Date: 19 April 2018
Walked from: Vilarinho
Walked to: Barcelos
Distance: 27.5 km
Walking this second section of the Portuguese Way from Porto is shaping up to be a very different experience from the first part from Lisbon. As noted yesterday, the weather has changed radically – I actually sought out shade to walk in earlier, had an ice lolly, and had to apply sunscreen. Now that’s what I call progress! But there are also a lot more people doing the Camino. In fact, I met more people walking it today than in the entire 13 days from Lisbon to Porto. It’s hardly overrun, but when you’re used to having the trail to yourself, it’s a little disconcerting. Only a few of us have come from Lisbon – most started in Porto, and quite a few of those rode the metro the first six kilometres out of town. Because there are so many new walkers on route, there are also lots of walking wounded; from feet that aren’t used to the miles, to backs that still need to adjust to their rucksacks. I am working on perfecting starring into the middle distance and muttering the words ‘rain’ and ‘floods’ as I rock gently back and forth…
Anyway, today’s walk was quite lovely, especially after the last few days on busy roads. The sun was rising as I set out from Vilarinho, with the mist rising off the surrounding fields – it really was a beautiful morning. After stopping for breakfast (yup, I’m still starting my day with those Portuguese custard tarts) 10 km in, at pretty little São Pedro de Rates, the route took me through eucalyptus filled woods and along cobblestone lined village streets, mainly avoiding busy roads. On the approach to Barcelos, I even passed a sign telling me I had just 199 kilometres left to my walk – which I guess means I’ve already covered around 430 km on this particular holiday. It’s a good feeling to be over two thirds of the way through!
Barcelos, my home for the night, has some beautiful old buildings and a rather lovely river (crossed via a medieval bridge that still carries vehicle traffic, as well as us pilgrims) and is home to what my guidebooks says is one of Portugal’s best known markets. It was jam packed with everything from flowers and vegetable to live hens and pretty much every and any household good you can imagine, and business seemed brisk. When you’re carrying everything on your back though, it is so much easier to resist buying things than when you’ve just got to get it on the bus home!