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Day nineteen on the central route of the Camino Portugués was another fabulous walk through the Portuguese countryside, then a tour through the medieval city of Valença with its amazingly preserved fortress walls, an international crossing on the Minho River to Spain and the grand finale in the medieval Spanish city of Tui. For what more could a pilgrim ask?
"Believe in Love's infinite journey, for it is your own! For you are Love, Love is Life." ~ Rumi
Team Magdalena was in full force today, lifting everyone's spirits as we moved together through day nineteen on the Portuguese Way, along the central route. It was a day of Love, Fun and Laughter!
I was about 300 meters down the road on day nineteen when I realized that I hadn't turned on my GPS. Bummer! I was going to run back to the Albergue Ninho to retrace, and then I got lazy, and thought, "I will add it to the map later." And this is what I did. You will notice if you zoom into the start of the day on the map below, there is a point A and a point B which denotes the section I added.
Therefore, I added this distance to the total kilometers for the day. You will see 19.6 kilometers on the elevation profile, below, when the added amount is 20 kilometers. If you are starting from the municipal albergue farther up the hill, you will have to add a few hundred meters more, if you want a precise amount.
The mileage is from our Albergue Ninho to the cathedral in Tui. You will need to add an additional 500 meters if going onward to the Albergue Santo Domingo or other accommodation to the north in Tui. Of course, if you are landing at an accommodation in Valença, it will be less.
The elevation profile is very doable, with lovely uphill sections initially, on cobblestone, followed by a downhill cruise on old Roman roads and villages through the countryside toward the River Minho.
All of our Camino group decided to meet in front of the Albergue Ninho to walk together. We decided the night before that Magdalena, our wheelchair-bound friend would join us, despite long sections off pavement. All of the strong and able-bodied men agreed they would join in, taking turns during the rougher sections. We set off, down the N201 in the early morning light.
In only a few meters, the Camino turns sharply left onto a narrow cobblestone lane, shown below.
We all had our breakfast in our albergues, but the map shows you several cafés at the start of the day, if you need them.
Within less than a kilometer, we came to this charming old Roman bridge, crossing the Rio Coura.
The cobblestone lane meets the N201 and crosses it here at this signpost, directing the pilgrimage traveler toward the next town of Cossourado. Here is Matt hamming it up when I asked him to stand beside the waymark!
Within only 150 meters or so, this waterfall on the Rio Coura is reached. One-by-one we stopped here to take it in. It is a serene and lovely place, perfect for a photo opportunity.
Pictured below, is the attractive Via Romana waymarks that you encounter along the way, letting you know that this indeed is the way that the Roman roads once took. It is fabulous to be reminded of this historical fact.
As the ways steepens, Magdalena needed more assistance to keep up with us. The guys were up to the task and quickly figured out to tag-team it.
For the first half of day nineteen on the Camino Portugués via the central route, the Way essentially traces the path of N201, weaving around it to the east or west. Shortly after the above cobblestone section, the Camino joins the N201 for about 300 meters, then turns off to the right, on a paved side road. Then several hundred meters later, joins the dirt road, shown below.
This country lane goes on for over one kilometer, and just before it ends at a T-intersection, below, the team celebrates their arrival together, thus far.
At the T-intersection we took a right turn and we were walking toward the next town of Pecene. Within 300 meters or so, the small chapel with Borut standing by it, caught my eye, shown in the picture below. This chapel is right next to the Casa da Capela, a rural hotel right along the Camino, not pictured.
In another 1/2 kilometer, entering the next town of São Bento da Porta Aberta, is the Cafe Castro, where we had our first break at not quite 5.0 kilometers into our day nineteen on the central route of the Camino Portugues.
Here we are, milling around outside as we drank café con leite with lots of sugar!
At the Café, we joined the N201 and walked north, turning off it, to the left just after the church that dominates the center of town. Initially the road is of cobblestone and then quickly turns into this ancient Roman road, shortly after town.
The gentlemen hovered over Magdalena, during this section, assisting her as needed, as you can see in the next photos. It was so sweet to see! At least it was downhill!
