Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 3

Day 3! Esposende to Viana do Castelo!

Did you catch the hint near the end of the last post?

RAIN DAY!

Two days of glorious sunshine was a great start.

Took a few photos while my phone was zipped safely inside a Ziplock sandwich bag, yes I did!

It was bound to happen. 10 consecutive days in September? They’re not all going to be perfect. A little rain must fall.

Gives it a kinda fun ghostly look, don’t it? Beats a vaseline lens…
It wasn’t all rain, but the ponchos were on more than they were off. Makes for some uncomfortable walking when you need the rain gear to keep you dry, but it’s also too warm to wear it.

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.

The Camino Ninja did not know what to do with the farmer’s field we found ourselves navigating in the morning, shortly after the rain ceased for a while.

After finding our way through the fields, we landed once again on the beach. Not a boardwalk in sight.

rocks, rocks, rocks…
NOTHING BUT ROCKS.
The little creatures you meet along the way. Little pilgrims! Be careful where you step.
I’m not sure which was more challenging, the rocks or the shifting sands…

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.

With a little shift in attitude, beauty was definitely all around us.

Not sure if this was a smile or a condemnation of the cobbles under my feet. Looks like I may have been seething, just under the surface…
There was much of this day where we struggled through dunes and dead-ends and bad directions. The Senda Litoral is definitely tricky through this stretch.

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.

Just shy of 30km. Too many!

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.

 

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

See You in September…

I think we’ve established that I write about my September every year. For some reason, it seems to be my busiest and/or most exciting month. Thinking about this, I just realized how many songs there are about September. Like, A LOT of them! It’s even possible it’s the most sung about month of the year.

See you in September. Do you remember the 21st night of September? You were my September song, tell me where have you gone? Come September, everything wrong gonna be alright.  Oh, I watch myself depending on September when it comes. Ring out the bells again like we did when spring began, wake me up when September ends. It’s going to be September now, for many years to come, every heart adjusting to the strict September drum.

Perhaps, as Leonard Cohen sang, my heart is adjusted to the beat of September’s drum.

At any rate, here’s my annual September post! It’s a busy one this year!

⊗September 13th, I complete another trip around the sun. Hard to believe I will be turning 56 this time. I guess this puts me somewhere into the September of my life. The weather is still beautiful, but you begin to get the hints of the passing of the season. It’s the crispness in the morning, the tang of leaves realizing it is soon time for them to let go, the burning sun lighting up the sky with a special brightness even though its heat is not quite as severe as it once was. There are a million signs that appear in September, warning us that the calendar is slowing drawing its curtains on another year. Even the official end of summer lands in this month. Not to mention, it’s the first BER month.

Like the year on a calendar, we all wind down. I think 56 in human years is a good estimation of the September of one’s life. Right? Things are still good–still great–but you’re getting hints of the impending changes.

Even though it goes against everything that would make sense, September might in fact be my favourite month. SUMMER is my season. Hot, hot, hot…that’s my favourite temperature. And September comes in with the knowing and dreaded whisper, “Summer is dying. The halcyon days will soon be over.” September prepares me, against my wishes (and better judgement), for the coming ugliness of winter. And yet, it’s still the most magical of months.

⊗SEPTEMBER 7th. Let’s rewind a few days! The 7th is the beginning of this year’s magic! That’s the day we board a plane for Portugal. We fly into Lisbon and then take a second flight to Porto, where we will begin a truncated version of the Senda Litoral Route of the Caminho Português (Portuguese Camino, The Portuguese Way, Camino Portugués)! Due to time constraints, we cannot start at the customary beginning point in Lisbon. Here’s our itinerary, which begins on September 10th after a couple of days in Porto:

We will be travelling with John Brierley once again. I think a LOT of pilgrims travel with Brierley’s guides. It almost feels de rigueur at this point.
Porto – Vila Do Conde – 33.9km
Vila Do Conde – Esposende – 26.4km
Esposende – Viana do Castelo – 27.3km
Viana do Castelo – Caminha – 27.1km
Caminha – Baiona – 31.2km
Baiona – Vigo – 26.8km
Vigo – Ponte Samaio – 24.5km
Ponte Sampaio – Caldas de Reis – 33.3km
Caldas de Reis – A Picarana – 28.4km
A Picarana – Santiago de Compostela – 16km
Santiago de Compostela back to Porto by bus.

