Rest Day: Vigo

Let me start by saying: I live in a rural town in South Africa, one of the best possible locations to raise kids. But we live in a very violent, crime ridden country. If your car breaks down at night on our highways, the chance is good that you get killed for your mobile phone and the contents of your purse. We are very paranoid about safety and security in our part of the world. Now picture this from my context. We are staying in a nice Hotel in Vigo. At half past one I get waken up by a huge noise outside. I gaze out of the window. The pizza place across the road is still open. And a family with toddlers walks out. At half past 1 in the morning! It first got to me, and then I was a little bit jealous of a society where families and single women can walk around in a city at night without any fear. The racket was the garbage trucks collecting all the recycleables at 1 at night.

I fell asleep again. When we woke up, I had an idea. Tomorrow is going to be a long day to the Refugio 3 km on the other side of Redondela. Why don’t we walk most of it today, get stamps for our Pilgrims Passports, catch a bus back and start there again tomorrow. And that is what we did. We started by going down to the Cathedral of Vigo. We had coffee nearby. We loved the public art again: Look at this statue of a hard working fisherman in the park:

Across the road is the statue to his family, anxiously awaiting his return every day:

We really found the beauty of Vigo in its older parts. It sure has some very beautiful streets and sights!DSC_0535.JPGDSC_0528.JPG

We had a really long walk today, but we found unexpected joy along the Way. I told my wife of Cafe Ezequel in Melide and how marvelous Pulpo is. And when we walked past 10 km for the day, across one bridge, I saw the pot outside this Cafe and just knew.

The Camino surprises you every day, when you least expect it. I could bless my wife with the pleasure of Pulpo, a Galicean speciality.

She enjoyed it very much!

We walked on, past some cars we never get to see in South Africa, what om earth is this?

A one seater Renault? We also don’t know the 2 seater Toyota Aygo in our part of the world.

We stood amazed at this enormous bridge, and admired the engineering skills it must take to do this well:

So, today, in stead of resting our feet, we walked more than 14 km again. The fireworks are going off, Portugal is playing at 20h00, I think we shall go watch the game with the public at the square behind the Cathedral. Our feet are HURTING, but man, do we love this journey through Spain and Portugal!

Vigo Day 8- more photos

Today was just one of those days where I did not feel like taking a lot of photos. But here are a few: we had a hard time staying on the Way in Vigo. But I am still amazed by the public art in Spain, be it on buildings:

or statues of the normal working guy at unexpected places:

Vigo surprised me. Where I expected a sleepy fishing village, we found a city of more than half a million people. It is huge!

But on our way to our hotel we found the city fathers (and mothers not to sound patronizing!) put a set of four elevators to the street where we live. Now that is thoughtfull!

We are on a month long journey in a country that is more expensive than ours. So we do cut our expenses where we can. As we are staying in a nice hotel for our rest, we are cutting on mealtimes again. We do not have kitchen facilities for the weekend. My wife said we should avoid another session of bread, cold meats and cheese. When we walked through the small supermarket that has no prepared foods, guess what we had for dinner?

But there is always a light shining in the darkest tunnel. My favorite energy source on the Camino comes at just 70 cents of a Euro for 6…

Today and tomorrow we are trying to rest and heal our feet. We are a little bit scared of the distances and topography of the final 5 days into Santiago, which we foolishly (me, I did that) booked on the John Brierley Scedule. We don’t know yet if we are tough enough for the 25 km days with some climbing involved. But we will soon find out!

Day 8 and 9: Vigo

We have nearly no wifi at our hotel, and I found out it is expensive to blog on mobile data.

We are staying over in Vigo for 2 days, good to rest a while.

So only one photo to sum up the day…

Lots of beach, beautiful country, but very hazy today.

We walked into a Pulperia just now at 17h30 to ask for their menu. (A place specializing in Calamari, but you knew that…) They chased us out and said they are closing, only opening at 21h00 (9 o’clock)… Like Obelix said: These Spanish are crazy. Will blog more when I do get wifi.

 

PS Obelix said that words in the academic work of ancient history: Asterix in Spain…. I think he did. Maybe..

Day 7: Baiona

I really had to think hard to get the days right… We left at 8 this morning at Casa Puertes in Oia, really a good experience to stay there last night!

