Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 1

The first step!

After walking down the hill from our hotel, we found our first arrow and began day one of our rigorous ten day journey!

On Saturday, September 10th, 2022, we three (Myself, Michael, and his sister Jenifer) began our walk on the Senda Litoral Route of the Caminho Português. We would do this 280km route to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in 10 days.

Day One was to be our longest day of all! We marked it in our notes as 33.9kms, from the Camino Ninja app, knowing full well the distance is always inaccurate no matter what resource you refer to. NEVER is the KM count correct. And the actual walking distance is ALWAYS longer than the promised count in the apps and books. And, yes, this includes the sainted John Brierley and his constantly updated Camino guides. At least in my experience. Whatever route you plan, keep in mind that you may find yourself walking a KM or two more than you planned on. Our day one was Porto to Vila do Conde.

I call this one our LITTLE DID THEY KNOW selfies. We were fresh and new and unaware of the arduous day ahead of us.

Before setting out, I had heard so many people suggest taking public transportation to the outskirts of Porto. But I couldn’t fathom NOT walking out of the city. We were going to begin in the hub, by the Luís I Bridge, and we were going to see every inch of the river as it made its way to the Atlantic.

Streetcars passed us by as we made our way along the river, excited for it to meet up with the ocean. Sure enough, the streetcars carried backpacked pilgrims choosing to transit out of Porto and begin their walks further along where the river met with the Atlantic.

Let me add here that there is no shame in beginning the journey after taking transit out of the city. I’m glad we walked the stretch, as it was beautiful, but I could definitely see the advantage of starting further along.

The last of the 6 bridges in the Porto 6 Bridges Boat Tour – We passed under it on our walk out of Porto.

There was certainly a lot to see on our way out of Porto. It really is a beautiful walk. Depending on where your first day’s rest stop is, it’s definitely worth the walk. But, if like us, your first day ends in Vila do Conde, it really does add a lot of extra steps to an already long day.

Just before reaching the ocean, we came upon this statue. A patron saint wishing us well on our journey? Bom Caminho, they seemed to whisper, hand on heart, as the sun warmed his angel wings. A blessing? We’ll take it…

In no time, we reached the YouTube famous lighthouse!

It was really something to see how powerful the waves were as they crashed in and hit the rocks beneath the tiny lighthouse as we reached the ocean. There are two side by side lighthouses here. It was well worth taking a break to walk out on the catwalk of the first and bigger lighthouse and view the second (smaller and prettier) lighthouse beside it.

We were soon in Matosinhos, which, if I remember correctly, is sort of still considered Porto. Or, rather, Porto District. I’ve yet to come to terms with the way cities and districts and towns are divided in Europe. At any rate, Matosinhos is listed in Wikipedia as “a city and a municipality located in the northern Porto District of Portugal, bordered in the south by the city of Porto.” Sounds confusing, right?

Since deciding to do the Portugal route, I’ve been excited to see this little building with the cool Camino wrap! It’s a bit Instagram famous…

There were some really great views on our first day. Back home in Toronto, we’re pretty far from any ocean. It was pretty amazing to walk beside one for most of the day. Just to hear the constant breathing of its shoreline as we made our way along it was quite spectacular.

At one point we met up with a mother/daughter pilgrim duo and we exchanged the courtesies of capturing the moment on film for each other!
Our DAY ONE happy faces of our 2nd Camino together (Frances, 2019)! We were, by this point, already feeling the tingling hints of what was to come of our impending foot troubles.

Day One out of Porto and into Vila do Conde was a mix of terrain. There was boardwalk and cobbles and sidewalks and sand. Nothing too rigorous. But too much of anything takes its toll. We gave ourselves a super long day and it was to set the pace for our overly-exuberant 10 day schedule. It wasn’t impossible… because, in the end, we did it. But I wouldn’t suggest doing the Senda Litoral route in any less than 12 days.

Just one of the many terrains found on the first day of the Senda Litoral route. Cobbles would eventually pose a problem as we were able to feel every edge and bump as the blisters began to take hold…

There was definitely no end to the ocean’s beauty on that first day. The boardwalk was gorgeous and offered such incredible views, while giving us such ease of walking. Navigating this path on sand alone would have been a little bit of a nightmare.

Mimi on the beach… (excuse the 80s Jane Siberry reference, but I will always be an 80s music person. And that person in the surf is forever Mimi in my memory, whether it’s their real name or not.

It was a LONG first day. I don’t know if I actually said this enough times. PORTO to VILA DO CONDE is a LONG HAUL day, especially if you choose NOT to take public transport out of the city centre. Here’s the step-counter from hotel to alburgue…

You will notice the difference in KM from the projected to the actual. And this is something that happens every day on the Camino. No matter what Camino you are on.

We saw some pretty things along the way.

Day One ended at HI Vila do Conde – Pousada de Juventude. The link is directly to the accommodation, but we booked everything through booking dot com. If you’re looking for your accommodation in Vila do Conde, you can’t go wrong with this place. It was clean and pretty. And it offered a free breakfast.

HI Vila do Conde – Pousada de Juventude

Breakfast in Vila do Conde.
First day stamps, from our Hotel to our hostel…

END OF DAY 1 – Vila do Conde, Portugal.

I’m also an author. One of my novels, a young adult story, is set on the Camino Frances route of the Camino de Santiago. THE CAMINO CLUB. It follows six teens on their journey from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela. The teens walk with court appointed counselors in a juvenile delinquent program that will see them free of their records once they make the journey to Santiago…a clean slate. Think of a more diverse The Breakfast Club, but on the Camino de Santiago over two weeks instead of in a school library on a Saturday. Give it a look! It’s available wherever books are sold. Here’s the Amazon USA link.

 

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