• Theresa Fersch

Our Camino Begins in Porto!

Friends, I’m going to try something different for this hike. In the past, I’ve spent a good deal of time typing my blog posts at the end of each day. This time, instead, I’m going to try dictating throughout the day so it won’t take away from my experience out here. As a result my posts may be even choppier and may occasionally not make sense. I’ll do my best though. ;-)

We left our Airbnb around 9:15am and found ourselves in perfect weather. The sun was warm but the breeze was brisk. 

Our first order of business was to purchase our Camino passports at the cathedral and get a quick tour. V hiked the Camino Frances several years ago and he mentioned that we’re probably a bit jaded by all these cathedrals. Brian would see a tour group and say “what are they looking at?! Maybe there’s something special in that room!” And I said “Brian it’s probably just a chapel with the shrine of a dead VIP.” The cathedral was beautiful though with the cloister surrounded by blue tile. We joked the whole way even as we climbed the endless stairs to the top of the cathedral where we could see the entire city of Porto. 

Today we only planned to hike about 10 kilometers so we could take our time in Porto. We attempted to cross the massive bridge over the water to take pictures of the river running through Porto. However as we walked towards it, somehow in all the layers of rock this city is built in, we found ourselves UNDER the bridge!! It would take us a lot of time to finally get back up to it. Brian was like “how did that happen?!” And V just laughed hysterically. We abandoned our plan to walk across the bridge and instead decided to have breakfast along the water. I was very much in favor of this plan! The waterfront had so much charm including a man who was salsa dancing with a manikin that looked so lifelike from behind it took me time to realize it wasn’t real. I thought “wow that couple can dance!” Lots of tour groups passed through, most not realizing they were standing in a road. You often can’t tell where cars should be vs. people. When a car would come through, they’d honk and patiently wait for people to clear the road. 

I love Porto! I didn’t want to leave. But alas we came here to hike.

There are 3 Camino routes exiting Porto. There is also another route that takes programs to the site Mary appeared to three orphans back in 1917. Fatima. We wanted wanted to take the coastal Camino route because it is the most scenic as it runs along the ocean where as the other Camino routes walk through industrial land. I struggled to understand where we should be while still in the city because obviously you cannot be right alongside the water the entire way. There were also no Camino markers for this part of the trail. So I let the guys take the lead and followed closely behind whlike they were being extra silly together. I’m really happy for Brian that he gets to be with his trail family on this Camino. He’s so excited that Vegemite is here.

As we were walking, I made note of the fact that V is wearing regular synthetic socks that appear to be very thin. I told him I was shocked that he can walk in those because I require thick wool socks that you would think should only be worn during a New England winter. He said that he actually gets heat rash when he wears thick socks. I remember getting heat rash in the later part of my last Camino but I much preferred that to my blisters.

I received my first “Buen Camino!” It was from a very kind local gentleman who was fishing off the side of the river. Unfortunately, I could not think fast enough or remember how to say thank you in Portuguese. Instead all I could remember was English, German, and Spanish. So all that came out of my mouth was “OK” all exaggerated and slow. I am such a jerk!

We also passed two nice very old women from Finland who are also hiking the Camino. They asked us how far to the next place to sleep, and when we told them it’s about 10 km, you could see the terror across their face. I hope they know how to call a cab if they need one.

Only about 3 miles in my feet were really hurting so I asked if we could stop. Brian already had a blister so he treated it. We’re all going to have to learn how to walk together. Brian and Vegemite know how to walk together and Brian and I know how to walk together but the 3 of us will have to find our grove. When I first said I needed to stop, Vegimite said we had only gone 3 miles. I explained that when I say I need to stop, I don’t mean that I need a full break with food and drinks. I just need to relieve some stress from my feet for about five minutes. We all agreed we could stop every few miles but that means we’ll have to wake up early so we can still get all our miles in. We also stopped to go to the bathroom which was really embarrassing because, I followed the guys into the men’s room. Another man told me I was in the men’s room, and I was so embarrassed I tripped down the steps as I exited. Pretty sure I made his day. I fou d the women’s restroom nearby and was surprised to learn I had to pay an attendant 20 cents to use the facilities.

Not much later, we stopped at a restaurant right on the beach. The waves were fierce here! Definitely not a place for surfing. We kicked our shoes off to rest our feet and enjoyed our lunch by the water. 

All afternoon we walked along a stylish boardwalk against the water with restaurants every few thousand meters. I won’t bother to describe it and will just attempt to post lots of Pictures. 

We booked an Airbnb since there were no albergues this early in the trip. Since today was our first day, this was just a warmup and we didn’t want to push ourselves the full 30km to the next albergue. Tomorrow, we’ll wake up early and cover twice the distance.

We stood outside of our Airbnb for a long time trying to figure out how to get in. Eventually brian was able to reach the owner by phone and she said she never received our reservation but not to fear, that she had a room and would come to the house in 20 minutes. We sat outside at a restaurant across the tiny cobblestone street and waited for her. 

We’re currently staying right by a port which is quite clean compared to what I was expecting. Despite being an industrial area, the town holds a lot of charm.

We talked about how this Camino is so different from our first. The scenery is totally different, there aren’t NEARLY as many pilgrims, and I personally feel a lot more confident this time around. We also aren’t sparing any expense and are allowing ourselves more creature comforts this time around. We will stay in an Airbnb occasionally instead of albergues, and I brought an extra pair of comfortable pants to wear around town so I’m not in my hiking shorts all the time.

We are currently resting in our lovely shabby chic room. Tonight we’re looking forward to eating at one of the hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the port area to have what we suspect will be an amazing seafood meal.

Sorry my pictures are out of order. The three of us are sharing our pictures at the end of the day. Also the app isn’t amazing and Downloading Takes forever so I’m just happy to share what I can.






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