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Coastal Camino Portuguese from Porto - first Camino

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MariaH

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2019)
I'm starting the Portuguese Coastal route from Porto (starting with the Litoral route) on the second half of September; this is my first camino so I have tons of questions!
  1. I was planning on staying in albergues, but I read another horrifying thread about the "bed race," which is a stress I don't want to deal with as it would defeat the whole purpose of this experience. Should I book ahead or is this not an issue on the coastal route in late September? I've been browsing hostels on Booking.com and several are getting booked up, which is worrying me.
  2. I'm interested in taking the Spiritual Variant. Which are good stopping points along the way? I have the Brierley guide and have also looked at several blogs, and have the following stages so far: Porto- Vila do Conde - Esposende/Marinhas - Carreco - A Guarda - Baiona - Vigo - ? I was thinking Vigo - Pontevedra (and from there to Armenteria to Vilanova de Arousa) but I'm not sure if that would be too much walking for one day, though I'm in very good shape, have hiking experience, and have the appropriate gear/clothing. Note that I have 13 walking days and was hoping to also add Fisterra OR keep the extra 2-3 days as resting days (or taking side trips - any suggestions?).
  3. What is the weather like in late September? I'm trying to figure out what layers to take (and whether a fleece sweater would be overkill). Is it rainy this time of year? Is the water swimmable along the public beaches if I want to take a dip or is it too cold by then?
  4. Where do you leave your bag once you get to the albergue/hostel (i.e. what is the security situation like)? I'm keeping my bag light, but it would be nice to not carry around the bag when walking around town/ having dinner.
  5. How safe is this camino for female solo travelers? I've only read about issues along the Lisbon-Porto sections.
  6. Are bed bugs a problem along this camino? Any tips on mitigating this risk?
  7. What is the best way to get back from either Santiago or Fisterra to Lisbon (for my flight home)?
  8. What are highlights or "must sees" along the way? Any parts that are worth spending an extra day?
  9. Any other tips are welcome!
Thanks in advance! This forum has been a great resource!
 

surya8

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugues Central and Coastal 2017 & 2019; Portugues Interior, Sanabres, Fisterra & Muxia 2018
I walked the coastal + Espiritual in 12 days, most people take the boat on the Espirital to Pontececures, saving one day but we walked there instead. Late Sept is still almost summer there, so might still be hot and dry, though there might be windy and cool after the sun gets down on the coast, so the fleece might be handy, as well as some waterproof jacket as Galician weather is unpredictable. Don't overplan with the stages, see how it goes, depending on your physical condition - Portuguese cobblestones are not for everyone's liking. Late Sept could be still busy but there are always plenty of options on the way. Never booked anything on my 4 Portugues Caminos, walked in every season, always found somewhere to stay. Of course it's possible to walk from Pontevedra to Vila Nova de Arousa in one day, though this stretch is slightly hilly, and the scenery is magnificent there, maybe you'd want not to rush it there. Everyone drops there backpack at the albergue and walk around with small safety bag/bumbag. Safe to walk for a female, people are very supportive and ready to help, either the locals of fellow walkers. Actually meeting people, not necessarly the places, could be the highigt, althouth there are plenty of nice towns to explore on the Coastal. I'd make a rest stop in Pontevedra before Espiritual - there is a buzz around town. Re bedbugs: you may or may not meet them on your Camino, this is random and you just need to accept the fact that it may happen, that's part of the Camino experience. Not a frequent thing but happens sometimes and that's ok. Most people take the bus back to Porto, or there is a train option, although you'll need to change trains. Bom Caminho! :)
 

Dalanya

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to walk (2019)
Hello Maria, I am also walking the coastal route starting in Porto on Sept 14th. Surya8, Thank You for your advice.
I actually did part of French Way (Leon to Santiago) in April of this year. During that route, I traveled alone and I can say that it was very safe. Hoping that's how it will be on the coastal as well. To prevent bed bugs, I bought Permethrin spray and sprayed it all over the backpack before getting there. Its supposed prevent bedbugs for 6 weeks. I did not have any trouble with them. As soon as I got home, I aired out the pack in the sun for a few days and put all the clothes in hot wash. I also left my pack in the albergue and did not have any issues. Walked around in the towns with my small cross-body bag that had money and passports.

I am wondering about the weather and what to pack as well. I also want to know what is the best and affordable albergue to stay at in Porto. I saw options in some posts. But I don't recall which one is the closest to the walk path and the metro stop that connects to the airport. Also if I need to reserve a bed ahead of time in Porto. For the rest of the route, I don't plan on booking ahead but I thought Porto being a big city might be helpful to. If anyone can advise on that, it will be great. Thanks so much!

Buen Camino Maria. Maybe we will run into each other :)
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
Hi Mariah!

1. Just remember that hotels 'being booked out" on Booking.com mean solely that the rooms available for that webiste are gone, not ALL the rooms. Usualy you can try other sites (such as expedia, hotels.com, agoda) or even call the hotel yourself.
If you feel more tranquil booking in advance, do it for the first and second nights out, maybe. After that, tyou will know your walking pace better and will also have seen how crowded the camino actually is (which shouldnt be much).

2. Havent walked that variant, but just heard a talk about it last week. Sounds delightful.
3. God knows about the weather. As long as you can layer your clothes in case of cold, you should be fine.
4. I usually leave mine on the designated bag areas (if there are some) or on the floor, near the bed. I usually have a small lock to close one of the pockets in case I have something I want to make harder to steal, but any essentials (passport, money, phone) are always with me in a waistbag.
5. I walked with my husband, so wouldn´t know for solo. But it seemed very tranquil.
6. When I walked in 2017, didn´t hear about bugs in any place. Some dirty accomodation near Cesantes, but nothing horrendous.
7. Maybe train or bus back via Porto. it is a bit time consuming though(8h-10h). If you don´t mind using a bit more money, you can fly from santiago to Madrid and from there to Lisbon (around 3h if you get a good connection).
8. Porto is amazing (do a wine tasting and eat Francesinha!). I also loved Pontevedra. You don´t have to decide on stops now, just see where you feel like it :) But really, enjoy the food.
9. Carry safety pins.

It is normal to be camino anxious, but once you get there, you will see how it is actually simpler than it looks. Enjoy, and bom caminho!
 

MariaH

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2019)
Wow, thanks Surya8 and Anamya for your detailed replies and advice! I didn't know "camino anxious" was a thing, but I feel better now :) It seems Pontevedra seems to be a good rest stop. I'll book the first couple of nights and see how crowded the camino is and how I feel about my pace.

Dalanya - Thank you for the advice on Permethrin; I've used it on hikes for mosquitoes, but it's good to know it works on bedbugs too. In terms of what I'm packing for layering, I am taking two hiking-type pants (lightweight), wool hiking socks, a few merino wool tops (short sleeve, long sleeve, and a pullover hoodie), merino leggings for sleeping, and a mid-layer fleece hoodie. I am taking a poncho instead of a rain jacket as it would cover my bag too, and I want something more breathable than a rain jacket. I booked ahead at the Poets Inn for my first night in Porto, but that's a bit of a "splurge."

Bom Caminho! Maybe we will run into each other!
 

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