Portugal
Vila Velha

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    • Day 3

      Day 2 - Aldeia Nova to Povoa de Varzim

      June 2 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 64 °F

      The sunset last night was spectacular, the color shifting from the blues of day to the oranges and reds of rest. A lone swimmer made her way out to water and had a choreographed dance to the fading light.

      My moment of bliss was short-lived. When I arrived back at my albergue the American couple in the room next to mine still had their TV on. It had been playing for over eight hours. I don't think they were actually watching it because I could also hear their conversation (which is how I knew they were American). They appeared to have it on just for background noise. The problem was that the walls were so thin that I could hear it planely. Somehow they had found an American channel that played back to back reality TV shows - fix a restaurant, flip a house, find a lover. I was annoyed as I couldn't nap, read or write with the distraction. Instead I took a trip to a cafe, then to the beach, later to dinner, and finally the sunset, coming home each time to find the boob tube still making me annoyed.

      Last year I was in Spain for the Champions League final (soccer). I sat in a bar with local sports fanatics and it was a spectacle! Last night was this year's final. I hadn't found a bar this time but knew I could find it on the TV in my room. My team had been knocked out earlier in the competition so I wasn't nearly as interested as last year. I intended to put the second half of the game on and mute the commentary, but after arriving back to my room I opted instead to turn the commentary up. It was in German. I didn't turn it up loud. I didn't need to. The walls were that thin. Within 10 minutes the Spanish team scored a couple of goals with not much time remaining. I turned off the TV and there was blissful silence from the other room. I left the alburgue this morning before they woke up. I imagine they assume I must be a German pilgrim.

      ***

      The morning light was spectacular. The beaches were pristine and empty except for the waves and the sea birds.

      ***

      I've learned that there are four different kinds of boardwalks in portugal.
      Newer ones - with prefab boards that are manufactured and built uniformly, making them very nice to walk on.
      Older ones - made of wood, some worn, some holes, some with big spaces between boards.
      Broken ones - with tape across them and signs signaling for you to walk around (meaning in the sand)
      Sand covered ones - Which is exactly what it sounds like.

      Pretty early this morning I was walking on an old boardwalk when I noticed one of my polls sounded different. Sure enough, the rubber tip had been pulled off in one of the gaps between the boards. It was too late to try and recover the one I'd lost as it would have been impossible to find or reach. But like a good Boy Scout I came prepared. I have a set of extra rubber tips in my bag. The problem is I didn't want to stop and take my pack off and get to my "Be Prepared" bag that was at the bottom. Had I actually been a Boy Scout I would have easily acquired my Procrastination badge.

      I argued with myself that I could wait until I was ready for a break, but now my pole, without the wide rubber tip, was finding the gaps between the boards every other step. I decided I just wouldn't use the poles until my next break, but then I'd either have to carry them or stop to break them down and strap them to my pack. Finally I decided procrastination was a bummer for breakfast so I stopped to put on a new rubber tip.

      There is a life lesson here for me. I think I make a lot of things more work than what they need to be.

      ***

      I made it to my first cafe and ordered a coffee and a glazed croissant. It was only two Euros. At Starbucks it would have been 12 bucks.

      I sat outside the cafe where a local gent was having the same breakfast as me. He didn't speak English but pointed at my backpack and said, "Santiago?".

      I nodded my head in affirmative.

      After a pause he asked, "How many K's (kilometers)?

      I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I don't know." and then made a motion with my fingers, "I just walk that way."

      He smiled. So did I.

      I guess I should know the distance to Santiago but the only thing I really needed at that time was to know where the first open cafe would be. The next thing I'd want to know is where the next open cafe would be. Santiago is many, many cafes away and I'm not concerned about it.

      I thought about this more. If you had asked me before this trip if I wanted to know what tomorrow brings, I would have answered, "Of course." But as I continued walking I could see the city where I'd be staying tonight. I found myself dreading the distance as it looked like it was forever away. But when the trail took me around a curve where I could only see that current bay, beach, field, etc. I found myself more present in those steps and not worried about what was around the bend.

      This was another intriguing life lesson on the Camino today.

      ***

      Where the boardwalk ends with warning tape you have no choice but to head into the sand. It is slow, it takes effort, and it gets in your shoes. It also takes you places where the boardwalk doesn't lead, including an art gallery of things washed up by the ocean and repurposed by artists.

      ***

      Finally there is the section of boardwalk that was taken back over by the sand. I found no life value in that damn section at all.

      ***

      I met pilgrims from Austria, Belgium, France, Australia, Germany, Italy, and Portugal today.

