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
church front architecture banner
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 theNewhaven 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

Days 7 and 8: La Guarda to Mos

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 the man in front which was exhilarating, but I wonder if this is where 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 via 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, each step clanging loudly. The width of one person, there was 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, all 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

Days 5 and 6 Viana do Castelo to La Guarda

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.