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Porto To Santiago - How To Combine Coastal & Central Way?

Discussion in 'The Camino Portugues' started by Freeminded, Aug 28, 2017.

  1. Freeminded

    Freeminded New Member

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    Hello! Me and my friend are starting the Camino on Sept 2nd and still haven’t decided what route to choose...we want to combine the Coastal and Central way, and having gone through a lot of the questions and answers here on the forum, I’ve planned out 2 options.

    First option is 1st day on the coast and on day 2 inland via Rates:
    1) Matosinhos – Vila do Conde (23 km)
    2) Vila do Conde – Barcelos (~27 km)
    3) Bercelos – Ponte de Lima (34 km)
    4) Ponte de Lima – Cossourado (23 km)
    5) Cossourado – O’Porrino (34 km)
    6) O’Porrino – Arcade (22 km)
    7) Arcade – Pontevedra (13 km)
    8) Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis (23 km)
    9) Caldas de Reis – Padron (18 km)
    10) Padron – Santiago (22 km)

    Second option is the first 4 days Coastal and then to Central Way on day 5:
    1) Matosinhos – Vila do Conde (23 km)
    2) Vila do Conde – Esposende (25 km)
    3) Esposende – Viana de Castelo (23 km)
    4) Viana de Castelo – Caminha (28 km)
    5) Caminha – Valenca (27 km)
    6) Valenca – Mos (26 km)
    7) Mos – Pontevedra (31 km)
    8) Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis (23 km)
    9) Caldas de Reis – Padron (18 km)
    10) Padron – Santiago (22 km)

    We want to do it in 10 days and this is our first Camino so we’re not very experienced yet.. the second option has only one day with over 30 km to walk so i think it may be a good option, but i’ve seen some pictures and read on the forums that Barcelos and Ponte de Lima are beautiful cities so i don’t know if i want to miss passing through them...any advice?
     
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  2. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Freeminded - Welcome to the Forum. You've laid out two good, but different options. I can only really speak to the Central route as that was the one my wife and I walked this past spring.

    We walked the CP in 13 days. I believe Brierley recommends 11 or 12. Ten is doable, but as you indicated above, you'll have a couple long 34 km days. I've walked that far on the CF, but they weren't my favorite days. If you're going to walk it in 10 days, physical conditioning becomes more of an issue than if you were to spread it out over a couple extra days. If possible, plan a bit longer Camino so as to avoid those 30+ km days. There is a great deal to enjoy along this section of the CP, so take your time to appreciate as much if it as possible.

    Another issue to mention about Portugal is that you'll be walking on cobblestones, if you take the Central route, all the way to Tui. These gave my wife some unexpected knee problems. The terrain itself is very hiker friendly. There are not many hills in comparison with the CF. But, the stones may or may not be a problem.

    Regarding the towns along The Way, Ponte de Lima and Pontevedra were two of my favorites. From Vila do Conde to Barcelos, it's 27 km, so stopping there makes sense. It, too, is nice and worth spending some time there.

    As you said above, as this is your first Camino and as you're not very experienced, if you go the Central route, my recommendation would be to plan a 12 day Camino. There's no need to power your way to Santiago in a shorter amount of time. Bom Caminho!
     
  3. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Freeminded - It occurred to me that I forgot to mention gear in my post to you. Travel light! I see far too many pilgrims carrying too much. You may have already found it, but there is a clothing and gear section on the Forum. Let me direct you to a couple excellent posts by Laurie Ferris who has walked both the CF and the CP. I believe that her lists will be helpful to you in planning your Camino.

    http://www.caminodesantiago.org.uk/threads/my-camino-packing-list.6122/

    http://www.caminodesantiago.org.uk/threads/camino-packing-list-part-2-gear-and-accessories.6135/

    My wife and I only carried 6.25 kg including our water. It was a really dreamy weight! You can find our packing list with item weights in our CP blog below this post. Check out entry #26. Bom Caminho!
     
