Of course we set out in the dark. The race was on! Santiago de Compostela or bust!
The first thing to peek up out of the darkness at us was a little…bizarre to say the least.
But we soon had daylight…just in time to see our first milemarker that broke the 10km mark!
It felt like it took us no time at all to get to the city limits.
Again, a glorious day filled with sunshine!
Making our way into the city was a little misleading. We kept thinking we were going to turn a corner and be there…only to find one neighbourhood after another…staying forever on the outskirts.
But we were definitely getting there.
How about one more gorgeously picturesque bridge to walk over before reaching the cathedral? Don’t mind if we do!
One quick stop as we reach the town proper…to get our first stamp of our day!
One last piece of street art before we finish our last day…
One last moment of confusion…
One last hórreo…
I had the great idea of walking AROUND the cathedral so we could come in at the same place as the Camino Frances and see the pipers in action before taking in the cathedral’s facade.
For the first time, we walked into this little covered part not to the sound of a piper, but to a guitar.
WE MADE IT!
We quickly made our way to the pilgrim’s office to queue up for our compostelas (the certificates of completion)!
Compostelas in hand, we made our way to the very first cafe we came to and rewarded ourselves with a full breakfast each! One of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten!
We were fortunate enough to get to see the Botafumeiro swing during mass that afternoon! It doesn’t always happen, so we were thrilled to witness it!
So ends another Camino! There was more, of course…but the finish line was crossed! The next day we even took the rooftop tour of the cathedral. If you ever do the Camino, make sure to look into taking the rooftop tour! The views are amazing. Just being on the roof of the cathedral is quite spectacular in itself!
Thinking of doing the Camino? Do it! You’ll love it, even if it nearly kills you or your feet. It’s an experience of a lifetime!
You might even go back for more. This was my 3rd Camino. Loved every minute of it, even when I wanted to cry over the absolute PAIN my feet experienced. When it’s all over, the foot pain becomes a distant memory. You remember the moments and the beauty.
Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022- 280km in 10 days! PORTO, PORTUGAL to SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, SPAIN.
Our second last day of walking! Unbelievable. It takes so long and it’s so arduous, and it’s over in the blink of an eye. Such a dichotomy!
We were off in the dark of night once again!
It very quickly brightened up this time, though.
Another picture perfect day on the Camino. Spain was giving us the best possible weather! Not too cold, not too hot.
The sunrise and the scattered clouds and big blue sky were giving us all the feels!
Immediately following the glorious sunrise, we came upon a little cafe and it was time for a Café con leche! Coffee is ALWAYS better in Spain!
Does it get any better than this picture of an early morning Spanish sky?
A picture perfect day!
We’ve reached the part of the Camino where your pains don’t matter all that much and your perspective is clear and the beauty gets in. The world hushes and allows you to stop thinking about the aches in your toes and heels and knees and hips and thighs. Everything around you opens up to you…
We had reached Pontecesures. And we were about to experience culture shock…loud obtrusive culture shock. With every internal trip into serenity, comes its opposite.
Just one pic as we made our way through crowds and crowds of people at a weekend flea market type event that had the town hopping with what felt like thousands of people…
Way too overwhelming an experience for me. I was lulled by the nature we had just experienced and the crowds felt like sensory overload of the worst kind!
We were so glad to make our way back out of the chaos of that town!
We were soon to arrive in A Picaraña. Though we were happy to arrive at our lodgings, this was not one of the great discoveries we were so lucky to score along the way. I don’t even have a picture of the inside of this place.
Pension Glorioso was…adequate. The 70s furniture was…adequate. The WiFi didn’t even work all that well. It was probably our one fail booking of the whole Camino. Can’t really complain.
Day nine was over! ONE. DAY. LEFT. And a short one at that. We’d be in Santiago de Compostela in the morning!
Somewhere along our journey, we had begun to set out in the dark. Once you start doing that, there’s no turning back. We were now doing it every day. We were now counting on the little torch apps on our phones to guide our way for the first hour or so of our day.
Thankfully, there was still the odd streetlight guiding our way through the town.
Before the sun was fully up on our 8th day, we were walking through nature in complete and utter darkness. It was time to pray we didn’t go over on our heels or trip over the jutting rocks in our path.
Sunrise on the Camino is always worth crawling your way through the darkness while awaiting its arrival!
Soon it was daylight and our fears were behind us. Nobody fell off a cliff-edge or twisted an ankle. We would live to see another day.
We noticed that the vineyards were plentiful on this day. Whether they stretched across acres and acres of land, or stayed within a tiny well-groomed yard, grapevines could be seen at every turn. It also seemed that, wherever we looked, people were picking grapes this day.
Early in the day, we came across a tiny little church that was built in 1617!
