Day 5. Esposende to Viana do Castelo
When is an albergue not an albergue… when it’s a hostel and travellers arrive at 11:30 and turn all the lights on and start unpacking. And then they take out their laptops and books and proceeded with what looks like homework; at which point I asked if they could perhaps work in the kitchen… and to be fair they did.
But the rude awakening had happened and that was a shame because albergue 11 is fabulous and those girls spoilt our fabulous sleep in fabulous beds… but the lady of the house made cake and plied us with fresh fruit in the morning and generally just could not have been more lovely… stay here if you are in town… you won’t regret your choice.
We walked through the town and down to the estuary and then on towards the open seas. But today we never reached them as we would be following the yellow arrows of the coastal camino. Our Broadway is still in construction on this section so it is recommended that you switch routes just for the day.
We followed the arrows to an old albergue which had good reviews but was too far out of town for us but it was opposite a little old church and a warm inviting cafe. We ordered our usual of 3 hot chocolates and a toasted sandwich. As we ate we chatted with a couple from Belgium who live near Lisbon. They started walking from Porto with their dog and every night they camp… sometimes in the garden of the albergue and sometimes on the beach.
We booted up and set off again. We’re walking a few kilometres in from the coast and it feels like we’re walking through a very very long village as one seems to merge into another. It’s Saturday morning and folks are going about their business, cleaning or chopping wood or hanging washing… but folks always seem to have time for a bom dias or bom caminho. Where ever we have walked on this route we have been greeted with smiles.
On we walked through little villages with cobbled streets. The cobbles are a pain to be honest but the villages are pretty. Very nice houses with clipped gardens or small farms or a few grand houses. We just walked by and every now and then we’d catch a glimpse of the coast below in the distance.
The path changed and we walked/scrambled down a valley to a pretty river below. We crossed an old stone bridge before scrambling up the other side of the valley.
Time flew by and we realised it was lunchtime… we were reminded by a sign saying cafe 150m. I’m usually a bit nervous of those distances but to be fair this was fairly accurate. We ordered cold drinks and a tuna baguette and sat in the sun and just enjoyed the warmth of this November day.
But today wasn’t going to walk itself so we dragged ourselves away and back to the arrows. The path was going up…and up… and up. At the top we were rewarded with fabulous views of the coast and the countryside below. It’s such a sunny day the sea glistened a silvery white so much so I had to squint. I don’t know how warm it was but it reckon mid 20c.. just beautiful!
At the top was also a church with a huge graveyard… a skull and crossbones were sculpted above the entrance gates… which seemed odd but maybe it’s traditional here (I should stress not real bones!). We carried on following the arrows into the cool shade of a eucalyptus forest. The path was at first soft but soon turned into a much rockier affair. It felt like an old dry river bed? My ankle is hurting a lot today and it found this path difficult. We wandered up and down through the forest before dropping down and out and into a town… and another beautiful old church.
The road was definitely up and down today which was a bit of a shock after our flat boardwalks but I have to say we loved it. We decided that we must deserve a coffee and a custard tart… and low and behold there was a cafe. We met Alex there tending to his blisters and we saw 4 or 5 other pilgrims that we’d not met before. It’s quite busy considering its mid November.
On we walked on tired legs. We had one more obstacle before the albergue; a great long iron bridge crossing the estuary. We reckon it must be close to 1km long and either side there is and footpath, a road in the middle and a train line below. I gritted my teeth and prepared for the worst but apart from one or two squeals I did OK…bravo Colleen!
A shout from a passing car diverted us back to the albergue where we bagged a bed in the girls room… for the second night poor Sara has a top bunk… for which me and Jaqui are very very grateful.
The albergue is in an old monestry. It’s OK but a tad basic. I hate mixed showers too especially as there is just a shower curtain to protect your dignity… but it was only 6 euro so we shouldn’t complain.
We walked 27km today and my ankle is sore… I hope a good night’s sleep will sort me out! But regardless of the ankle and the rude awakening today was a good day and a beautiful walk.