I’ll wake up in Viana do Castelo on my birthday, and make my way to Caminha. As we walk this leg of the Camino, something else will take place. The release of my 8th novel!

Book of Dreams drops on the 13th of September as we’re walking somewhere along the coast of Portugal having, hopefully, the time of our lives!

The Book.

We don’t come back to Canada until September 25th. The better part of my September this year will unfold in Europe, as we walk the Portuguese coast up into Spain and into the city of Santiago de Compostela. I’ll be arriving at the Cathedral for the 3rd time (previously, I arrived there from the Camino Frances in 2014 & 2019). From there, we will spend some time in Santiago before returning to Porto for a few days. Much is planned, from a Douro Valley Port wine tour, to gastronomical adventures in and around the city.

My September stops quietly back in Toronto, where I will be preparing for my October 1st BOOK OF DREAMS book signing event at the Oshawa Centre Chapters-Indigo bookstore(click this link to learn all about the details of the event)!

If you haven’t yet read the book I wrote after my first experience on the Camino de Santiago, you can read more about THE CAMINO CLUB here(it’s the first book on the Books page of this website).

2 books, 2 years apart!

Now we just have to wait for the calendar to flip over another page!

Come September, everything wrong gonna be alright.  Oh, I watch myself depending on September when it comes...

 

Our Camino Portugues – Senda Litoral Route

We are all set to go forth into the world again, once September comes.

This time, we will be doing the Senda Litoral Route of the Caminho Português (Portuguese Camino, The Portuguese Way, Camino Portugués). And, for the first time, there will be 3 of us walking! Can’t wait for this one… to walk along the coastline of Portugal up and into Spain and make our way to the city of Santiago de Compostela!

Credencials or Pilgrim Passports. These ones were issued for the Holy Year (which is 2021 with a special extension to 2022).

Our walk will be broken down as below, as far as we have it planned so far.

Porto – Vila Do Conde – 33.9km (we are thinking of shaving some of this off by crossing through Porto.)
Vila Do Conde – Esposende – 26.4km
Esposende – Viana do Castelo – 27.3km
Viana do Castelo – Caminha – 27.1km
Caminha – Baiona – 31.2km
Baiona – Vigo – 26.8km
Vigo – Ponte Samaio – 24.5km
Ponte Sampaio – Caldas de Reis – 33.3km
Caldas de Reis – A Picarana – 28.4km
A Picarana – Santiago de Compostela – 16km
Santiago de Compostela back to Porto by bus.
 

We will be walking this Camino in mid-September of 2022. The best place to live-follow our adventures will probably be on my INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT. I usually do daily updates there and then condense into a travel blog post after our return.

We will be travelling with John Brierley once again. I think a LOT of pilgrims travel with Brierley’s guides. It almost feels de rigueur at this point.

I know some of the days may seem a bit long in this itinerary. I’m hoping it’s doable as is. This Camino is definitely less mountainous than the Camino Frances, but there is also a little less infrastructure in places. We shall see.

Now, we wait for September to come as we dream of walking along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and eventually walking inland and reaching the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela once again. This time… it will be for the 3rd time for one of us, for the 2nd time for one of us, and for the 1st time for one of us. #CantWait!

 

 

While you’re here, I wrote a novel set on the Camino Frances route. You can check it out at Amazon here: THE CAMINO CLUB

THIS CAMINO IS NOW IN THE RECORD BOOKS! Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022- 280km in 10 days! PORTO, PORTUGAL to SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, SPAIN.

Here’s a rundown of our 10 days on the Senda Litoral:

DAY 1 LINK

DAY 2 LINK

DAY 3 LINK

DAY 4 LINK

DAY 5 LINK

DAY 6 LINK

DAY 7 LINK

DAY 8 LINK

DAY 9 LINK

DAY 10 LINK