We soon reached Pondevedra…a bit of a bustling town after all the small ones we passed through.
Inside the church pictured above, I witnessed one of the little things that chips away at the magic of the Camino. A busload of tourists actually lined up to get their credencials stamped. I was apoplectic. I couldn’t believe that, one, the tourists and the tour guide would do such a thing, and, two, that the person inside the church would actually stamp their credencials. I hoped against hope that these bussies didn’t do this all the way to Santiago de Compostela and then march in to the compostela office and get their certificate. Surely, the guide would prevent that from happening!
Soon, another bridge…
After Pontevedra, we were heading back into nature for a while. It was feeling very much like we were back on the Camino Frances. Galicia was opening up to us with its vibrant mossiness and greenery…
We soon found a place to stop for a little rest. The entire patio of this cafe was covered by a hanging trellis of grapevines…beautiful!
Placing a stone on the milemarker…
Every stop sign had a message of one kind or another. “Don’t STOP believing!”, “Don’t STOP me now!”, “Don’t STOP now!”, etc.
Picture perfect grapes everywhere!
Today was the first LONG day that didn’t really feel like a long day. Except when you take into account the shape of our feet, that is. We were soon in Caldas de Rei!
This is the town where I finally broke down and bought some new sandals. I couldn’t wear my shoes another second. I put the cheap new sandals on before I left the shoe store. The gentleman who dug through a box to find the slip on sandals that would fit my gargantuan feet will always be remembered as one of my Camino Angels! Thank you forever!
Again, we scored huge with the apartment we booked on Booking dot com. Just what we needed after another long day! With a restaurant just next door!
The restaurant had one of our first, if not our actual first, pilgrim menu options! Caldo Galega was mine!!! I just love the Galician soup served in this portion of the Camino! LOVE!
Day eight over, it seemed impossible that we were just two short days away from Santiago de Compostela and the cathedral at the end of the yellow brick road. We were almost there! Day nine? A Picarana or bust!
Milestone day! This was the day we crossed the 100km mile marker. We began our day in Vigo at just over 100km from our goal of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela!
When you take a photo to show the depth and steepness of a hill, it almost never turns out. Trust me on this, when we got out of the city it was quite a brutal uphill climb to a ridge above it.
A brutal climb, but well worth it once we were able to take in the views the ridge afforded us.
It was actually quite breathtaking…and once we were up there, it was relatively flat for a while.
We kept coming across new vistas that felt like the perfect place to take the day’s selfie…again and again…
There was no end to the beauty below us. A look to the left, throughout this entire Camino, was bound to offer beauty…
Soon after breaking the 100km mark, we were gently being eased back into nature…
Leave it to the Camino to have the most interesting and gorgeous artwork appear out of nowhere along the path. Some call this graffiti or vandalizing, but whatever. I love the art we find along the way. I always appreciate it! I don’t give a rat’s ass what the naysayers say.
Mid-day we had to climb DOWN into a town. At this point, my toes had had enough! It was one of the most painful descents of our entire Camino. I did find this interesting doll on the porch of one of the houses on our way down, though. Turns out it has its own Instagram and they change the clothes and theme periodically…
I always love the way some locals just get all in when it comes to the Camino. Whether it’s little things like the Meryitsme_ doll, or big elaborate yard decorations. Love!
Once we climbed down into the little town, we found a place to have lunch. The food on the Camino–always simple and fortifying–is ALWAYS just so GOOD! It probably has something to do with the level of exhaustion you’re feeling, with your absolute need to have calories! At any rate, even your run of the mill everyday sandwich tastes like manna from heaven! Especially when paired with a cold beer!
After lunch, we left the little town and found ourselves back in nature. And back to yet another makeshift Camino altar…
Just prior to reaching our day’s end goal of Ponte Sampaio, we reached a rather iconic Instagram famous landmark. The two shoes!
After crossing a short bridge (a bit of a theme on the Portugues Caminho, as we came to realize), we were in Ponte Sampaio…and just a few hundred feet from our albergue. A few almost impossible hundred feet. The last km is always the worst, I swear!
The short bridge leading us into Ponte Sampaio!
But we soon discovered we had scored again in the accommodation department. Our lodgings for the night were just shy of perfect! And complete with laundry facilities and a church outside our bathroom window!
The restuarant a couple of doors down was affiliated with the albergue and offered some great fare! We were just happy we wouldn’t have to walk too far to fuel up!
It was one of those Big Sky days, where the clouds and the sun were both endless, fighting each other for power. My favourite kind of day.
We were getting farther away from the shoreline, but it was still within our sights…for now.
So many different terrains this day. We even walked beneath a rather major highway…
This actually felt like the easiest day yet. We had found our stride, I think.
