Caminho Português Senda Litoral Route – Shoulds and Shouldn’ts PART ONE

There’s a lot of things to consider when planning your Senda Litoral Route walk of the Caminho Português. There really are no Shoulds or Shouldn’ts. I debated calling this Dos and Don’ts. In the end, this is just some advice you can either take or not take. Always remember… Your Camino, Your way!

But there are things to consider…

One of the very first is: Should I walk out of Porto on foot or should I take the street car?

I can only offer my own personal take on this, as I only walked once and we chose to walk the entire way out of the city… from the famous Dom Luís I bridge all the way to the lighthouses at the mouth of the River Douro where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Myself, Michael, and his sister Jenifer…with the Dom Luís I Bridge in the background. Where we began our Caminho…

There is nothing wrong with taking the streetcar along this portion of the route. Many, many pilgrims do it for various reasons. The streetcar travels alongside the river and takes you to the mouth. It will save you a few kms on your first day and it’s YOUR Camino/YOUR choice.

We walked and really enjoyed the views.

Arrábida Bridge, the last bridge on the River Douro prior to its convergence with the Atlantic Ocean. This bridge actually has a Bridge Climb. You can walk on the braces under the top spans. Check Viator or other tourist sites for info. CLICK HERE.

Once you pass under the Arrábida Bridge, the River Douro opens up and you’re well on your way to the lighthouses and the Atlantic Ocean.

There’s a lot to look at along the way. The walk up to the lighthouses, though, is the crown of the journey. It’s spectacular to see the waves crashing against the catwalks…and you can walk out on those catwalks and get some great shots, too!

This shot was taken from the catwalk of the bigger lighthouse, looking back at the smaller lighthouse.

So, to answer the first question… my answer would be YES. Take the walk out of the city. It’s spectacular. Again, though, it’s your walk. If you know this first day is going to be super long and you need to somehow shorten it, taking the streetcar out of town is how pilgrims have been doing so. YOUR Camino.

Should I stay in HI Vila do Conde – Pousada de Juventude in Vila do Conde?

Obviously, I cannot recommend albergues we haven’t stayed at. But I can suggest ones we stayed at that were amazing. And, depending on how you organize your daily walks you may not even find yourself staying in the same towns that we stayed in. With our crazy 10-day schedule, your trip may not align with ours at all.

I can highly recommend the first albergue we stayed in during our September 2022 Camino. Our day one brought us to Vila do Conde. Pousada de Juventude translates from Portuguese to YOUTH HOSTEL. On the surface, this gave me cause for pause. But trust me, it’s gorgeous. And they offer a great breakfast too. If you come to Vila do Conde–on your first or second or third day–you couldn’t go wrong staying at HI Vila do Conde – Pousada de Juventude. My suggestion is YES. Do it. Click this link.

HI Vila do Conde – Pousada de Juventude

 

Excuse the backpack explosion in this shot. This is what the rooms look like in this youth hostel. They’re clean and super cute. They have singles and, for our purposes, 3-bed rooms. Worked out perfectly. Nice first day ending.

Should I stop at the Caminho Beach Bar?

This is NOT a bad idea. We thought there would be more options on the route. We ended up leaving the route for a few hundred feet when we spotted a place later and worried there was nothing else coming. So, when you see this sign…

…take it as a sign. Unless you’re okay with leaving the boardwalk and walking a few hundred feet into a small town further along. We had a great pit stop, don’t get me wrong. But if you don’t want to leave the path, this bar is the place for you. If you keep walking, keep an eye out for the place in the next photo. It’s a little town a little ways away from the Caminho Beach Bar…on your right-hand side. Looks like a parking lot that opens to a small town. There is also a very tiny grocers, should you need supplies.

Should I enter this ocean-side haunted house prior to Esposende?

Probably not!

Should I stay at the Esposende Guesthouse?

This may have been one of my favourite albergues on the Caminho Português. The level of trusted hospitality here reminded me of the Camino Frances. A woman greeted us for check-in and gave us the lay of the land. Once all were checked in, she left for the night and the pilgrims were on our own.

The gorgeous and fun Esposende Guesthouse

I don’t know why I fell hard for this one, but I did. It was cute. Click here.

Cash Jar.

There was a cash jar on the kitchen counter, beer in the fridge, wine on the counter. It was all honor system and prices were marked.

