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Our day nineteen on the Camino Portugués was an adventure, first getting across the Minho River, then meeting up with our old Camino Primitivo friend at the old ferry station and joining together for a glorious walk along the Spanish seacoast to her house in Viladesuso.
If you took the Xacabeo Transfer across the Minho, subtract 5.3 kilometers from the total I give above, unless you were planning to do the Sendal Litoral from the boat landing in A Pasaxe. Then it would be only about one kilometer less. If you are taking the Taxi Boat Peregrinos and are staying in the Camping Orbitur site, you can also subtract. If you are coming from the center of Caminha, keep the mileage the same.
"Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that one step back to help another is more valuable than a hundred forward without seeing what is at your side." ~ From the Beatitudes of the Pilgrim, slide show in the Pilgrim's Office Chapel in Santiago
Here is my Google, interactive map of our GPS tracks. Open the map, zoom in/out and use it just like you always would! I have placed many services on the map, including accommodations, supermarkets, cafés, churches and other places of interest. You can see that after A Guarda, the Coastal and the Senda Litoral are one and the same routes for the remainder of the day.
My elevation/mileage charts are in three parts. First is the trip from Caminha to Spain, via a backtrack to Mario's fishing boat service, now the Taxi Boat Peregrinos service, crossing the river and walking onward to A Pasaxe, all of which you can ignore if you take the Xacobeo Transfer. This is shown on the elevation profile below, and the southern orange route on the map above. There is almost no elevation change anyway, as we walked along the waterfront/coast the entire time. You can see the 1.2 kilometer boat ride in the middle of the profile!
On the map above, Mario's boat journey is in blue, now the Taxi Boat Peregrinos, across the river, to the west of the Xacobeo Transfer route, also in blue across the river.
It may be that with the Taxi Boat Peregrinos, you can arrange to go directly across the river to join the Senda Litoral, like we did, if you prefer that landing to the one at the old ferry landing in A Pasaxe. Always ask!
The second is the 20.2 kilometer leg from the A Pasaxe to Viladesuso, if you take the direct route on the Xacobeo transfer. (For the 2.5 kilometer addition to Mougás, see day twenty.) You can see that there are several significant climbs along the coast, the first immediately from the dock area, but nothing really problematic.
And thirdly, here is the elevation profile if you are taking the short Senda Litoral from A Pasaxe to Praia de Area Grande, the loop shown in orange on the map above. You will need to add about 4.3 kilometers to the 20.2 day’s journey above (the difference between the coastal and the senda litoral). There is absolutely no elevation gain along this coastal stretch so it won't add much exertion. Don't forget, if you are going onward to Mougás it will be a full 28 kilometer day.
We left the Residencial Galo d'Ouro early, to have our breakfast at the Café Central in the main square and to meet up with fellow pilgrims that were planning on using Mario's boat service (now the Taxi Boat Peregrinos) to get across the Minho River.
We ate hearty, because the food was inexpensive, the place was actually open early and they had marvelous choices of pastries, sandwiches and empanadas.
Our plan was intact to meet Janny and Hiro to walk down the waterfront to find Mario the fisherman to take us across. (Steve had decided to walk inland from Caminha to join the inland route at Tui. He wanted to check up on his friend Rob, walking the same route.)
When the meeting time arrived at the square, Janny was there, but no Hiro. Since I only ran into him earlier that morning, to invite him along with us to find Mario, I thought perhaps there had been a language barrier and he didn't understand. He was from Japan, but his English was really quite good as far as I could tell.
Both Rich and Janny were eager to get going, but I insisted we wait just a bit longer. And sure enough, about 10 minutes late, Hiro strolled into the square. He seemed nonchalant about the whole logistics of crossing the Minho!
We all set off to walk the few blocks to the waterfront. Here we are, ready for the day's adventure!
Along the waterfront of Caminha, below, is the Avenida Doutor Dantas Carneiro, with a nice sidewalk along the river, where we walked about 1.9 km southwest...
...until the road veered off and we stayed straight here at a quay-like wall to continue to follow the waterfront. We walked on past the clump of buildings, shown in the background of the photo, below...
