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Reflections On Walking The Camino Portugués

Discussion in 'The Camino Portugues' started by Wily, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Reflections on Walking the Camino Portugués (Porto to Santiago)

    1. In general, the Camino Portugués is more terrain friendly than the CF. For the most part the walk up from Porto is relatively flat. There are no overwhelming climbs although the Alto Portela Grande before you reach Rubiaes will get your heart pumping faster, but it is a short 400m uphill. The hardest thing to get used to are the cobblestones.

    2. If you're not interested in the longer CF, but still want to walk into Santiago and do more than 100 km, then the Portugués is a good alternative (although there are certainly other choices as well). As it is generally an easier walk than the Francés, it would be an excellent choice for a first Camino.

    3. For cyclists, the Portugués would be a good route to choose to bicycle. Even the cobblestones in Portugal would not present any problem for someone on a mountain bike. The paths are generally wide and bike friendly.

    4. The Camino Portugués is well signed both in Portugal and in Spain. We only missed a sign once and that was because we were gabbing and not paying attention. We easily corrected our mistake.

    5. Although we didn't use our Brierely guidebook that much, the maps were helpful. One could manage this Camino easily with just his book of maps that includes his lists of albergues and hostels.

    6. The infrastructure is good in both Portugal and Spain, but it does get even better after you cross into Spain. The closer you get to Santiago, the more services you will find. There was a good choice of albergues and hostels at all of your stops. As on the CF, the municipal albergues were the least expensive (5-6€ a night) while privates generally ran between (10-13€). Many private albergues offered double rooms as well as the standard dorm rooms. Wifi is available everywhere!

    7. Prices were not much different than I found on the CF. Budgeting 30€ a day would allow you to walk this Camino comfortably. If you were staying in the municipales, you could reduce your spending by a bit more. Every private albergue we stayed in was very nice. Although many restaurants advertised pilgrim's meals, we did not find any offered at the albergues where we stayed. All of our private albergues offered blankets. That wasn't the case at the municipales.

    8. Entering or leaving a city is generally not much fun. In Porto, I'd recommend taking the coastal route out of the city. Either begin your walk at the cathedral and follow the river to the coast or catch the #500 bus downtown and ride it to the mercado at Matosinhos. At Vila do Conde, cut in and you'll meet up with the Camino Central at Arcos.

    9. From a crowd perspective, early spring is just the time to walk if you want the trail to yourself. On our first two days on the Camino, we saw fewer than a half dozen other pilgrims. Crossing into Spain at Tui the number of walkers increased, but still very few compared to what one can expect later in the season. Although we had made albergue/hostel reservations, they weren't necessary this time of year. With Easter approaching next week, that might all change. In the private albergues, there were no more than a small handful of pilgrims on any given night. Consequently, the albergues were very quiet and we slept well without earplugs.

    10. For anyone walking the Central route, I'd highly recommend staying at Casa Fernanda. IMHO, you will not find greater hospitality anywhere else! In a relaxing home atmosphere, she cooks up delicious meals that will satisfy any hungry pilgrim. She's busy and popular, so a reservation is advised as she only sleeps about twelve. She doesn't use the Internet, but she is easily reached by phone for a reservation.

    11. Brierley suggests walking from Porto to Santiago in eleven days. We did the trek in twelve days which allowed a leisurely pace on every stage without being exhausted at the end of the day. On the average, we walked 20 km a day. This was a nice easy pace that didn't require us leaving in the dark, but still allowed us to arrive most days in the early to mid-afternoon. We broke up Brierley's 32 km stage from Tui to Redondela with an overnight in Porriño. We ran into many others who were doing the same thing.

    12. If you need or want to use a luggage transport service, Tuitrans proved to be both highly efficient and reliable. Most albergues seemed to have their luggage tags available. I'd email them in the afternoon about a pickup the following day. We'd leave the pack in the albergue lobby and when we arrived at our next stop it was waiting for us. They charged 5€ per bag.

    13. Our kits were nearly perfect. The only thing that went unused were
    our ponchos. I might rethink whether or not to bring them along next time. For the rain that we encountered, our light rain jackets and pack covers were more enough. However, we did not walk in any torrential rain Galicia can be know for.

    14. My general observation is that pilgrims were carrying pretty light loads. There is no need to use a pack larger than 35L nor carry more than 6 kg of gear. Clothes washing facilities were regularly available. To walk far, carry less!

    15. Regardless of the particular Camino, foot care continues to be one of the most important physical concerns for pilgrims. I can't stress enough the importance of good hiking or running shoes, high quality socks, insoles, light pack weight, and proper blister care. If you get a blister, attend to it immediately and keep it small.

    16. Returning to Porto is quite easy. There is a noon bus that arrives in Porto around 3:15. The bus station in Santiago is an easy 20 minute walk from the cathedral. Our tickets ran 32€ each. The bus stops at both the airport and at the Casa de Musica. The latter is right at the metro so, for us, it was an easy, quick, and inexpensive (1.80€) trip to the center of the historical district.

