It was my new idea try to make the Peregrine Way from Porto to Santiago de Compostela (SdC). Not for religious purposes. But for cultural, challenge, historical.
From Porto three different way started. And all they interesting, beautiful.
My plan – Central Way till Barcelos - to Braga by bus and return to Esposende
- from Esposende to Caminha by Very Coastal Way – Norte Litoral
- Then near the Minha river to Vila Nova de Cerveira and then to Valenca
- cross rio Minha from Valenca to Tui, what mean get to Spain
- get to Pontevedra
- turn to Spiritual Way
- try to catch boat from Vilanove do Arousa to Padron
- Portuguese Caminha from Padron to Santiago do Compostela.
And now, one by one all stages of our complete way.
Day first . 21 of April.
Porto – Vairao.
We had a sleep in Albergue do Peregrinos do Porto. This is perfect place with not overcrowded rooms, with windows , balconies and exits into the garden . Here were two big common rooms for rest, dinner ext, perfect fully equipped kitchen and garden with multiple places for relax or take coffee. Personal was so kind to us – our flight was at midnight and they waited for us.
Clean, quiet, 25 min to the Se if you are not in hurry. And 12 Euros pp. Of course, credential are obligated.
So, in the morning, not early, we follow to the Se. First stamp we received in albergue.
Not to do stupid walk in the dirty and industrial zone of Porto, we catch the train in Trinidad station and get by green line C to Mandim station.
From here our walk really starts.
I choose for first stop ancient monastery in Variao. We follow our own pass, smelling eucalyptus trees, observing perfect countryside houses of Portuguese. Every house has small excellent garden with manicured bushes and extraordinary for us flowers.
The first place where we can eat was a café just 700 m before the monastery.
Due to holidays we cannot buy food in Porto. Nothing. We had few own packs with soups and cereals. Some coffee and tea. Also we had small cattle. So, no worry for us.
This café proposed Perigrino menu. 6 Euro pp + bottle of water. It was simple testy food – soup, meat with potatoes and coffee.
Here we met another Peregrinos, but as i understand later, they didn’t stop in the monastery.
Monastery was huge, beautiful, with excellent garden.
We were invited to the third floor . There were numerous very lightened rooms, all with beautiful views. We were only 5 persons here. Everyone stay in personal room. Each room for 5-6 people. Not double beds, but normal. Here was fully equipped kitchen, big hall for breakfast, three or four showers ( for men and the same amount for women), normal toilet facilities ( separate for men and women, of course). Monastery for donation, but person who registered us, asked put into the box 5 Euros pp.
It was very quiet night with fresh air. This is important!
Monastery can accept more then 130 people.
Total 18 km
Day 2. 22 of April.
Vairao – Barcelinhos.
In the morning we saw morning clouds on the grass. Birds sing songs. Quiet and cold.
It was long day to Rates and Barcelos. We follow our way. At first there were small rivers, ancient bridges, millhouses. Ducks, countryside, forests. We didn’t see big markets. Small cafe. Coffee or tea and unpleasant postres. But we had our own food for today. We put on boiled water into pack and saved it in the backpack.
Near Rates we turned left to take a look on the one of the oldest churches. Its huge, wide and good preserved.
From the church i occasionally turned wrong street and, trying to find Caminho, we found ancient historical street. It was marked with signs. And it has branch, which is miracle on Caminho. Here we took our lunch and drink tea, which was in our thermos.
In the center of Rates near the church was our first food shop. Center of Rates really minuscule.
We follow the way.
In one place, may be 5 km before Barcelinhos, there were some shops and cafe. Prices there were extraordinary – 2 espresso and two sandwiches = 2,70….
We didn’t go to the mountain alternative road. We were tired and we also wanted take a look on Barcelos.
We entered to Barcelinhos from left side and stopped in Albergue just left side from the bridge.
This Albergue is cheap. 6 Euros pp. Its strange. First room is common room and sleeping room. It has something as 10-12 beds. There are stairs from the middle of this room on the second floor with , may be 40 beds.
No kitchen. Only microwave and small fridge.
Three showers in line without any separation. Common for all…. And only two points for toilet….
And big covered place near albergue to protect people against the rain.
The view just 2 meters from albergue on Barcelos and bridge. Excellent view!
We took shower and get into Barcelos. Everything was closed. All restaurants, shops, churches. We found only one place to eat. It was tasty huge portions. We took half for breakfast. We also found one supermarket, where bought some fruits and tomatoes .
As we returned to albergue, heavy rain started. Its became extremely cold.
We made 27 km.
It was quiet not hot night.
Day 3 . 23 of April.
Braga and Esposende.
It was awful rain all night. Its stops for little and we, after breakfast, went to bus stop.
As we had personal kettle, we had no problems with breakfast.
Bus station only 300 m from albergue.
I had timetable, but bus delayed on 15 minutes. Its one bus in region and its pick up people from different villages.
Price to Braga was 5,5 Euros for 2 tickets.
Bus arrived ro the central station, which is 10min from the city center.
We had heavy backpacks. That’s why, we found albergue near the main cathedral and asked them to keep our luggage ( no luggage room on bus station, sorry).
First we follow to the Avenue de Liberdade, where bys N2 twice an hour go to the mount with Igreja do Bom Jesus.
Braga has many beautiful buildings but we left them on the way back.
Its only 15 min get to the mountain. And something as 1,5 Euros pp.
From the bottom of the mountain its two options – go by foot or use the ancient funicular. We ascent by foot.
The famous stairs starts from the middle of the mountain. They are really architectural wander. Each part has its own symbolic fountain. Top of the mountain is crowned by the church.
View all time was excellent, but as for me, i felt myself, like in Nepal, in Kathmandu. Its very subjective, but it was.
On the top there are some restaurants and hotels.
We passed church from left side and ascended upper , to the garden with lake. Actually, the lake is small pond and i cannot understand what boats do there. And garden is small. We crossed it and follow by the trail to the next mountain Sameiro.
Its not difficult or long track. 20 min very very slow.
We approached to the next complex from the back side. There were only few people there. Place is looks like very wide and empty. The main square is huge. When Pope of Rome was in Braga, he made his meeting point here. Then I found strange details in decoration. The were stars on the mosaic surfaces and really Soviet stars and leaves of laurel on the two columns. I know that before, Portuguese and Soviet Union were close to each other.
For returning i choose the trail little bit lower. Its connect two mountains by slope and passed through the forest.
It was pity that we didn’t try funicular, because, as i read after, it has water system inside for ascending and descending. This system is unique. But i didn’t know this fact at this time.
In Braga we visited some churches and houses. The most prominent, for me, of course, was central cathedral and Palacio do Raio with rich azuleju outside and wide heavy staircase inside.
Se, main cathedral, nestled in the middle of the ancient city. It has inside extraordinary organ with numerous tubes different length and very rich decorated. I never saw before such a big one! I cannot imagine paradise music in this place!
As I want to continue our way near the coast , I made different calculations about our altitude in Barselos and altitude in Esposende. Difference was 2 km 100 m. Esposende little bit farther to the North.
We catch the last bus (on central bus station) about 6 pm. Tickets in the bus. During next 1,5 hours the bus made snake rounds everywhere and twice get to Barcelos.
For our overnight I booked hotel Zende next to the bus station. It was 40€ double room with balcony.
In Portuguese its dark in the morning till 7am. But it’s still sunny even at 10 pm. So, after check in we went to observe ocean and made small promenade. In this part there were no restaurants, no Cafe, no food shops. But we had rests from Barselos.
This day we made 18 km.