Before leaving Porto we bought two travel umbrellas for three euros each. It would prove to be the best six euros we spent while walking the Camino Portuguese. As I mentioned in our last post we made it to Valenca before the rain rolled in and several hours later when it did, it did so with a vengeance. Dressed in full rain gear and with umbrellas open, we started day seven walking in the rain and crossing the Minho River to Tui, Spain.
One Scary Bridge
Terrified of heights, the idea of walking across the bridge that connects Portugal to Spain was overwhelming for me. It turns out that the rain actually kind of saved the day. Our umbrellas were open as we approached the bridge and rather than stopping to think about it, we just kept right on walking. As you can see from the photo pedestrians walk on the outside of the bridge. It is one scary ass bridge to get across, let me tell you.
Abi walked on the outside of the walkway next to the railing while I had a death grip on his arm and walked on his left. He tilted his umbrella so that it blocked my vision of the railing and the river below, which was brilliant. Climbing the mountain on day five was physically challenging, but walking across that bridge was emotionally exhausting.
Fried Eggs & French Fries
The first order of business once in Tui was to find a cafe where we could eat greasy fried eggs and french fries with an added side of chorizo for me. I swear there’s nothing like a hot plate of comfort food when you’re wet, cold and hungry. A couple of cups of strong hot coffee for Abi and hot chocolate for me and we were ready to face the day.
When you know you’ve got to walk 12.5 miles in the rain, you need all the comfort you can get. Pretty sure we walked off all the calories too. It can also be noted that on any given day there was an ample stash of chocolate bars in the day pack as well.
Cathedral of Santa Maria de Tui
The historic charm of Tui was clearly evident but with a long wet day ahead of us we pretty much just followed the Camino right through town. Fortunately, it winds it’s way up a hill to the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Tui, which looks more like a fortress then it does a cathedral, but there’s a good explanation for that. It was in fact a fortress and it played a significant role in the city’s line of defense against the enemy of the day.
Not wanting to take the time to join a tour, we were able to just step inside and take a quick peek. Normally, we’ll go out of our way to visit a cathedral, we never get tired of the history, architecture and art, but it was a wise decision to keep moving.
From Tui to Porrino
Despite the rain, or maybe because of it, it was a beautiful walk from Tui to Porrino, our stop for the day. Primarily, we walked through forests of green and alongside flowing creeks and rivers while embracing the sweet peacefulness of having the trail to ourselves for the better part of the day.
I’m sure you can imagine with all of the rain, the Camino was a muddy mess on our day seven of walking the Camino Portuguese.
- Day 7 – April 23
- Valenca to Porrino
- We walked 12.5 miles (20 km)
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
From Porrino to Arcade
Did I mention it rained on day seven? Ha! Mother Nature was just gearing up; we hadn’t seen anything yet.
As I scrolled through our collection of photos from day eight I was somewhat surprised when I realized how few photos we had. I checked our notes in our Portgual Green Walks road book, and mentally took myself back to the Camino where I did a little memory walking in my head. Only then did I remember why we had so few photos. It rained on day eight and then it rained some more. And, then it rained even more and the wind howled with such an intense ferocity that it caused us to question our motivation to continue.
The Rain in Spain
The rain and wind were relentless on day eight. I never caught her name but a young woman was walking solo and we would see her from time to time either on the trail or at a cafe. That day we stopped at a cafe to get a cup of coffee and use the facilities. and the young woman was there as well. I asked her how she was doing and she said, “I’m struggling today.” I’m guessing pretty much every pilgrim on the trail that day was struggling.
It’s difficult to take photos when you’re trying desperately to keep your umbrella from popping backwards as the wind catches it. Yep. It happened. More than once. At one point I had to brace myself up against a stone wall and turn my back to the wind in order to convince my cheap little three euro umbrella to pop back.
That stone wall was alongside a steep asphalt rural road that we had to carefully find our way down while fighting the wind and rain. I think it was at that point I must have stepped wrong because my right ankle was wonky for the rest of our Camino and I began popping Ibuprofen like candy.
