Our group began in sunny Oporto where we explored the beautiful UNESCO heritage buildings through the fruit markets and the tiny cobbled streets. A boat trip on the Douro River and some port wine tasting along the riverbank gave us a snapshot into the history of this magnificent city.
Day two we began our walking through the beautiful Portuguese countryside from Vilarinho to Sao Pedro de Rates. We quickly found that tractors were a frequent site along The Way carrying corn and other agricultural goodies. We also quickly discovered why the Portuguese are so good at producing such a variety of wines, as many of the pilgrim tracks are lined with an abundance of vineyards. Some of us found the juicy grapes to be a great afternoon pick-me-up!
Day three the weather was getting warmer and we found ourselves walking amongst thick Australian eucalypts and little country towns filled with colourful tiled houses. There would be many pilgrim stops along The Way to rest, take in the beautiful surroundings and chat about the history of the area. One of the highlights of our day would often be finding little local churches or cafes that would provide us with pilgrim stamps for our Camino passports. As well as being a lovely way to map our journey, it was also a topical discussion amongst the group to see who could fill their passport with the most stamps.
We arrived in Barcelos, the home of the Portuguese Cockerel, which signifies the ancient legend of a passing Pilgrim. We spent the afternoon walking through an outdoor archeological museum and enjoying local wine with some traditional Portuguese dishes of fish and goat. On the evening of our third day of walking everyone’s feet were feeling good with no signs of blisters. Instead, the first casualty to be reported was a blister on one of the pilgrim’s little fingers as a result of using his walking poles! This just goes to show no matter how much care you dedicate to your feet, blisters can appear when you least expect it.