Esposende to Viana do Castelo – That old pilgrim feeling

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I woke up at 5.30 this morning and scanned the room. Some pilgrims had already left and with my dodgy thigh I thought I had better get a wriggle on.

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Inspecting my washing from last night at the Albergue 11, unfortunately the humid and overcast weather had failed to dry my clothes in their enclosed courtyard, so pining my t-shirts to my backpack, I let the breeze of day 3 do the work.

The first hour out of Esposende was by the river and nothing to speak of. After this though, the Camino felt more familiar with pine forests, rivers, hills and cute dogs aplenty for the next 20 Kms until the crazy impressive mile long bridge at Viana! My hobble began to fade and I enjoyed my walking day in the glorious Portuguese countryside.

The day was marked by huge churches that seemed to be set away from towns in the countryside. They are all immaculately kept but they do not look well used.

I arrived into Viana at 2.30pm and was assigned a top bunk at the San Joao monastery. There was no ladder or chair to access the bunk, so I asked one of the young women I was sharing with how you got up there. She vaulted onto the top bunk like a gymnast. I turned on my heel and looked for the manager.

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So here I am instead. On the floor of the chapel and grateful to be here. So funny, only last night I was in the chapel at 8pm in Esposende, such a beautiful church, and thought ‘wouldn’t it be amazing to sleep in the chapel at night’. Now I’ll get to find out. I wonder how many pilgrims will be reading their bible or watching Netflix. I’ll likely do both!

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For those thinking of walking the Portuguese there is another difference between this pilgrimage and the Frances. The frequency of cafes, you can go 10km without a place for a coffee (and even more importantly – the loo), the reliability of their opening hours and the quality of the pilgrim menus. When one is offered, it’s expensive, low quality and one course in all my experiences thus far!

So, it’s 4pm and time to go and explore Viana!

 

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