We arrived in Vigo in no time! It was a fairly big city in comparison to some of the others we had passed through. It was lovely walking through the streets of Vigo, big Europe energy! And the food was great, too!
Vigo, where, aching feet aside, we may have finally found our groove!
Day five would begin in Portugal, but we wouldn’t be there for long! With a two minute walk to the boat-launch, we were so close to Spain, we could practically swim there! But we had help. We were able to secure our passage from Portugal to Spain with XACOBEO TRANSFER. A quick two minutes on their website the night before, and I was able to get our 3 tickets without issue. All we had to do was show up at the boat launch the next morning.
When we stepped off the boat, less than five minutes later, we were in a different country. AND a different timezone. Spain is one hour ahead of Portugal. Suddenly the five minute boat ride ate up an hour and five minutes of our time. But we were in Spain!
And the walking, at least for a little while, was easy. We walked alongside a highway, with a nice footpath that was gentle on our blistered feet.
And the coast was still just a hair’s breath away…always there.
We were closing in on the halfway point of our journey.
It was easier to appreciate the proximity of the shoreline, knowing full well it would soon be gone for good. Some gorgeous vistas on this day!
At this point, what we didn’t realize is that we would soon be climbing a bit of a mountain. Just like that, we were stepping back into some treacherous and exhausting terrain.
Of course we had to climb a mountain before the end of our first day in Spain. And of course we had to climb back down it! One thing I remember from the Camino Frances is the amount of times we had to walk down into our final resting place town. The end of the day always seemed to end with steep downhill walks. This first day in Spain was no different.
Our apartment for the night was really nice, though…made it worth the struggle at the end of our day. We were in Baiona! And our lucky streak with Booking dot com was continuing!
What’s a first day in Spain without the delectable Padrón pepper!
The Padrón pepper is a must eat dish on the Camino de Santiago. One of my favourite Camino treats!
This was yet another super long day. We definitely had too many of them. Again, I suggest you spreading this walk out over more than our 10 days. You’ll thank me…
Day 6 would have us walking into VIGO, SPAIN. Barely started, and we were already aware of the closeness of the finish line! These 10 days were going by super fast!
Our last day in Portugal. After this day’s walk, we were going to be just a short boat ride away from Spain.
As soon as we began our walk in Viana do Castelo the next morning, I was struck by the beauty of the architecture.
There seemed to be churches around every corner. We even met a Facebook Camino group friend inside one of them. It’s quite a shock when someone comes up to you in a foreign country and calls you by your name. Believe it or not, it happened twice on this Camino. It happened inside the church pictured above, and once again in Santiago de Compostela while we were walking down the street and a Twitter mutual called out a hello. It’s a small world now that social media connects us all.
It was gonna be one of those days. Building after building, it was all so gorgeous.
Soon, we made our way out of the town and back to the solitude of the Camino. In an interesting turn of events, things were beginning to look a little familiar. Even though we had never been in this part of Portugal before.
What we began to notice was that, though we were still in Portugal, the Camino was taking on the look we remembered of the Camino Frances. Small towns, abandoned buildings, narrow alleyways. It felt like Spain…
This was so typically the Camino Frances, that we appeared to be in Spain before crossing into Spain. Portugal light, perhaps.
So close to Galicia. It was in the air, that mossy always almost wet feeling. The bright greenness of it all. The closer we got to Caminha, Portugal, the nearer we were to leaving the country and slipping seamlessly into Spain.
Every footstep brought us closer. It didn’t matter that we were still a day away from crossing the river into a new country…the vibes were already bringing us there.
We found an absolutely gorgeous place to stop for a cupcake and a break.
The trick about the Senda Litoral route, though, is that even when you think you’re far away from the shore, you eventually come back to it with a few simple turns.
We were close to the end of our day. Caminha was just around the corner. And so was an amazing apartment we booked through Booking dot com. We had no idea just how nice the place was.
Our apartment in Caminha was gorgeous, and only a two minute walk to the boat launch the next morning. PURE PERFECTION!
It was time for bed. In the morning, we would make the two minute walk to the boat launch and set out on our first day in SPAIN!
Did you catch the hint near the end of the last post?
Two days of glorious sunshine was a great start.
It was bound to happen. 10 consecutive days in September? They’re not all going to be perfect. A little rain must fall.
This was a really tough day. In fact, let’s say EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. The terrain was ever-changing and even the Camino Ninja app had a couple of places where it faltered. We went through a farmer’s field, we were walking directly on the beach, over dunes, on rocks, on sand. It was trying, to say the least. Especially since we all woke up with blisters and toenail issues. The rain did not help matters. It was the last thing our already damaged toes, heels, ankles and pads needed.
