Four days ago our intrepid band of 13 set off from Oporto on the Camino Portugues. Armed with walking poles and Pilgrim passports we travelled along cobbled pathways to the small town of Vilarinho. This was not without incident! We almost lost three members of the group at the metro station when the train doors shut leaving this bewildered group to watch the train depart. Quick thinking and mobile phones enabled us to reunite at the next station. Later that day, two fast walkers overshot our destination. The situation was quickly remedied with help from our trusty mobile phones and walking maps. We soon learned the importance of moving fast on public transport and keeping other group members in sight!
That night in Vila do Conde we enjoyed a well-earned Portuguese meal, washed down with a glass or two of local vino. A not so early start next day saw us walk via country lanes and vineyards to the busy market town of Barcelos, home of the age old story of the roasted cockerel that rose from a judges table to rescue a wrongly condemned pilgrim from being hung. The sun shone brightly as we reached our half way point, Antonio’s cafe in the small hamlet of Pedra Furada. After enjoying the hospitality of our charming host and a hearty bowl of soup some walked the extra 12km to Barcelos, crossing the medieval bridge and visiting ancient ruins along ‘The Way’. A detour up a steep incline provided a well-earned panorama across to the Atlantic.
Day three dawned along with showers. Nevertheless the group set off in fine spirits to enjoy one of the most beautiful stretches of this Camino route. We walked on woodland pathways through the beautiful Neiva and Lima valleys crossing a 12th century stone bridge, emblematic of the pilgrim way. Despite the showers we continued to the hillside church of Vitorino dos Piaes, with its nearby welcome cafe. At this point most decided to call it ‘a day’ and took a taxi into Ponte de Lima. But two of more energetic group members walked on despite the rain, a further 12 km into town. That evening around a log fire at our guesthouse (an old Portuguese farm and mansion) we shared stories of the day’s adventures over tapas and produce from the local vineyards.
Today we stay on in Ponte de Lima, with time to visit this picturesque medieval town with its historic bridge. Some plan to walk through nearby villages and beside the river, others will spend a more relaxing day wandering through the narrow cobbled streets. Other options are to walk further up a steep bush land track towards Rubias or simply to sit by a warm fire and read a book! Whatever we do, it is likely that there will be a lot to talk about at the group dinner tonight in a local restaurant. Tomorrow we head for the medieval border towns of Valenca and Tui. We must make certain to feast on delicious Portuguese custard tarts before crossing into Spain.
Like us on Facebook here Travel Enriched Facebook