The End (at least for awhile)-It’s Been A Great Camino!

June 25, 2015

Todays date is memorable to me for a few things.  

1) In 2013 I made it to Santiago de Compostela after walking 400+ miles.

2) In 2011 after NOT finishing my Camino, but walking 250 miles my favorite kitty passed away.  DEP, RIP.

3) In 2015 I leave Europe to return home after completing the Caminho Portuguese da Costa.

Here are some pictures from the last few days.  The first one my cousin Emiky will like!  In a shop in Porto. Sorry I couldn’t bring it home for you!

  

A quick day trip back to Spain on an errand of mercy for a family member! LOL.

      

A picture of the antibiotics taken earlier in my trip for my infected blister.  The dosage was 3 per day for 5 days and they gave me 30 tabs.  Different country different protocols.

  

Package going home by mail.  Cross your fingers and toes SWB Jr.

 

Beautiful tree close to where I stayed the 2nd time in Porto.

  

My last meal in Portugal!

San Joao celebration set up in local store in Porto and Torre de Clerigo that Liz, Wendy and I walked up a long time ago.  

      

Run down house across from where I stayed in Porto the last time.  The owner of my hotel has bought it and wants to fix it up!

I can’t say enough about the place where I stayed this last time in Porto, I thought that I had made a mistake, but it turned out really well.  Very nice people who run it.  They helped me a lot!

  

My first of two airports to get back home.  Still seeing those yellow arrows as I walk to my hotel.

    

The next day, one last shot of the great work that the Portuguese tourism office.  They are really promoting they’re country well.

Getting ready to board to go to Frankfurt.

        

I got to Frankfurt.  Wonderful hotel in the middle of no where with a view of the freeway.

       

  

Got in my last walk going to dinner last night.  It looks like there are flier gardens in this area.  They remind me of “pea patches” at home.

   

  

What did I have for my last dinner in Europe?  German? Spanish? Portuguese?  NO!  ITALIAN!

       

Now I just need to shower, have breakfast, and get to the airport for my flight home.

Oh yeah, last time hand washing my clothes! 

 

It’s been a wonderful Camino and trip in many ways and I am so happy to have had the opportunity.  Hasta el proximo Camino!

Porto to Matosinhos -Day One Caminho Portuguese da Costa?

June 23, 2015

One month ago today, my buddy Liz and I started out from Se Cathedral in Porto to walk to Matosinhos.  

We had dilly dallied at Bolhao Market and the Ribeira  area that morning so we didn’t get an early start.  We ended up doing about 10 km along the Rio Douro reaching the Foz (mouth of the river) and passing some of the beaches along the Atlantic. We had to meet up with the rest of the gang so didn’t get all the way to Matosinhos. We took a bus, then the Metro back to Porto.

The day before yesterday I completed what we couldn’t finish and highly recommend doing this walk!  Of course I did it backwards by walking from Matosinhos towards Porto!

Just as a review, here’s a map of the Portuguese Caminhos.  We mostly followed the yellow line, but tried to follow the Atlantic Coast as much as possible. 

 

John Brierleys Portuguese Camino book recommends that Peregrinos go from Porto to Matosinhos by bus or Metro and get off the Metro at the Mercado stop. Our group did that on May 24.

Last Sunday, June 21, I did the following.  I walked from my hotel to Casa das Musicas, to see the building and to visit the bus station to buy a ticket for the next day’s entertainment.  Then I took the Metro to the Brito Capelo stop (right before Mercado where JB has people starting).

          

  
Of course first I had to have a second breakfast!  This pineapple pastry was very interesting.  

Then I found what I call “restaurant street” and almost stopped for lunch.  For two or three blocks all you could smell was fish and meat being grilled.

        

Then I found Matosinhos beach!  Wow, lots of activity!  Of course it was Sunday too so lots of families out and starting their San Joao celebrations.  Also a Beach Volleyball tournament was starting.

    

          

I had seen a big building as I headed south, it was San Francisco Xavier Fort, also known as Castelo do Queijo (Cheese Castle).

