May 31, 2019
Last night I collapsed in the first restaurant I found with an empty seat. At least it looked like a restaurant. They fed me.
What I ate is a mystery.
I didn’t spill anything on my shirt so there was not chance a forensic investigation could reveal what I had forgotten due to severe jet lag. I don’t really even remember walking back to the Gallery Hostel.
Best part is I woke up this morning in the right bed, and my watch said I had almost 7 hours of sleep. Jet lag is good for something.
This morning was a relatively relaxed affair. My plan was to walk 22 km or so and then call it quits for the day. No need to stress myself on the first day, take it easy and get into this slowly. At least this was the plan.
The guidebook I use is by an Irishman called John Brierly, and he recommends taking the Metro through the industrial section forming the outskirts of Porto….so on the Metro I go. It is a really short ride, but it does cut out a substantially miserable area. I’m wanting to have a shorter day….this advice looks to be good. Thanks John.
That is until I actually get off the Metro and discover I have only cut out about half of the awful stuff. I now have to find my way to the Camino, and it is about 4 km from the train station. Walking beside shipping containers and trucks is not my favorite. Big surprise.
There is something you should know. When walking any Camino you are always looking for yellow arrows indicating you are on the right path. When you need a yellow arrow, generally one is somewhere to be found. Unfortunately some are worn, even in a few cases defaced. I always suspect business owners behind some of these vandalized arrows hoping pilgrims making he “error” end up at their shop. Enough people making this error would be a significant amount of business….but I digress. When I saw my first Yellow Arrow my shoulders dropped and I felt I was secure….I knew I was where I needed to be. It’s a good feeling.
Before long I saw the ocean, and immediately turned right. Directions are simple for the day…..keep the Atlantic on your left and keep going. There were a smattering of other pilgrims. When I would walk past a bar or a restaurant it was common to see a backpack or two.
The weather was absolutely stunning. Not a cloud in the sky, a bit of a breeze….perfect beach weather. Perfect walking weather, not so. There is no shade anywhere. This is just the thing if you are working on your tan….but shade would have been very much appreciated starting around 10 in the morning. The biggest concern was consuming enough water. I left the Hostel in the morning with a liter and a half of water in my drinking system, and soon realized this was not going to be enough. I decided to purchase another litre just before getting to the shoreline, and then around noon bought another 2 litres…..and was powering through this.
Right around noon I came to an historic fishing village. I say historic because this village and thee main industry has been here for centuries. Here’s the other bit of a negative walking this route on the coast. This is 100% a tourist area. On the right you will see continuous development….developers are responding to the demand for places at the seaside. As there is a continuous demand for restaurants and bars this need was answered as well. These shop owners have you trapped, and I pretty sure they don’t consider their business to be booming in the winter. As a result the prices are quite inflated. Normally I try to budget lunch around 8 Euros….or so. Lunch today was 26 Euros. A wonderful piece of swordfish, cooked vegetables , and potatoes. Please turn away from Portugal…..I forgot to mention the insane amount of olive oil and garlic used in the preparation of this meal. It was fabulous.
When they asked if I wanted wine with my meal I said “yes please” thinking this was a good idea. My server asked if I wanted a “small or large”…..I said small was quite fine. Little did I know small means a half-bottle. My server informed me they do not have glasses of wine, only half and full bottles. After having a solid glass and a half I decided to leave the rest….wobbly pop isn’t the best idea in this heat. And I was certainly wobbling for the next 20 minutes. Lesson learned. Stay away from wine at lunch.
My body was doing surprisingly well in that I had not training once again. Transitory pains were there and then not…. but my Plantar Fasciitis has come back in a big way. I’ll have to see what this is about, and if it settles down. Other than that….feeling pretty good.
Walking beside the beach gives you an opportunity to see a lot of people in their swim suits enjoying the weather, sand, and surf. Now, call me old fashioned, but I am not a fan of those bathing suits that consist of a near invisible thread running up between the wearers cheeks. When I see this I avert my eyes immediately. I know you may be saying “You need to get with this times, old timer”. Sorry, but I just don’t think this is appropriate for any man to wear. I also do admit when I see a couple wearing matching suits I am conflicted…..but aver my eyes just to be sure.
I finally made it to Vila do Conde….not after 22km, but almost 30km. A very long day to be sure. I suspect I will be hurting a bit in the morning.
I had to try 3 hostels before I found a bed for the night. 20 Euros, and there are 3 beds in the room. I’ll take it! There’s the other difficulty taking this route. These are tourist areas, and the summer is upon Portugal. The Portuguese are out in force, taking up the beds, the rooms, and everything in between.
The Central Route it will be from tomorrow.