked the Portuguese Camino, did you stay in the same hostels as I did? Please feel free to share your experiences in a comment below.

Tavira, Portugal

October 2019

The Algarve of Portugal, the southernmost region, is best known for its beaches, and spectacular they truly are.

Impressive cliffs Algarve
The magnificent cliffs and expansive beaches of the Algarve, Portugal

However, there is a wealth of interest inland too, with small villages in the foothills and spread along rivers, all linked together with expanses of citrus orchards and olive groves, random whitewashed properties with terracotta rooves, and a not inconsiderable bus / road / rail network making touring a manageble and enjoyable experience.

Winding roads and scrubland of inland Portugal, Algarve
The typical whitewashed villas of the hills of inland Portugal, near Tavira

Getting there

I arrived in Faro (capital of the Algarve) by bus from Seville (and before that from the north of Spain). The bus (Terminal Rodovario) and train (trem) stations are a few minutes walk away from each other so I was able to amble from one to the other to comare prices.

Paper map of Faro, Portugal
Map of Faro

Tavira, to the east, was my first stop and you can get there by both modes of transport: train is quicker (30 minutes), but more expensive, and buses (taking 1 hour) seem to be more often. This website is an excellent source of information.

Town buildings of Tavira with Roman Bridge (Ponte Romana) across the river Gilao
Ponte Romana (Roman bridge) de Tavira, River Gilao, Portugal

There are two bus stops in Tavira: Porta Nova and Tavira, but you must stipulate which destination when buying your ticket (always buy in advance), as they are slightly different prices.

High rise apartments in Tavira, Portugal
The apartments of Tavira, Portugal

Tavira

There seem to be two sides to Tavira: the old town and the newer developments (above) where lots of the ex-pats live. Most people I speak to really like this place and there is not only a lot to see, but good beaches and good countryside restaurants nearby as well if you have a car, so no wonder it is popular. For cyclists and walkers, it is a great setting-off point – there is a network of cycle routes and you can now walk from Tavira to Santiago de Compostella. The locals are geared up to having vistors around all the time and are courteous and understanding, speaking excellent English.

Church of our Lafy of Learning or Saint Paul, in leafy square with statue, Tavira, Portugal
Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Ajuda ou de Sao Paulo (Church of Saint Paul), and the Jardim (Garden) da Alagoa, with statue of Dom Marcelino Franco, Bispo (Bishop) of the Algarve 1920, in the Praca (Square) Dr Antonio Padinha, Tavira, Portugal

This beautiful square has lots of cafes and restaurants where you can sit outside and enjoy the leafy view.

web link church Igreja of the da Misericordia, Tavira, Portugal
Tracy and the Igreja da Misericordia

Building in Tavira showing the blue and white decoration, balustrades and tiled exterior, Portugal
Typical Portuguese blue and white decoratedhouse, Tavira, Portugal

Decorated exterior of building with blue and white tiles in Tavira, Poetugal
Tiled exterior of Tavira architecture, Portugal

Tavira riverscape
The River Gilao, Tavira, Portugal

decorated floor market Tavira
Mercado (market), Tavira, Portugal

baskets Tavira
Basket stall, market, Tavira, Portugal

unknown fruit
Cherimoya, custard apple native to the mountains of Equador and Peru

Fish on market stall Tavira
Fish stall, market, Tavira, Portugal

overhead view gardens Castelo do Tavira
The gardens of the Castelo (castle), Tavira, Portugal

Castelo do Tavira ramparts
Tracy on the ramparts of the Castelo do Tavira, Portugal

wp-15722791921532366607911287098584.jpg
The blue potato bush or Paraguayan nightshade (Lycianthes rantonnetii (previously Solanum rantonnetii). Poisonous, evergreem lightly fragrant flowers followed by red berries

english and latin name of plant
California or Arizona Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)

palm tree hibiscus
Date palm and hibiscus, Tavira, Algarve, Portugal

Pedras del Rei

The Tavira area was the first place I ever went abroad when I was a young teenager with my parents. It was memorable for a number of reasons, not least the trip to the beach which was reached by a little train and boat. When I accepted Tracy’s kind invitation, I had no (conscious) idea that her new place was near this early holiday destination, so you can imagine my pleasure when I was taken for a late afternoon walk only to be faced with a sign saying Pedras del Reí. The memories came flooding back!

passenger train to beach Tavira
Train to the Praia do Barril beach, Pedras del Rei, Tavira, Portugal

train engine Tavira
Train engine, Pedras del Rei, Tavira, Portugal

path in woods Praia do Barril beach
Walking along the boardwalk towards Praia do Barril, Tavira

Praia do Barril

anchors in the sand Praia do barril beach
The beach is stunning and memorable for its anchor graveyard and ex-tuna fishing buildings

Praia do Barril beach, Tavira, Portugal
Praia do Barril beach – kilometer upon kilometer of golden sand

Sunset marshes Barril
Back across the marshes to Tavira from Praia do barril beach

The evening light turned the saltmarsh cordgrass (correct me if I am wrong) golden

Fabrica

I also visited the beach across from Fábrica and the small village of Cacela Velha, both located in the Ria Formosa Natural Park. Like much of the coast in this area, the beach is situated on a spit of land which is separated from the mainland by a strip of water, so we took a boat across.

boat to Casela Velha beach
Taking the boat across from Fabrica to Casela Velha beach

Fabrica Tavira
Looking back towards Fabrica where there is a smart restaurant and a small cafe

Casela Velha – beach and village

sand and sea Casela Velha Portugal
Cacela Velha beach

Cacela Velha is a small village in the parish of Vila Nova da Cacela on a hillside next to the Ria Formosa, between Tavira and the town of Monte Gordo.

village scene Casela Velha
The popular outdoor market at Casela Velha

web link church entrance Casela Velha
The Parish Church of Casela Velha

view of lagoon from Casela Velha
The easternmost lagoon of the Ria (river) Formosa

main door Casela Velha church
Parish Church of Casela Velha, Portugal

Village scene Casela Velha
Just before it rained! the village of Casela Velha in the hills outside Tavira, Portugal

From there I returned by car to Faro airport (thanks to Tracy and David, wonderful hosts), and took a bus to Albufeira. The posters at the bus stop do not all contain truthful information as far as I could tell, so careful!

Many thanks to the folk on the houzz.com plant forum for help with plant identification

Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal

Pull Up a Seat, week 52. Just making it into the last 2019 photo challenge. It’s all about sitting down – something I support wholeheartedly!

My day at the hostel began with yoga on the roof before sun up. I tiptoed past these comfy cushions to get my mat so as not to wake anyone. Later I flopped down onto the big squashy beige one for a rest on my way back down. Whew!

A cool selection of pouffes and stools for hard working muscles to recuperate on

I sliced some lemon to have in hot water to rehydrate

And then I went off for a nosy around the town. It was somewhat overcast.

Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal

This cat had found something interesting to investigate. Meanwhile I had to turn the seat round to get this view:

View across the Mira River as it comes close to the Atlantic Ocean, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal

Steps make a beautiful place to sit if there are roses like these beside you

At the end of my walk I returned to the hostel for a jakuzzi and, afterwards, lay back on the deckchairs to relax

I enjoyed a drink at sunset on these designer seats

In the evening, the cinema space at the hostel had these rugs and mats spread over the sitting area, giving it an Eastern look

XingfuMama host this challenge

I stayed at the Selina Milfontes hostel in November 2019