Hi, I am thinking of walking the Camino Portuguese next year with my partner. Where is the usual starting point and what is is the best time of year to go. All advice would be greatly appreciated. Shell
I would suggest the best time of year would probably be late summer early fall. Spring could potentially be too wet and muddy, and the summers just seem to be getting hotter and hotter.
That said, if summer is the only time you could do it, the Camino Portugues is not as crowded as some other routes - at least it wasn't last year. But there are a few shadeless days that will be fairly painful in 40 degree weather.
Hi, johnnywalker and Athena, thank you both for the advice. I have just ordered Brierely's book and will probably start at Porto perhaps in September. I walked the Camino from Leon to Santiago in August this year and it was hot and overcrowded so perhaps I will wait until early September before I try this Camino.
On a separate note do you have to speak Portuguese or will I be able to get away with speaking Spanish?
The Portuguese will greatly appreciate any attempt you'll make to speak their language, but you'll get by with Spanish...or even English if necessary. A few even preferred that I speak to them in English rather than in Spanish.
And don't overlook the Galegos! Galician cultural is distinctive and infused throughout the route. Without getting tooooo political, (to late?) I think it's a fact many overlook when visiting Santiago.
There's a lot to experience! How does that saying go....? If one is open to all things, then all things are open to them?
I found that many Portuguese didn't speak Spanish but they spoke French, so that's worth a try. I do agree that if you make an effort to speak Portuguese, it really will be appreciated.
I started in Porto (a beautiful city so make sure you see some of it before you start the Camino) and got my credencial at the cathedral. I then got the metro to Maia and walked from there. Doing this gets you through the suburbs and safely on to the other side of the busy motorway. (Please don't attempt to cross the motorway as described in the guidebook - it's just too dangerous)
Until Barcelos, there's quite a bit of walking on busy roads so please be VERY careful - or consider starting your camino from Barcelos.
I walked the Camino Portugues last month (September) and it was a wonderful experience. The weather was great (sunnier that I had expected) and the paths weren't flooded (which can be a problem in Spring) You will meet lovely people everywhere - it's a great experience.
We stayed in hotels and pensions/pensaos all of which were clean and we were very well looked after. Others told us that the albergues were fine, although you had to wait for quite a while for some of them to open. (Our friends waited over two hours for the hospitalero to turn up at the Tui albergue)
The albergue at Caldas de Reis was closed - we were told that the hospitalero had died and the place had never re-opened. However, Hotel Lotus is a good alternative there. We saw albergues at Rubaies and Mos that weren't in the guidebook. I think you can get a guidebook update if you email John Brierley.
I would suggest you to download a free guide from http://www.amigosdelcamino.com, in spanish and/or portuguese. It's written by the Galician Association (AGACS) las year (2006) and it's possibly the best guide about this Camino.
Barcelos, Ponte de Lima, Serra do Labruja, Valenca, Tui, Redondela, buffff enjoy this beautiful Camino, as I did three tyears ago ....
Thank you all for your great responses and I am really looking forward to walking this Camino. I am especially interested in accommodation and albergues in Portugal. I don’t mind having to stay in hotels along the way but staying in albergues and talking and sharing experiences with other pilgrims at the end of the day is always good and I would really like to be able to do this. Any more advice on albergues would be great. Thanks
When walking the VdlP in the summer I met a Spanish girl who had walked the Camino Portuguese the previous year. When she finished the first stage she asked in a fire station where she could sleep and they said "here!". Not only that they phoned ahead to the next fire station and then the next night they did the same. She had a Pilgrim Record full of sellos from the bomberos - so you never know!