Day 43: Apulia to Caminha - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 20, 2024

Day 43: Apulia to Caminha

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Breakfast at the CMB Guesthouse was "ok" this morning, earning two jammer status for having some ham and cheese, and one type of cake. But it loses half a jam for a cost cutting ploy we have seen once before on the trip: an employee asks you what you want, and then doles it out sparingly from behind a barrier. This morning, the employee asked repeatedly - "Do you want ... bread", "Do you want...  yogurt" and we had to repeatedly say "Give us everything you have, we need to bicycle far today".

Further to those bicycles, they were stashed in a room in a distant building, and the owner repeatedly promised that there would be someone to get them out, after 8:30.  At 9:00, I had to phone to drum someone up. That's harsh, because it assumes that the client will have a working Portuguese phone.

Our guesthouse
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The somewhat distant building from which you hope someone will free your bikes.
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One advantage of the Guesthouse was proximity to the ocean. We began by going down to have a look at it.

Yup, there it is!
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Based on last year, we were leery of landing in the sand, on boardwalk, or pavers, with the route we would choose for today. There were several choices, like the infamous EV1, the Camino bicycle route,  something whipped up by Osmand+, and any contribution from cycle.travel.  We like cycle.travel for its option of paved roads only.  So we started out giving cycle.travel preference. But it rapidly became clear that when cycle.travel's lawyers, or programmers, or whoever defined "paved", they included the crudest of Portugal's famous cobbled roads.

Nope not this way!
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Not this way!
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Not this way!
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Scott AndersonUgh. Exhibit A on why we avoid northern Portugal.
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4 weeks ago

As we first set off an old man in the street asked us (in Portuguese) where we were going, and on hearing "Santiago", waved us on straight. Bt soon, we were back, and the man said something maybe exasperated and waved us through again. By the third time he would have been jumping up and down, had he not been so old. That time a crooked little old woman was also on the scene. Somehow I missed recording this iconic village pair.

Here is what got their attention, our track:

Choose something and go!
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Ok, we're outta here. We chose the real road.
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Out on the highway (the N13) there was not much of interest, and I shot no further photos until we pulled in to Lidl, to supplement what had not been an entirely satisfactory breakfast. Even there, all I noticed was a Bimbo truck. We had thought that Bimbo was mercifully limited to Mexico, and have no idea how they leaked into Portugal. But oh, maybe Lidl has my semi-favourite Bimbo cinnamon buns? No need, one of the things Dodie came out with was a few of those 39 cents pastel de nata. You know what - they are not only good, they are great! Good work Lidl. Too bad this is our last day in Portugal!

Oh golly, they drove all the way from Mexico!
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At Esposende our enterprise could have come to an abrupt halt, as police were turning cars away from the critical bridge. But hey, they waved us through!

On the bridge at Esposende.
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We got fed up with the traffic on the highway (more than once) and went down toward the ocean to try our luck. We did find some usable boardwalk, and did not run in to the stairs that we remembered from somewhere along here, but we were nervous about it, and gravitated back to the highway, perhaps once our traffic jangled nerves had calmed down.

This looks ok?
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and this!
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No matter which route one is choosing, they all are forced to come together at the major bridges, such as the one at Viana do Castelo, where the Lima River comes down to the ocean.  The bridge there is long and narrow, and there was no way to get a photo of our crossing. We had to take the lane, and while no one honked, you could feel the pressure of the cars behind.

We were well off the bridge before I could take any photo of it. This is just the approach - it's very long.
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Scott AndersonTerrible bridge, and one I’d forgotten about. Thanks for the reminder. To help you remember how great it was, here’s our photo of it. Note from the comments that the O’Haras biked this thing too. https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/iberia2019/ponte-de-lima/#18716_jq6k45sjmc7uyf1k1iokk81efuu
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4 weeks ago
Here is a look up the main street of town. The hill behind is Monte Ste Luzia, and atop it is the temple of the Sacred Heart. This is supposed to be a fantastic thing to visit, for its view down the river valley and for the neo-Byzantine church. Looks like a climb!
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This 1955 ship moored at Viana had been a hospital ship. It is now a museum and youth hostel.
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We passed this church, whose door was open, and I had the idea that we could get a Camino stamp within.
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There was no one and no stamp inside, but I did get an "Our Lady of  Agony"  "trading card", and saw that there is an "Our Lady of Agony"  pilgrimage (Romaria).

