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Discussion in 'Camino Torres' started by amancio, Oct 15, 2017.

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  1. amancio

    amancio Active Member

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    Location:
    Durcal, Granada
    Camino(s) past & future:
    Francés, Primitivo, Salvador, Portugués from Porto, Aragonés, Inglés, VdlP to Salamanca, Lebaniego-Vadiniense, Fisterra
    Hi!

    first of all, maybe Ivar or some moderator might consider pinning this post to the top part of the Torres section. Below please find all details an experienced pilgrim from Porriño asked me to post in this forum, his English is not the best, so I offered to translate it for him, excluse my English too, since I am not a native myself!

    He started this Camino in spring time, but had a fall crossing a river and had to interrupt it. He finished the rest of the Camino only last week and this is what he wants to tell the English forum:

    ***********************

    Dear friends and forum members. Describing all adventures and tribulations in the Camino de Torres would be a long, boring, repetitive task, but in the present circumstances, I understand I should, as a pilgrim, give as much help, support and further details on whatever information you might need to do your Camino.


    Camino de Torres would be easy to split in two parts, one for each of the countries it goest through; in Spain, the stretch between the city of Salamanca and Aldea del Obispo - last town in Spain, as far as I can remember- and on the Portugal side, between Almeida and Ponte de Lima.


    Below, I am describing in detail various important facts about this Camino.


    Signposting. On the Spanish side, however scarce, signposting could be considered to be sufficient depending for pilgrims with some experience. As I previously reported, arrows do indeed exist, but they are few, apart and badly need repainting. Father Blas in Fuenterroble did an incredible effort to signpost the area, but, as my deeply admired Spanish poet Machado stated, "Broad is the land of Castille", and I am afraid the task is complex because the area lacks the necessary upright supports on which arrows can be painted - namely trees, walls, and so on. Preparing suitable signposting would involve digging and erecting an enormous number of stakes where arrows could be placed. To make things worse, we often find arrows pointing in the opposite direction, that is, towards Salamanca, although it is easy to realize such arrows are not marking the Camino we are following.

    The Portuguese side and its signposting are very easy to describe: NON EXISTING. In some areas, like Almeida and around, we find upright marks indicating a hiking path that brings us to several walled towns, but we never find arrows. This, however, is not the worst part. As we make progress into forested areas, hills, valleys and areas between towns, we simply find no signposting whatsoever. Unless you have a GPS app with you, such as wikiloc or other apps, you have a 100% chance to get lost. I want to make this clear enough: 100%.

    Exceptionally, we may find the odd arrow in Guimaraes and Braga, and only in Ponte de Lima we find arrows everywhere.

    Infraestructure. Very scarce, both in the Spanish province of Salamanca and on the Portuguese side. The directions included in the web site http://caminosantiago.usal.es/torres/ are very handy, since there are so few places where to get provisions, a problem which is particularly bad on the Portuguese side. We commonly find stretches of up to 20-25 km with no towns or any kind of services in between. It could still be a tough enough task regardless of the above, that is why want to make it VERY CLEAR that this Camino is not for unexperienced pilgrims.

    Camino Torres | Salamanca to Santiago via Portugal

    caminosantiago.usal.es

    If you want to follow the steps of Diego de Torres Villarroel, either on foot or on a bike, on his pilgrimage from Salamanca to Santiago de Compostela in 1737...


    Accommodation. I tried to follow the information included in the web site above, although I did include some changes which were dictated by mileage and mountain stretches. Two of the stages - Amarante-Guimaraes and Braga-Ponte da Lima- were split in two because it made no sense to face stages over 35 km. Besides, I was not in a rush.

    Portugal is a cheaper country to travel on than Spain is. It is easy to find “Residenciales” -sort of "pensions" with a double room, bathroom in suite and breakfast for just 20 euro. In my opinion, this reflects an even worse crisis than the one we have in Spain. In large towns, such as Guimaraes or Braga, it is easy to find affordable accommodation via Internet. You can find hostels which are not necessarily exclusive for pilgrims - on weekends, bear this in mind; guests in youth hostels are prone to partying till the wee hours!