    

I also found a sign that I had seen on our previous walk.  It indicated the end of the 12 km walk that had started in the Ribeira waterfront in Porto. This intersects with Avenida Boavista also.

So I’m figuring that a walk along the waterfront from Se Cathedral in Porto to the Mercado Metro station in Matosinhos is about 15 km, a good first days walk if you’re starting the Caminho Portuguese da Costa from Porto.

   

Instead of stopping, I kept on going south eventually reaching the Foz (mouth of the River Douro).  More pictures are in the blog for May 23!

     

  

By this time it was starting to get late and I was trying to get a bus, but no luck.  I ended up cutting through the Foz neighborhood to get to Avenida Boavista again.  

     

A nice upscale neighborhood and an interesting Museum that I didn’t have time to explore, but limited bus service on Sunday’s!  A long short cut, but I eventually got back to my hotel!

So my recommendation is to follow the river to get out of Porto if you’re doing the Caminho da Costa. Here’s some pictures of the city map.  This might be helpful. Boa Noite! Feliz San Joao!

     

      

Transition Day – Back to The Beginning

 June 21, 2015

Yesterday I was getting ready to transition from Vila do Conde to Porto and I realized that my trip started on May 20 and we got to Porto on May 22.  Pretty much a month has passed and I was heading back to the city where it all began.

Here I am in Vila yesterday thanks to an nice Dutch couple who are visiting their son and his family in Portugal.

  

So I’m packed and ready to find Santa Clara Metro station to take me into Porto. I was told to follow the river.

                

Ok, I’m here at the Metro stop with a pretty good view of Santa Clara Church and the aqueduct too.

The trip into Porto was uneventful, faster and much less scenic than our walk on May 24.

I got to Porto too early to check in so I dropped off my backpack and took a look around.  A couple of people I know will like the first picture.  I wasn’t very hungry but found a place where I could get a fresh fruit crepe.

    

I saw this church last time.  It’s by the funny bookstore.

  

I wanted to find the Crystal Palace, but found this park and then this wonderful view instead.

    

San Joao celebrations are going on and some neat graffiti.

    

Very hot, even walking by the river so I ducked into the wine museum.  Very cool and also cool presentation.  The first picture is of Santiago figures.

           

Had to go finally but after being on the river a bit more I went up a hill and found myself on Rua das Flores.  This is a pedestrian zone with lots of shops and restaurants.   I came across this building where a musical presentation was going on.

            

I had wanted to see San Bento Station before and here it is!  The next picture shows the temperature.  About 105F.

    

A nice church in the way back to the hotel.  My room is ready!!!  More tomorrow about what I did today!  My day never quite turns out like I think that it will!

   

Vila do Conde – Market And Beach Day! YAY!

June 19, 2015

I woke up this morning thinking about this being my last full day in Vila and I really need to make it a beach day.  It started out that way, but as I went towards the center of town I discovered that it was Market Day!!!!!

For some reason I’m unable to resist these sorts of markets.  They usually have clothing, fruits and vegetables and home goods.  Even if my feet are tired I have to go through a market.  Most of the time I don’t buy anything, but this time I bought some really good looking cherries and one other item. Here are some pictures.  This was an exceptional market.  It even had people shouting!          While I was in that area I went up a hill to check out the local church (Matriz Church de Vila do Conde, begun in the 16th Century) and also saw the aqueduct again.  I’ll see it close up tomorrow!

  

   

I had to go back to the hotel because of the cherries and saw the local kayak and crew clubs in action!

    

By this time I’d been walking around a bit so I had a second breakfast and also noticed that it was fairly hot according to the local pharmacy. According to my handy converter 31C equals 87.8F.  Definitely time to go to the beach!

    

I just could not delete any of these pictures!  So nice!  I finally plopped my bottom down for a few hours.  One of the things I noticed is that you can rent beds at the beach too.  I did NOT do that!

             

I could see St. John the Baptist fort started in the 16th century from where I was playing on the beach.
 

Nossa Senhora da Guia Chapel, one of the oldest in Portugal was right by me also.  References to it start in 1059.  Very pretty chapel at the beach.

