Today was a long day. I can say that that it was a good day, now after I have showered, washed my clothes, had a bit of a nap and am now sitting on a patio nibbling on a sandwich ("sandwich rustica" per the menu) and drinking cerveca. When I arrived I was very tired and a bit grumpy.
I am glad I decided to take the metro to outside of Porto, to the jump off point at Matosinhos as it was a long enough walk without those extra 3-4 km from the Porto town centre. I left the hostel in Porto at 7:30 and it took a good 45 min to get to the "Mercando" stop, where I needed to get off and cross the river to the city(?) of Matosinhos. I stopped for a small coffee and then set off over the bridge on my way.
One of my concerns in choosing this route is the lack of information available. One person at my hostel Ian Porto said she knew of one person who had walked it last year and found the route poorly marked and the route not yet finished. I went to the Tourist information office in Porto and they had no information but agreed it was poorly marked and that there were few Albergues. That said, how lost can one get walking along the coast? So, convinced that any problems I might have would be small ones, I set off.
The first problem was that I didn't see any arrows on the other side of the bridge. I could have gone left and followed the river out to the ocean, but a lady spoke quite confidently that I should go straight ahead. I took her advice, but a few km later wondered if that was wise. In any case, no arrows and after asking directions several times more "caminho do Costa?" I was told to turn left at the next round about and so walked the couple of km to the ocean via the road. When I arrived I saw a boardwalk which probably started not far from the bridge where I undoubtedly should have turned left. Oh well, no big deal. It was 9:30 when I started walking up the boardwalk along the coast and it was going to be a very hot day to walk the 27 km to my destination. Probably should have left the hostel at 6 and have started walking at about 7 to escape the heat of the day. Oh well.
The boardwalk was pretty nice, but it ended abruptly, but fortunately just temporarily and I had to do some acrobatics to finish that section (so did the cyclists who happened to overtake me at that point)
|Can you see the yellow arrow on the light post?|
Then there was the issue with the Amarillo Fletchas (yellow arrows). By about 1:30 I had pretty much resigned myself that there would be no arrows but I just needed to follow the boardwalk. Then I was confronted with an arrow pointing away from the boardwalk! What to do? As most pilgrims would, I abandoned the boardwalk and followed the yellow arrows. Following this route, I found myself going over to the main road though the towns and past the stores, etc. Finally after following several kilometres of arrows reassuringly pointing forward down a residential road parallel to the beach but perhaps a km away I reached a T junction and the arrow pointed away from the ocean! That really perplexed me as I could see the boardwalk in the distance and that was where I wanted to be but maybe the boardwalk dead ended. At that point I saw a couple of people and decided to ask for advice. I was pointed back to the boardwalk. I was very peeved and the painter of the yellow arrows. It is not good when a pilgrim can't follow the arrows reliably. It is a good thing I didn't go further before correcting.
Thank goodness that I found a great hostel at 10 EUR for the night for a dorm room which sleeps 4 and they packed me a huge takeaway breakfast as I will start early tomorrow. They also reserved me a room in a hostel in Esposende, my destination for tomorrow, so I can take my time and stop as frequently as I like.
One of my roomies for tonight is a Japanese man, Aoki, who came from Porto today by a most curious route. His guidebook said that the coastal route from Porto to Vila do Condo was not passable in places except by wading through water. So he took the metro a distance further than I did and then did a hybrid route following the road from the interior route over to Vila do Conde.
There are about 8 of here at the hostel who are walking this route and no one from Portugal or Spain. I guess I will be seeing them each night as there is usually only one hostel/Albergue in each town.