    17. Although I like the Francés because of its length, the shorter Portugués from Porto (officially 240 km), offers the complete pilgrim experience. We didn't bump into anyone who wasn't satisfied with having chosen this Camino to walk.

    Bom Caminho Amigos!
     
  2. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander Well-Known Member

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    I'm sold! Thanks for the info Wily. Well researched and professionally done. Congrats to you and your wife!
     
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  3. Maurice Marr

    Maurice Marr Member

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    Thanks Wily

    Excellent information. When does the Wily Guide to the Camino ship from publishers? :) Seriously, you are a font of knowledge which you freely share.

    wayne
     
  4. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Thanks Wayne. It's completely my pleasure to share what I've learned. A year ago, this Forum and its knowledgeable participants helped me get ready for a successful Camino. I only hope that I can add a few nuggets of information now to assist others. Talk to you after I get home. Sitting in the Porto airport enjoying a last cup of great Portuguese coffee. Bom Caminho!
     
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  5. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Donating Member Donating Member

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    Thank you Wily, what a great Camino summary you shared. You perfectly offer 'snapshots'
    of the Camino, and areas of preparations to be aware of. I know that you have filled in spots
    of concern of my own, replacing them with confidence and anticipation! I will be walking
    the CF in April 2018, but the following year my love for mountain biking will bring me back
    to the Camino. Safe trip home for you and your wife!!
     
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  6. raymond john

    raymond john Well-Known Member

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    Wily
    Pleased you enjoyed walking the CP . I walked the coastal route last year in June from Porto to Caminha, then I crossed over to Tui. During that time it was very quiet I only met 3 other pilgrims along the costal route until I arrived at Tui . When crossing over from Caminha to Tui, is where I met Bruno from Napoli he was walking from Lisbon to Santiago on providence in the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi . He had no maps, little money and just a list of town names on a piece of scrap paper. I had a amazing afthernoon with him just waking , talking and listening what he had to say. He walk in faith and courage, in my opinion I felt it was an honour to have met him and spent time with him.
    The Central route had more pilgrims but still not that busy. However I found the last stage from Padron to Santiago difficult because of the limited signage, I seamed to walk around the houses ( The long way round ) to get into Santiago then the signs just disappeared. One of the challenges I found when walking solo was missing the signs on a number of occasions I had to back track because I had missed the sign. Not withstanding that I met some wonderful Pilgrims and had an enjoyable Pilgrimage.
    I'm planning to walk the PC again but take in the Spiritual Variant route from Pontevedra to Padron. which I'm told has a fantastic landscape and the boat trip from Vilagarcia de Arousa to Ponecesurey, is brilliant following the journey of the remains of St James on there way to Santiago .

    I've just returned from Spain opening our Albergue in Rabanal de Camino on the CF. On our first night we had snow, however as the week went on the weather improved more like spring.

    Carpe Diem and Buen Camino.

    Raymond John
     
  7. raymond john

    raymond john Well-Known Member

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    Wily
    I forgot to mention that your reflections of walking the CP brought back so many wonderful memories. and without going into any details the 4 incidence of kindness/ generosity I received in Portugal from the locals. They just came out of nowhere and quite unexpected.

    RJ
     
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  8. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey RJ - How right you are! After two Caminos now, I can honestly say that the people of Spain and Portugal will be a primary factor for why I return for a third walk. We, too, experienced that kindness and generousity that you refer too. It's also these traits displayed by our fellow pilgrims that make walking a Camino so worthwhile. The landscape, the history, and the general culture are all overshadowed by the values the people from this region demonstrate toward the strangers they find walking across their land. My belief in the goodness of people is reaffirmed by those I have meet along The Way.
     
  9. toadoftoadhall

    toadoftoadhall Member

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    Wily,
    many thanks for the inspiration to walk the PC. My flight is now booked for Sept 13. Going to do the coastal route, and take my time as you suggest. After all, its not a race.
    toad.
     
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  10. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Toad - I don't think you can go wrong with either the Coastal or the Central route. The next time I do the CP, I'll take the Coastal Route. Our first day along the coast from Portos to Vila do Conde was great. Talked to pilgrims who had done the coastal route and they loved it although they had a week of bad weather. But, that's all part of the Camino experience! The other thing I would add to my next walk in Portugal would be the Variante Espiritual out of Pontevedra. Check into that as you plan your trip. Bom Caminho!
     
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  11. toadoftoadhall

    toadoftoadhall Member

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    Wily, what are the options getting to the center from the airport. Does the metro go that far, buses, or the expensive taxi route you did.. I arrive at 9:45am, so hope to get to the cathedral and get the passport and get walking before lunchtime. Then I can spend a couple of days in Porto when I get back from Santiago.
     
