CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 17

Vila do Conde – Esposende

12 April 2018

24.2km

Today is a relatively short stage … which is great, because … yes, 100% rain is forecasted!

There was a light drizzle when we left Hostel Bellamar and we quickly enjoyed an apple and yoghurt at the rio Ave before we took off to Esposende.

A quick breakfast at the rio Ave in Vila do Conde

Today’s stage is pretty much as flat as a pancake (that’s one of the pro’s when walking the Senda Litoral 😃). We hope to have the same nice views than that of yesterday.

One can either walk through the town of Vila do Conde or you can choose the the coastal route … of course we turned towards the ocean!

The wooden ship model at Vila do Conde:

Just after we left our hostel, we walked past a beautiful wooden ship. We understood that in the 16th century the Vila do Conde shipyard built the caravels and vessels that departed to discover new land. Today, they apparently still continue the tradition by building miniature boats that are true masterpieces.

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A replica of the wooden ships that were built in the 16th century in Vila do Conde

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I think this lady has been waiting for someone for a very long time – I thought maybe it would be a good idea to sit next to her to wait for the sun to come out … but that might also take a very long time

The rain is back:

We continued walking along the river, until we reached the ocean again. And then, as predicted, the rain began to fall. It’s always amazing to see how the sea changes colour depending on the weather. On sunny days it is a beautiful deep blue, but on rainy days it turns into different shades of grey.

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Forte de Sao Joao Baptista – a fortification that was active for 200 years defending the shipyards in the rio Ave from attacks by pirates and privateers

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Grey skies and a grey ocean – the rain started to come down as we left Vila do Conde

Get out of the rain and find coffee:

When we got to Povoa de Varzim, the rain started to come down in buckets and we had no other choice than headed for the first café we saw along the Promenade. The owner of the café looked bemused at us – he probably could not think that anyone in their right mind would want to walk in these weather conditions … we were hoping that a hot cup of coffee would help us to get back on the road again!

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A rain storm in Povoa de Varzim was the reason for an early visit to a café

Beautiful azulejos tile paintings:

Eventually the hard rain changed into just a drizzle and we could continue our walk. We saw the most beautiful azulejos tile paintings (“Paineis de Azulejos”) that line the beach wall on the Praia do Leixao. These beautiful paintings depict the fishing heritage of Povoa de Varzim.

The “Paineis de Azulejos” on the beach wall is telling a story about the fishermen of Povoa de Varzim

Camino signs everywhere:

The coastal route has great boardwalks that run along the sandy beaches. We could see the famous signs of the Camino almost constantly. The Camino is definitely better waymarked from Porto than what it is from Lisbon.

Camino signs on the coastal route from Vila do Conde to Esposende

It must be great to walk this stretch on a sunny day, but we had to hide behind our rain jackets’ hoodies for the persistent rain.

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At least we could still smile while walking the Camino in the rain

We are hungry & cold – where is an open bar?

We were wet to the bone and bitterly cold. I would say we were in desperate need of shelter and something to eat, but could not find any open café or bar along the beach … and we were not in the mood to leave the trail and walk inland to try and find a café in one of the smaller beach towns.

A meal fitted for royalty:

At last, we found a small café with a door that was almost open … we took advantage of this and walked in – drenched, cold and hungry! There were no menu, but we ordered several cups of coffee and a big plate of fresh French fries (or “chips” as we call it in South Africa) … it was probably the best meal of the week!

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On a wet and cold day, French fries can be the best meal ever!

NO! to the cobbled walkways … YES! to the boardwalks:

It was such a pleasure to walk on the boardwalks; it’s even and light under your feet. However, I could not say the same of the cobbled walkways in the towns or where the boardwalks stopped. It was really hard to walk on these and the unevenness made it difficult (and painful) to walk on, especially when you are nursing several blisters! But for some reason, the Portuguese love their cobbled walkways, because we would see them every day!

Boardwalks vs Cobbled walkways … I know which one I prefer

Finding our way inland:

Somewhere along the way, we lost the coastal route and walked the last 7km inland. It did not really matter, because we were more exposed to the rain and wind along the coast. And surprisingly, there was only a light drizzle as we continued on the inland route. The woodland paths were a welcome change from the cobbled walkways. A few kilometres later the coastal route joined the inland (central) route and continued for another 3km until we walked into Esposende.

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The bridge over the rio Cavado leads to Esposende

The rain stopped for a brief moment as we walked into Esposende.

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Berto at the welcoming Camino sign in Esposende

Accommodation – Esposende:

Another great accommodation:

We found our way to our hostel, Hostel Eleven, easily. The friendly staff showed us around in the beautiful hostel. It has a modern communal kitchen, equipped with all the necessary utensils you might need in order to prepare dinner.

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On our way to Hostel Eleven – try and stay off the cobbled stone way if you have blistered feet!

Ah, a warm and dry bed:

It was a short, but hard day! The rain, that followed us for days now, made it a challenge (again) and we literally fell down on our bunk beds in relief that we survived another rainy day!

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Relieve to find a warm and dry dorm – our room in Hostel Eleven

Do we even dare and hope for a dry day tomorrow?

Click here for Day 18 …

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