DAY 17


VILA DO CONDE – ESPOSENDE

12 APRIL 2018

24.2km

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

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

Me and Berto 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 take the “Senda Litoral” – we’ve opted for the coastal route (of course).

Just after we’ve left our hostel, we’ve walked passed a beautiful wooden ship. We’ve learned 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 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 ☺️

We’ve continued along the river, until we’ve got to the ocean again. And then, as predicted, the rain started to fall. It’s always amazing to see how the ocean changes colour depending on the weather. On sunny days, it is a beautiful deep blue, but on rainy days it changes into a grey mass of water.

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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’ve left Vila do Conde

When we’ve got to Povoa de Varzim, the rain started to come down in buckets and we’ve headed for the first café we’ve seen along the Promenade. The owner of the café looked bemused at us – he probably could not think that anyone would want to walk in these weather conditions … but we thought 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

Eventually the hard rain changed into a drizzle and we could continue our journey. We’ve seen 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

The coastal route has great boardwalks that run alongside the sandy beaches. We could see the well-known signs of the Camino every now and then. The Camino is definitely better waymarked from Porto than what it is from Lisbon.

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

It must be great to walk this stretch on a sunny day, but we literally 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 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 walk inland to try and find a café in one of the smaller beach towns.

At last, we’ve found a small café with a door that was almost open … we’ve taken advantage of this and walked in – drenched, cold and hungry! We’ve ordered several cups of coffee and a big plate of fresh French fries (or “chips” as we call it in South Africa) … 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!

The boardwalks was such a pleasure to walk on – 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 loved their cobbled walkways, because we would see them every day!

Boardwalks vs Cobbled walkways … there was no question which one I’ve preferred

Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the coastal route and walked the last 7km inland. It did not really matter, because we were anyway more exposed to the rain and wind along the coast. And surprisingly, there was only a light drizzle as we’ve 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’ve reached Esposende.

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The bridge over the rio Cavado that takes us into Esposende

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

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Berto at the welcoming Camino sign in Esposende

Accommodation – Esposende:

We’ve 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.

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The street where you will find Hostel Eleven – try and stay off the cobbled stone way if you have blistered feet!

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’ve survived another rainy day!

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What a pleasure to get into a warm and dry dorm – our room in Hostel Eleven

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

Categories: Portuguese Camino (April 2018)

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