Saturday, 10 August 2013

More on the Camino Portuguese by the coast...

Hola everyone

I'm getting many more enquiries asking for information on the route by the coast from Oporto. The original post is here
And here is a very helpful note from Sandra. 

Vila do Conde
 Johnnie, I emailed you some time ago asking for info on the above route. I have since been there, walked it, and the other day found your account of the coastal way which is the one I really wanted to do....
We walked from Porto to Santiago from 13th to 24th June. 
On the first day we took the metro to Matosinhos and along the boardwalk: absolutely wonderful day, brilliant sunshine and not too strong breeze. 
In Vila do Conde we found a really good place to eat: from the sello, it looks like Jose Gaifem, Adega Do Testas. It is a good bit away from the harbour, to the left and behind as you look over from the bridge into town. We were just strolling, so maybe ten minutes or so from the quay.
Jose, the owner, who has walked the Camino several times, was outside cooking sardines on his brazier, and easily negotiated a late menu del dia for us, although it was way past time for that. He told us of a Residencia near his restaurant which has reasonable rates for pilgrims, and also the Fire Station, but by then we had booked into a small hotel. The food was really good, freshly cooked by his wife and served by his son.
Then we cut across to join the route from Rates. That day was so hot, and the local fiesta of their patron included a 4 way set of speakers playing latino music all day and all night...!

The second place of particular note was in Ponte de Lima. It was a busy day of fiesta and we looked for a place recommended in our guidebook, to be waved off by a member of staff telling us that menu de pelegrino didn't start till 7pm... Walking on a little bit we found Restaurante Mercado. An excellent choice. It has recently changed hands, and the service and quality of food was excellent.
Last Stamp Albergue - highly recommended
The third place of note was the albergue we found in Santiago itself: El Ultimo Sello. This is a private albergue, to the right of the square at the top of the street leading up from the Cathedral to Caso Manolo.
It is absolutely spotless, only a few months in business. There are around 50 beds in various rooms. Sheets! Pillows! laundered! Duvets! There is a really well stocked kitchen and a great double patio for clothes, dogs, bikes... rate varies depending on the number of nights but around €16 or so. Very central: when we did the French Way seven years ago we had booked ahead because of the date of arrival being very near the feast of Santiago, and the albergue, also private, was a good walk out of town. This time we were so central it was much easier and when we didn't eat in Casa Manolo we were actually able to cook and invite some our walking companions to join us in the kitchen. The desk is attended 24 hours a day.

We had time to visit the City of Culture. A vast monument to .. what, exactly? I have never been to the Pyramids, but I imagine it might feel similar... the scale of the buildings in relation to human frame...
We saw maybe eight other visitors, and it was Wednesday, free entrance (usually €4.00) to the Orinoco exhibition.
Santiago itself is the city of culture, no need to compete with it. A Galician woman left us in no doubt as to how the local taxpayer feels about it.

I promised Jose in Vila do Conde, the owner of the restaurant in Ponte de Lima, and the receptionist in el Ultimo Sello - not forgetting Manolo himself in Santiago (where fast food is freshly prepared and excellent value) that I would pass on my experience of their special service, and so, here I am asking you to include brief references to them. If you think there is a better way of doing that, please let me know and I will send on the recommendations to a different site. 

I think I have taken enough of your time, thanks again for your excellent blog.

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