    Notes about some stages :

    Amarante-Guimaraes, 39 km. You can split it in two if you sleep in Margaride (Felgueiras), approximately halfway. We find affordable hotels, namely Hotel Albano (+351.255.922.012), Hotel Horus (+351.255.400). A more modest option, and very close to the Camino, is Restaurante San Pedro (+351.255.623.346).

    Braga – Ponte da Lima, 34 Km. There is a pilgrim hostel in Goaes, it is barely 400m off route and the diversion is signposted. We also find a bar where we can get provisions halfway between the diversion and the actual hostel. The hostel is an old, reconverted school, it comes very handy and offers everything we need for sleeping: blankets, laundry facilities, and so on. You should be able to find the key at the lock, but you can nevertheless contact the Tourist Office in Vila Verde (+351.253.310.500) or phoning either of the following numbers: +351.253.382.058//+351.910.493.382//914.006.121. There should not be no need to ring, and if you do not speak Portuguese it might be complicated to make yourself understood, but there should be free beds since so few pilgrims follow this Camino. The man in the bar/restaurant will give you directions.

    Accommodation. The aforementioned web site does not include accommodation options for every town we go through, so I am including below a few accommodation alternatives.

    In Sernancelhe I felt truely welcome at the local volunteer fire brigade, Bombeiros Voluntarios. The facilities and the assistance are simply extrordinary, I will be forever grateful to them, they refused to even take a donation.

    Moimenta da Beira. Residencial Pico do Meio Dia (+351.254.582.381)

    Lamego. Casa de Sao José, located at the fard end of town, offers accommodation and full board for a donation. However, I stayed at Residencial Sé, near the cathedral, in a great location and at a very affordable price. It is a pension style option, but they have a roof terrace where you could to your laundry and hang it to dry.

    Mesao Frío. As you enter town, Restaurante Convivio (+351.254.892.481) gets you in contact with a lady who lives on the other side of the road, where you can spend the night. It is a good idea to ring one day in advance in order to let them know about our arrival.

    Guimaraes. My Hostel (+351.253.414.023 y +351.967.075.755), Francisco Agra 135, right on the Camino itself.

    Guimaraes Hostel: +351.253.421.380

    Braga.

    Pilgrim Hostel, Sao Joao nº 3, phone number +351253.215.165. It is a good idea to ring and book in advance.

    Braga Hoste, Sta. Margarida 6, phone number +351.253.263.279

    Ibis Hotel, 35 euro por a double room, Avenida da Libertade 96, phone number +351.253.614.500. This is a place where I gave myself a well deserved treat


    The two stages Lamego-Mesao Frío and Mesao Frío–Amarante are very demanding, pretty much like any stage in Camino Primitivo or Sanabrés. Please beware: there are very few places to get provisions in these two tough stages.


    Last, but not least, I cannot stress enough how friendly, loving and caring Portuguese people are. I am deeply grateful and I will always have a place for them deep in my heart.


    Last note: Portugal is undergoing a tremendous financial crisis, in some towns you can get a coffee for just 50 cents, you can have a rich meal for 7 euro; I would encourage you to be generous and pay back in money all the devotion and care that they will offer you.


    If any pilgrim has any queries or needs any further help, I will be available and very happy to be of any assistance. Fellow pilgrim Amancio will be happy to help you communicate with me, my English is not the best, I know words like Windows or table, and perhaps also The Beatles, Eric Clapton and Spencer Davis Group. That is pretty much about it, I am afraid!


    Regards, and Buen Camino to everybody!
     