We waited for the sun to set over the Atlantic last night, it obliged at 22h17! But before that, dear Kenneth, I watched it going down the correct and proper  way…DSC_0430.JPG

We were really hurting bad last night. This morning a new day dawned on our Camino.

When we started walking early it was way cooler, and we enjoyed most of the sights, except the walking alongside the main route… but that is life, you don’t always get to choose the route.

After Mougas Campsite the Camino veers off to the right to go across a mountain. (Ok, maybe not a mountain but remember I live in a flat part of the world…) Look out for this sign on the right and do close the gate!

While you are climbing, do take a moment to enjoy the view!DSC_0474.JPG

When you come down from the first mountain, you will pass through a town again but no open coffee shops! When you are about to expire from thirst, the Camino provides again… in the shade of a house, good water!

The second climb is no fun at all on the July mid day heat. But the good people of Galicea has provided shade and water and rest at the top.

At this park the route is not marked at all, turn downwards between the park and children’s playground across the road.

We were tired and hungry and gatvol. Then we came across this jewel of a restaurant.

We shared a menu of the day and a large beer, it was really good and prepared with love.

We were blown away by Baiona! We across the world has not even heard about it, but it is beautiful!

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We love the yaughts (how do you spell really big expensive boats?  and the castle and the small beach… But now we are really tired again and off to bed. Look at what my wife makes me eat tonight!

Day 6: Oia

We found Mario at the mobile home, behind the restaurant, behind the Orbitur Campsite at Caminha. And he asks 5 Euro per pilgrim across the river to Spain. And so we went…

Look out for the purple and red boat, that is the one, got us 4 hours faster into Spain than the ferry!

Across the Minho river you start off with boardwalks. And some spectacular views!

A Guarda first looks a bit disappointing, till you turn the corner and see the harbour.

Enjoy A Guarda, drink your coffee, eat something… for in this stage there are much less opportunities to do so than in Portugal.

In A Guarda the prophets have been busy again…

After quite a lot of km we came across this bar, first one after A Guarda. The only place we found between A Guarda and Oia selling food or drink!

They only had bread for one boggadilo (help with spelling please?) so that was what we shared, our only meal for the day.

The route self goes through different types of scenery, from beautiful, wild coastal to kilometres on the side of the main route. Here are some examples and no, I did not want a highway picture…

There are some nice places to eat and drink your own beverages, if you knew to bring some along…

You will find rest on the Way…

That umbrella is a good idea for the sun, my wife bought it at a Chinashop in Porto, really helps except when it gets windy.

We saw other pilgrims on the Way, this one is not sure when he will reach Santiago, but he is putting in a lot of effort

Ultreia, Senor Snail! Buen Camino!

We were really hungry and thirsty when we reached our destination. We are staying over in Oia, Casa Puertes. Why? Friends of ours walked the Camino in April and really enjoyed this place. We will too, at the top end of our budget but worth the money. I can see the sea from my bed, and that does not often happen to me!

If you stay over here, behind the Casa is a steep small road gong to the main road. At the top, 5 minutes walk away, on the left you will find a Blanco store with everything you need in it. We made our own dinner with bread, salmon paté, mussels, cold smoked chicken and beer. And my wife ate a tin of peas, I don’t like peas…

We were famished! Now we are just laying on the bed, waiting for the sun to set. Oia does have it’s beauty, although it does notvlook like much from a distance…

Tonight our feet are hurting a lot, such a dull thrubbing lot of pain type of hurt. Two more days, then we have a rest day planned at Vigo. We are not measuring distance but my Pedometer app gives in advance of 25000 steps per day these last 8 days. We are off to bed early because of that, really tired. Hope we are feeling better in the morning!

Day 5: Caminha

Today was the type of day I dreamed about when planning a coastal Camino. I don’t have much words today, just pictures to share…

 We reached Caminha, on the border with Spain. And Spain seems so close! But a way is needed across the River Minho into Spain. There is a ferry, but it is subjected to the tides, and leaves tomorrow at 12! DSC_0350.JPG We will seek another way. We enjoyed walking around Caminha, probably having our last Pasteis de Nata… DSC_0353.JPG

We are staying at the Orbitur campside in Caminha, quite a walk to town but beautiful views! DSC_0357.JPGDSC_0352.JPGWe are very tired tonight, and also have some blisters to attend to..