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  4. calowie

    calowie Active Member

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    Hi Freeminded

    We stayed on the coastal route the whole way and then diverted to the Spiritual variant when leaving Pontevedra-see our stops below. The route we took was never crowded and we never had problems finding roooms in the albergue- sometimes the problem was finding the albergue! Great route- anything you pick will be great!

    Day 1. Vila do conde - new albergue, great people.
    Day 02: Esposende, municipal albergue, quiet!
    Day 03: Viana do Castelo, in a church monastery, just over the big bridge, on your right, lots of space.
    Day 04: Caminha- harder o find the municipal albergue- have to ask.
    Day 5. Mougros (5 Km before Baiona). Great private albergue we were tols was fantastic!
    Day 06: Vigo to Cangas- Because we know the area around Cangas we took the ferry from Vigo and stayed in a known family run hotel where I had to do a day of work!
    Day 7: Cangas-Bueu-Pontevedra Municipal albergue- back on the “regular route”. Noisy!
    Day 08: Pontevedra to Armenteira. ~25 Km Start out on the regular trail from Pontevedra, through the town. About 3 Km along this trail there is a signpost: straight ahead for Padron, turn left for the spiritual variant. Up over the hill, great views, down the other side, come to the monastery at Armenteira and the abbergue 400 m away.
    Day 09: Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa. ~25 Km. trail of the water and rocks. Beautiful, easy walk.
    Day 10: Vilanova de Arousa to Padron by boat. Arrange this at the albergue to make sure you get a seat. Never mind what the weather is like- wrap your bag in its raingear and put on raingear- you will get wet! We then walked to Teo to make a shorter next day.
    Day 11: On to Santiago, pick your albergue!

    We never booked a room, never had a problem- often there were only 4 of us in albergue in mid June.

    Buen Camino
     
  5. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I believe one of the biggest mistakes first time Camino walkers can make is to try and shoehorn a route into an overly tight timeframe – And to me, this is Exactly what you are proposing.

    Walking from Porto to Santiago de Compostela may well be “Doable” if you are fit and experienced long-distance walkers, but from your post, I get the feeling that this isn’t the case.



    I have walked The Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago de Compostela myself a few years ago and it took us 11 days but at the time I thought that “if I had more time on my hands then to split the two longer days would have been a nice option” – My own trek notes are at https://web.archive.org/web/20151031050709/http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/50192/c4/ IF you want to take a look.



    You already have replies from two other pilgrims that took longer than the 10 days you propose, so, based on their experiences as well as my own, my advice would be either to extend your walking timeframe, or to start your walk closer to Santiago de Compostela, maybe somewhere like Rates de Barcelos which is around 204km, which leaves you a more doable average of just over 20km a day to complete your Camino



    We have one regular poster who was unable to complete his own Camino and I know how Gutted he was – So please don’t let that happen to you !!



    Good Luck and Buen Camino



    Rob
     
  6. Freeminded

    Freeminded New Member

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    Hello Willy! Thank you for your detailed response, I will take that into account - the cobblestones, adding 1 or 2 extra days to the Camino, perhaps we decide for the Central way and go through Ponte de Lima. As for the gear, without water and food, mine weighs almost 5 kg, so i think i'm good from that point of view. I have read your responses to other questions regarding the Camino Portugues in the forum, thank you for sharing your experience!
     
