Our day thirteen on the Camino Portugués was full of interesting railroad crossings, a walk on medieval bridges, through the historic town of Bemposta and up and down many hills. While the hills made the walk more difficult, it also made it much more interesting.
While this day thirteen was shorter than we had grown accustomed to, one could actually extend the day another 3.9 kilometers to Escapães and stay at the Casa da Álvore (+351 964 319 123), an albergue we passed on day fourteen. We did not know about this albergue. It was not in any of our sources of information. Had we known, we would have most likely stayed there.
We would have loved to shorten our day fourteen, which turned into a 31.5 kilometer day! We did actually shorten it by a couple of kilometers by staying at the Holiday Inn in Vila Nova de Gaia, a southern suburb of Porto. We had points saved up that we wanted to use for our two nights there. If we had walked on to the cathedral Sé on day fourteen it would have been a total of 33.6 kilometers.
We found the actual walk on day fourteen to be farther than expected, so some planning ahead on day twelve and thirteen might save you some headaches on your final leg into Porto.
Alternatively, if you don't like albergues, and have even more energy to lengthen your day thirteen, you can walk an additional 7 kilometers from São João de Madeira to Malaposta. There is the Hotel Feira Pedra Bela, right along the Way.
Or, your third choice to shorten day fourteen, is to make it two stages with a stop in Grijó at 18.5 kilometers from São João de Madeira at the Albergue in Grijó, and a mere 15 remaining kilometers to Porto. With this option, you could see a lot in Porto in the afternoon of your arrival.
Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more;
Wanderer, there is no road, the way is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind
one sees the path that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road - Only wakes upon the sea.
Caminante, son tus huellas el camino, y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino, y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino, sino estelas en la mar.
~ Antonio Machado, "Proverbios y cantares XXIX" in Campos de Castilla
Here is my Google map from my GPS files, with accommodations available, places to eat and grocery stores. Zoom, pinch move around the map - it is interactive!
When you look at the elevation profile below, there is some climbing on day thirteen, in fact, three distinct ones, and in the heat of the day it can certainly feel strenuous. In actuality the elevation gains are at most about 125 meters (400 feet), and fortunately not too prolonged.
We started off our day with full bellies, after the Albergue Albergaria-a-Nova's hearty and inexpensive continental breakfast. It was lovely to start out this way and yet the day was heavy with humidity as we set off north on the N1.
My own heart was heavy setting out, and I had a hard time getting into the rhythm of the walk. It was oppressively humid this morning and we shed our layers quickly. I couldn't seem to get anything right, not my water tube, my walking sticks, my pack, nor my hair! Nothing felt right.
The loneliness and repetition of it all was weighing on me. Everything felt so redundant. Even the photos I was taking seemed like the same ones I had taken the day before! The trucks rushing by on the main road bothered me too!
I forced myself to reflect on the redundancies of life. How do I deal with the ins and outs of it? How do I deal with the boredom versus dealing with events that shake up my life? All good questions, that were there for me to continue to consider.
Walking on the busy road, though noisy, was at least safe with the nice cobblestone sidewalk for pedestrians.
The way diverts to a side road to the right, off the N1, within a few hundred meters. If you need food passing through here, stay on the N1 for a bakery as the Camino rejoins the N1 a short distance ahead.
The Camino rejoins the N1 and walks north to the main intersection with the N1-12 at the center of Albergaria-a-Nova, below, where there is a mini market in this gold building, below and to the right the Tomas Café. More opportunities for you for obtaining food if needed.
Several hundred meters from the center of town, we turned left off the N1 to follow a less-traveled road along the railroad.
Here day thirteen on the Camino Portugués follows the same path as the N1, but west and parallel to it on an unnamed road. We encountered the construction of a sidewalk below, that I found interesting. The Portuguese love their cobblestone!
Onward, and we stayed to the right, here.
A lovely home graced us, with the King Protea, a tropical flower that matched their iron fence ornaments. I loved it!
And in the garden of the same home, a statue of Jesus with the sacred heart and arms wide open drew me in. I was grateful for the homeowner for this. I felt loved.
