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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Mary's first day

Well today was Mary's first walk on the Portuguese Camino and she sure picked a baptism of fire with the 30+K coastal stage from Porto to Vila do Conde but in true spirit she coped really well and finished strongly. The morning started with a thick fog rolling in of the sea and shrouding the coast line. We had left our hotel at around 7.00 and at that early part of the day it felt cold and damp from the fog as we made our way over the iconic lifting bridge and walked through the Porto docks until we joined the coastal way. At about 10.00 the sun broke through the fog and within minutes the beautiful and rugged coastline revealed itself to us. This was heavenly walking on a wooden boardwalk that snaked its way majestically through the sand-dunes and the scenery added that extra dimension. At one point I stopped to read what appeared to be a memorial that was written in both Portuguese and English and you can imagine my surprise when I discovered it was about an English steamer, out of Liverpool, that had sank in 1913 and guess what? The good boat Veronese was built in Belfast, yes Belfast. Is this yet another great boat built by the skilled craftsmen of Belfast and sunk by an Englishman? We made several drink stops and quite honestly, during the first 20K, there was a holiday feeling about this walk even though we were carrying our heavy backpacks and knew we still had a long walk in front of us. During one of these stops we met Karen from Australia so it became a longer than usual break, as I had met Karen on the earlier stages, this gave Mary an opportunity to meet another Camino friend. Sorry but I forgot to say that we both met Tammy last night after she had made her final walk into Porto. The marking on this stage can be quite confusing but we made our way through the colourful and atmospheric fishing villages of Vila Cha and Parque de Champismo which were a riot of colour and amazing aromas from the local fish restaurants. Vila do Conde was soon in sight but in true Camino fashion got further away with each step so it was around 4.00 when we arrived but it took at least another hour to find our hotel. You will never guess it but our hotel is an actual, real castle so we are doing the Camino like real knights of old. Tomorrow we leave the coast and head inland where I'm sure we will miss today's coastal breeze. I will post photographs on FB.

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