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  7. Freeminded

    Freeminded New Member

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    Hey Rob, thank you for the reply! We were planning to spend a couple of days in Porto before we start walking and then in Santiago before our flight home, but based on everybody's response, i gather it would be wiser to spend them on the Camino, so we will re-think our plan. I have started going through your notes as well, thank you for that! Unfortunately, we were only able to get away for 14 days altogether so that's why the ambitious plan :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2017
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  8. Freeminded

    Freeminded New Member

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    Thank you for all the information, I too believe any route we choose will be amazing! Reading your response has made me realize that all the options are amazing, perhaps we will reconsider combining the 2 routes and just choosing one, leaving the other one for a future occasion :)
     
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  9. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Yes – Totally agree that you would be wise to cut your stay down to no more than 1 day in Porto so that you have more time for the walk – As I already mentioned, it took me 11 days and with hindsight, having another day would have made the Camino a lot more leisurely and enjoyable :)

    Another thing to remember is that if you miss a day or two’s walking as you leave Porto, then this is unimportant, but if you miss the same day or two’s walking within the last 100km of your Camino, then you would no longer qualify for your Compostela.

    I am sure that you will work something out that is both manageable as well as fitting into your timeframe

    Best Regards

    Rob
     
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  10. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Freeminded - Regardless of the route you pick that you will surely enjoy the CP. We enjoyed our day in Porto, but we were also very eager to get on the road. Because of the large crowds in Santiago, we found a single day there also enough. If we had had more time, we would have loved to have kept on walking after a rest day.

    If you don't already have your Credencial, you can get it at the cathedral. It doesn't open until 9 am. As we were leaving that morning, after the cathedral, we jumped the #500 bus that took us along the river up to the Matosinhos Market where we began walking. You can also get up there by metro. Although we walked the Central route, we did enjoy a beautiful day along the coast up to Vila do Conde. The next day we cut in to join the Central route at Arcos. If your timing is right, that is depending on where you plan to stop for the night, our stay at Casa de Fernanda, about halfway between Barcelos and Ponte de Lima at Lugar do Corgo, was one of your Camino highlights due to Fernanda's hospitality.

    I like the weight you got your pack down to. You'll greatly appreciate the light load as you walk. If you get a chance, let us know what route you finally choose. It WILL be a great experience for you. Bom Caminho!
     
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  11. toadoftoadhall

    toadoftoadhall Member

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    Day 06: Vigo to Cangas
    Calowie, this is what I will be doing, and walking around the peninsular up to Pontevedra. Any tips on the walkaround, or did you walk across to Bueu.
    thanks
     
  12. calowie

    calowie Active Member

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    Toadoftoadhall: Because I took an extra day of work we took a bus from Cangas half way to Bueu because we were told that there were no trails, just the road with little/no space on the shoulder for walking. So then we walked up the inside of the Ria with no problem. Once you get to Bueu there are trails or waterfront paths of pavement or gravel or some trails that make the rest of the day much nicer. Once you finish walking along the water as you approach Pontevedra it is on roads and streets. In good weather the time spent along the banks of the Ria is gorgeous! Originally I thought you were planning to go from Cangas to Moana and onwards to Pontevedra and we were looking forward to your report!
     
  13. klarasee

    klarasee New Member

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    Hi while staying at the great Porto albergue in Rua Forrester, where U can get the passport and stay before U start, I went jogging to the beach and river and saw lots of walkers starting on the coastal way. The river walk is a nice start. One girl I know did the walk in 14 days! I also only averaged 22km per day. The cobbles are hard on the feet so soft runners were too soft so more sturdy soles are enough, not boots in my opinion.
    Barcelos is nice but not that remarkable, and ponte de lima is beautiful but U see a similar Roman bridge 10 km before ponte de Vedra, so I think the route you prefer is more important than seeing those 2 towns. If U don't have time, well there were 4 people on my train to barcelos and U can start from there. Get the passport stamped in a coffee shop in the town U start. That would be a 9 day walk.
    Also I stayed in Teo after Padron which I recommend.
     
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  14. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Freeminded, welcome. As above, and my two cents: I wouldn't have missed Porto for anything. We stayed at BlueSock Hostel right down on the Ribeira, close to the Se and the Dom Luis bridge (lovely and lively area at night). Barcelos was nice - they have a pottery museum (Museo de Olaria) that's worth a look if you have the time. Tui is also a charming hilltop town. Pontevedra might have been my favorite. Actually, the towns were my favorite part of the Portuguese. I didn't find the walk itself especially scenic except if you like paths through vineyards. I liked every one of the towns, in fact. Even O Porrino, which was said to be more industrial. Try a Francesinha in Porto if you get a chance (a meaty sandwich drenched in a rich sauce).