Less than a hundred meters onward, and we saw this pile of cobblestones! It was the cache for the sidewalk construction we had seen earlier! I was very intrigued by this amazing and time consuming process.
Next the pilgrimage travelers crossed the M533 and turned left on the CM1453-1. We were walking on quiet roads, still paralleling the N1 through rural areas.
The road is still paved, but quiet as it continues on the CM1453-1. Soon after crossing the M533, you encounter the Albergue Casa Católico (+351 916 561 106), where you can stay the night. Look for it on the right side of the road. Instead if you were to walk east, continuing on the M533, in one kilometer more you would encounter the Eco Hostel Quinta das Relvas, another economical choice in this area, with a dormitory, tents and rooms.
Continuing on the Cm1453-1 for about a kilometer, we stayed right on the Estrado dos Reis.
It was along this road that I noticed that the orange trees carried both fully ripened fruit and blossoms. Does this mean the tree bears fruit for many weeks? If so, what a wonderful thing! We continued to help ourselves to them when they were just by the wayside.
The Estrada dos Reis ends here, at this railroad crossing and at the junction of the N1.
I was very happy not to cross over the railroad tracks to the N1, but to follow the tracks along this wonderful path shown below. There is something about railroads and the tracks that spark our imagination, isn't there? The vagabundo concept, the life of a wanderer, I think, that is so appealing.
And here I am, confirming this is the way to go as I stand next to the Waymark for Rich to snap a photo. Our Camino just took a turn for the more interesting!
This railroad path, unfortunately, lasted only briefly and then back on the pavement of the Rua Tinturaria we went.
Following the waymarks, on country paved roads, we took three more right turns, and then a final right onto a more major road, the Rua de São Paio to walk into the town of Pinheiro da Bemposta.
We walked up a small hill and soon came to the square in Pinheiro da Bemposta and one of the best cafés we had been to along the Way, the Alfazema Pastelari, shown below. We had logged in about six kilometers, a bit early for a stop, but the place looked too inviting to walk on by! We knew to seize an opportunity when it presented itself!
And what a delightful break it was! As I sat in the pastry shop, I noticed my mojo started to pick up! It's phenomenal what caffeine and sugar will do!
No sooner had we finished our delights when a bicyclist showed up with his walking partner close behind! While we had "made our own road by walking," it was a great pleasure to meet up once again with our Aussie mates!
After our break, we chose once again to make our own roads. We had different walking styles and paces, but we knew we would meet up again eventually.
Partially because our days were shorter with more frequent breaks, and partially because I was beginning to really get my Camino mojo, I was now feeling great on day thirteen of the Camino Portugués. Or maybe it was because we saw our friends again? Or maybe it was the caffeine and sugar? Whatever the reason, it was working for me and I rolled with it!
There are plenty of cafés in Pinheiro to take a break!
After walking straight through Pinheiro da Bemposta, the road became the Rua da Banda de Música or the "Band Street Music." However this delightful street got its name, I didn't care, but it sure brought sweet music to me as I walked upon it!
And soon enough, the all-too-familiar N1 was up ahead in our path, and we crossed up and over it on this wonderful pedestrian bridge.
The view of the Rua do Pinheiro from the top of the bridge was lovely, as we scanned the horizon towards our next destination.
From the Rua do Pinheiro, we turned right on the street below, climbing toward the historic town of Bemposta.
The Rua Dom Manuel becomes more narrow as it nears the historic section.
The historic square of the town can be seen below. You are at about 7.8 kilometers into the day at this square and you have just completed the first major climb of the day.
We had no tour guide to elucidate us regarding the nature and importance of these buildings. However, a reader of mine now tells me that the city has erected information boards, identifying various buildings, their date of construction and their purpose. Thank-you Wendy Werneth!
Below is the Paços do Concelhos, housing the administrative and judicial services for the town, in the upper stories. On the ground floor was the prison, and in the archway, resided a butcher shop. Most likely this building was either restored or built in the later half of the 18th century.
The column in front of the justice building, to the right of the photo is actually a pillory, a symbol of regal power, and also served as a place for public executions, similar to the pillory in front of the cathedral in Porto.
Here is the gate to the Casa de São Gonçalo. While the house itself is rather drab, the portal is imposing, with its Baroque embellishments, including a cross at the top.