...and joined a very nice boardwalk, shown in this photo along the mouth of the Minho River. It is about a 750 meter walk after the boardwalk begins, that you will find the new Taxi Boat Peregrinos service. Look for their signs right along the boardwalk.
It was here that we found Mario where he was waiting with his boat. Since we had called, he knew we were coming.
Here we are, tucked into Mario's small boat. The boats are larger and nicer now, if you check on the Taxi Boat Peregrinos website!
The crossing was actually a bit choppy, with the wind, and we ducked under our hoods.
Mario dropped us off on a beach in Spain, by the town of A Praia at the end of a boardwalk system. See the map above. This boardwalk goes west on the Senda Litoral to A Praia and around the point and western end of the peninsula, to join a road, the Paseo Marítimo da Guarda to the town of A Guarda, where the Coastal Route meets up with the Senda Litoral.
Here you can turn around and see the fort, the Fortaleza de Insua, built in the 17th century guarding the harbor of the Minho from its island perch. It is a romantic-looking place and I would have loved to explore it, if we had more time. If you wish, the Taxi Boat Peregrinos will take you there as well!
If you do head west along the Senda Litoral and fall in love with this place and its beaches, you can stay at the Hotel El Molino, just steps away to the west in A Praia.
Janny and Hiro chose the Senda Litoral to the west. Hiro thanked us profusely for helping him get a jump start on the day. He realized that he would have been stuck in Caminha for quite sometime, waiting for the ferry, were it not for us. A deed well done and worth the small wait.
We turned eastward instead, and toward the old ferry dock, approx 2.3 kilometers away where it was our plan to meet Glyvia, our German friend who lives in Spain.
We followed the sandy road, the Camino Armona, that runs along the beach, until we came to the Praia (beach) A Lamiña. We walked on this lovely beach for a short way, then re-joined the sandy road.
All along this portion of the Senda Litoral you can choose to walk on the hard packed sand of the beach or the road that runs right alongside it. Essentially, we were walking the Senda Litoral backward, towards the old ferry station, to meet our friend who was waiting for us.
The sandy road becomes pavement, just after a tennis club, as we approached A Pasaxe and the boat landing site. (not pictured).
As we neared where the boat passengers arrive, who did we see, but Glyvia approaching us! She had grown tired of waiting for us (Spain is one hour later than Portugal, so she had been waiting for over two hours for us) and walked out to meet us! It was a glorious reunion among old pilgrim friends.
We set off and up the hill across from the old ferry station, on a street called O Palomar. This climb uphill went for a ways and was a bit strenuous.
In about 700 meters, we came to the end of O Palomar, turned left onto Carretera de Camposancos and then an immediate right onto this side road, below, in the town of O'Couto. There is a café here if you need one.
We took the first right in a few meters onto a quaint side road. We stopped here so I could snap a photo of Rich and Glyvia. We were so happy to be together, and walking a Camino again! We chatted and chatted endlessly, the whole distance, filling each other in on our lives.
We continued to follow the yellow arrow on this quaint road, below, on day nineteen of the Camino Portugués.
After only 1/2 kilometer we made a turn right into the woods...
... and walked by this old well.
We continued through a forest on an enchanted path for a total of about one km.
The forest path comes out onto the Avenida Paseo Portugal, after about 2.2 kilometers total from the boat landing. This is a broad and busy avenue, but with nice sidewalks for the pilgrimage traveler. More importantly, there was absolutely no cobblestone!
This avenue leads one into the next large town of A Guarda.
As we were walking through town, Glyvia noted a waymark with a kilometer plaque already missing. She had been explaining to us how the municipality had been putting in these brand new concrete pylons, just during the last several months. She had been watching the progress from her home in Viladesuso, our destination for day nineteen on the Portuguese Camino. Fascinating that so many pilgrims take these kilometer markers as souvenirs. What a shame!
The Avenida bends to the west and becomes the Rúa Rosalía de Castro, shown below.
The street comes to a T-intersection and we went left onto the PO-552. At this juncture is the Pastelería Lameda where we stopped and had several pastries! We didn't take a long break, but kept walking and pausing to eat our delicacies.