There was a kitchen, if you wanted to save a bit on costs and make your own meal. Everything you need is there. The town filled with restaurants is just outside your door, too, should you decide to taste the local fare.

The rooms were clean and cute, and the bathroom was a dream. Towels on the beds. It was an amazing place to end the day!

There were communal crash places aplenty, either indoor or out!

Should I stop to look out across the ocean and snap a selfie after the rain?

An emphatic YES. Stop and smell the roses. You are walking alongside an immeasurable vastness. Take it in. Immerse yourself in it!

Should I stay in HI Viana do Castelo – Pousada de Juventude in Viana do Castelo?

There are options in this bigger town. We chose the first ‘albergue’ once you cross the bridge into town. Should you stay there? That’s entirely up to you. This one lives up to the name of YOUTH HOSTEL. Click Here. The rooms were clean. It had breakfast on offer. It had a large communal room where you could eat an evening meal, should you bring one in. We got a pizza from a local pizzeria…using UberEats to get it delivered.

HI Viana do Castelo – Pousada de Juventude

It was one of those ‘what-you-need’ places, whereas the Esposende Guesthouse was a ‘what-you-want’ place. This place had everything we needed and it was cheap and just inside town. Should you stay here? Entirely up to you and your expectations. WiFi was great, no issues. I believe their pilgrim offer was 14,00€. Link above.

I really wish I could recommend our next stay! It was in Caminha and it was an apartment and it was BEAUTIFUL! Sadly, I noticed that it is no longer on offer. It was a definite SHOULD. Very close to the town circle where the restaurants were and only two minutes from the boat launch in the morning. I would live there if I could.

Should I use Xacobeo Transfer to get from Caminha, Portugal to A Guarda, Spain?

Yes. Absolutely. It was a breeze to book the evening before. The boat met us and the driver had a manifest of passengers and consulted the manifest for our names. We didn’t even have to show a ticket on our phones or anything. Just get on the boat and get off at the other side. It was a quick 5-8 minute ride.

Here’s the link to their website: Xacobeo Transfer.

Tip to remember if your phone doesn’t automatically change, or if you don’t use a phone: A Guarda is ONE HOUR AHEAD of Caminha. So, though the ride takes a few minutes, you lose an hour. A Guarda is the beginning of Spain and they are an hour ahead of Portugal.

This ends Part One. Click here to JUMP TO PART TWO.

If you want to see our 10 day journey in full, here is the link to DAY ONE. At the end of every day, you will find a link to the next day. After those, you will also find a couple of posts on what to do in Porto before and after the Caminho.

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.

The Camino Club

Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 2

Day 2! Vila do Conde to Esposende

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.

Portugal is famous for its beautiful blue and white tile art. There was no end to examples of it along the Senda Litoral route of the Camino…

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.

Windmill still intact.

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.

If you come across this beach bar, it might be a good idea to stop. There are only two more places after this for a while. One is a few hundred feet off the path.

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.

Glad we found this place on a day where places were few and far between.

After a much needed break, and some amazing fuel, we were off to return back to the endless boardwalk of Day 2.

It went on and on and on and on…
3 peregrinos!

On day 2, we have to go away from the beach for a while to walk around a rather large golf course.

The golf course that forces the Camino path away from the ocean.

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.

The house where, I suspect, we momentarily left our route for another one.
Right before we passed this house, we walked by a boardwalk that went in behind it…because the arrows pointed us away from it. We followed everyone else and avoided the boardwalk. The Senda Litoral route is not as well marked as the others.

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.

But we smiled anyway.

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.

A cool house that would be amazing as a tourist attraction Haunted Mansion.

We were soon back to the boardwalk and back to the windmills. This time, they were the converted cottages we had seen on YouTube.

We were close to the end of our second day. Esposende was within reach.

After walking a short bridge across, I believe, the Cávado River, we were in Esposende and on our way to the Esposende Guesthouse.

The bridge that brought us to the end of our second day.
Almost there! Thank god. Blisters, blisters, blisters.

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!

Fully functioning kitchen at our disposal. BUT…restaurants down the street. Easy decision for tired pilgrims.
This was definitely a super cute albergue!
The rooms were clean and we had a little balcony!
When you’re a pilgrim, a clean bathroom is everything. A good shower is everything. The Esposende Guesthouse hit all the marks!

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.

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…

A perfect way to end a magical day…

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.

Click here to jump to DAY 3!

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.