Camino Portugues Portugal

Day 13: Oliveira de Azemeis to Vila Nova de Gaia

Today turned out to be mega stage. I hadn’t decided whether I would walk to Grijo (28km) or just short of Porto in Vila Nova de Gaia, where I was staying my last night in Portugal. Buses run regularly from Grijo to Porto, so I could walk the stage from Grijo to Porto tomorrow. I will make that decision in Grijo.

It was a beautiful and sunny morning and after a good breakfast I was on my way. Last night on our daily call, my wife had proposed that I try wearing two socks in the shoe that was too big (my left foot) and therefore I walked with two thin socks on my left foot and one thicker sock on my right foot. It actually worked well. Today was all roads until just before Porto, and whilst there were some nice views towards the coast, quite a bit of the walking was on busy roads with absolutely nothing to see.

I walked out of Oliveira de Azemeis towards Sao Joao da Madeira in brilliant sunshine.

After a couple of kilometers I passed the railway, with warnings that only small groups should cross the tracks at a time and passed a house on pillars for storing grain (a granary) and are elevated to protect against rodents and floods.  I hadn’t seen any before today, but saw two more later in the day.

I passed a number of small villages before stopping to watch a lorry try to back into a factory – stopping all traffic and pedestrians. I met a Portuguese guy on the way to Fatima before starting the assent into Sao Joao da Madeira, previously the hat, and now the shoe capital of Portugal.

I stopped for my now daily espresso, cola and cake in Arrifana, close to the blue and white tiled church where the Arrifana Massacre took place when the French killed one in five boys in men as retribution for the killing of a French Marshal’s nephew.

After the break it I passed through a residential area with another church, before hitting the busy main road to Porto, with some pleasant views along the coats in the distance.

I was listening to music whilst walking along the main road. At one point I heard some shouting and turned round to see an old man waving to me and shouting that I should take the right fork up ahead. I smiled and waved back.

I passed along an old cobbled Roman road, before passing through residential areas, the blue and white tiled Capela de Santa Rita and eventually arriving at Grijo, just after 2 o’clock.

The monastery at Grijo dates back to the 12 century and the associated cemetery was very busy.

I sat and ate a small lunch of bread and jam and some nuts and decided that I would continue towards Porto. I followed the monastery wall and left a busy Grijo behind. The remaining kilometers, up until the outskirts of Porto were a mixture of paths and roads, and not least a walk along the ancient Roman path over Serra de Negrelos, where there was a fairly steep climb – not least after 35+ kms.

After the descent from Serra de Negrelos and another small climb towards Santo Ovidio, where it was possible to take the metro, the remaining kilometers were walking through the outskirts of Porto.

The last few kilometers were heavy going. 44kms is undoubtedly the longest I have walked with a full backpack, but apart from feeling a bit stiff as the evening got colder, I felt OK. After taking a shower I went out, initially to go to a supermarket, but eventually ended up in an ice cream shop with a burger and fruit waffle.

Little did I know it as I sat and ate the waffle, but it was lucky I walked from Grijo today, as thanks to TAP (the Portuguese airline) I would not have been able to do it tomorrow. I crashed out at 9pm, knowing that I had 3 kms to go.

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