According to the information board, this house, the Casa do Arco, built in 1782, was a humble one, as it's embellishments were made to resemble stone work. The house is smaller, and shows evidence of agricultural activity in its lower floors.
I thoroughly enjoyed this walk back in time through Bemposta. There are many more buildings, stairways and a fountain for you to explore. Now that there are lots of information boards, you should plan on spending some time here, learning about the history of this wonderful place.
Then down the hill, around bends to cross over the N1 once again, paralleling it on the western side.
We walked on to the town of Besteiros and joined the Avenida do Espírito Santo, below, and down another hill. Through Bemposta and from here towards Oliveira de Azeméis, the next major town, you will see cafés if you need a stop.
We made our road for about one kilometer along the Rua de Estrada Real, then turned right onto the Rua Monte D'Além, all the while, turning and bending numerous times, following waymarks and arrows through the countryside and small villages.
After the Rua Monte D'Além takes a long bend to the left, while climbing a small hill and after about 700 meters the Camino goes to the right. This is a turn that we missed!
Look carefully for high walls on both sides of the road, with homes on terraces above, and you will know you are getting close to the turn. After the turn on a side road, the Camino walks a few meters higher, then turns left and under the N1 highway, picking up a parallel path by a railroad track.
After the railroad track, you will walk onto a dirt track that turns to cobblestone, crossing over a delightful medieval bridge, the Senhor da Ponte, after about 600 meters. My photo of the bridge is from Wendy Werneth, my helpful reader!
After the bridge, it is a steep climb on cobblestone up from the bridge, for about 300 meters, passing through a crossroads on the way. In 100 meters, take a right turn off the cobblestone and onto a paved road, called the Rua do Requeixo.
Follow the Rua do Requeixo until the next intersection, where you will make a hard left onto a narrower and steeper road. Continue the climb toward Oliveira de Azeméis, for another kilometer, approximately and come to the crossroads that I have pictured in the next two photos, farther below.
We, unfortunately, having missed the turn to the above bridge, continued climbing on the N1, for almost two kilometers until we realized our mistake. We realized we were headed the wrong way, as we looked to our right and down into the valley below and saw our Aussie friend Chris riding his bike! We were like, "What??"
I checked my reference GPS tracks on my phone and sure enough we had missed a turn. I could easily see how to rejoin the actual Camino up ahead. We re-joined the actual at the intersection shown below.
This would prove to be the only error we were to make on our entire Camino Portugués! I was bummed that I even missed a few steps on the actual Camino, but not bummed enough to go back!
Here is the juncture where we picked up the Camino once again.
It was a steep climb up this hill, as we looked back on the actual route, below.
There was even more hill climbing as we turned up and onto the Rua do Cruzeiro, below.
Then the Rua do Cruzeiro gives way to a larger street and we were in the center of Oliveira de Azeméis. This is the top of the significant second climb for the day! And wouldn't you know it, we spotted Chris on his bicycle ahead!
Wherever Chris was, Christine was not far behind and we joined them to find a nice place for lunch. We were all carrying our own food, so we headed to the central square to sit and have a picnic.
It was in the town square, the Praça José da Costa that we sat in the park for lunch with our friends from Down Under. We had logged in about 14 kilometers so far, more than half of our day's journey.
After eating our picnic, we just happened to notice a pastry shop on the square and had more coffee and sweets for dessert! (There is also a supermarket on the square if you need to replenish your pack.)
We gathered up our things, put back on our shoes and socks and set off once again to complete day thirteen of the Camino Portugués. If you are ending your day here, there is only one accommodation in town, the Hotel Dighton, and no albergue.
I estimated that we had about 9 more kilometers to go to São João de Madeira. There is a smattering of cafés along this 9 km, so if you need another stop, it is not an issue.
Back on the Camino, we walked by the lovely church, the Igreja Matriz de Oliveira de Azeméis...
...and up the hill to join the Rua António Pinto de Carvalho at this most interesting blue-tiled building.
We continued on and down the hill...
...following the yellow arrows as the Way bends and turns through the suburbs of Oliveira de Azeméis.