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  12. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Toad - Getting to the Porto cathedral from the airport is quite easy. The most cost effective and quickest way is by taking the metro that runs right out to the airport. It's easy to find as you exit the arrival area. The airport is the last stop on that line. You only need to make one transfer at Trindade and then exit at Sao Bento which is right in the heart of the historical district. As you exit the station, you'll see the cathedral. The metro cost will be just a hair over 2€. The cathedral opens at 9 am so you won't have any problem getting your credential (2€). If you angle off just a bit southwest from the cathedral, you'll be on the walk along the Rio Douro and on your way to Santiago. Although we were only on the coast one day, the walk along the boardwalk up to Vila do Conde was great! Bom Caminho!
     
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  13. Sunny

    Sunny New Member

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    Hi Wily,
    Thank you for your amazing post! I was planning to go to Frances route this summer 2017, I am considering to change my route to CP after reading your post. (I only want to walk for about 2 weeks then travel to different cities). I will be travelling solo for the first time and this will be my first camino.
    I wasn't clear whether you took coastal or central route. How would you decide which route to take?

    I prefer a quiet route but still I wish there are traffic to be safe. (considering that I am a solo female traveller). Would you say that the route was pretty safe to travel alone?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
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  14. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Sunny - Glad you enjoyed the blog. The CP was another great Camino! As we walked in late-March/early-April, it was very quiet, but still there were enough other pilgrims so as to enjoy their company along The Way. We walked the Central Route although we spent the first day out of Porto along the coast. We then cut in at Vila do Conde. As I really enjoyed the countryside of the CF last year, our choice was to go inland so as to have a similar experience which we did. The only difficult issue for some is that for the Portugal section up to Valenca, you're walking on cobblestones. The unevenness gives some people problems although I found them to be fine. In general, the terrain is very hiker friendly. We took 12 days to walk the CP. So, if you have two weeks to walk, that woukd allow you a couple days at the end to enjoy Santiago. I have our hostels and albergues listed on the blog. I'd stay at any of them a second time, but certainly the highlight was our overnight at Casa Fernanda. Do reserve there because she is very popular. In the summer, you'll find plenty of other pilgrims walking the CP, so, from a safety point of view, you'd feel comfortable. Bom Caminho!
     
  15. Jose

    Jose Active Member

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    Well, I am into Roy Uprichard's account of the Camino Portugués and thought I would check out the postings here. It all sounds so wonderful, I am wondering if my deceison to walk the Camino Frances maybe shouldn't be re thought. Would love to hear your opinion. This will be my first camino and I had gravitated towards the French way for several reasons and, of course, now I have booked my flight with the amount of time needed for the CF. Anyway, would anyone say: "Change your plans immediately and head out on the CP?"
     
  16. danvo

    danvo Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Jose, if you have enough time, you can walk Camino del Norte. Or of course Portuguese way. It depends of your preferences - if you want to walk (mostly) alone, try one of these caminos. If you want to be a part of camino family (group of fellow pilgrims from around the world) then select Camino Frances. There will be really many pilgrims to walk with. Anyway - it is not important WHICH camino... but CAMINO :)
     
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  17. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Jose - I think Danvo's last line really sums it up quite well. What you are hoping to get from your walk will be possible regardless of the Camino you choose. Although there are definitely differences between the two routes, one isn't better than the other nor would your personal outcomes be different. So, whether you walk from SJPP to Santiago or Lisbon to Santiago, I believe either will be equally special and fulfilling. Because the CF was my first Camino, it holds a special significance for me. Had I instead walked the CP a year ago, I'm certain that I would have a similar perspective for that route as my first Camino. You can't go wrong regarding your choice! Buen Camino/Bom Caminho!
     
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  18. walker007

    walker007 New Member

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    This is so valuable. I am leaving Lisbon on 1st September. Thank you Wily, always good to get advice.
     
  19. Sunny

    Sunny New Member

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    Hi Wily, I wanted to thank you for your valuable information! It was so helpful during my camino!
     
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  20. Paloma

    Paloma New Member

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  21. Paloma

    Paloma New Member

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    Thank you so much for the information. I'm planning to walk Porto to Santiago next fall and feel so much better now that I read your post!
     
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  22. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Paloma - I'm glad you found my comments helpful. Be sure to check out my blog as there is a great deal more information there than I could post on the Forum. If you have any specific questions, just PM me and I'll do my best to assist you with what I know. It is a great Camino to walk. Bom Caminho!

    Caminoportugues2017.blogspot.com
     
  23. Paloma

    Paloma New Member

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    Wily, did you encounter water fonts along the way? The CF had a lot of them so the need to carry a lot of water was not an issue.
     
  24. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Paloma - As I did when I walked the CF, I only carried a 700 ml water bottle. Along the Portugués from Porto, there are very few, if any, long isolated stretches where water and food aren't readily available. So between fountains and cafe/bars there is no need to carry excessive water. Lots of places to refill or to enjoy a tasty café con leche.
     
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  25. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander Well-Known Member

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    Sad I have to wait until Sept 2018!!!! I could use a proper café con leche.
     
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  26. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Yes indeed! I can't get a proper café con leche in northern NY any easier than you can in Alberta! Starbucks hasn't mastered that little secret yet! Bom Camino!
     
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  27. Paloma

    Paloma New Member

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