It’s the Camino
Just about the time I had had enough and my sense of adventure was waning, I caught site of another woman we would connect with from time to time. We never spoke, but we smiled and waved to each other. She was walking with (I assume) her husband and twenty-something son. Her Camino was in a wheelchair. The men in her life would push when they needed to, or hold her back on the downhills. She had a front wheel extension that she could peddle (for lack of a better word) when they were on the flat sections. She was a true pilgrim on the Camino.
Day eight sucked, weather wise, but since we were able to walk on our own two feet we had absolutely nothing to complain about. It’s the Camino.
- Day 8 – April 24
- From Porrino to Arcade
- We walked 14 miles (22 km)
- Difficulty: Moderate
Ive just done the Camino from Porto but by bicycle. We had lunch within Fortalez Valenca which is quite fascinating, and then cycled across that bridge which was quite exciting, but possibly less scary than the footpath along the outside, before stopping in Tui. Thoroughly recommend this route .
Patti, I can relate to the bridge crossing, except in the reverse. It would have been me holding the umbrella to conceal the view and Malcolm inching along on the inside. Actually, I am pretty sure he would have taken a taxi! Kudos to you for doing it! I’m pretty sure we were in Lisbon on your day eight. Your description of the rain sounds awfully familiar. Emphasis on awful. P.S. How do you not barf when walking after a breakfast like that!
Ha! Ha! That is hilarious, Suzanne. That breakfast was exactly what I needed and it was yummy. Definitely not how I eat on a regular basis, but it sure hit the spot that morning and I figured after the bridge crossing and enduring the weather I earned it.
If I had been alone, I probably would have taken a taxi, could not have done it on my own. We chatted a few times with a young woman and she told us that she’s never bothered by heights but that bridge gave her pause as well.
Seeing and hearing about the bridge was enough to make my stomach queasy. Am full of admiration for your doing it, and in the rain. Well done! Sounds like you both were quite the troopers.. thats a lot of ground to cover and a lot of rain to do it in.
Thank you, Peta, that bridge was terrifying for me. But I can look back and be glad of the accomplishment. I knew we would have to walk across a bridge from Portugal to Spain, but it wasn’t until we actually arrived and I saw how high the bridge was and that the pedestrian walkway was on the outside that I wanted to cry at the very thought of having to walk across it. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind to take a taxi across the bridge!
On our one multi-day hike in New Zealand, our last day was 13 miles in the rain, so I can kind of remember what that was like, but we only had one day of that. Not sure how I would handle more than one “rain all day day.” We were properly attired including waterproof footwear which helped. I still harbor my Camino fantasy though and the Camino Portuguese looks even more intriguing than the popular Spanish route you reported on a few years ago.
Three straight days of rain. It was relentless. We decided not to wear waterproof shoes because they don’t dry as quickly. But then again although we had all of our rain gear, we certainly did not expect that level of intensity. Our sneakers dried out every night, thankfully!
After walking both the Francis and the Portuguese, the Portuguese is a good starter walk. Maybe you can convince Mr./Dr. Excitement?!
Patti, well done for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It is a beautiful bridge. Such a shame about the rain, but the green vegetation and flowers were probably grateful. We found the North of Portugal and Spain to be so green and lush, it was stunning.
It is a beautiful bridge, Gilda, I think riding in your RV would have been much more comfortable. Completely agree about the vegetation, so green and beautiful.
Good for you, Patti! Crossing that bridge is a great analogy for confronting and getting through the things that frighten us. I remember June backpacking trips years ago in Montana with lots of rain (and even snow) and can imagine the misery of plodding through the cold and wet, mile after mile. It may have taken some time for you to feel that sense of accomplishment (like maybe when you were looking through you photos, warm and dry ) but you kept going. That gives me a lot of inspiration as I think about tackling one of the Camino routes someday.
Thank you, Anita. Once we crossed the bridge (which was long by the way) we stood in Spain and looked back and I owned it. It’s an accomplishment I’ll keep with me in my Camino memories.
If you decide to take on a Camino, I think the Portuguese would be a great walk for you. I know you’d love it, it’s a shame our timing was off it would have been fun to have you with us. But, even though you weren’t physically with us, you were definitely there in spirit.