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.

Porto to Vila do Conde: Camino Portuguese

Porto to Matosinhos to Vila do Conde – days 1 and 2 of my Camino Portuguese Coastal and Littoral routes (280 kms in total) * September 19th and 20th 2019 were the Littoral, that is, they followed the coast with all its ins and outs.

I did a practice walk in the opposite direction a week before starting which is why the sea, is on my right

This is a walk from Porto in Portugal to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. There are 3 routes – the quickest is inland, and the other 2 travel along the coast, some more literally than others. It is the second most popular Way – the Camino Frances from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago being the most famous.

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Leaving Porto (also known as Oporto)

I stayed at the Albergue Peregrinos do Porto which was great. There was a friendly welcome from the group at the desk and I was able to buy my Credential (the first of the new version, I was told) which is the folded paper which I carried with me everywhere thereafter, and which had to be stamped twice a day (by hostels, cathedrals or cafes etc) if I was to be able to get a Compostella, which is the certificate you can buy in Santiago de Compostella to prove that you have completed the camino.

There is a beautiful garden which was ideal for me to do peaceful tai chi in and for sitting with a drink in the evenings. The only drawback was that the showers were also outside. Ordinarily this would not bother me at all, but mosquitos adore standing water and I was bitten to within an inch of my life. Not everyone is as delicious as me, and I had taken steps to put them off, but the bites lasted for well over a week and left scars. The bunk bed was 12€ per night/person. (10€ for the Albergue and 2€ for the touristic municipal taxes).

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Forte do Sao Joao Baptista

There’s lots to see on your way out of Porto: first along the Douro River, under the bridges, past beaches, restaurants and cafes (especially the Foz district which is smart), the lighthouse (Capel Farol Sao Miguel-do-Anjo), two forts, a helicopter pad, gardens and statues.

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O Mensageiro (The Messenger), ie the angel Gabriel by Irene Vilar (from Matosinhos with a studio in Foz do Douro), Douro River, Porto, Portugal

If you wanted to get to Labruge, the end of stage one (24.5kms from Porto), but take a shorter walk, you can take the Line 1 tram from Ribeira, with your rucksack, as far as Foz do Douro (remember to sit on the left so you can see the view!). Then you could have a coffee by Jardim do Passeio Alegre (Cheerful Walk Garden, according to Google Translate!) with its fountain and cool shade, before starting to walk. This will save you 6kms (1 hour and 10 minutes at the average walking speed).

A beach not far from Porto where people have made small piles of stones perched on the rocks, similar to the cairns we find on Scottish trails
Long boardwalks make for flat and easy walking. The Atlantic Ocean is right beside them
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A scenic lake nearby where the path winds and where I momentarily lost the way
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Sand as well as rocks with the Fort of St Francis (Francisco) Xavier aka Castelo do Queijo (of the Cheese) in the distance

The Fort of St Francis (Francisco) Xavier was designed by Miguel l’Ecole (1661). Occupied by Absolutists in 1832, it was badly damaged in a battle with the Liberals and abandoned. Later it was used as the headquarters of the Oporto Naval Brigade’s 1st Company, and is now the Northern Commandos Association

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The coast is a wonderful place for birdlife and they collect in the evenings like this, at the water’s edge
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Here you can get a stamp on your credential, Matosinhos, Portugal

I had a lovely swim. All along here the waves tend to be strong and I noticed that most locals do not take the plunge.

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‘She Changes’ by Janet Echelman, a giant net which hangs over the road at Matosinhos, outside Porto
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Moving sculpture by José Juao Brito (2005) inspired by a painting by Augusto Gomes (also from Matosinhos). It remembers the 1947 fishing disaster when 152 men died leaving 72 widows and 152 children behind

In Matosinhos I stayed at the Hostel Matosinhos Suites, a funny modern block in the heart of this area, a suburb of Porto. The room was small with 6 bunks packed into it. It had a table and 2 chairs (for 6 people), a kettle and mini fridge (but not enough sockets) and it got very hot with us all in. There was a small balcony where we managed to negotiate hanging up the washing by stringing a small rope and sharing pegs – just! It was clean and there were curtains across each bunk. Cost: 22 euros through booking.com.

There are loads of places to eat, including underneath the Suites. Matosinhos is best known as the place where Porto inhabitants leave the city and come to sit in the seaside restaurants to eat the famous shellfish.

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The second day of the Littoral route takes you briefly through the industrial heart of the port, over the Ponte (bridge) movel de Leca (the name of the river)
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The day began grey – the Farol (lighthouse) do Boa Nova at Leca da Palmeira
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Monument dedicated to Antonio Nobre (poet 1867 – 1900) with his muses, by Alvaro Siza Vieira. Location: Leca da Palmeira
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Capela (chapel) da Boa Nova (Good News), Leca da Palmeira. It was linked for many years (according to Wikipedia) to the hermits of the Franciscan Order prior to 1475
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Salt deposits
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Colourful lichen and seaweed on the rocks
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Beautiful deserted beaches. Here is Praia das Salinas (salt pans) or perhaps it is Praia da Memoria
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A caterpillar caught my eye1

There was a diverse range of flowers, mostly growing close to the ground on account of the wind, many of them also fleshy so they can survive without rain.

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O Obelisko da Memoria (Memorial Obelisk) marking the disembarkment of King Pedro IV and his 7500 men who came to liberate Portugal from the Absolutist regime which had dominated it
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By now the sun had come out and the waters were clear and still – perfect for a hike. Between Praia de Angeiras and Praia da Labruge
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Seagulls shared lunch, fighting over the remains
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Washing hung out to dry on the beach
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Vila do Conde in the distance

That night’s rest was in Albergue Santa Clara Albergue de Peregrinos Municipal (which can be found on Facebook). It has a large dining area which was very busy, and a small kitchen. Beware of leaving food out – someone went off with my hard boiled eggs which were in a cup cooling for breakfast 😦

Vila do Conde
Igreja Sao Joao Baptista

The hostel overlooks the Igreja Sao Joao Baptista (Church of St John the Baptist) and a lively marketplace. There is a cafe just around the corner where you can sit outside with your beer (very good value), and it is in the centre of town for all other amenities.

Vila do Conde
Convento (convent) Santa Clara Vila do Conde

*There is a variation to the Portuguese Camino da Costa and Litoral (this word has 1 or 2 t’s depending on the language), which is reputedly very, very beautiful, called the Espiritual (Spiritual). It starts in Pontevedra (where the Inland and Coastal routes converge), and ends in Padron. More information here

Portuguese Camino next days 3 and 4 Vila do Conde to Viana do Castelo