After finding our way through the fields, we landed once again on the beach. Not a boardwalk in sight.
Eventually, we found ourselves back on a more friendly terrain.
We decided we would smile through the photos while pretending our throbbing feet weren’t making us miserable. One, two, three…smile!
The variety of this day would probably be exciting, if not for our ailments and the on again off again rain. All along our journey, I contemplated perspective. Our moods, our pains…everything we were experiencing internally altered the way we took in the landscape around us. This was absolutely a beautiful day filled with glorious vistas. I sometimes lost sight of how gorgeous everything was. It was hard not to wallow in the pain coming from my toes and heels. It took an act of will to see beauty at times. But it was definitely a vibrant landscape day. The photos tell me this now. The trudging, at the time, made sour the walk. Perspective, perspective, perspective.
At the end of the day, it was another walk across another bridge to get us into the city at the end of our walk. Just like the day before, the bridge signified the ending.
After a super long day, we had made it to Viana do Castelo.
This would be our least favourite accommodation to date. We were lucky with our first two places. HI Viana do Castelo – Pousada de Juventude would suffice. But I wouldn’t write home about it. At the end of the day, it was a dry shelter and we were grateful. We ordered pizza through Uber-Eats, ate, and crashed.
We were three very sore and tired pilgrims, with feet in need of some TLC.
We all began Day 2 of our Caminho Português with foot ailments. The blisters had begun! My third Camino and my first blisters. On a route I thought would be a breeze compared to the Camino Frances. The thing is, we were walking too many KMs. 36 on our first day. The terrain might have been easier, but the grueling pace we gave ourselves proved in the end to be too much.
Minutes after leaving our albergue in Vila do Conde, we were back at the ocean’s edge.
One of the things I couldn’t wait to see on this Camino route was the famous old windmills found along the beaches of Portugal. Some are small and abandoned. Others, larger and saved from extinction, have been transformed into summer cottages. Soon after leaving Vila do Conde behind us, we came upon our first windmill.
There was a lot of boardwalk on this second day. And not that many places to stop for food and drink. We past one along the way, thinking we’d come to another soon.
As we walked along the boardwalk hoping for a place to stop, we came upon a parking lot. Beyond it, there was one cafe and a small supermarcado. A few hundred feet from the boardwalk. We decided not to take any chances on coming upon something closer to the path. Good decision.
After a much needed break, and some amazing fuel, we were off to return back to the endless boardwalk of Day 2.
On day 2, we have to go away from the beach for a while to walk around a rather large golf course.
Somewhere during this time, we accidentally left the Senda Litoral for a bit. The Camino Ninja was showing that our route was a couple hundred feet away and we couldn’t figure out where we went wrong. I think I narrowed it down to a house we passed after circumnavigating the golf course. There was a boardwalk going back in the direction of the ocean right before we came upon the house. It wasn’t marked, but the way beside the house was marked with yellow arrows. I think this is a place where two routes converged. We assumed we were following our route, but we accidentally crossed into another. The boardwalk would have been the Senda Litoral, I believe, but it wasn’t marked as such.
Off the route, we were back onto the foot stabbing cobbles. Each step would send sharp pains into our feet. The blisters were growing and multiplying.
It actually didn’t take us long to get back onto the Senda Litoral. The Camino Ninja app, we were discovering, was going to save us time and time again.
We were soon back to the boardwalk and back to the windmills. This time, they were the converted cottages we had seen on YouTube.
After walking a short bridge across, I believe, the Cávado River, we were in Esposende and on our way to the Esposende Guesthouse.
If you end your day at Esposende, it would NOT be a bad thing to end it at the ESPOSENDE GUESTHOUSE (the link is to their website, but we booked through booking dot com). We loved this little place. Soon after check-in, the proprietress left the property and all the pilgrims were left to their own devices. We had restaurants nearby, and a little town complete with the all-important farmacia! We were ready to have all the first aid requirements of the deeply blistered pilgrim!
Now, remember for a moment that I said the proprietress leaves the albergue after the pilgrims have all been checked in. Now, imagine a level of trust you’ve probably never experienced in North America kicking into action.
Don’t mind if we do!
THE MONEY JAR!
Glass of wine? Just leave a Euro in the money jar.
Beer in the fridge? Just leave a Euro in the money jar.
At the end of a long and tiring day of walking along the coast of Portugal, we settled into our evening, glass of wine in hand, and sat out on the patio of our home for the night. A beautiful evening, even though we knew the rain was coming…
I’m not saying you should work your Camino around to land in Esposende so you can stay at the Guesthouse. But I am saying if Esposende is one of your stops, the Esposende Guesthouse is a great place to stay.
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 actually 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.
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.
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.
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.
In no time, we reached the YouTube famous lighthouse!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.