Day 4 | Povoa de Varzim to Viana do Castelo (27km)
It was raining when we left the restaurant last night and was raining as we walked out of town this morning. It was going to be a coat day, I guess if we walk in October we have to expect some wet weather. It was just as well today took is away from the coast and inland along the coastal camino (we’ve been walking the littoral camino sticking to the beaches).
As we left the beaches behind Gerry told me about his horrible dream. He said he was falling and a voice whispered to him unless you wake up you’ll fall down to hell. He said in his dream he tried so hard to wake but kept falling… until suddenly he woke with a start. Oddly he also said I had a bit of a night terror a little later and cried out in my sleep… although I have no recollection of this. Anyway I told Gerry we had to stop at a church and I’d say a little prayer for him.
As we walked on 4 cyclists passed us. We’d already seen them leave town so how come they came by again? I joked to Gerry and said they were the four riders of the apocalypse… and horsemen were just too old fashioned. He gave me one of his looks and just as he did they’d turned round and came by again. The last one smiled and wished us a Bom Caminho; I told Gerry he was looking at him.
Not much further on we entered what felt like the longest suburbs possible, for many kilometers we wandered along a cobbled road lined with houses. I bet on a clear day we’d get a good view of the coast as we’d walked up a fair bit. Today there was only rain and grey and mist. Before long we found a church and thankfully it was open. We both went in and Gerry took a seat. I wandered a little before finding a statue of Jesus; I reminded him that Gerry was one of the good guys and asked him to keep him safe. We turned to leave and an old chap called me towards the altar. He told me to follow him into a little office off to one side. He stamped our credentials, then gave them a 3D watermark with a special little machine and then he gave me a prayer from St Micheal and another from Joseph. He wished us a safe journey and we left. It made me feel happy.
Onwards we walked between the houses. The rain continued. Sometimes just a fine mist and other times proper rain. It was never cold so we tried to take our jackets off whenever possible to avoid over heating. But it felt like no sooner had we removed them the rain would start again. We spotted a sign for a bar but the bar looked very closed. Not much further on we spotted another. Bar O Lampiao 90m. We weren’t sure whether to risk the detour but decided it was only 90m and it was raining. It was a good decision.
Bar O Lampião in Belinho is an eclectic mix of memorabilia… lots of Porto football items, a great many photos of Che Guevara and then lots and lots of newspaper cuttings and photos of musicians… from Bob Marley to Sid Vicious. Everywhere was spotless and I decided I would not want to be the person who polished it all. We sat outside and ordered coffees. They arrived with peanuts and biscuits and honey and jam. What a treat. I visited the ladies and paused to look at all the items on the wall. The owner tried to talk but we were limited with Portuguese and English. I tried French and he told me his son lived near Perpignan. He asked if I liked music and I told him I was a singer. I showed him a photo and from there I got the feeling he assumed I was a famous French singer. He told all the old guys in the bar I was a singer. He showed me more and more photos of singers and then asked for a photo… of me behind the bar. There was a ripple of excitement with the three old guys sat the bar. I had no idea how to get them to understand that I’m only a wedding singer.
He asked us to put a pin on his map… we placed the white pin near Bordeaux. We said our goodbyes and wandered on. Regardless of the singing confusion Bar O Lampiao was a fabulous little oasis and you should drop in and say hello. Tell him a singer from France recommended it.
Back in the rain and the suburbs and the path rose up. Up we walked and imagined the view without the mist. We could just about make out the sea amongst the grey. We walked up to a church and there was a sign that said pilgrims could get a stamp but the car park was full and there were a number of people in black and we assumed it was a funeral so we walked on. Back into the forest walking amongst the pines and eucalyptus trees. After a few minutes a bell tolled. Then several bells. It lasted for many minutes and was kind of eerie as we walked through these mighty trees. There was a pause and they started again. Then another pause before a bang. At first it sounded like gun fire but later sounded like fireworks. It was again a few minutes before they stopped. Gerry said that’s how he’d like to be sent off… bells, bangs and plenty of booze.
The forest walk continued and we felt we were walking along an ancient path. Huge stones placed intentionally along the trail, certainly these days a road less travelled. We crossed the river by means on an old stone bridge and walked up into a village. A flicker of recollection reminded me that there was a bar about 250m off the camino. It would be a while before the next village so we tested my memory and thankfully ended up with another wonderful chicken lunch… 5 Euros complete with bread and coffee. Fabulous!
Back we wandered into the rain. We’d felt we’d made good time. Google seemed to have a different distance to the app but I felt as we had walked through the forest it would be different. Onwards and upwards we walked with more forest and more little villages. After an hour or so we decided to stop for a cold drink. I checked the app. It was only three o’clock and we only had 3.5km to go. We both agreed it would be good to get out of the rain. Gerry again said that Google maps showed further. We double checked the app… nope not too far left. I opened the map on the app just to make doubly sure. I immediately wished I hadn’t. The Wise Pilgrim app was missing a 4km section. Instead of 3.5km we had 7.5km. All day we’d been saying that we’d had a lovely day despite the weather and that our spirits weren’t dampened. I can tell you sat outside that little bar there were two pilgrims with very dampened spirits.
A couple of cyclist’s had overheard our conversation and smiled… the kind of sympathetic smile which said I feel your pain. But… there was nothing for it but to march. The rain eased off and I said that we should at least be grateful for the break in the weather. I shouldn’t have said that. A few minutes later the heavens opened and it just rained and rained and rained. We put our heads down and marched.
Finally the huge bridge that crosses the Limia estuary came into view. By now the rain had eased but huge gusts of wind pushed us across the tiny pedestrian path. I was quite pleased that I felt not a whisper of fear, even when a train rumbled along below us and made the bridge tremble and shake. The bridge is huge… almost a kilometre in length but it wasnt the height that bothered us but the wind. We felt like turtles with packs on our backs and were just glad to get out of the gusts!
Thankfully our hotel was just a few hundred meters further along. And we’ve both showered in one of the most powerful showers I’ve ever had and I’m feeling much warmer and more human again. I learned that my RAB jacket will keep me dry in heavy rain… and that no matter the weather (or extra kilometers) my spirits are still quite chirpy.