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A quick look inside Our Lady of Agony
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The church has an interesting tower.
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The Sacred Heart temple can be seen most clearly from this angle.
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Karen PoretIs there a worker on the top in red? Yikes..
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4 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretUp on the scaffolding. You need a good head for heights to work up there.
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4 weeks ago

It seems there are often points in the day when a decent start can be said to go sour. This is that point, because this is where the wind not only picked up but became almost a gale. We were on one of our tries to be by the ocean, our of Viana, and in fact we had found a perfectly cyclable boardwalk. But we couldn't cycle it. We could barely stay upright standing by the bikes. How frustrating. We took refuge in one of those coastal forts, just to get enough shelter to put the bikes on stands and put on another jacket.

The fort was the Fort of Vinha, built around 1640 during some Portuguese war. It purpose was to suppress Algerian pirate raids. All we needed it to do was to suppress a little wind. But it still blew quite strongly within.
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There goes the boardwalk, but we can't use it!
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As walkers now, we could better commune with other Camino walkers. Although we did send most of our day on the highway, Dodie counted 40 couples or singles on The Way.
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Sue PriceThose backpacks remind me of the statues that cyclists strap to their backs getting increasingly larger as it gets closer to December 12 a special celebration of Our Lady of Guadeloupe!
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Sue PriceAt least the backpacks contain something useful.
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3 weeks ago

There was some fun to be had while being pushed around by the wind. For example, Dodie used her telescopic vision to spot a rare Red Throated Pipit.

24172 Red Throated Pipit. See it?
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Karen PoretAwesome camouflage !
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4 weeks ago
Ok, try here.
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Oh, there it is!
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Scott AndersonNice shot! More likely a meadow pipit though.
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4 weeks ago

And of course you can always watch the ocean waves crashing on the rocks.

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We pushed for a while, and then decided to try our luck a little inland, by the highway. So we grabbed an uncyclable cobbled lane and retreated to the road. There we found a paved path, that we recognized from last year. But was the wind up here enough less that we could cycle it? We gave it a try, just saying "Let's see if we can reach that tree". 

The cobbled lane
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The paved path held up for a while, although it would disappear and we had to search for it a few times. Along that way were came to a planting that had puzzled us the year before. What were these shrubs, planted on landscape cloth? This time we could also see some new ones, and how they had been laid out, and irrigated.

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Google says Red Tipped Photinia. It's just an ornamental shrub. But even so, why here and so many? I guess they have to be grown somewhere!
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When the roadside path finally disappeared, we noticed that the highway now had a very decent shoulder. Also the wind had dropped to a barely manageable state. So we were back on the highway! Dodie was freaked, because her bike (not to mention herself) was nearly exhausted from the battle with the wind. But we carried on, and reached Caminha without having to walk. That is, until we were in the town. Then the GPS took us up a large hill, that was topped with a monastery, and back down again. We figure it felt we would enjoy the monastery excursion, being not yet quite exhausted enough?

Caminha
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Here in Caminha we have reached the northern end of Portugal. Tomorrow we will cross the Rio Minho, that separates us from Spain. From there it's just 150 km (3 nights) to Santiago de Compostella!

Today's ride: 62 km (39 miles)
Total: 2,152 km (1,336 miles)

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Scott AndersonGood luck crossing the river!this reference says the ferry that we took no longer runs, but there is a small boat that runs on a regular schedule and will hopefully take bikes: https://www.turismoaguarda.es/en/como-llegar-en-barco/

Also, you might check Suzanne and Patrick O’Hara’s journal. The ferry was out of,service for their crossing too, but they were rescued by a fisherman with a small boat: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/portugalspainfrance/vigo-to-viana-do-castelo/
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4 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonOur guesthouse host gave us directions to the water taxi. He seens to know the drill as he hosts Camino pilgrims regularly. We shall see in tge morning.
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4 weeks ago