Caminha (Portugal) – Tui (Spain)
15 April 2018
29.9km (Brierley’s Guidebook)
44.3km (Our walk)
Our last day of hiking in Portugal … if all goes well, we’ll be sleeping in Spain tonight.
We were pleased to see it was only 29.9km according to our Brierley guidebook, but at the end of the day we had 44.3km on the clock 😳 … by following an arrow we weren’t supposed to!
Some pilgrims prefer to take the ferry here at Caminha and then walk from A Guarda via the bridge in Vila Nova de Cerveira. However, we decided to stay a little longer in Portugal and take the route along the river, which is mostly a pedestrian track/pathway.
A beautiful morning with the Minho River looking like a mirror
There were some early morning locals setting up small stalls for their Sunday morning market along the Minho River and they showed us the way out of Caminha.
About 3km after leaving Caminha, we reached Cementerio. It was such a quiet and calm morning and even though we didn’t walk along the sea, we had the beautiful river in our sight.
Chapel of Sao Bento in Seixas
Over the railway between Cementerio and Seixas
We knew the path was along the river today and were looking forward to walking on the new “Ecopista” (2017) specially built for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Minho River in the early morning mist
The early morning mist that hung over the river, turned the pathways into a fairyland
About 7km into today’s stage we approached Lanhelas and thought it would be a good idea to walk off the Camino route to find an open café. At a small corner café we could buy coffee – ah, morning happiness! On the way out we also bought fresh bread rolls and a packet of crisps (to enjoy later by the river).
As we walked out of the café, we were chatting … and only vaguely noticed a yellow arrow pointing the way to the left. We followed this road – a steep uphill – for some time. Berto mentioned that it was strange that we were walking uphill when we were supposed to be walking along the river.
Walking uphill in Lanhelas after we left the café … were we not supposed to go downhill to the river?
At first we thought it was just a detour back to the river, but the arrows kept directing us left and right and left and right … and further inland!
We know (now) that we should have taken the road straight to the river the moment we realised we were going inland. The lesson to learn here is to trust your gut! But instead, we kept following the (wrong) arrows … and moved further and further inland.
And then it started raining! While trying to get our rain jackets out of our backpacks and following the arrows at the same time, we lost time … oh well, we actually lost the way!
I did manage to take some photos – between the rain and getting lost – but can’t tell you exactly where it was … but we can confirm it was definitely between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira.
Here are some photos taken on our “unexpected detour”:
Between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira
Also between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira
When we reached a high point, we could see the river in the distance. Berto concluded that we should no longer follow any arrows, but instead take the shortest route back to the Minho River.
Time to get back to the Minho River
And then, after more than an hour when we walked out of the café, we were finally back at the river – just in time to see a big sign indicating that we had reached Vila Nova de Cerveira!
Walking into Vila Nova de Cerveira
We realised that we had walked almost 15km (double the distance we were supposed to walk)!
Fortunately, the sun made its appearance just as we found a bench by the river where we could rest for a while after walking a “mini Camino stage” in an hour and a half!
It wasn’t until we read in our Brierley guide that there is actually a route called the “Caminho da Senhora do Norte” that continues from Lanhelas to Valenca on an inland path … it must have been the arrows for this route that we were following.
We laughed at our own stupidity! We missed an arrow and then followed the wrong one, which meant we unexpectedly explored the inland between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira! Great. Ok, now that this confusion is sorted out, we could start walking the real stage.
We enjoyed the river view while having a bread roll filled with crisps
To our surprise, we actually enjoyed the riverside path of the Minho River. We walked for almost 8km uninterrupted along the river on this pathway.
The river path along the Minho River
For almost 8km, the only “traffic” is the occasional pedestrian or cyclist
Facilities are few along the river (and we didn’t dare to walk off the trail again), so we decided to have a picnic at a recreation area near Montorros.
Oh … our backpacks did not deliver much – only a few balls of cheese and two salami sticks
We read about a café at the Montorrosa recreation area (café S Paio), but also that it is only open in the summer time. This was indeed the case and we had to move on.
The pathway (Ecopista) along the river continued
After walking for a while, we came across another secluded café (according to our Brierley guide book this café is also only open during summer). However, we heard music and people’s voices inside and went to knock on the door.
A young man opened the door and invited us inside. It looked like they had a small family gathering in the café (probably the owner of the café) but they offered us coffee and we were also able to buy soft drinks and chocolates. I don’t think they were actually open to the public (or pilgrims), but rather that they were enjoying a family lunch in their own café. We were very happy that they helped us and thanked them for their hospitality.