     

After awhile I figure that I had cooked my body enough so it would be good to get some food and water and take a walk along the waterfront.

      

On my way back I saw these houses.  I like the architecture.  There’s something simple but attractive about it.

    

One final picture.  The cherries that I got were pretty fair sized and reminded me of Bings.  These were my dinner!

 

Busy night here, lots of activity so I’m not asleep yet and it’s almost midnight!  Good night!

Vila do Conde – I’m Listening To Portuguese Folk Music As I Blog!

 June 18, 2015

While traveling, whether it’s on a Camino or after a Camino like I’m doing right now, one needs to be flexible.

I woke up this morning at 530am listening to my neighbors get ready to leave.  My first thought was…..back to sleep, that’s not you!  

I got up at 8am thinking that I’d have to change rooms after breakfast, but was able to work out an agreement with the owner to stay in the same room for the next 2 nights!  Yay!  Time to do my wash! Hand washing clothes has never been my forte.  Look at how dirty the water is just from one pair of underwear!  This is from walking and sweating for only 8 miles.  It’s even dirtier when I do more.  

  

After washing and posting yesterday’s blog I set out to explore Vila do Conde. It’s festival time right now! There are lots of monuments and lots of fishing boats.

        

While I was out and about it felt really hot, I looked at a pharmacy sign (they always have the temperature listed) and noticed that it was 33C (91.4F).  Wow, time to eat and take a siesta.  Too hot for me and it was after 1230pm and no stores were open anyway!

    

I waited until the temperature got into the mid 80’s (after 5pm) and set out again.  This time I decided to explore and see if I could follow the river to the Foz (mouth of the river). They’re setting up for a carnival there too!

  

Here it is, guess where I’m going tomorrow?

         

I walked about half-way to Povoa de Varzim and decided that it was time to turn back.  I wanted to go the fruit store before it closes at 8pm.  Here’s a couple of pictures along the way.

    

Since I’m on my own I don’t tend to venture out after dark, but here’s a picture from my window.  A wonderful concert of Portuguese folkloric music is going on, much better then the serenade that we got on our entry to Vila do Conde when we were on Caminho! I’m going to enjoy it some more! Good night!

  

Transition Day – Viana do Castelo to Vila Do Conde

June 18, 2015

I woke up in Viana do Castelo yesterday wondering if there was anything else that I wanted to see there and when/how I should get to Vila do Conde.  I knew that I wasn’t going to walk…..been there and done that.

After breakfast I went first to the train station to check out my options.  Very close to the hotel.  I saw these beautiful verbena plants on the way.  One of my favorite plants!      

The train doesn’t stop at Vila do Conde, but goes to Porto.  I could do that and then take the Metro to Vila do Conde. The other alternative was to take the bus, but only 2 leaving that day.  So I decided to check out of the hotel, store my backpack there and explore some more.  The place below was hard to find in spite of the map.  This is a former Peregrino Hospital (albergues).  It’s being renovated.

  

Exploring is hard work.  I needed a snack! I wanted to take one last look at the decorations in the town square.

    

The Museo de Trajes (clothing museum) is just off of the town square.

    

As I was walking towards the Castelo (castle) I saw this building, but the picture doesn’t do it justice.

  

Nice tile work on ordinary buildings and a different type of roadwork done here than what I’m accustomed to see.

    

Ok, I’m on the other side of town and here’s the sign. The school of hospitality and tourism is housed here along with the Porto and Northern Portugal tourism.  

There wasn’t that much to take a picture of here.  I was a bit disappointed and hope that they work on this!

      

I took another way back and found this street sign reminding me of my Santiago Caminos.

  

At this point it was getting hotter and I felt ready to move on.  The next bus wasn’t going to leave for a few hours so I took the bus to Povoa de Vazim and then took the Metro to Vila do Conde.

In Vila do Conde the Metro station is not close to the tourist area, but I did recognize this!.

According to the literature this aqueduct was started in 1626 and finished in 1714.  It was built to ensure a water supply for the Santa Clara Convent and is the second most extensive aqueduct in Portugal.  I remember Liz pointing this out to me on our walk out of Vila do Conde a few weeks ago.

