CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 18

Esposende – Viana do Castelo

13 April 2018

25.6km

It rained all night, but when we got up this morning, it was only partly cloudy … it might just be possible that today, Friday the 13th, won’t bring us bad luck 😄.

We have decided not to take the Senda Litoral today, but rather stay inland. Our Brierley guidebook did make a note that the Senda Litoral’s waymarks are a bit obscure and that you might need time to back-track where necessary. Maybe it was time for a walk through the nice smelling woodlands …

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“Men of the Sea” monument in Esposende. They symbolise the efforts of local people fishing

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Leaving Esposende early morning – still no rain – yeah!

We only walked a short stage on the comfortable boardwalks – hopefully we’ll be back on these again tomorrow. According to our calculations, we now have two days left in Portugal, before we cross the border to Spain. It was a wonderful experience and we can honestly say that the Portuguese people were always friendly and helpful.

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The last of the boardwalks for today, on our way out of Esposende

The Camino signs were everywhere today! It was such a familiar sight and great to see them – it meant we were going in the right direction.

Welcome on the Portuguese Camino

As we walked into Marinhas, we heard an old Portuguese lady calling. She instructed us to stop at her house’s front gate and entered her house. A few seconds later she came back with two oranges… after taking a good look at us, she gave the big orange to Berto and the smaller one to me 😅.

We smiled and thanked her in our broken Portuguese. For almost 400km we have walked passed these big orange orchards and some days just wished for an orange … and eventually, a day or two before we leave Portugal, we were offered oranges by one of the locals out of their own garden – happiness!

In Belinho we stopped for a coffee where I had the opportunity to take a photo of the two oranges …

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Two oranges offered by a local out of her garden – no guess here which orange belongs to whom

From here onwards a delightful stretch of woodland paths followed that took us to the high point of the day above the rio Nieva (140m).

It’s been a couple of days since we last found ourselves in the forest and we enjoyed this stretch

Loved the hike in the woodlands between Belinho and Ponte Neiva

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For a change, there were a few uphills and we had to choose our steps carefully between the loose rocks

At Ponte Neiva we came to the pedestrian bridge over the rio Nieva. We have read in Brierley’s guide book that this river might be in flood sometimes and then you may need to retrace your steps back and take the road bridge – fortunately it wasn’t necessary for us to do that!

The stone bridge over the Nieva River

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A steep uphill after we crossed the Nieva River

I did mentioned earlier about the numerous amount of Camino signs we saw on today’s journey. After the lack of these signs for at least the first two weeks, we were happy to see all these signs!

Camino signs in abundance between Ponte Neiva and Chafé

In Igreja we could hear the beautiful sound of church bells ringing and on top of the hill we saw the Santiago de Castelo do Neiva, the oldest consecration to the apostle ever found outside Spain.

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The Santiago de Castelo do Neiva in Igreja

We saw two pilgrims leaving the church and decided to have a look inside. It is a small church, but beautifully decorated. There was a visitor’s book and next to that, a basket filled with fruit and small packets of cookies that were offered to pilgrims for free. We signed the book and took a small packet of cookies – it might come in handy for the last 10km.

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Berto signing the visitor’s book in the Santiago de Castelo do Neiva

We walked another few kilometres through woodlands, which meant we did not escape the muddy paths! Oh my, as if we have not seen enough of these for a lifetime!

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What is a day on the Portuguese Camino without a walk in a muddy pathway

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The last of the forest paths for the day – it was a great stretch to walk on our way to Viana do Castelo

The oranges we received earlier from one of the locals and small packet of cookies we got from the church in Igreja was not enough to keep our stomachs full and just before Darque we found a nice lookout. It was a great place to stop where we could enjoy our lunch (the usual hard boiled eggs and cheese).

Lunch time for a tired pilgrim! In the distance is Viana do Castelo

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A local on his farming vehicle in Darque – towards the end of a long walk, I would not say no for a lift on one of these

We could sense that we were getting closer to a bigger town as we had to cross the busy N-13 and with this, the traffic increased.

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The rio Lima estuary and Viana do Castelo beyond

On our way into Viana do Castelo we saw two pilgrims in front of us. They were packed with pots and pans that were hanging from their backpacks … I have no idea how it was possible to walk with all of these swinging around you! But by now, I know that no pilgrim is the same and some prefer to have more stuff with them than others.

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Two pilgrims were walking in front of us just before we reached Viana do Castelo. By the look of their backpacks, they must be camping

Accommodation – Viana do Castelo:

Hostel Maca de Eva

We struggled initially to find our hostel for the evening, Hostel Maca de Eva, but after walking a few streets up and down, we got there and checked in.

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Hostel Maca de Eva in Viana do Castelo

Just next to the hostel, were a big group of children busy rehearsing for a concert that would take place that evening. It was great to just sit there and watch them performing while singing and dancing.

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A group of children rehearsing for a concert close to our hostel

As we were sitting in the sun in the square, we could see the Monte Santa Luzia, a magnificent monument that dominates the skyline of Viana do Castelo. But after reading that it’s a very steep climb up innumerable steps, we decided to just take a photo from a distance 🙂. (It was only later that we heard there is a funicular that takes tourists up the mountain).

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Monte Santa Luzia seen from the square in Viana do Castelo

And so, Friday the 13th ends in perfect sunny weather – no bad luck for us today!

Tomorrow will be our last day of walking in Portugal – we will be sad to leave Portugal, but also excited to see Spain again!

Click here for Day 19 …

 

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