I will start off with a small disclaimer: I didn’t finish. My blisters became too much and on top of that, I fell ill with a whooping cough and was unable to continue. I pushed my body too hard in such a short amount of time and I wish I had done things a little differently, but I had a great time seeing what I could on my 80-mile pilgrimage up the coast of Portugal and Spain. I will write a more in-depth reflection piece in the days to come, but until then, enjoy the bones of my journey!
Saturday, 16 September: My flight to Porto left at 5AM, so needless to say, I had to be up really early (about 2AM) to get the coach to the airport. By the time I got to my hostel and looked up things to do, I found a walking tour that was leaving promptly, so I ran to make it. The walking tour gave us a taste of the city’s interesting history. My personal favorite parts were the Santa Clara church, cathedral (which is actually the original starting point of the Camino, so I started my Camino passport with a stamp from that cathedral) (for those who don’t know, you get a certificate of completion for you get stamps twice a day from hostels, churches, tourist offices, etc. along the last 100 kilometers of your walk) and the riverside. With the early start I had, I took a nap, ate dinner, blogged (the hostel had some desktops computers from which I wrote this bit of the post), read and got an early night.
Sunday, 17 September: I took a train from Porto to Vila do Conde to save myself an extra 16 miles (25.6 kilometers). The first part of the day took me along the beach, then through small rural villages inland leading me to the seaside village of Esposende, where I stopped for the day. The hostel I found was full, but thy let me sleep on the sleeper sofa in reception area for a discounted price, which was surprisingly comfortable. Then again, after the walk I had, I could have slept comfortably on a slab of stone.
- Walked: 18.2 miles (23.3 kilometers)
- Highlight: A few miles along the coast, I found a bar where I got my first stamp and encountered my first distinct signposting, what a relief!
- Lowlight: The language barrier. I don’t understand a lick of Portuguese which is really difficult in villages where English is hard to come by.