A right turn off the Rua do Monte to this lane, one of the few on day thirteen...
...then left onto this fun, high-walled street, the Rua da Sardoeira. The high walls definitely gave this section a more medieval feel.
In another kilometer or so, after leaving the city far behind, we came upon this railroad crossing...
...which led us to the Rua Ponte Medieval, a delightful old cobblestone road to this old medieval bridge. We saw many open cafés before and after this bridge.
We walked across the ancient bridge...
...and around to the south side to get a close-up. It is a wonderful old bridge. Passing over it kicked in our imaginations, as we envisioned ourselves in times of yore with our staffs and gourds filled with water strolling along the bridge!
You have completed about 17.2 kilometers on your day’s journey at this bridge.
Immediately after the wonderful historic bridge, the Portuguese Way turns left and onto the street below, to walk into the town of Manta de Baixo.
We turned right onto the Rua do Ferral and more hill climbing was needed. This is the beginning of the third significant climb for the day. It was hard work in the heat and on the pavement.
We turned left onto the Rua Mosteiro in Couto de Cucujães.
The Rua do Mosteiro bends to the left and heads straight on to the Rua Dom Crisóstomo de Aguiar at this intersection and kept climbing...
...and then a bit of a downhill reprieve....
...before it starts the slow climbing again. The route becomes more quaint...
...then in one more kilometer comes to Faria and crosses the railroad again.
After the railroad crossing, the pilgrimage traveler truly arrives in the outskirts of São João de Madeira. The climbing only ends when the Camino reaches these outskirts.
After coming to the 4th roundabout, shown below, the Camino goes right, but if you were to turn left, you would walk past the hospital and in one block you would come to the Albergue Santa Casa da Misericórdia, (+351 256 837 240/ +351 256 837 241,R. Manuel Luís Leite Júnior 777, see the interactive map). The one and only albergue in town is housed in a nursing home, across the next traffic circle, to the west of the hospital. The albergue is very basic with mattresses on the floor, and is a donativo.
For the final approach, we walked up the hill and this church loomed above us to our left. It was here that we turned left onto the Rua Visc. de São João de Madeira.
The Rua Visc. de São João de Madeira is a narrow street that led us to the final destination, the square in the center of town, marked by this white pillar in the photo below.
After a beer break in a cafe in the square, we walked to our hotel the Central Suites, mere feet from the square. It is a wonderful new place, very modern with private rooms, a shared kitchen and living area, a rooftop sitting area and BBQ grill for you to use. You can click on the link to see the photos of the place. I would highly recommend staying here, and you can't beat the location, just steps from the central square.
The hotel is up stairs on a higher than ground level and you have to call a number posted on the door, upon your arrival, for someone to let you into the building. The staff is ultra-friendly and helpful and speak great English.
There are several other hotels in town, mostly clustered around the central square. To see them and to book, click here.
And for the third time on day thirteen of our Portuguese Way, we ran into our Aussie friends and joined them for another lovely dinner. It was a special day indeed.
This was the day we walked on and didn't look back, made our own walk yet met up with friends. Yes, our footsteps became the road, a road filled with history and enchantment.
At times it felt we were indeed one with the road. There was no more struggle, only the singular purpose of putting one foot in front of the other. We had reached a comfortable rhythm of our own walking.
If only life were so clean and easy...
May your own day thirteen on the Camino Portugués bring you into oneness with the road! May you always look forward and never back, and make your own road by walking!
Skip to Central Route Below, for Final Days 22-25 to Santiago
You should not overlook travel insurance for your upcoming trip. We have partnered with InsureMyTrip, because they are the best option to compare plans and find the right coverage for you. They have thousands of travel insurance plans and a one-of-a-kind recommendation engine to help travelers find the right plan. Most importantly, they will be there for you before, during and after your trip if you should need anything - especially help with a claim with the provider!
Many readers contact me, Elle, to thank me for all the time and care that I have spent creating this informative website. If you have been truly blessed by my efforts, have not purchased an eBook, yet wish to contribute, I am very grateful. Thank-you! (Please note that by clicking the Donate button, you will be directed to PayPal for the Body Window, LLC, for "Purpose: Pilgrimage Traveler," which is a subsidiary).