And almost next to the pastry shop is the Hotel Celta, on your way to the next turn in 300 meters, onto the Rúa Vicente Sobrino.
If your destination is A Guarda, there are many accommodations, including the albergue shown below.
The old Camino used to continue on the PO-552 longer, for about 500 meters, turning left onto the Rúa José Manuel Andreíni, then taking the next right on the Rúa Vicenta Rodríguez Cachada, to walk by this historic church of the Parroquia de Santa María, shown left. Here is Glyvia by its distinctive bell tower. While the church is not very beautiful, it is a suitable landmark.
Now, the new Camino takes you unabashedly through more of the old town, taking a left turn onto the Rúa Vicente Sobrino after 300 meters as noted above, for about 1/4 km. Then it heads up and to the right onto the Praza Bautista Alonso, walking through it and turning to the right to see the City Hall. After walking by the Concello da Guarda (City Hall) and the Praza de Reloj (Clock Plaza), with its many cafés, the Camino goes northward for a few blocks to join the old route at the same church, above. It is a more roundabout way for sure!
This new route is only useful if you wish to stop at the many quaint shops that you now walk by, enjoy walking on narrow streets, and/or need a café with ambiance. Otherwise, I recommend you take the alternative shortcut, in red, on my map above, to save yourself some steps on an otherwise long day! However, the difference in the distance is only a few hundred meters, so make your own choice!
After the church, we turned northward (left) onto the Rúa San Bernardo as it walks onward. Shortly after the church, the Albergue de Peregrinos de A Guarda is on your right.
There is a private Albergue O Peirao, farther west from the Santa María church shown above. Consult the interactive map above for its precise location.
A left turn onto the Rúa da Guía and we walked by the Plaza of the same name. I took a photo of the charming Capilla Virgen de La Guía in the Plaza. The sight of a church always brings me to a present moment.
We turned right onto the Rúa Baixada á Praia, then left onto the Travesía Cachiños, where the city opens up and views of the sea on the west side now appear.
The Travesía Cachiños becomes a short path, with a series of steps that lead you to the street below. The views of the sea here are gorgeous! We stopped to admire and photograph it.
I took so many photos that Google gave me a stitched version, below.
After walking down the hill and the steps, we turned left, then right on the narrow pavement, to join the Rúa Baixada á Praia once again and the small beach of the Praia de Area Grande. It is at this juncture, 4.6 kilometers from A Pasaxe, where the Senda Litoral joins the route as noted above.
Once down by the water, we walked around the small bay and onward past the beautiful Praia de Fedorento, below. The inexpensive Hostal del Mar, shown in the left side of the photo, right along the lovely beach, is another possible accommodation in this area. Book ahead if you want to stay here in the summer!
After the beach the Camino leaves the beach-front road and turns to the left onto a side road. Along the road is a long parking area along the coastline. Within a few meters, the Camino takes a path to the left, shown below.
Here is Rich, along the coastal path, adding a rock to a cairn. This practice is said to also bring you into the moment. It was a lovely moment here, by the sea.
The coastal path, approx one km long, becomes a road just before the historic Cetárea Redonda (not pictured). Apparently this sea pen was used up to the late 1800's. You can see a walkway leading towards the sea, to a sea farm per se, where lobsters and other crustaceans were raised. You may wish to walk out to see this round, rock pen by the sea. Click on the link to see a Google Map photo of it.
We turned right after the historic site, onto a paved road, below, and headed back toward the main road, the PO-552.
Just before joining the PO-552, about 300 meters onward, a lane turns to the left, which the Camino takes, avoiding the highway for a while longer.
This lane continues for about 3/4 kilometer, then once again the Camino joins the now-familiar PO-552.
It would be almost impossible to walk directly along the rugged coastline in this next section. The views from the road are wonderful, with the sea constantly on your left. The walking is easy along the bikeway, despite being on the pavement. You will walk on the roadway for about two kilometers along this next stretch.
After about ½ kilometer along the PO-552, there is a lovely pilgrim’s rest area, if you want to stop for a picnic. The views from here are quite nice!