After about 1.5 kilometers, we emerged from the forest and were back on the "easy" cobblestone on the way to Gontomil.
We joined the M1063 on nice downhill pavement.
The easy breezy pavement was short lived, and after only a few hundred meters, the Camino turns right onto the Rua dos Limas. Here Magdalena is working her way up the hill on the cobblestone. She was doing amazingly well on day nineteen of the Portuguese Camino on the central route.
Farther up the hill it just got too steep for her to make much progress, so Rich and Magnus assisted her in her efforts. Fortunately, this section was only a brief 100 meters or so.
Then it was a left turn onto another steep and downhill dirt lane (not pictured) for 1/3 kilometer, before we joined the Rua da Pereira, shown below, for a long, paved downhill run toward Fontoura.
It was about here that I decided to walk ahead of the Camino group with Miriam agreeing to join me. Many weeks prior, Rich and I had agreed to meet our Camino friend Glyvia, in Valença at 2:00 in the afternoon on day nineteen of the central route on the Portuguese Way.
I realized that all this difficult terrain was slower going than I had expected. If I were to meet our friend, I needed to get going! We had less than three hours left to make the remaining 9.0 kilometers to Tui. Sounds quite easy, but I wanted to be sure.
Miriam and I left the group to walk faster. The Rua da Pereira was easy to negotiate on long downhill pavement and at about 2/3 of a kilometer later, we were directed to the right, onto this narrow path along a canal lined with a grape arbor.
The lovely shortcut along the canal dropped us out onto the M512, shown below right, to walk into Fontoura. If you did not take this shortcut, you would come to the Quinta de Real, on the south side of town along the M512.
There are several cafes along the M512 in town, and the town chapel is the landmark for the recommended, private albergue called the PilgerPause, just across the street.
After about 3/4 kilometer, we left the M512, to the left, for this cobblestone road.
We followed the road as it turned into a dirt lane en-route to the next town of Paços on day nineteen on the central route of the Portuguese Camino.
Staying essentially straight on, crossing the N201 for the final time on day nineteen, we walked another 1.5 kilometers to the next landmark, the Café and Albergue Quinta Estrada Romana, shown below. This place looked very inviting and if not for my time constraints I would have stopped for coffee and a treat!
Just after the Roman bridge, the Ponte Romana da Pedreira, on the right is the Albergue and Hotel Quinta do Caminho, yet another country estate where you can spend the night.
From the Quinta Estrada Romana, it is about 2.5 kilometers of countryside walking to this "Welcome to Valença" sign, shown below.
Shortly after the Welcome to Valença sign, the route becomes quite a bit more industrial-looking and joins the N13, where you can find lots of cafés if needed. At the first large roundabout, below, find the nice side road to the left, the Rua da Veiga, 2nd photo below.
The Rua da Veiga parallels the busy N13 to the West to walk into Valença proper. After more than 1/2 kilometer, turn left at this chapel, the Capela do Sr. do Bomfim.
After making the turn, you encounter the Arão sign on day nineteen on the central route of the Portuguese Camino, pictured below.
We walked westward on the Rua do Eido de Cima, another 400 meters or so, to the next chapel, shown below, where the Camino turns right, back to the northerly direction. The Casa do Diogo, (+351 251 823 926), a pilgrim's accommodation, is on the left hand side before the turn, just before this chapel. You can see it in the photo, to the left. I was unable to find any information on it, but I did place it on our Google map if you would like to find it.
Walk another 1/2 kilometer, and turn right at this cruzeiro, below, on day nineteen on the central route of the Portuguese Camino.
A one kilometer long stretch on paved road, shown below, eventually brings you to a T-intersection, where you turn right to join the Av. Sá Carneiro, for another 1/2 kilometer, before turning left onto the northward-bound N13 again.
If you were to turn right on the N13, an economical hotel, the Hotel Valença do Minho is about 250 meters to the south.