      ***

      Tonight I ate dinner at Theatro - a building that was once a theater and has now been reimagined into a restaurant, wine bar, bookstore and art gallery.
      I arrived a few minutes before they opened hoping they might let me take some photos before they had their patrons. They gave me run of the place. It is beautiful and it was a unique and memorable experience. I won't describe the dinner as it would create some envy but I would go out of my way to travel to this city just to eat here again.

      I told Rueben, my waiter, about Alex and how I was honoring his life by eating places that he would have enjoyed, and dining on food that he would have loved to have learned to create. At the end of the meal I told him it had been a perfect evening.

      When I went to the counter to get a stamp for my Camino credential, the owner brought it out himself. He said that Rueben had shared my story about Alex with the staff and said that they all got chills. They felt honored that they were a part of this walking, savoring life memorial.

      ***

      Now I'm back on the beach with other light lovers who come to say "boa noite" (good night) to the sun.
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    • Day 13

      Povoa de Varzim to Agucadoura

      September 24, 2022 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

      I started along the water again today, and then along a maze of boardwalks.

      The path was somewhat better marked today. At one spot there were 4 arrows all at once. To make up for the lack in other areas, presumably.

      Along the beach were condos with lovely views and roll shutters to keep out any nasty weather, and a bit farther were older homes with walls that blocked all views and weather. Built in different times for different priorities.

      I also saw a few camper vans parked along the ocean. Just like Walmart at home😆. Some were surfers.

      I stopped for café at a beachside bar mid morning.
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    • Day 8

      May 25

      May 25 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

      Today we began the trek to Santiago. It was perfect walking weather and we set off excited and full of energy. The first half of the day was busy as we left the town of Porto with lots of traffic, tourists, cyclists and a few pilgrims dispersed throughout the crowds. The afternoon was much quieter and we enjoyed the stunning views of the ocean on our left all the way. We were all exhausted, when after walking
      20 km, we arrived at our accomodation. It was a comfortable albergue with a number of rooms and a common kitchen and bathrooms. Thankfully there was a small cafe nearby where we enjoyed a delicious tuna salad for dinner.
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    • Day 10

      Day 2 - Angeiras to Póvoa de Varzim

      April 13 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

      Last night (our first night on the Camino) we stayed in an out of the way campground where Miguel spent 10 summers of his youth. We had a great little 2 bedroom cabin with a kitchenette and bathroom. We grabbed bread rolls, ham and cheese plus Fritos and Oreos from the campground store for dinner and forced ourselves to stay awake until 7:30pm 😂 Gosh we were beat!

      It is hard not to compare this Camino to the Frances route, but let me just say that walking all day looking at the ocean and listening to it crash against the shore all night is pretty heavenly. The fact that we have not encountered one proper hill is pretty crazy too. But that being said, the guys still have a few blisters to doctor and my hips are letting me know they don’t like carrying the backpack weight. Nothing I hope a little ibuprofen can’t handle. We are glad today’s 11 miles was a little shorter than yesterday.
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    • Day 5

      Tag 2

      May 3 in Portugal ⋅ 🌬 16 °C

      Nach einer Nacht auf dem Campingplatz und einen kleinen Frühstück ging es wieder auf die Piste. Wetter na ja, muss man durch. Heute Nacht schlafen wir in einer Herberge. Für Fritz etwas ganz neues. Mal schauen was die Schnarcher machen.Read more

    • Day 16

      Beautiful coastline

      May 27 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

      Our second day walking was another beautiful day. It was also Helen's birthday. We had the wind with us all day which made it seem cooler than it was. We'll be applying sunscreen more diligently now. Walking on the boardwalks was nice until we came upon the areas where they were buried under the sand. So off the shoes went! The sand was warm and silky.Read more

    • Day 3

      Esposende

      September 29, 2023 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 64 °F

      Today was a 20 mile walk. Stopped for coastal cheeseburgers. Walked along beaches, fields of crops, city centers, bridges, and highways…we finally found our hotel which is conveniently connected to a gas station in the event we need to fill up.Read more

    • Day 2

      Von Porto nach Povoa de Varzim

      November 12, 2023 in Portugal ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

      Ausgestattet mit Pilgerpässen und hoch motiviert starten wir schon um 8:30 in unsere erste Etappe - die beginnt erstmal mit einer Metrofahrt raus aus der Stadt nach Matosinhos. Nach unseren Infos sind heute mehr als 20km zu bewältigen, ein ganz schönes Brett. Zum Glück wandern wir ohne großes Gepäck, das sollte ja mit einem Transport schon auf dem Weg zu unserem nächsten Hotel sein.

