CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 20

Caminha (Portugal) – Tui  (Spain)

15 April 2018

29.9km (Brierley’s Guidebook)

44.3km (Our walk)

Our last day of walking in Portugal … if all goes well, we are sleeping in Spain tonight.

We were happy to see it was only 29.9km according to our Brierley guide book, but at the end of the day, we had 44.3km on the clock 😳… by following an arrow we were not supposed to …

Some pilgrims take the ferry here at Caminha and then walks from A Guarda via the bridge in Vila Nova de Cerveira. But we decided to stay a bit longer in Portugal and take the riverside route, mostly pedestrian track and pathways.

img_2385

A beautiful morning with the Minho River almost looking like a mirror

There were a couple of early morning locals busy setting up small stalls for a morning market next to the Minho River and they showed us the way out of Caminha.

About 3km after we left Caminha, we reached Cementerio. It was such a quiet and calm morning and though we were not walking along the sea, we had the beautiful river in our sight.

img_2386

Chapel of Sao Bento in Seixas

img_2387

Over the railway between Cementerio and Seixas

We knew the pathway is next to the river today and we were looking forward walking on the new “Ecopista” (2017) which was built especially for pedestrians and cyclists.

img_2388

The Minho River in the early morning mist

img_2389

The early morning mist that was hanging over the river, changed 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 were able to buy coffee – ah, morning bliss! On our way out, we also bought fresh bread rolls and a packet of crisps (to enjoy next to the river later).

When we walked out of the café, we were busy talking … and only slightly noticed a yellow arrow that showed the way to the left. We followed this road – a steep uphill – for some time. Berto mentioned it was strange that we were walking uphill if we were supposed to walk alongside the river.

img_2391

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 down to the river, but the arrows kept on directing us left and right and left and right … and more inland!

We know (now) that we should have taken the road straight down to the river the moment we realised that we were going inland. The lesson to learn here is to trust your instinct! But instead, we kept on following the (wrong) arrows …. and kept on moving further and further inland.

And then it started to rain … 🤨… so, between trying to get our rain jackets out of our backpacks, while simultaneously trying to follow the arrows, we lost track of time … oh well, we actually lost the way!

I did manage to take a couple of photo’s – between the rain and getting lost – but cannot tell you exactly where it was … but we can confirm it was definitely between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira.

Here are a couple of photo’s that were taken on our “unexpected detour”:

Between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira

Also between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira 🙃

As we reached a high point, we could see the river in the distance. Berto said we should stop following any arrows and rather take the shortest route back down to the Minho River.

img_2397

Now it was time to get back to the Minho River

And then, after more than an hour, we were eventually back at the river – just in time to see a big sign indicating we have reached Vila Nova de Cerveira!

img_2405

What a relief to see we are now at Vila Nova de Cerveira

We realised we have walked close to 15km (almost double the distance we were supposed to walk)!

At least, the sun was out and we found a bench next to the river where we could just rest for a while after walking a “mini Camino stage” in an hour and a half!

It was only then that we read in our Brierley guide book there is actually a route called the “Caminho da Senhora do Norte” that continues from Lanhelas into Valenca on an inland path … that must have been the arrows that we were following.

We laughed at our own stupidity … we missed an arrow and while following the wrong one, we unexpectedly explored the inland between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira! Great. Ok, now that this confusion was sorted out, we could start walking the real stage 😁.

We enjoyed the view over the river while having a bread roll filled with crisps

I must admit, the path along the riverbank of the Minho was pure pleasure for a hiker. For almost 8km you walk uninterrupted along the river on this pathway.

img_2409

The river path along the Minho River

img_2411

For almost 8km, the only “traffic” is the occasional pedestrian or cyclist

Facilities are few along the river (and we did not even think about walking off the route again), so we decided to have a small picnic at a recreation area near Montorros.

img_2412

Picnic time. But our backpacks did not deliver much … only a few balls of cheese and two salami sticks

We knew of a café that one can find at the Montorrosa recreation area (café S Paio), but that is normally only open in summer time. That was indeed the case and we had to walk on.

img_2416

The pathway (Ecopista) along the river continued

We then got to another isolated café (which is also, according to our Brierley guide book, only open in summer), but we heard music and took a chance and knock on the door.

A young man opened the door and invited us in. It seemed as if they had a small family gathering in the café (probably the owner of the café) … but they did offer us coffee and we could also bought some cold drinks and chocolates. I don’t think they were actually open to the public (or pilgrims), but that they were busy enjoying a family lunch in their café). We were grateful that they had it in their hearts to help us out and thanked them for their hospitality.

Our suggestion: If you walk the Ecopista (and it is outside summer), make sure you buy something to eat and drink in Vila Nova de Cerveira. Vila Nova de Cerveira is about halfway between Caminha and Valenca and with (almost) no open cafes (in spring), it is essential to have supplies with you to enjoy next to the river.

img_2420

The Ecopista continued until we reached Ponte medieval

Ancient stone bridge, the Ponte medieval da Veiga da Mira

From here, the Camino follows the rail line all the way into the outskirts of Valenca. The yellow arrows took us through a muddy area in a deserted farming land and we, once again, had to deal with lots of mud on our shoes! Eventually we reached the paved ways that would take us into Valenca.

img_2425

In Valenca – what a day!

This was however not yet the end of our day … we still had to continue another 3.4km to Tui in Spain … as if we did not walk enough already today!

We took a brisk walk through the citadel (and wished we had more time to explore this site), but after almost 40km, we were more than ready to get to 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.

img_2428

The bridge that would take us into Spain

img_2429

The last photo on Portuguese soil – what an wonderful country with such amazing people!

We crossed the International bridge that runs over the Minho River and took us into Tui in Spain.

img_2433

Berto on his way to Spain

dsc04041

I suppose, if you stand in the middle of this sign, you are simultaneously in Portugal and Spain 😜

And then … without even a trumpet blowing, we crossed the border and found ourselves in Spain.

dsc04043

It’s official – we are in Spain. Hola Espana!

We immediately saw the signs and way marks that indicated 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 kilometres on cobblestones in Portugual, the even pavement under my feet was much better for my blistered feet 😌. Berto, on the other hand, loved the cobblestones … but he had no blisters!

img_2441

I will miss a lot of things from our walk in Portugal, but not their cobblestoned walkways 😬… the even pavement was like a soft pillow under my feet

Before we even got to our albergue, we first head for a café where we enjoyed the biggest beers we could get!

img_2442

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 stay in Valenca), ended on 44.3km. We did add an extra 3.4km by walking to Tui, but the other “unaccounted kilometres” must have been our “mini Camino” between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira.

Accommodation – Tui:

Albergue San Martin

Our albergue was close to the café and we checked into Albergue San Martin where we had our own room (this was a bonus after such a hard day!)

We had a long and hot shower and did not even bother to do our laundry … it was already late afternoon and we were just too tired! We had barely enough energy to walk to the closest restaurant to enjoy pizza for dinner.

img_2447

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 was not even dark outside … I will never forget our last day of walking in Portugal!

Just before I fell asleep, I was thinking about our amazing time in Portugal …

  • We will miss their food,
  • Their beautiful country (especially those ocean 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 …

5 comments

    • 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

      Like

  1. 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!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s