  2. RodlaRob

    RodlaRob New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Torres (2016) Portuguese (2016)
    Great work Amancio to do this for fellow pilgrims and to your friend for his notes. well done!
    The beauty of this camino for me was ..... there is no detailed guidebook to explain every single turn in the path and having to communicate in different language with the locals regarding the neccisity of food & accommodation. ....... and not having to wait in the pilgrim line for my morning Cortado!
     
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  3. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I've just done the first 2/3rds or so of the Torres and my experience could not have been more different from Amancio's friend's.

    "Broad is the land of Castille", broad also is its camino real de Extremadura, along which the Torres passes for almost all of the way between Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo. I'm pretty good at getting lost, and managed long extra deviations on the Vía Serrana, due to missing arrows or not checking my direction properly. But when you have 3-4 days to spend on a well used agricultural road, up to 50 yards wide, always heading in the same direction, even I failed to get lost, in addition there were many arrows to follow, as well as the omnipresent vía pecuria signs.

    In Portugal my experience was even more different. I found the arrows mostly good, and often excellent, especially on the exits from towns. Far better than many caminos I've walked in Spain - I wasted many an hour trying to find my way forward through sometimes quite small towns on the Sureste/Levante. To say they were "non existing" is certainly not true in late autumn, certainly as far as Peso da Régua, and it seems unlikely they suddenly fall off a cliff after that. Out of idle curiosity, going through Ucahna, the last town before the Torres joins the CPI, I counted (and photographed) the arrows: there were 8 in the space of just under a km, on every junction from the entrance to the town/village to back into the countryside. The first four were more or less redundant,as it was obvious that the direction was heading over the Roman bridge.

    And direction is important as well. If you can see the castle you are heading towards, as, for example, in the case of Trancoso, the arrows are less important (although they were there if you looked for them). The only place that they weren't was in the bits devastated by forest fire.

    I forgot to charge my mobile the day before doing Alameda to Pinhel, so didn't have wikiloc or mapsme and far from "a 100% chance to get lost" I managed fine with just the arrows.

    This is no worse than many less travelled caminos, and better than some (the Ruta do Mar, for example). Anyone who does reasonable homework, knows the broad direction they're travelling in and keeps an eye out for the arrows will probably be fine, especially with backup from wikiloc or GPS.
     
  4. george.g

    george.g Active Member

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    Next camino?
    Torres or Madrid or repeat Mozarabe, too many caminos too little time
    Hi Alan,
    The Torres is probably my Camino of choice for next year, are there any language issues, I have enough Spanish to get by but absolutely no Portuguese, do the locals tend to be bilingual Portuguese/Spanish? Or will I have to resort to point and grunt?
    Regards
    George
     
  5. kirkie

    kirkie Active Member Donating Member

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    Amancio, your friend has done a great job, and you in translating it. Generosity on both sides. George, my Camino was from Porto, and there, English was Well used.
     
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  6. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Very few people spoke English in inland Portugal, especially in the smaller places, and my Portuguese is almost non-existent. But it was less of a problem than I feared as everybody seemed to understand my Spanish. Admittedly context helps - if you turn up with a rucksack in an hostal in the afternoon it's quite likely they'll work out what you want. And several people spoke French, which was useful for me (and one spoke German, which was less so as I only have it to O-level).
     
  7. amancio

    amancio Active Member

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    Francés, Primitivo, Salvador, Portugués from Porto, Aragonés, Inglés, VdlP to Salamanca, Lebaniego-Vadiniense, Fisterra
    Well, all I can say is, we have two different viewpoints at the moment regarding one of the possibly least documented caminos! It would not be my cup of tea at the moment, I do not see myself doing this Camino in the near future, but it is good to have so many choices (when it comes to Camino, time is the problem, not choices!)
     
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  8. alansykes

    alansykes Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Very true. For me, a camino that gets 20 people a year is close to my idea of heaven, but others have different views. The Torres is top of my list of repeat caminos, along with the Castilliano-Aragonés (a busy 50+ people per year).
     
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