From Portugal to Spain: A Meandering Tale and the Long Walk

Hola amigos. I’m writing from Muxia on the Costa da Morte. This isn’t a rerun, although I walked to this village on the Finisterre-Muxia Camino in July. Check out earlier blogs for more images of this incredible coast.

My story goes from present to past, the real world. I’m excited to be here, my fourth visit and lucky to have an amazing view of the sea. I booked a bed at my favorite, Bela Muxia, (with Angel and Celia and staff, it’s the best). When I arrived by bus and easily found my hostel, I changed my dorm bunk for a single room.

With unparalleled views of the Costa da Morte, sound of the wind and surf, song of sea gulls, a soaking tub. An Albergue with pilgrims, private and dorm bunk rooms. Yes, here in Muxia. I’m tempted to stay for a month. But this is a quick two days.

And I met pilgrims from Ireland, on the bus to Muxia and accepted their invitation for a visit and a “home” cooked meal. By this writing, two! Just completing their pilgrimage on the Camino Francés, Angie and Mark are not only generous and kind, but experts at cooking and sharing dinner in a small Albergue kitchen. Delicious! And meaningful conversations and connections. Then a walk to find the best spot to watch the sunset, puesta de sol. It’s my luck always to meet amazing people.

This very morning I watched the sun rise and walked up to the top of the mountain to view the world.

The Pilgrim Way: One Day at a Time

You can see I’m a very fortunate pilgrim. Timing. And isn’t that the Way? We have to hope.

Now we return to Portugal. This picture is the first view of Caminha, after the spectacular beach walk.

Since I finished walking the Portugues Coastal Senda Litoral Route, my Camino life has been filled with adventure after adventure. I’m ready for R & R.

The unforgettable and breathtaking Camino in Portugal taught me many lessons. And the universe provided more, just to be sure I would experience both sides of the Walk!

So while I have walked many smooth paths, the next three days after Caminha were challenging. And that’s my way of saying, muy dificil. I hope not to repeat.

You know I like stories and this one has chapters.

MATH LESSONS

I had planned to take the ferry from Caminha to Guarda and walk to Oia, about the halfway point of the stage. But my digital guidebook, Booking and Gronze didn’t show affordable and available hostels or hostals afor the next night. I thought a full 24 km stage to Porto Mougás was too far, so I decided to skip the coast above Caminha and travel up to the Camino Ingles, as I had considered when I put this Camino month together.

There are multiple routes to Santiago and A Coruña, and from the Coastal Portugues to the Central.

The Rio Minho river walk, EcoRio/EcoPista, was recommended as the closest to Valença where I would take the train to A Coruña, one of the beginning routes for Camino de Ingles. This is a shorter route and only qualifies for a Compostela if a pilgrim presents a letter from her home country verifying a walk of at least 25 kilometers. Because of my late start in getting on the Camino Portugues, I didn’t have time to complete this route. It was just a beginning that I would finish another time, I thought. I could have started in Ferrol, a bus ride away and a full Camino. No matter, time was short by then and of course there’s more to this story.

Onward So I set out at 9:00 for Valença on the most straightforward, yet meandering way I could find. “Just follow the river.” Like the advice, “just follow the sea.”

I asked local people the way to the start of the river walk. One man pointed to the bridge and said dezesseis. I’m sure. I didn’t think the bridge crossing was the right way, so I returned to the central part of town and the tourism office for a map. The agent emphasized EcoPista several times and the town of Seixas. Sure enough, Now I had in hand a map confirming my earlier starting spot and it was 9:45. I was on my way.

After the bridge, which the agent described as a short bridge, I saw a sign. Valença 26 km. A few people in town told me 16. Mmmm. I now was committed to the walk. What’s 10 Kms?

Next I followed arrows that detoured me off the busy highway through residential and back on the highway to the town of Seixas. Eventually I found an opening between buildings and the river walkway. There must have been an earlier way to get to the river walk, but okay, I found the River. Keep it on my left, just like the sea.

I saw no other pilgrims on this tranquil and beautiful EcoPista, until I found a picnic table to eat my lunch, about 12 km along the Rio in a riverside park near Vila Nova de Cerveira. Then a family from Germany, the same one that had shared the sand and sol with us, on the Senda Litoral, our first beach day, greeted me. They were walking off this route to a prebooked room for the night, a lovely story. They had honeymooned in Porto 25 years ago and were celebrating their anniversary on the Camino, with their son, who slept in Albergues, while they often stayed in unique hotels or pensions.

I might have followed them off the trail. But at 12 Kms I had a lot of distance left in me. It was early and my pack still felt light enough. So on I walked.

I didn’t know that this halfway stop was my easiest place to exit the walk and find a place for the night.

The terrain along a body of water may seem to stay the same for quite a distance. This river meandered and occasionally, early in its route led me to a village lane and then back to the river walk and continued its path to Valença. It seemed to go on forever with a sanctuary of gulls and egrets towards the end, very few boats or people; it was a weekday. The last few Kms I had enough water, very little phone battery, saw no other pilgrims and was passed by bicyclists and walked by a few strollers. I didn’t see where they entered and exited this walk.

I stopped taking photos long before to try to preserve my battery for navigation. Next time: paper.

About five Kms before Valença I began asking people, who appeared to me to be residents, if I was walking the way to Valença and of course they confirmed yes! I just wanted to hear YES! And a human voice.

Long day, long eco walk, long story. When I arrived in Valença I was directed to the Municipal Albergue, next to the Bombeiros. I stayed there in early summer. I needed a bed and walked by, stopped at the first hotel, 40€ and it not only had two beds, but a bathtub. I was so weary, it was 17:00. I had walked more than 32 Kms. But truly, I’m not sure how I did this. No blisters or sprains, just completely wiped out.

One foot in front of the other in a Camino zone. 98% on hard, unforgiving walkway. Multiple detours, plus the way to find the way and the way to find a bed. No dinner, just a beautiful soak in hot water, then sweet, uninterrupted sleep. I was sore the next day, but my backpack and I both survived.

I walked to the Estación de Tren, easily bought a ticket to A Coruña, walked to a cafe for desayuno, took a little tour of the busy downtown on a weekday when people are working, taking their children to school, parking their cars and waiting for traffic lights to change.

And for me: off to another chance to learn more Camino lessons.

Next chapter: A Coruña, Camino de Ingles? Maybe not! and Santiago de Compostela.

Buen Camino, mis amigos. No blisters for you or for me.

Irene

11 thoughts on “From Portugal to Spain: A Meandering Tale and the Long Walk

    1. Hi Laurie. Yes, this was a beautiful walk. So was the Finisterre-Muxia Camino. I split the stage between Finisterre and Muxia by stopping halfway in Lires. You can figure your preferred distances to decide to walk the stages, more or less. My slow Camino calls for shorter distances and gave me time to enjoy the spectacular Costa da Morte. You will love it. Buen Camino, Irene

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My goodness Irene. I was e haunted just reading your post. You are an amazing woman (learned that in 1993). I love walking the Camino vicariously through you!!

    Love to you dear Irene!!

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    1. Thank you so much for walking with me, Connie. Would you like to walk a Camino? Let me know and I’ll share different options and prep ideas to get ready. It’s an unforgettable journey. Bom Caminho, Irene

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  2. Your photography and descriptions are so perfect! What an adventure to meet people from all walks of life and experience the beauty and physical challenges all at once! So inspiring! I hope to do something close to that someday!

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    1. Hola, Janet. Thank you for walking with me. You would love the Camino and all the experiences that make it unique and life-changing. Go for it! Bom Caminho, Irene

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