Day 1 | Porto to Perafita (17km)
When we decided to walk the Portuguese Coastal Caminho, one of Gerry’s requests was that we take our time. I first walked this route in 2017 and we rushed as we had limited time. Gerry had loved the photos and as he loves the coast and seafood and Portugal it became another route on our wishlist… but only if we could meander. Today we certainly meandered.
We woke before the alarm but only just… we’d set it for 8.00am so it wasn’t exactly an early start. I decided to change my toe taping routine, which I would regret a bit later but for this morning I used a compeed patch instead of my usual gel toe cap. It was a relaxed, almost lazy start to the day but that was exactly the mood we wanted.
We checked that all was packed and set off. The camino starts at the foot of the cathedral. You can choose to head inland for the Central route or down to the River Duoro and follow its path along the estuary and out to the Atlantic. We were opting for the latter of course but we stopped first for a coffee from a tiny bar in one of the old buildings that line the path out of the old Ribeira District. We bought a half litre bottle of water each and set off. There were no arrows that we could see but it would be really hard to get lost… just keep the river to your left and walk.
The path was busy with early morning commuters and joggers and walkers… mothers with buggies and joggers with dogs in tow (and sometimes dogs with joggers in tow). Behind us the water was silver in the morning light but ahead the sky was as blue as could be and that was mirrored in the water. It was indeed a glorious morning to be walking.
Onwards we walked and gradually Porto slipped away and we entered estuary towns that have clearly become commuter suburbs. The paths were tree lined and grew wider and remained just as busy with the energetic population. After about an hour we found a bench with a view and decided it must be time for breakfast… it was almost 10 o’clock so we were actually a little late! On our walking tour yesterday our guide pointed out the best place to buy Natas in Porto, Gerry decided he should sample them just to make sure. He bought two and saved them for breakfast… I had a banana and a few crackers (no salt sadly)… all washed down with a little water. Gerry agreed they were indeed excellent Nata and ate the second.
Onwards we walked and the mighty Atlantic waves appeared on the horizon. We’d ambled our way along but nonetheless made good time. The road ends and we turned right, saying goodbye to the river and instead now the sea would be to our left.
A few weeks ago I took a group on a taster camino from St Jean to Burgos and one of the group had a Tilley hat. I was quite taken by it so we decided to purchase one and test them out on this walk. As the sun was out it was time to put them to use. Onwards we walked watching sun bathers and brave swimmers on the shore line. On the suitably named Inglessa beach we decided to stop for a cold drink. Its hard to pull yourself away from a comfortable seat and a great view but there were more miles to walk.
It was around this time that i decided the compeed patch just wasn’t working for me. Before it caused me any serious trouble I decided to stop and change back to my usual tape gel cap. The last time I walked this route I suffered with terrible blisters and did not want to repeat that… so we paused. Gerry also felt something was amiss with his foot so he took off his shoes to check, only to discover his socks had a left and right… and he’d got them on the wrong feet. With us both feeling happier with the adjustments we continued on. In what seemed like no time we arrived in Matasinhos where we’d planned to pause for lunch.
We stopped at the tourist office for a stamp on our credentials and read about the worst shipping disaster that happened along this stretch of coast, captured in sculpture on the beach. But it was lunchtime and Gerry had seafood in mind.
We walked on for about 5 minutes. The tourist office said turn left and walk and you will find many restaurants; she was right. One chap called us over and that was enough for us to decide. We took a table in the shade and perused the menu. Gerry opted for Squid with potatoes and I had my eye on Hake… but it was in breadcrumbs so I instead choose pork with rice. We ordered cold drinks and people watched as each restauranters vied for customers. Our lunch arrive. It was Huge! We ate. We took our time and soaked up the hustle and bustle and the tables around us filled. Gerry finished his squid and decided to try one of the chops… and then decided that the chips were too nice to leave. I have no idea how he manages to stay the same weight and I’m envious of the genes that allow him to eat without a care. We linger some more with a coffee and more people watching. And then we just linger. But as nice as it was to simply sit, we knew we must move on. We asked for the bill and continued onwards.
We walked through the town, leaving the sea for a short time. I could hear Gerry behind me humming something. I’m really not being rude when I say I had no idea what tune; the poor chap is sadly tuneless. I asked what is was. “Sunny” here replied and started singing again. So tuneless was his song that at first I thought Marvin Gaye but then wasn’t sure and had to check to be sure. It was. And we both walked and sang and in no time we popped out again beside the sea.
There was a poem etched in tiles in Portuguese. The text proclaimed it was quite famous. Gerry read it. It wasn’t so good and he walked away saying “it doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue”… I wonder if it would have sounded better when spoken in Portugues rather than Devon.
Onwards towards the lighthouse. Last time I walked here some guy chased after me and tried to take my phone. He’d been doing nude yoga on the beach and thought I’d taken his photo… Jaqui had told him not to flatter himself and that we wanted the view and not him! I took more photos today. The light of the sun on the water just shimmers. It holds your gaze and makes it hard to walk away. Gosh it was glorious. The waves crashed on the rocks and you could taste the salt on your lips from the spray. A glorious day indeed.
We reached a little bar beside the beach. Not far now. I ordered a coke and Gerry a Vinho Verde… which meant I had to order one too. Gosh I love this wine. We sat, looking out over the silver sea and sipped our chilled wine. Did I say already what a perfect day we’d had.
But there were kilometers still to walk. Onwards we went to our little casa for the evening. We have a room with our own bathroom on the ground floor of a large apartment. We can use the kitchen and the lounge and it feels like we’re the only ones here. We washed and did the washing and as Gerry hung it all out to dry an old chap invited us over for a drink. We tried to decline but he reappeared with glasses. The drink was pure firewater. We drank in his garage which was full of eclectic memorabilia and weird objects that he must have collected over the years… a plastic Father Christmas stood between some old car bits and a sketch of a woman holding a child… it was all very orderly so I guess it all had some meaning. He only spoke Portuguese and we speak none so the conversation was stilted. I think in the end we were all relieved to say Goodbye!
We had dinner in the restaurant next door… only one course but we did order a bottle of the local wine. We ate and watched the sun set over the vast ocean. We listened so Sade and Adele and Nora Jones and Amy Winehouse as we ate and whilst the songs were all amazing… we walked home singing Lovely Day… because it was.