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Thursday, 28 May 2015

End of a stage at Porto Cathedral

When I left Madeira at 6.30 this morning there was a feeling that today my Camino would reach its climax. The solo and at times lonely walking would finish at the end of this stage. The first three hours in the coolness of the morning was spent walking uphill and this had a real draining effect both mentally and physically. This was then followed by a stretch on the busy N1 where the constant stream of cars and lorries made this part of the walk very polluted, noisy and with no footpath, dangerous. After about 12k of walking I turned off the main road and followed a small rural road through the tiny villages of Souto, Redondo, Carvalhosa, Monte Grande and Lourosa. During this part of the walk, along a road made from  square stones laid side by side, I witnessed some spectacular washing. At two different villages there appeared to be a communal clothes washing facility. The Roman looking open air wash houses were full of older women doing the washing by hand. I couldn't work this out since I observed that the houses had electricity so why were these women doing the washing in this ancient and physical manner? Soon I was in Grijo with its famous Italian monestry and parkland and it was here that I met up with a Dutch walker and we both stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat. Today's walk of 38k was made easier with a slight breeze that was coming from the coast. The walk through the residential suburbs of Porto is best not mentioned and is  now blocked from my memory. The part of road along the run da Senhora do Monte which has no pavements and where fast moving cars are practically touching you should be detoured before someone is badly hurt. When you arrive at Jardim O Moro you see Porto and the river Douro with its famous iron bridge in panoramic glory stretching out in front of you. To reach the Cathedral and the end of the walk you walk over the the upper level of the famous Ponte de Dom Luis iron bridge and then proceed up past the statue of Vimara Peres to the Cathedral. The journey was over, 380K in 12 days, and the blisters to prove it. Tomorrow the rest of Team Boylan arrive in Porto and with our combined efforts we will make Santiago by the 12th June. Even with all the physical demands, mainly caused by the exceptional heat, I have enjoyed the challenge of this stage of the Portuguese Camino. This evening I wandered down to the waterfront where I met up with Fred from Holland and we sat having a drink and something to eat whilst at the same time watching the locals dance in the square.

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