      Unser Weg führt uns über einen Holzsteg immer an der Küste lang - schon mal gut, da ist es quasi unmöglich, sich zu verlaufen. Der erste Meereskontakt endet für Angela mit nassen Füßen, so dass sie in den folgenden Stunden ne Menge zu tun hat mit ständigem Schuhwechsel zwischen Barfuss Schuhen und feuchten Wanderschuhen…😉
      Der Weg ist herrlich und das Wetter perfekt: um die 18 Grad mit gelegentlichem Regen - wir Hamburgerinnen würden die paar Tropfen allerdings wohl eher nicht so bezeichnen. So wandern wir gemächlich dahin, den tosenden Atlantik als ständigen Begleiter.

      Um diese Jahreszeit scheinen tatsächlich nicht viele Jakobswanderer:innen unterwegs zu sein - vielleicht ist das auch ein Grund, warum uns heute oftmals von Einheimischen ein fröhliches “Bom Caminho“ entgegengerufen wird. Wir antworten mit einem genuschelten „obriga…“ und freuen uns darüber.

      Um die Mittagszeit stolpern wir über ein kleines, gut besuchtes Fischlokal („Castro de S.Paio“ )…eine Kleinigkeit…Sardinen, Pimentos und ein Alster….lecker…was will man mehr.. 😀. Auch alles auf den Nachbartischen macht Appetit, vor allen Dingen, das Fischalllerlei samt bewundertem Krebs…
      Die Rast ist nur kurz, denn es liegt noch ein ganzes Stück vor uns…so gehts unter anderem durch einen Nationalpark, der mit seinen Dünen an Sylt erinnert. Schließlich erreichen wir Vila do Conde, unser Ziel, dachten wir. Doch unser Hotel liegt am anderen Ende dieses Ortes, so das wir erst nach einer weiteren knappen Stunde und insgesamt guten 25km ermattet im Hotel ankommen, wo uns ein überaus herzlicher Portier begrüßt. Schon jetzt macht sich Muskelkater bemerkbar….wie es uns dann wohl morgen gehen wird…😳
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    • Day 5

      Day 1 of Camino De Santiago!

      September 2, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      If I had one word to describe today it would be "wow". Although I barely slept in the hostel last night (shared rooms really suck), it was an awesome day. I met a polish girl at the hostel in the morning, and we ended up walking together the entire day. At first I wasn't too keen on walking with someone, but after a while I was so happy we had found each other as the day just flew by! We talked about our countries, purpose for doing the camino and travels. We had a wonderful lunch by the sea. After 25km she was quite tired so decided to stop for the night in Vila Do Conde where most pilgrims were stopping. I said I would too if they had two single rooms. She did not like the shared rooms either and wanted to sleep alone tonight. They only had one room available so I told her she could have it and I would keep going as I had the energy to do so and something was telling me to do it. We exchanged numbers, hugged and wished each other a buen camino. We hope to cross each other again.

      Little did I know continuing the walk would make me fall on this amazing town! This town has the feel of a Portuguese Quebec City it's quite strange. The owner of my hostel is from France so was so happy she could speak French to someone! She upgraded me to a big room because I was doing the camino (but I honestly think it's because I was French like her lol). She introduced me to all the guests and offered suggestions on where to eat. I toured the town and noticed a Ferris wheel next to the casino and not too far from the bull fighting arena (I know - this town has everything possible!!) So I decided to hop on. What a view! I ended the night with an amazing dinner and amazing conversations with the restaurant staff as they knew Marlene (my French hostel owner) and were very friendly!

      Back at the hostel in my private room and I think I will sleep very well tonight... 😍

      Ps. I think I should pace myself on walking for the days to come - I don't want to be done this camino in only a week! 😐 lol
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    • Etappe 2: Lavras - Povoa de Varzim

      September 7, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

      Von Lavras nach Povoa de Varzim führte uns der Jakobsweg heute weitere 20 km über einen schmalen Holzweg an der Atlantikküste entlang. Dieser war geprägt von felsigen Klippen und schönen breiten Sandstränden. Das ideale Wetter mit ca. 25 Grad haben wir ausgiebig genutzt und eine sehr lange Pause am Strand von Azurara eingelegt.
      Angekommen im Ort Povoa de Varzim entschieden wir uns heute für eine Pilgerherberge und konnten den Abend mit einem leckern selbstgekochtem Essen und einem Besuch im Waschsalon um die Ecke ausklingen lassen.
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