We continued walking up the long, gradual hill and after another kilometer came to a lookout point, the Miradoiro da Punta Bazar, after about 8.9 kilometers total, and with a car pull-out area.
We continued to walk on the highway for 300 more meters. Just beyond the Miradoiro the Camino turns off the bikeway to the left onto yet another lovely path to walk toward the next town of Portecelo, after about 10.3 kilometers from A Pasaxe.
It is just over a kilometer from the turn off the highway to the center of Portecelo, on a quiet dirt road that essentially parallels the PO-552 to the west. The dirt road ends with a left hand turn onto a secondary paved road, to walk you into Portecelo. There is a café here in town if you need it as well as three accommodations, the Casa Mar a Laxe, the Apartamento as Casetas and the Apartamento Loft Peregrinos A Estivada if you wish to stay the night.
The wonderful views of the sea open to the pilgrimage traveler again, after leaving town. Shortly after leaving town, you may want to take a small detour to a set of petroglyphs, the Petroglifo Laxe do Lapón. Look out for the sign to them.
Spring blooms abounded. If anyone knows the name of this beautiful flower, please let me know! I'm sure all my readers would appreciate it.
After walking on a paved road through Portecelo, the Camino once again turns off, to the left onto a lovely dirt road, and walks parallel to the PO-552 for a full two kilometers more. The walk is lovely through here, and though you may hear the highway to the east and catch glimpses of it, you will not see it so much.
We joined the PO-552 here, at this sign, at that time, and walked on the highway for another 1.2 kilometers, toward the next town of Oia, as the sign below advertises. Yes, that is a pilgrim on the sign!
If you were to turn right onto the PO-552, a few meters south, there is yet another pilgrim accommodation, the Casa Alicia Uso Turistico & Peregrinos.
After joining the road, another long, steady climb ensues. There is a nice bike path next to the road, making it a safe walk as well. We passed by another turnout/viewpoint area at 12.8 kilometers total.
After about 700 meters past the viewpoint, the Camino actually drops down to a coastal road for an 800 meter diversion off the highway, passes by a lovely meditation garden (about 13.8 kilometers) built just for pilgrims, then climbs back up to join the PO-552 at another lookout called the Mirador de Tio Rincho, at 14.7 kilometers, shown below. If you don’t want to take the diversion, you can just stay on the PO-552 and save a few steps and altitude loss/gain as we did. However, the map reflects the official route along the diversion. Plus, you may want to pause in the meditation garden and reflect on your pilgrimage!
It was at the Mirador that we took a break, sat down on the grass and had a picnic lunch. We aired out our feet, as was our usual blister prevention practice.
Then, continue on the bikeway at the side of the PO-552, down the hill after the Mirador de Tio Rincho, until houses appeared...
...and you see this sign, below, where the Camino turns left onto a paved road towards the next town of Oia.
In only a few hundred meters you come to the historic Ermida de San Sebastián and Cruceiro (cross), rebuilt in the 1700's. It was closed when we arrived. Here is Glyvia, having a look around. We paused here, to enjoy the moment by the church and the sea.
Then, we continued on this road to Oia.
When you come to Oia, less than 1/2 kilometer after the ermida, the street, the Rúa Vicente López, below, is a quaint walk through the village.
On the north side of town, the monastery, the Mosteiro de Santa María de Oia appears ahead, on a beautiful, small bay with the small beach, the Playa de Oia at approximately 16.5 kilometers into day nineteen on the Camino Portugués. According to Glyvia, the monastery is almost never open and on this day it was indeed, closed.
It was a 1.2 km walk from the turn off from the PO-552 to the Monastery.
From the monastery it is 4 km to Viladesuso and 7 km to the Albergue in Mougás. There are hotels in Oia, if you are too tired to continue. Click on the link to see them. Most are mere steps from the Camino, such as the Casa Puertas, the Casa Arrabal and La Cala, A Pilgrim's Inn just before the monastery, the Hotel A Raiña just after the monastery and the Casa Toñi, a few meters after leaving town. Assess your situation carefully at this lovely place.
