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Coastal vs Central (Portuguese) in December

Time of past OR future Camino
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Hi friends. So I am one or two days out of Porto and I soon will have to make a decision... to coastal or central after Porto? I expect to arrive in Porto either Nov 27th or 28th after a very very wet journey from Lisbon on the central route. I'll probably take a rest day in Porto, so my journey will mostly be in early December.

Now I love the sea. But I am not a masochist for bad weather. My guess is that either route will likely be rainy... my question is this, and really this is specific to this time of year in this specific region: does one route or the other have any type of advantage weather wise this time of year? Enough so as to make my decision obvious?

If not, is there any other factor that I should consider when choosing?

Thanks all in advance...
 
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Grousedoctor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Hi Damien, I’ve been lucky enough to get to walk both routes. We did the coastal route just this past April. As we had wonderful weather, I’m a bit hesitant to guess what it might be like in December along the coast. It strikes me that you could have a number of cold, wet, windy days trudging north. If weather weren’t an issue, both routes have their pluses and minuses. Overall, my preference was the central route as it seemed a little more caminesque based on my experiences on the CF just a year earlier. My recommendation would be to follow the coast out of Porto to Vila do Conde and then cut inland toward Barcelos. If possible, try to spend a night at Casa Fernanda. Her hospitality was a highlight of our Camino. There are truly some wonderful towns/cities along this route: Ponte de Lima, Tui, and Pontevedra. Finally, if you have an extra day, take the Variante Espiritual just out of Pontevedra. The last segment by boat to Padrón is worth the whole journey. Bom Caminho!
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
If possible, try to spend a night at Casa Fernanda. Her hospitality was a highlight of our Camino.
@Damien Reynolds, I cannot help you with the choice between routes, but I did want to support this recommendation. I stayed at Casa Fernanda earlier this year, and it was one of the highlights of my pilgrimage. And all the best for the rest of your journey.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
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@Damien Reynolds, I cannot help you with the choice between routes, but I did want to support this recommendation. I stayed at Casa Fernanda earlier this year, and it was one of the highlights of my pilgrimage. And all the best for the rest of your journey.
Well, a random friend I met on the Frances before this trip, after learning I was going to walk in Portugal, gave me the same reco. That is 3 recommendations for the same place... usually that is a good indicator of something special :)
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Well, a random friend I met on the Frances before this trip, after learning I was going to walk in Portugal, gave me the same reco. That is 3 recommendations for the same place... usually that is a good indicator of something special :)
Casa da Fernanda, and especially Fernanda herself are very special.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Time of past OR future Camino
Some in the past; more in the future!
If it’s going to be rainy, I’d choose the central route (actually I’d chose the central route regardless, but maybe that’s just me). The central has more historic towns/churches and nature such as forests that can be better enjoyed in wet and/or windy conditions than coastal scenery, and a better pilgrim feeling. Bom caminho regardless of your choice!
 

cardifflad52

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept 2015 Inglis Way , March 2022 Camino Frances
Hi Damien, I’ve been lucky enough to get to walk both routes. We did the coastal route just this past April. As we had wonderful weather, I’m a bit hesitant to guess what it might be like in December along the coast. It strikes me that you could have a number of cold, wet, windy days trudging north. If weather weren’t an issue, both routes have their pluses and minuses. Overall, my preference was the central route as it seemed a little more caminesque based on my experiences on the CF just a year earlier. My recommendation would be to follow the coast out of Porto to Vila do Conde and then cut inland toward Barcelos. If possible, try to spend a night at Casa Fernanda. Her hospitality was a highlight of our Camino. There are truly some wonderful towns/cities along this route: Ponte de Lima, Tui, and Pontevedra. Finally, if you have an extra day, take the Variante Espiritual just out of Pontevedra. The last segment by boat to Padrón is worth the whole journey. Bom Caminho!
Well well well there is a question I almost asked ..I have no plans for Xmas and New Year, so I thought shall I fly out to Faro from my local airport here in the UK then get the flix bus to Lisbon or shall I fly out to Porto and start from there on the central route to remind me a bit like the CF route I did in the spring , but just in case there was not much opened due to the winter season I was thinking of taking my tent as a back up .. I have a week before I need to book my ticket so I have time to mull things over .
 
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST: Frances, Le Puy, Portuguese from Lisbon
The central route is not very far from the coast, so the weather likely won’t differ significantly. Leaving Porto in rainy October, I walked along the coast to Vila do Conde and then crossed over to Sao Pedro de Rates on the central route. The coastal route would probably be lovely in good weather, but the wind and rain were daunting, there was very little to see except gray skies and high waves, and nearly everything was battened down for winter. It rained every day on the central route, too, but as Jungleboy says, there’s more to see and enjoy there — and more shelter, even if it’s under a tree or the overhang of a corn crib. Even in the rain, Porto to Santiago on the central route was much nicer than Lisbon to Porto — fewer busy roads, more small farms and natural forests (vs. plantations), lovely rushing creeks and rivers.
 

JimG59

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago de Compostela (2022)
Hi Damien,

I noted you were starting the CP from Lisbon earlier in November. How has it been for you ? Stages, accommodation, cafes, general walking etc. Have you had sight of other pilgrims ? Ihope your protected from the rain.

I‘m planning to start my CP in early April from Lisbon.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
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Hi Damien,

I noted you were starting the CP from Lisbon earlier in November. How has it been for you ? Stages, accommodation, cafes, general walking etc. Have you had sight of other pilgrims ? Ihope your protected from the rain.

