Hello from a new country! Yesterday, we crossed a bridge from Valença, Portugal to Tui, Spain. After taking a few pictures, it sunk in – we walked here!
Here’s what our journey to the border looked like:
Day 1: Porto – Vilarinho – 27.6 km
We stayed in a sweet albergue with a backyard swimming pool! Show me a better deal for 10 euro per person! We also finally tried a francesinha – a northern Portugal delicacy including bread, cheese, steak, chorizo, sausage, ham, fried egg, and special sauce – in the local sports club. Think poutine, but a sandwich.
Day 2: Vilarinho – Barcelos – 29.6 km
The highlight of our walk was an incredible medieval bridge. We enjoyed the lively town of Barcelos with its countless rooster statues and an exciting fire truck parade. In the evening, we attended a full Portuguese mass.
Day 3: Barcelos – Facha – 25.7 km
Following two long days on the road, we ended this stage earlier than suggested at the incredible Quinta da Portela in Facha. The owner purchased a crumbling house in 2004 and has renovated it into a paradise. Some of the best features included seven varieties of fruit tree, sassy chickens, a stream that flows into a plunge pool, stained glass doors from monastery confessionals, and chandeliers made from farming equipment. Needless to say, we were ready to move in. The six-dish, home cooked dinner sealed the deal.
Day 4: Facha – Rubiães – 27.6 km
Well, we finished the previous day’s six miles into Ponte de Lima and then climbed a mountain in pouring rain. Beast mode!
Day 5: Rubiães – Tui – 20.3 km
Our final day in Portugal was capped off with a long lunch in the old fortress of Valença. There was no logistical nonsense at our border crossing, just a lot of time to reflect and take pictures. And then the language and the local beer changed and we were in Spain!
It’s impossible to summarize our time in Portugal. We walked through two major cities and countless towns that have almost vanished. We played on modern exercise equipment in neighborhood parks, and we walked on the cobblestones of Roman roads. We spoke quiet prayers through the open doors of stone chapels, and we let our curses reverberate up never-ending mountains. We have unending gratitude for the help we received from Portuguese people. We were met with kindness as we struggled to order a basic breakfast or figure out which of their neighborhood roads to walk down. We will not miss Super Bock beer, but we’ll miss just about everything else. Obrigada, Portugal!