Camino Portugues Portugal

Day 18: Fao to Viana Do Castelo

Disaster happened – well a walkers disaster. But more about that later.

Today was 30km from Fao, where I’d had a good nights sleep, despite the 00.30 fireworks, that I could hear but not see, to Viana do Castelo.

I left the campsite early and stopped off for a coffee and ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast. It was beautiful morning, and the weather forecast promised that it would stay that way – if anything with over 30C, it was too warm.

Today was a beautiful and varied stage. I started crossing the River Cavado and walking through a quiet Esposende with a large square and a number of large buildings, built by returning emigrants.

Outside the town I hit the coast again, for a few kilometers before turning inland. A lot of countries could learn from Portugal to build boardwalks and esplanades that are used. Hundreds of people were out and about enjoying the warm weather.

Inland, it was up and down for the first time since Porto – nothing steep or difficult, but it took a bit of time for my legs to adapt. I passing residential areas with great views along the coast and I stopped in a cafe Lamplao, just before Belinho – a cafe dedicated to the 60’s and 70’s with music, pictures and bric-a-brac from back then, and a very nice owner who also looked like he was still in the 1970’s. A great place to stop. Past Belinho, I walked with an Hungarian lady who was full of energy and doing 50km per day, and for the first time since Porto, walked through a forest. I crossed the river Neiva on a small stone bridge, after saying goodbye to a Danish couple who I had walked with for a couple of kilometers.

I also met a French couple I had spoken to yesterday. There were many pilgrims on the road today, many from Eastern European countries and also some walking towards Porto.

I stopped up at the Church of Santiago de Castelo de Neiva, with a hundred or more beautifully dressed guest’s celebrating several baptisms – the service had just finished as I passed, so I got a chance to take a discrete look in the church.

On the way down one of the hills, with 10km to go, and just as I was thinking that I was full of energy, I rolled over on my ancle. I immediately felt a swelling but decided to walk on the last 10km, as I couldn’t do a lot halfway down a hill. I kept going and in Chafe, with about 5kms left, I caught up with a Danish guy, who’d just finished at  University (CBS) and would start a job back home. We walked the together for 5kms and it helped me take my mind off my foot.

Viana Do Castelo is situated on the north bank of the Limia River with Basilica de Santa Luzia perched on top of the hill overlooking the town. The bridge crossing the river is called Eiffel, designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Paris’ Eiffel Tower fame), and there was certainly a need for a wider pavement along the bridge, as there wasn’t any room for two people to pass each other.

My hotel was just over the bridge, and at check-in the receptionist told me that it was the biggest day in Viana Do Castelo’s history, as there was both the yearly procession and the end of Tour de Portugal cycling race, with a time trial. Despite the bad foot, and being a cycle enthusiast, I decided to walk into town. The town was jam packed and the temperate was closing in on 35C. I saw some of the time trial but never found the procession. It turned out that back at the hotel, I could see the trial both on tv and from my window. I never made it to the Basilica, but the town, seemed to be very pleasant, and a return visit worth.

I bought an ice pack at the chemist next to the hotel, rested my foot, and used a compression sock on the ancle. But as I went to bed, I was not confident that I would be walking tomorrow, and worried, that I may not be walking any more! Half way through the night, I also realised that I hadn’t eaten, but fell asleep again.

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