I‘m planning to start my CP in early April from Lisbon.
So it rained a lot in November. But apparently it is rainy season (go figure!)... but the temps were moderate so it was never a "I'm soaked and I'm cold" kind of rain, but more like the "I wish my feet weren't wet" kind. As far as stages go, I basically trusted a combination of the Gronze site and the Buen Camino app for planning. Except for today, when I basically combined the last two stages into one resulting in a 35ish km walk into Porto. I saw a grand total of 9 other Peregrinos over two weeks or so to Porto.
Infrastructure is more like my recollection of the VDLP, meaning not much. Heaven forbid you actually want to sit down somewhere protected to rest on the first couple of days. Cafes are fewer, far between, and not as nice as those you'd see on the Frances...

I can only speak now for Lisbon to Porto. It's a "spartan" camino that has its charms and I've loved it!
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Like many others, I walked from Porto to Vila do Conde, then turned inland for a more Frances "feel". I'd made my lodging arrangements ahead of time, and before I left home a forum friend suggested I stay at Casa Fernanda's place, how wonderful she is, and to tell her "hello" from him. Unfortunately, her albergue was only on the way to our day's end, but we decided to stop in on our way and say hello to her. She was so hospitable and offered to have us come inside for a pastry and coffee. We kindly declined, needing to be on our way and not wanting her to stop what she was doing to entertain us unexpectedly.
So here you have yet another plug for the Central route...and Casa Fernanda's.
I walked in April, but personally would never choose the Coastal route in the month of December.
 
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Well, I've made my decision. Tomorrow I head to Vila do Conde via the "littoral" route, which is basically the hugging the river and coast route but is different, I gather, from the coastal route. The weather is gonna be good! Then I'll switch over to the central via the purple dots in The Wise Pilgrim app and plan on spending a night in Barcelos, then the next night with Casa Fernanda (Lugar do Corgo). Thanks for the help friends! From there life is but a mystery...
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Well, I've made my decision. Tomorrow I head to Vila do Conde via the "littoral" route, which is basically the hugging the river and coast route but is different, I gather, from the coastal route. The weather is gonna be good! Then I'll switch over to the central via the purple dots in The Wise Pilgrim app and plan on spending a night in Barcelos, then the next night with Casa Fernanda (Lugar do Corgo). Thanks for the help friends! From there life is but a mystery...
Great choice, Damien, especially for December. I hope you can add in the Spiritual Variant depending on how far you are planning to walk.
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Well, I've made my decision. Tomorrow I head to Vila do Conde via the "littoral" route, which is basically the hugging the river and coast route but is different, I gather, from the coastal route. The weather is gonna be good! Then I'll switch over to the central via the purple dots in The Wise Pilgrim app and plan on spending a night in Barcelos, then the next night with Casa Fernanda (Lugar do Corgo). Thanks for the help friends! From there life is but a mystery...
I think that's a good decision. Have you contacted Fernanda yet?
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Yes, this is on my mind. I don't have any constraints other than return home Dec. 14 via MAD.
It should be enough time and no problem if you have relatively long legs....🙂just kidding.
On the Spiritual Variant the unique ancient stone village of Combarro is especially interesting and has seafood restaurants on the water.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
No, I made the decision like an hour ago! Should I? I mean, like u really think there is any possibility of a sell out?
I don't think that there's a possibility of a sell out, but I would think that Fernanda might like to know how many guests to expect. Her number is +351 914 589 521.

 

Mareng

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portugues 2012, Frances 2013-14, Le Puy 2015-16, VdlP 2017, Levante 2018, Madrid and Salvador 2019
Casa Fernanda - yes a wonderful experience - I stayed there on my very first camino in May 2012, recommended by a friend. Fantastic she and her family are still keeping up the good work.🙏❤️
 
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Days 16 - 17
Barcelos -> Corgo -> Ponte de lima
35km / 22 miles

Two short days in a row makes me feel like a lazygrino, but I did it so I could sample one of those Albergues that is recommended by everyone on the forums and guidebooks, etc. Now that is hit and miss, though, because I don't really ever stay in albergues anymore...

I almost walked by Casa Fernanda's in Corgo because it looked unappealing from the outside. I was greeted by dogs and cats and chickens and the sign on the wall warned perigrinos that for 20 euro you get a clean bed in a dorm with no heat, a dinner, and a breakfast and that's it.

I was then greeted by Fernanda and my hesitation to stay was relaxed somewhat... she was kind and beautiful and funny, so I decided I'd give it a shot.

The cold shower reminded me of old school albergues like circa 2005, when it was always a crapshoot that you'd turn the handle and be rewarded with a comforting shower. This time it came up craps, and after a day in the rain with a chill in the air, the icy water was not what the doctor ordered. I laughed it off.

When I went upstairs to Fernanda's house, which was separate from the unheated dorm, I was given a cold beer and warm fried Padron peppers, grown in her garden, which perked my enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, although Fernanda spoke English, Han, the guy from Korea, Louisa from Italy, and a man only referred to as "The French Guy" did not! Not much conversation to be had!

Later though, some Portugues perigrinos, who weren't actually walking but were rather just visiting Fernanda after closing down their own Albergue showed up to join for dinner. It was an authentic dinner, appetizers like the peppers and a cod dish, a soup, then a salad, then an incredible pork with beans and rice dish and bbq chicken and more pork.

A guitar was pulled out after wine and various spirits, and those that know me well know what happened next.

Songs included: Hotel California, Smoke on the Water, Let it Be, and Knockin' on Heaven's door.

The other Peregrinos went to bed about 2 hours before I did, hangin' with the locals.

Ponte de lima is a tourist town with a nice Roman bridge and convenient parking.
 

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