Day 3 | Povoa de Varvim to Esposende (23km)
Last night’s room picnic was a big success with plenty left over for our picnic today. Our hotel included breakfast so I also managed to stow away a hard boiled egg for my sandwich; I didn’t feel too guilty as I took my own gluten free bread for my toast.
We had a really lazy start to our day and we heard the clocks chime 9.00 as we left. I don’t think I’ve ever started a camino day so late but it felt wonderful. The hotel was just a few hundred metres from the coast so it was a mere hop skip and a jump and we were there.
As with every day the sea remained at our left. But today felt and looked a little different. The wind and the haze that has been our companion for the last two days was replaced with calm. There was hardly a whisper of breeze. The sea lay flat before us and the morning light so gentle that it was hard to stop looking. I felt as though I’d slipped into an impressionists painting and lost myself in the calm. What a beautiful morning we were given.
We meandered along the coastal path and, as with every other morning, we were joined by what feels like half the elderly population of the town out for a chat and a stroll. There were a sprinkling of late pilgrims and the occasional jogger but for a lot of the time the boardwalks were all ours. We watched boats bob along the calm seas and fishermen cast off from the shore. We lost count of the number of times an old chap told us to keep following the coast (at least I think that’s what they said).
We have seen many references to Lusitania since leaving Porto and after passing yet another cafe with said name we looked it up… apparently this area was once called Lusitania… with Merida as its capital… and I thought it was the name of a ship!
Onwards and onwards until we reached a small seaside town. It was time for a cold drink. One old chap pointed us to a bar… another to the camino. We tried to thank them both without causing any kind of incident or favoritism… thankfully after our drink one chap was still sat on the wall so his honour was restored when we confirmed the direction with him.
The beach today is very different. There is none of the glitz of the seaside towns around Porto but the beaches are no less wonderful and of soft soft sand. I was tempted to go paddle but his nibs said we had kilometers to cover so we carried on.
We left the beach and turned inland a little. When I walked before I remembered walking along a road lined with market garden vegetable plots… Mile after mile of salads and greens and carrots and onions. Today there were boardwalks, sandwiched between the vegetables and a golf course. We walked for an age along this trail. We could see glimpses of the sand dunes and hear the ocean but sadly the sea was hidden.
We reached a point in the road where we had a choice; stick with the arrows or take our chances beside the coast. We felt like rebels today and opted for the latter. We followed a cobbled road which quickly turned into a sandy road but still the vegetables lined either side. It was gone 12.30 and we were hungry but Mr S. was adamant there would be no stopping until we found a bench. A few days ago I told him he was bossy so he said to remind him of this when I felt thirsty… i did. He simply said thank you… duly noted… now keep walking!
Our sandy path turned into a road lined with very nice houses and it felt like we were approaching a seaside town. There was a car park and boardwalks to the beach. I suggested a picnic on the sand but Gerry decided it would be too grainy! My mind drifted back to our benchgate incident on the Primitivo and i wondered if we would end up eating on the side of the road again but I needn’t have worried as the road opened up onto a glorious beach with row after row of granite benches… all we had to do was choose the perfect spot.
It was glorious… egg and ham sandwiches, crisps and some sweet juicy melon left over from last night. We even had the remainder of the wine from last night’s bottle to wash it all down. Very well done Mr S… the totally perfect picnic! When we’d eaten our fill, we packed up and walked a few minutes along the beach to a little cafe. We found a spot in the shade and ended our picnic with a large coffee each.. for the princely sum of 2 euros. The route we took was shown as a variant on the Wise Pilgrim app and I thoroughly recommend this option.
We checked the maps and decided to continue along the coast road to Fao. From there we’d join the original camino and continue on to our destination. We watched the last of the fishing boats sort their catch and then meandered along a street lined with restaurant after restaurant.. all busy and no doubt cooking the best of todays fish. As we walked we considered our song choices… there were many but we opted for a little dusty 🙂
Our app directed us away from the coast and back to the camino. We left Fao beside the Cavado River and sat on a bench in the shade and drank the last of our water. As we left Gerry said ” let’s go… we have that bridge to cross when we come to it… ” and smiled. I asked him how long he’d been waiting to say that and he said most of the afternoon as he’d seen the bridge on the map. I do so love walking with Gerry.
We crossed, searching for fish as we went… we spotted lots. But no time for fishing today. Onwards into town we walked. We always say we stop for beer or bed depending on which comes first; today the gods were on our side and beer was first. We swapped into our tevas and enjoyed a cold drink in the shade before heading off for the last few minutes into town.
We have a private room in Hostel Eleven. For our ensuite bedroom we paid just 42 euros and it’s every bit as nice as I remember it. Our deviation added a few kilometers to our day but they were worth it… another glorious day of sandy beaches and huge big skies.