Just a last thought: we sat and ate fresh cherries at this beautiful square. DSC_0356.JPG An ambulance stopped just out of view right of picture, and removed someone’s body in a body bag from a flat. I don’t know anything more about it, but I thought that one day everyone leaves in a body bag… I still hope to do a lot of living before it is my turn to go….

 

Did I mention I love the boats on the river? DSC_0347.JPG I heard these guys can take us across the river in front ouf our camp site for 5 Euros each….DSC_0358.JPG Just info for those planning a Coastal Camino….

Day 4:Viana do Castelo

This was quite a long day. We started of by waiting for the Post Office to open. I sent 2.5 kilograms of luggage to Ivar in the Pilgrims Office in Santiago today, to get my backpack under 10 kg again. That makes a huge difference! We walked a final turn around Povoa de Varzim and came across this statue. I don’t know what it means exactly, probably don’t mess with Portuguese mamas?

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Today we reached Viano do Castello, and what a beautiful town this is. If you ever walk the Coastal Camino, look this restaurant up, the people love their food and it is beautifully presented at a very decent price!

Above Viana do Castello is the Eglise de Santa Luzia.

It is beautiful inside! One of the most impressive roofs I have ever gazed upon.

We attended a mass and wish we understood a word that was said. But sometimes words are Unnecessary.

A tip: you don’t have to walk all the way up the mountain! Just behind the train station is a Furnicular, which they also call an Elevator, to the top. A return ticket costs 3 Euros. Even if you are not religious, the view will be worth the cost. DSC_0296.JPGWe also did not know beforehand that there is an Albergue at the top behind the church, and it looks good.

We walked a lot in Viana de Castello today. It seems Portugal is involved in some or other small sporting event today… DSC_0304.JPG

This town/city is really beautiful! We finally tasted Sardinhas tonight, and then walked back to our hostel underneath the bridge. What a beautiful walkway along the river Lima!DSC_0306.JPG

We are staying at the Youth Hostel (Pousada Juventudes) and although it might be an ugly building on the outside, it is beautiful and clean on the inside, just like me!

By the racket outside it seems Portugal just won something… Well done Portugal!

A final thought: we came across this sight: one dilapidated building, and then two more in exactly the same style just further on… one did not make it, two did… why?

 Tomorrow evening we will be camping in Caminhas, I don’t know if there will be any wifi available. Our last full day on Portuguese soil, and we loved it here!

Day 3:Povoa de Varzim

Today we stayed on the Coastal route all the way. The day started early for us, to avoid most of the day’s heat. Early morning was beautiful on the Way!

We enjoyed walking in the mist, with ancient ruins and modern houses standing alongside each other. _20180624_190638.JPG

Today was also a day of long boardwalks, and I love the little spring it puts in every step…

The one thing that takes a bit of getting used to, is the way our concept of time differs from the Portuguese people. We started walking at 07h30, which is late for us. We were looking out for our first Cafe con Leche of the day… DSC_0255.JPGBut people only start moving around here at about 10h00. We already cooked our dinner at 17h30, restaurants open at 19h00 or later. And we are really tired after a day’s walking, we are in bed by 21h00. Then the Portuguese people only start wondering what they are going to do with their day. Despite the differences we really love being in Portugal and meeting the amazing local population.

They welcome us in their communities. They show us the Way…

And their country is amazingly old and beautiful, with Viking and Roman ruins around every corner…

We got really, really tired today…and sat on the steps of a dilapidated church that seems more tired than us…

Finally, after a long day’s walk we reached Povoa de Varzim. Staying over at Sardines and Friends Hostel, another amazing venue. Again we cooked for ourselves- we made sweet and sour pork strips with a lot of veggies and mushrooms on a bed of rice, with something red to drink, for under 4 Euros each.

Tomorrow we have a slight problem- the way I booked our trip we have to be in Viana do Castelo tomorrow, which is 45 km away. We will have to use some public transport as well.

I also already suffer from blisters again. My new pair of Crocs gave me some nasty blisters yesterday evening when walking around town. Friends don’t let friends wear Crocs. I wish to give them to a homeless person but then again, why punish someone even more?