  

The town getting ready for the San Joao (San Juan) celebration this weekend.

   

  

  

I kind of knew what direction to go based on the aqueduct, but I had to ask a lot of people where the Rua Cais de Lavanderais was located.  Very nice people.  I finally reached my destination after only one “oops.”  It was very close to where Liz and I had had dinner by the bridge that we came in on.

Here’s where I stayed and the view from my room. 

         

I’m not sure why this ship is on the waterfront but I noticed the kayaks too.  There’s apparently a kayak club across the river.

      

Really hungry by now.  Couldn’t get dinner though until 7pm.  Basically this was a chicken pot pie empanada (empanadilla) in Spain, but in puff pastry.  Au gratin potatoes and salad to accompany it.  Couldn’t pass on dessert.

    

Very full and satisfied.  For those that have read my previous entries one of the funny things about our 2nd Caminho day, from Matosinhos to Vila do Conde was the parade that greeted us in Matosinhos and the loud music that greeted us in Vila do Conde.  Well, in Vila do Conde the music started up at 750pm.  Very loud!!! There was also different music coming from the park across the street.  Fortunately once I got back to my room I couldn’t hear either!  What a relief!!!!!

Today I’m doing wash and walking around town a bit .  I think that tomorrow I’ll go to the beach!

Viana do Castelo – Caminho Portuguese Da Costa City. Glad That I Came Back!

June 17, 2015

Yesterday I had the following transition day: Caminha to Viana do Castelo.

I had a great start to the day with this hotel breakfast. It was kind of strange, I was the only person who had breakfast the last couple of days.  It was included in the price for my hotel.  Well I got great service!   

Another great thing about my hotel in Caminha was that the bus stop was really close.  I checked out and figured that I had a couple of hours to walk around, but went to the bus stop to see if there were any schedules posted.  The company that I came in on the other day had a bus at 12:20pm.

I’m glad that I did.  There was a a different company with a bus leaving in 5 minutes!  I ran back to the hotel, grabbed my back pack and jumped on.  

Here are a few pictures from my ride.

    

After passing a bunch of beaches and deciding that next time I’d love to stay in Afife or Ancora, we arrived in Viana do Castelo. My room wasn’t ready yet so I took a walk around. It looks like they’re getting ready for a party!

         

  

        

Yes, a Medieval Festival in the next few days!  Darn, I had such fun in 2011 in Hospital de Orbigo at that one.  I had arrived in Viana too early for this one and had already made my plans for the next few days.

      

  

Room is ready!  Almost right next door to the one that Liz and I had previously here.  Really nice and friendly place!

One of the reasons that I wanted to come to Viana was to see their clothing museum.  These are some examples of what women wore up to the early 1900’s.  The types of clothing changed dependent on their region, social status and what they were doing.  It was very interesting.  This tradition is being kept alive by exhibits like this and festivals. Also, gold jewelry is also a big thing historically. 

           

My 2 Euro entrance fee also gave me permission to go to another museum. This one had wonderful tile, wood and jewelry exhibits.  No photos permitted.  I was the last one out, but almost got trapped in an interior courtyard.  I had to pound in the windows to get out!

  

Another church close by.

      

Viana’s waterfront!  I was getting hungry by this time so didn’t take very long exploring.

    

It was still a bit early (7pm) when I came across this place.

          

Very pretty so I sat down to eat! First off appetizers, then the main course.

     

I had declined dessert (had had it earlier) but my hostess brought me what can best be described as stewed wine grapes with cinnamon.  It was pretty good.  I resisted the temptation to recommend that she add some orange zest and ginger!

A few more pictures that I took on my walk back to the hotel from the outside of the clothing museum. 

     

Finally back at my hotel I turned on my TV to find Ollie and Jen (they are British) from the Travel Channel  exploring Portland Oregon’s restaurant, beer and wine scene.  Then I watched Chopped on the Food Network (it was a repeat).  All with Portuguese subtitles.  Very strange!

Well, today I’ll be moving on.  I have to get breakfast, pack, and figure out when and how I’m leaving.  The clock is ticking!