    Another option is to walk the coast out to Matosinhos (the Fort, the Anemone, and good seaside cafes along the way), take the metro back to Porto and take the train to Barcelos to start, as klarasee did and we did also, thus getting a little coastal walking in and missing the worst cobblestone and urban parts. That would cut some time off for you since you have limited time.

    If you want lodging recommendations, just ask. There are some really good albergues, pensions and hotels all along the way. Happy planning!
     
  15. Corry

    Corry New Member

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    Freeminded!

    How was your Camino?? Would be very interested in what you dec ided on the route and also the number of days you took. We are planning our first Camino in March 2019 and still have very many questions, but have definitely decided on the Portuguese Camino from Porto starting on March 20 (we fly into Porto on March 19, 2019) and leave Santiago on 4th April.
     
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  16. Freeminded

    Freeminded New Member

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    Hi! Our Camino was truly amazing, we decided to take the first option and walked alongside the ocean on Day 1, and then headed inland. I'm glad we chose this option, as Ponte de Lima was such a beautiful city and i would have been sorry to miss it. We spent 2 days in porto before leaving and 2 days in santiago at the end.

    We made some small adjustments to the initial plan as we went along, this was the final route we took:
    1) Matosinhos – Vairao
    2) Vairao – Barcelos
    3) Bercelos – Ponte de Lima
    4) Ponte de Lima – Sao Bento
    5) Sao Bento – O’Porrino
    6) O’Porrino – Arcade
    7) Arcade – Pontevedra
    8) Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis
    9) Caldas de Reis – Herbon
    10) Herbon – Santiago

    It took us 10 days altogether to finish the trip, and i think day 3 (34 km) was the hardest. Like other people mentioned here before me, would have probably been best to have at least one additional day :)

    Some days we did not find any free place at the albergues so we went to the next city, some days we simply felt we did not want to stop where we had planned on paper and kept going a bit more. For the last night on the Camino we decided to sleep in Herbon instead of Padron as the competition to arrive early and find a good place to sleep was getting more visible towards the end, and we wanted to enjoy the last days. In Herbon we slept at a franciscan convent, and it was the most beautiful experience - the hosts there were wonderful, cooked a meal for all the pilgrims, offered us a tour, it was really lovely.

    Hope this helps you, let me know if you have other questions :) and buen camino!
     
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  17. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Corry - Although Brierley suggested walking from Porto to Santiago in 10 days, we broke the longer 30+ km days up (Barcelos - Ponte de Lima and Tui - Redondela) to make it a 12 day Camino. Like Freeminded, we, too, walked up the coast the first day from Matosinhos. At Vila do Conde, we then turned inland to the Central Route. As said above, Ponte de Lima is a beautiful city and right along with it is Pontevedra. As with other Caminos, there are many charming villages and towns one walks through along The Way to SdC. I wish I could say more about the coastal route other than that we had a glorious walk up to Vila do Conde on a beautiful sunny day. A small seafood restaurant that evening was the icing on the cake. We were certainly pleased with having chosen the Central Route. Bom Caminho!
     
  18. Corry

    Corry New Member

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    Hello again Freeminded and Wily,

    Thank you so much for your good advice and well wishes. The more I read and research the more I realize how much I still don’t know or understand about walking our first camino.

    The Brierly guide has now been ordered. Will further investigate equipment, training, coastal and inland routes and most importantly preparation! We still have a lot to learn and may call again on your expertise when we are a bit further advanced. We still have some time until March 2019

    Many thanks and buon camino to those planning to walk soon

    cheers Corry
     
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