Going northward instead, on the the Camino, about another 1/2 kilometer on the N13 brings you to this roundabout in the heart of Valença on day nineteen on the central route of the Portuguese Camino.
As you walk to the left side of the roundabout, a large sign directing you left to the municipal Albergue São Teotónio in Valença greets you, just before this Camino waymark, below. Consult our map above for its precise location. The striking flower wheel at the roundabout is unmistakable. The albergue is about 300 meters westward on the N101. On the way to the albergue you would pass by three more accommodations, all economical, outside the old fortress walls; the Residencial S.Gião, the Hotel Val Flores and the Hotel Lara.
But Miriam and I continued on the Camino, walking north on the Avenida dos Combatentes da Grande Guerra toward the fortifications.
The fortress walls of Valença rise in front of you as you walk down the Avenue. They are well-preserved pieces of Gothic and Baroque military architecture.
According to Wikipedia, "The first walls were built in the 13th century. It was upgraded during the 17th and 18th centuries forming the present bulwarked system. It is placed on top of two small hills and it is formed by two polygons (the Recinto Magistral and the Coroada) separated by a ditch and with four doors (Coroada, Gaviarra, Fonte da Vila and Sol). The main entrance is the Porta do Sol (Sun's door). This door was damaged during the Napoleonic invasions."
While Miriam and I were admiring the fortress walls, and I was texting my friend, I received a text from Rich, stating that they were also already in Valença. He and the others were having a beverage at the Café Mané, where we had passed by minutes ago! We re-traced our steps to join them. As it turned out we made no better time than they did!
After a break at the café, Rich and I set out to find our friend, Glyvia. We walked back to the fortress, to go inside the walled city to meet our friend.
Here is the East door, the Porta do Sol, pictured below, where we entered the old city.
We followed the Camino through this door and walked up the street and right to the Praça da República, the main hub of the medieval city. Not having seen Glyvia, we stopped at the Café Cantinho, shown here, in the square to have a sandwich. We knew she would eventually walk this way.
And sure enough, we saw her walking down the street within a few minutes. We waved her our way, and she joined us for a drink. It was a joyful reunion for us since we had not seen her since last year when we walked the Coastal Route right by her house. Here we are, posing, at the wall.
If your day were to end here inside the fortress walls, to the south of the Republic Square is the economical Hostel Bulwark and the Residencial Portas do Sol. To the north is the mid-range Alojamento da Vila and the expensive Casa do Poco de Valença and the Pousada Valença. It would have been lovely to spend more time here to explore this medieval city!
Soon the rest of the group came through the square, and we all gathered together to explore the old city. Then we continued on together through the streets of Valença on the Rua de Mousinho de Albuquerque, past the shops and an old church on the Camino de Santiago, shown below.
The Camino takes a glorious path through the medieval city and through the rampart walls. I had Mira, from Korea, who had joined our group the previous day, stand by the northern door, the Porta da Gabiarra, as we exited Valença shown below.
After leaving the walls on the hill, we did the final descent to the Avenida de Espanha on long steps, shown below, on day nineteen of the central route on the Portuguese Camino.
A left turn onto the street at the bottom of the steps, the Avenida de Espanha, led us to the Ponte Internacional, or the international bridge between Portugal and Spain. This bridge was built in 1879 when Portugal and Spain agreed to construct a bi-functional (road and train) bridge. The bridge is still in use although a new bridge was built south of the older one.
By the time you reach the international bridge, you can see the prominent Cathedral of Tui on the hill ahead. It is about 2.0 kilometers away yet.
The train tracks are on the upper level of the bridge, along with the pedestrian walkway.
There is a spot in the middle of the bridge where the country boundary is crossed. I decided to put one foot in Portugal and one in Spain, in the typical fashion. One-by-one everyone wanted a photograph of this. And before long, the clowns took over with their antics. Who could resist taking a silly picture???
After walking over the bridge, the Camino turns right to follow the 551, where a large España sign greets you. I was happy and sad at the same time. No more Nata - boo hoo! No more hobblestone - yeah!