Our suggestion is: If you walk the Ecopista (and it’s not during summer), make sure you buy food and drinks in Vila Nova de Cerveira. Vila Nova de Cerveira is about halfway between Caminha and Valenca and with almost no cafés open (at least during spring), it’s essential to have supplies with you to enjoy by the river.
The Ecopista continued until we reached Ponte medieval
Ancient stone bridge, the Ponte medieval da Veiga da Mira
From here the Camino follows the railway to the outskirts of Valenca. The yellow arrows took us through a muddy area in a deserted farm land and we once again had to deal with a lot of mud on our shoes! Finally we reached the paved roads that would take us into Valenca.
In Valenca – what a day!
However, this was not the end of our day. We had to walk another 3.4km to Tui in Spain … as if we hadn’t walked enough today!
We quickly walked through the citadel (wishing we had more time to explore this site), but after almost 40km we were more than ready to reach Tui!
A quick walk through the citadel in Valenca
And then we saw the landmark that would indicate we were getting closer to the end of our Portuguese Camino … the International bridge between Portugal and Spain.
The bridge that would take us to Spain
The last photo on Portuguese soil – what a wonderful country with amazing people
We crossed the International bridge that spans the Minho River and took us to Tui in Spain.
Berto on his way to Spain
I suppose, if you stand in the middle of this sign, you are in Portugal and Spain at the same time
And then, without even blowing a trumpet, we crossed the border and found ourselves in Spain.
It’s official – we are in Spain. Hola Espana!
We immediately saw the signs and waymarks indicating that we were still on the Portuguese Camino.
On the Portuguese Camino, but now in Spain
The first thing I noticed was that there were no more cobblestones. After walking hundreds of kilometers on cobblestones in Portugal, the even pavement beneath my feet was much better for my blistered feet. Berto, on the other hand, loved the cobblestones … but he had no blisters!
I will miss many things about our walk in Portugal, but not their cobblestoned walkways
Even before we got to our albergue, we walked straight to the first café where we ordered the biggest beers on their menu!
After walking almost a full day and a distance of 44km, this was the best beer ever!
What should have been an easy walk of 29.9km (if you decide to spend the night in Valenca) ended up being 44.3km. We did add an extra 3.4km by walking to Tui, but the other “unaccounted for kilometres” must have been our “mini Camino” between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira.
Accommodation – Tui:
Our albergue was close to the café and we checked into Albergue San Martin where we had our own room (what a bonus after an exhausting day)!
We took a long and hot shower and didn’t even bother to do our laundry. It was already late afternoon and we were just too tired to struggle with dirty clothes too! We barely had enough energy to walk to the nearest restaurant to enjoy pizza for dinner.
A cat under our table in the restaurant where we had pizza, received some TLC (and small pieces of pizza)
We went to bed early – it wasn’t even dark outside yet … I’ll never forget our last day of hiking in Portugal!
Just before I fell asleep, I thought about our amazing time in Portugal …
- We will miss their food,
- Their beautiful country (especially those sea walks from Porto),
- Even the rainy days are imprinted in my mind,
- And of course, the warmth and kindness of the Portuguese people,
- But most of all … yes, their tasty Pastel de natas!
Click here for Day 21 …
7 thoughts on “CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 20”
Your wonderful blog will help us plan our upcoming Portugués coastal Camino. Thank you and I really enjoy all your photography!
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We’re glad you have enjoyed our blog. The Coastal route was beautiful and I’m sure you will enjoy every aspect thereof. I wish now we have taken more photo’s, so don’t forget to take as much photo’s as you possibly can! Bom Caminho
Ouch, that was a lengthy detour, 44k. in a day is some hike, well done. I must admit that a guilty pleasure of mine is crisp sandwiches although maybe it is not really so guilty. Tayto cheese and onion on white bread is my favourite, great with a bowl of tomato soup!
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Love-love crisp sandwiches (on fresh white bread) … it’s worth the heartburn afterwards 😉
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The photographs here are wonderful. What a long walk on empty tummies! I began to get hunger pangs for you! So here is a question: When you cross from Portugal into Spain do you immediately begin to speak Spanish? A mixture?
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It was the furthest we’ve ever walked in one day (and usually we’re prepared, especially when it comes to food, but obviously not on this day)! But ironically, it’s also the day with some of the most beautiful scenery … so I suppose it balances out, right? After we walked over the bridge you immediately heard Spanish (and in Portugal they don’t like you speaking Spanish at all) … so there is a clear distinction in languages even just by crossing a bridge!