I am trying that miracle cure that we don’t get in South Africa…

So- tomorrow we may cheat the walking a little, and rest on a bus for a while. It feels like cheating, bit we are still way out of the last 100 km for our Campostela. I said I am not going to complain. I just feel a little old, and tired, and really angry at myself for packing too much when I know better. If you walk the Camino, do pack light! The more possessions you carry with you, the more you will suffer. Learn from my mistakes! All those small things looking as if they weigh next to nothing-they add up and kick your butt after 15 km!

We are still going strong!

Ultreia!

Day 2: Angeiras

We started this morning by walking through the Matosinhos Market, where fresh fish and other produce are sold daily. Being people living 800 km from the sea, we never see such a sight!

DSC_0208.JPGDSC_0209.JPGWe made a huge detour to reach the excellent Decathlon superstore. I needed a new rain jacket, as my poncho lasted only one day, and rain are predicted for tomorrow. One thing of the Camino-get rid of things not helping you…DSC_0216.JPGWe made our way through heavy industrial area, behind the Portugas factory. When we joined the Coastal Camino again, it was beautiful, boardwalk and sunshine all the way. DSC_0223.JPGIt was extremely hot today! Water alone would not quench this thirst. A cold beer sometimes is all that helps! DSC_0222.JPGI am still very wary of posting this, because I made our national newspapers front page in 2016 by drinking a beer. That seems outrageous, right? Will tell the story another day, google Beeld 19 October 2016 to read it if you are able to understand Afrikaans… and here I do it again!

We walked more than 36000 steps today, no idea how far exactly as our steps are getting shorter as we tire.

We are staying at the Orbitur Angeiras camp sight tonight in a small mobile home. DSC_0232.JPGNo cooking facilities, but very affordable at 8 Euro per person. We did have an amazing sardine and olive pizza in town. Just had a shower, watched the sunset and now ready for bed, we are really tired but happy tonight. _20180623_210903.JPG

PS, stayed over at Fishtail Sea House in Matosinhos last night, awesome, great, excellent beautiful well located, with an amazing kitchen and breakfast included. We really loved it there as you might gather..

 

Day 1: Matosinhos

I read a lot about how bad the walk out of Porto is on the Camino Portuguese. If you follow the Brierly guide it can also be an extremely long day to Povoa de Varzim. Now I have lost all my non-Camino friends’ attention just there 🙂 But I do not agree with the bad exit or long day theory, we did it our way and I think it is a much better way to start the Camino Portuguese from Porto.

We woke up excited early this morning, eager to start walking. But we also heard the sound of thunder… it was raining on our glorious start to our Camino…DSC_0171.JPG

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I found that I did not heed my own advice, my backpack is way too heavy…

But we enjoyed our route. We walked from our cheap hotel to the cathedral, and turned into the park behind the university. There we found our first, and only yellow arrow of the day. DSC_0172.JPG

We walked down to the river, and followed the river to the sea. And it was beautiful!

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DSC_0191.JPGIMG_20180622_130749_796.jpgIMG-20180622-WA0001.jpgWe planned to not walk too far today, easing into the Camino. Our first official day of the Camino was only to Matosinhos. According to Google Maps it would only be 10.6 km for the day. But we drifted a little and walked more than 13, before reaching our accommodation. We walked a total of more than 25000 steps today, according to Pedimeter.

It was a good day and we enjoyed the route. I am just a litle concerned-, we both are hurting a lot tonight, our legs are sore… I don’t get it, I walked 400 km in the last 3 months to practice for our Walk.

Also experienced equipment failure. I bought the yellow poncho because it was lighter. It lasted just 3 hours in the rain…

Tomorrow is a new day. We enjoyed today. We also found that it is way cheaper to prepare our own meals from the supermarkets than to look for a Menu del Dia, did not see any Pilgrims Menu’s yet in Porto region.DSC_0202.JPG

More to follow if we have wifi access tomorrow. Now I am wasted…

If you plan on walking the Coastal Camino, look out for this heartbreaking monument to fishermen who never came home after a storm in 1947. It is on the main beach of Matosinhos…. DSC_0200.JPG Just behind it is a tourist info centre that will gladly stamp your Pilgrims Passport for you.

Tired now, off to bed…