Actually I told my family and friends I was going to head down to Portugal and spend some time somewhere on the coast and reclaim some energy and let my toes recover before meeting my German friends and walking to Finisterre. I also thought I might walk a shortened version of the Portuguese camino and start somewhere near the border catching a bus or two along the way. That way I could see what its like and decide whether I wanted to do it later.
As it turned out Fräulein was heading to Porto to start the camino and so was Suzi from the young ones a day or two later. I thought Why Not drop in to the Fräulein’s hostel before heading up the coast. And maybe even surprise the young one in a day or two.
Then I started thinking why not walk a couple of days out of Porto along the coast instead of just catching a bus or train somewhere. I could still catch a bus if I wanted to. I don’t have to torture myself.
So as if in a trance I headed to Porto, lodged myself in the same hostel as the Fräulein and visited the cathedral and had my pilgrim passport stamped.
Then I started seeing arrows around porto and pilgrims!
The Fräulein arrived and we had a pleasant evening along the waterfront with a nice French girl we had met in the hostel. The next morning the Fräulein intended to look around porto before starting her camino so they both escorted me out of the city limits so I could walk along the river towards the Coastal Camino. Then a policeman spotted me trying to dodge some traffic and roadworks and thought I looked like trouble so he escorted me a little further!
It was actually quite a pleasant walk knowing I was only going 10 kms plus a new German girl in the hostel in Porto had recommended a place in Matosinhos so I had even sent a small package of weight on so I could give my feet a break. I had some serious issues letting luggage out of my hands after the missing luggage saga. I didnt want anything up in that great luggage carousel in the sky again! So in reality the day pack I sent on was a very small package.
Anyway as I walked I enjoyed the giant bridge over the river, and the boats passing by but I was most impressed when I passed a number of public toilets! You may not get excited about this but these type of facilities are unheard of on the camino in Spain!
I arrived at the hostel after emailing ahead to tell them I needed to ensure I had a lower bunk due to the fact I was physically incapable of climbing in and out of bed without risk of great injury! Yep I could walk a thousand miles but give me a top bunk and I am moving out! Luckily I found I was allocated a lower bunk with no-one above. The Hostel was friendly and well located but I had hoped to go for a swim and was sadly disappointed to see the crowds on the beach! All come into town to visit their families no doubt!
I wandered around the town and spotted a few local restauranters cooking up a storm for the tourists and after we had sat watching the birds on the beach for a while, I went with the Other German Girl to have a look at the barbecue experts again.
We went in and out of a few of these establishments trying to locate a giant tiger prawn we could share. Eventually we landed back at the restaurant that had been recommended near our hostel.
I swear all we wanted was to share a giant prawn!
Anyway I was clearly back in the swing of it and had time to walk back to santiago along the Portuguese camino with my friends. I had already decided to use a ride share a few kilometres out of town and walk to Vila do Conde before transferring to the Portugues Central route.
As interesting as it was walking along and looking at the fishing villages and breathing the fresh ocean air, the views were quite a disappointment because the mist didnt clear until after we’d finished walking and the camino spirit was somewhat drowned out by the tourists visiting the ocean to catch some rays before the European winter sets in.
In the albergue in Matsohinos there were Canadians, Germans, Ukranian, Swiss, a few French ladies, a couple of other Europeans and of course me! One Aussie!
So in the morning I took my ride (as suggested by Zebra actually) and was dropped the other side of the oil refinery outside Matosinhos so I could start my walk up the coast. Fräulein caught up with me an hour or two into the trek up to Vila do Conde – she had walked from Porto in the one day – we were both a little underwhelmed having experienced the community of the Frances and I think also the vistas as we walked were not as exciting.
I certainly enjoyed looking at some of the villagers go about their activities but I was missing the camaraderie of the Camino. A number of pilgrims were passing by but there were far more tourists and locals and more of the same around each bend in the track.
I liked the fact that someone was hammering the loose boards down on the boardwalk but I found it difficult constantly concentrating on whether a board was sticking up ready to be the cause of my next undoing!
Aside from the loose boardwalk challenge I liked to engage with locals as I passed. This gentleman was very kind – he was even taking his Octopus and squid for a walk!
The plan for the next day was for me to use some form of transport to get over to Barcelos and the Portuguese Central Camino and for Fraulein to walk over to Barcelos – Home of the Portugues Rooster. Then, The Young One could catch up to us. You can walk faster when you are younger you know!
Meanwhile I figured if I walked another 200km on this camino it would result in a grand total of 2000 camino kilometres for me! Why not! In for a penny in for a pound I say. You only live once. May as well make the most of my time while I’m here – sitting around with my feet up relaxing just didnt seem appropriate somehow. So here goes again!