After about 3/4 kilometer on the 551, you turn right onto the Camiño Tenencia. Here is a photo of the street, as Borut and Magdalena walked by the entrance to the Parador de Tui, shown on the left, below. Hmmm, if only!
The Camiño Tenencia stays right at the Parador and descends back down to the Rio Minho in about 1/2 kilometer. Below is a wonderful view back to Valença and its fortifications, from the river banks in Tui. There are five churches in Valença and you can see at least four of the steeples in this photo.
From the Minho River waterfront, take a hard left here, by the Welcome to Tui sign and onto the Rúa Barca.
Follow the Rúa Barca back up the hill, as it bends around to the right, with the cathedral looming above you.
Follow the Rúa Barca for about another 1/2 kilometer, as it enters the medieval city. Come to a T-intersection. Turn left onto the Rúa Piñeiro and climb steeply onward.
Staying on the Rúa Piñeiro for 250 meters, the next turn to the left onto the Rúa Sanz for the final push to the Catedral de Tui, is pictured here.
Here is team Magdalena, getting up the Rúa Sanz. They finally got smart and picked up two pieces of twine they found along the way, to use as pulling handles! Here is Matt, Michal, Magdalena and Magnus.
150 meters later and you pop out onto the Praza de San Fernando, and the Catedral. It is a wonderful sight! Unfortunately, it was closed for siesta when we arrived.
The fact that the cathedral was closed did not squelch our cheer. Here is our salute to Magdalena, and her accomplishment with the team thus far. I am not sure which of the gentlemen thought of this idea, but it was fun!
After hanging out on the square, from the cathedral steps we walked around to the north side of the cathedral, and headed northward, winding through the streets of Tui, following the yellow arrows (see our Google map above) toward our albergue.
The municipal albergue, the Albergue De Peregrinos De Tui, is just a few more steps behind the cathedral to the East. There are many, many private albergues in Tui, as it is a starting point for many pilgrims, at the 100 km mark.
There is the Albergue San Martín, Ideas Peregrinas, Jacob's Hostel Tui, Albergue Santo Domingo (see below), Albergue Convento Del Camino, Hostal Albergue Villa San Clemente, and the Albergue Buen Camino all clustered near the cathedral. Farther north and west of the Camino are yet even two more private albergues, the Albergue Pallanes and the Hostal San Telmo.
If you desire a hotel for Tui, and there are plenty of those, you can do it through Booking.com, by clicking here.
Eventually we turned east and down the hill, on the Rúa Bispo Lago, back toward the Minho River. A left turn at the bottom of the hill, onto the Rúa Antero Rubin, and within meters we came to our albergue for the night, the Santo Domingo.
The Santo Domingo, a private albergue, is a wonderful private home, converted into a pilgrimage haven. They gave us real sheets, fluffy towels and blankets. The showers were new and lovely. Most of us were assigned to the large room shown below with eight beds. Others in our group were lucky enough to get a room with only three beds!
For 12 Euros, a wonderful continental breakfast was also included. Coffee and tea were available at all times. The hospitalera will do your laundry for you for only 5.0 Euros.
There is a large dining room, a large living area and kitchen. Here we are having our happy hour before dinner, in 1/2 the dining room space. I would highly advise you to make a reservation for this place, if you want to stay here, by clicking here, because it fills up quickly.
We had a lovely dinner in a restaurant in the center of town for 8 Euros for the pilgrim's menu, to top off an already wonderful day!
Today, we worked like a team, walking together, at times, even looking like a pack! I said to Magnus, "You know, you could be walking much faster if you weren't with all of us. Does this bother you?" He answered, "I would much rather be together with all the fun!" His words reflected the theme of our day nineteen on the central route of the Portuguese Way.
We were moving together, helping one another, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We were Love. We were Life!
May your own day nineteen on the central route of the Camino Portugués be full of Love and Life itself as you are building the community that surrounds you! Love is all around you. All you have to do is look. Ultreia!
Skip to Central Route Below, for Final Days 22-25 to Santiago
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