There are also cafés in town if needed.
Otherwise, continue on the paved road past the monastery, and in a few meters, turn left onto the dirt road that follows the sea northward, below. (If you were to stay straight here you would encounter the Hotel A Raiña in a few meters).
A yellow blooming bush, (I don't know its name) covered the hills. The road is paved with stone walls, the sea is on your left and a high ridge on your right to orient you and keep you walking northward.
Continue for about 2.6 kilometers along the coastal road, keeping left whenever there is a road juncture. There is no beach in this long section, nor any closer road to the shoreline to walk upon, so there is no separate Senda Litoral, but the route is the same as the Camiño Portugués Pola Costa.
The Casa Toñi is about halfway along this coastal road section, if you chose to stay there.
You join the PO-552 after 19.3 kilometers from A Pasaxe, at this photo, where you turn left to continue walking to the north.
Then, walk a full kilometer on the highway to Viladesuso.
There are places to eat and sleep along the highway in Viladesuso, if you don't want to do the final 2.5 km push to the Albergue in Mougás. There is a private Albergue da Estrela the Hotel Restaurant Glasgow, the Alojamiento Camino Portugués Oia, another private albergue, and the Hotel Restaurante Costa Verde, all right along the highway.
After walking past most of the accommodations, the Camino soon turns right off the highway, here.
Next you walk uphill by the Camiño Portugués Pola Costa sign.
Our day ends here, just after passing the Albergue da Estrela and where the Camino goes left toward Mougás, but we stay straight to go up the hill to Glyvia's house.
A few meters off the Camino, is the "Albergue de Glyvia!" We were happy, lucky peregrinos to be staying here, and had plenty of afternoon left over to enjoy her home.
Glyvia let us wash all our clothes at her house! We emptied our packs entirely and washed absolutely everything! She loaned us clothes/robes to wear while ours were being done. We sat on her back porch with a view overlooking the sea, sipping beer while our clothes washed.
She made us a fantastic dinner: Lots of wine, pasta carbonara, fresh tomato/mozzarella salad, German cake and coffee. We thought we had died and gone to peregrino heaven! We gave her "albergue" a 5-star rating!
The adventure was marvelous on this day, and the walk glorious! We felt fantastic that we had helped out a fellow pilgrim on his way across the river into Spain. Even though we did not see Hiro again on day nineteen of our Camino Portugués, we would see him many more times on the rest of our journey, and be reminded of how far kindness goes to seal a community.
Meeting up with our friend Glyvia was so very, very nice. It was quite whimsical, we thought, in the fall of 2015, after getting to know her on the Camino Primitivo, when she invited us to her home along the Camino Portugués por la Costa. Yet here we were, in her fabulous home. It was a spectacular opportunity for us. We had made a life-long friend. That is what the Camino does for you!
While the walk from the old ferry station to her home was longer than Glyvia had remembered, it being 20.2 kilometers instead of 16, she had suffered a bit, just to join us on the walk. She got two blisters, which we treated that night. She was so very tired afterward, and we had walked her slower pace, out of kindness towards her. She had had a rough two weeks over Easter, barely one week prior, having suffered from a flu-like illness.
I admired her courage in walking so far with us, so soon after an illness. She was so thrilled with our company, on the walk and having us in her home, that it touched our hearts so very much. She is a divorceé, trapped in a home that would not sell, living alone in a foreign land.
On top of her tiredness, she was such a fabulous hostess! The kindness that we received from her, in her home, was monumental.
We had blessed others, and now we were being richly blessed. It was a wonderful feeling. She had more than lived up to the name we had given her on the Camino Primitivo ~ "Camino Mother."
In fact, Glyvia told us how frequently she rescues pilgrims who are tired, thirsty, hungry and/or lost, stumbling by her house. She gives them snacks and water. She is a blessing to all pilgrims who need that extra boost to make it to Mougás! Hats off to you, dear Glyvia!
May your own day nineteen on the Camino Portugués be filled with acts of kindness, so that the circle of Love will never end! May your steps backward to lend a hand become second nature on your own pilgrimage travels and throughout your life! Ultreia!
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