The 27km walk out of Esposende began through urban back streets. On this route, you can never escape the Portuguese hand-tiled roads that are particularly hard on the feet!
While there are many ‘official’ waymarkers, there are also arrows sprayed in yellow along the route (with the opposite route to Fatima in blue).
There are lots of churches along the route. Some pilgrims stop to pray, others to take photos of the beautiful buildings and interiors, others to use the facilities (many have toilets out the back in Portugal), and also to get a pilgrim’s stamp for the Credential.
The path enters the woods at Antas, a lovely respite from the cobblestones.
There are many waymarkers along the route. Some are adopted as memorials or places to encourage other pilgrims.
There was a stone bridge over the river with stones laid in the water in the shape of an arrow pointing onward.
The route wound uphill to the Igreja Paroquial de Castelo do Neiva, with seats outside for tired pilgrims, toilets, and a water fountain, as well as a stamp for the credential.
The way continued through eucalyptus forest. I was grateful for my walking poles today as there were rocky uphill and downhill slopes on the way to Viana do Castelo. I saw several pilgrims hobbling with knee issues and no poles.
The Queen died yesterday as I walked, so the British papers — and the Portuguese media — were full of pictures and tributes. While it was not unexpected, her death marks a change and a sense that history moves ever onward. The UK also got a new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, this week, so while I was away, things changed significantly in many ways — and not at all in others. The Queen’s death and funeral were the backdrop to my walk. Memento mori, indeed.
There was a cafe at Chafé where most pilgrims stopped for a much-needed break. I met a pilgrim who was heading to hospital after a fall, and another who had decided to take a taxi onward after the day proved too much. While most of the walking on this Camino way is not too taxing if you just did day walks, the cumulative effect makes it harder, especially on long, hot days like this one. But it’s a pilgrimage, it’s meant to be a challenge — not a holiday!
The last few kilometers into Viana do Castelo were down a steep path to the water and then across a long bridge on a thin pedestrian walkway by busy traffic. I was exhausted from the long walk in the heat and struggled with walking over the bridge, as I don’t like heights. In situations like this, I count my steps, repeating the count until the situation is over. It was a relief to reach the hotel after such a big day!
I ended up with heat rash and blisters after this long walk on a hot day. Pharmacies are often open late, so I bought some cream for the heat rash and wore shorts for the rest of the trip.
Continue the Camino journey: Viana do Castelo to Vila Praia de Ancora, Portugal
Accommodation: I stayed at the Hotel Laranjeira, which was central and on the Camino. They let me have an early breakfast which was much appreciated.
Facilities: There weren’t many places to get coffee or stop in the first half of the walk. The cafe at Chafé was the most significant and that was in the final third. Viana do Castelo is a big town so there are lots of options to eat, supermarkets, pharmacies etc. I had a wonderful dinner at Taberna Cantinho De Viana, a local spot with a menu in Portuguese. I used Google Lens to translate, and Google Translate app to communicate. I used them a lot on this route as many people don’t speak English away from the big cities.