Camino Portugués 2023 – Day 4 – Viana do Castelo to Caminha

This was a day of two halves and one I would remember for quite some time.

After a fantastic sleep at Alex Point, I woke at 7am. I stuck my head out the window to witness heavy rain falling accompanied with winds. I saw a forelorn pilgrim wander through the main street getting battered by the heavy rains – her poncho was no assistance to her. I searched for my rain gear and had it ready. My initial reaction was to wait it out. Perhaps it is just a shower? I had some breakfast with the hostel owner and after a good conversation with him, he wished me a bom caminho! I made for the coast. This was probably not the wisest of choices considering the weather. I had no rain pants, and I was soaking wet in minutes. The wind was pushing me back no matter how much I wanted to go forward. I met another pilgrim from the USA – Latoya, who asked me for directions. I told her to walk toward the coast before checking out the Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Agonia. I caught up with her, and I walked with her for a while.

Walking along the coast, the rain had cleared however we were left with a cold wind from the Atlantic. I was familiar with this route having walked it last year and I wanted to continue along the coast, however with the lack of services, I had a decision to make. Do I continue on along the senda litoral or cut inland to the coastal, have a warm beverage and possibly meet one or two more pilgrims? Hmm. I decided to walk for a few kilometres more to mull it over. Latoya has said goodbye for the moment as she found my pace too much, however I met a German pilgrim and we started to chat for a while. She was covered up from head to toe in poncho but still had a smile on her face. She had one thing on her mind – to find the nearest cafe. I said ok, I think I will join you. So we walked together until we could turn inland for some warm refreshments.

The send litoral from Viana is mostly boardwalk and dirt track until Vila Praia de Ancora but we do pass old windmills or silos. They were very useful in days gone by, but now they mostly keep watch on passing boats or on the sea, which just happens to be in an agressive mood today. At the Torre de Montedor, there are a group of Spanish cyclists taking a rest. We say our hellos and make a turn for the coastal camino. There is a gradual climb at this stage, but after yesterday’s antics it wasn’t anything to write home about. We arrive at the town of Carreco – a place I have not seen before – and look for a cafe. There is a bridge to cross and we quickly spot the cafe with pilgrims outside. Some were getting ready to move on after having a snack. I met some Canadian pilgrims here – one had Irish heritage and we were talking about the town her fore-fathers came from. She was happy to get that information. After receiving my fill and getting another sello, I moved on. I said goodbye to my German friend – she was with a group of German pilgrims and I felt a little odd.

On leaving Carreco, the Camino takes you on a gradual uphill walk to a high of 200 metres, and I was a little unprepared for this. By now the sun was out and I had ditched the rain gear. The walk from Carreco to Ancora was mainly in forests, and it was well sign posted. Blue arrows tell me the way to Fatima. I passed through small towns to reach the top at Ancora. The views from the top overlooking Vila Praia do Ancora were outstanding. From then, it was all downhill to Vila Praia but some of the descent was tricky. I was glad to reach the coast again close to 2pm.

From there, I had a lazy stroll to Caminha along the coast. I met my Swedish friend from Day 1 closer to Caminha and we walked to the same albergue – Bom Caminha Albergue which is a fantastic place. When I arrived I learned that the owner lived in Ireland at one stage. I met a pilgrim walking to Porto (my first of this Camino) and we had a long conversation while she let her clothes dry. It was good to see “the three amigos” again – three pilgrims who started their pilgrimage from Lisbon and who are walking together. Caminha is a lively town. The plaza fills up when cafes are open.

I met Bina – who has walked many Caminos – she was a character. She told me about Lagar de Jesus which is located after Padron. I took a note of it and thanked her for it. We thought it might be an idea to make a reservation for Xacabeo Transfer – the boat service that brings pilgrims to Spain. I thought I would make a reservation, although it was not essential. It would not be the last time I would see Bina. It felt strange leaving Portugal so soon. It has been so good to me – I would be returning to Spain after almost a year away. Next stop A Guarda once we make a short crossing by boat.

Bom Caminho

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