Day 15 – Grijo to Porto – 18km/11.1 miles
After two full weeks of pounding mostly pavement I’ve arrived in Porto! The entrance into the city rivals any that I’ve seen as you cross the Luís I Bridge into the city. It was designed by a student of Eiffel and you can definitely see his style in it. Porto sits on top of a fairly steep mountain so navigating the city takes some let strength. It would take about to weeks of walking with a backpack on to make it easy. It’s amazing how light you feel on your feet without it. I can practically run up the hills while the other tourists are gasping for breath. I look forward to exploring this city with a full rest day coming up.
The walk this morning started nicely with a long steady climb on an ancient Roman road. It was quiet for once after all the road walking the last few days. After a quick coffee break we made the final push into the city which is all downhill as you make your way to the Douro River. The side across from Porto is known as Gaia and has a long avenue that leads directly to the famous bridge. There’s a modern light rail that runs the entire street which allows for quick travel between the two sides. We noticed a lot more people with backpacks on wandering the city, many of which will be beginning their walk from here. It’ll be nice to possibly meet some new folks along the way. Tomorrow the legendary trekker and scribe Nilanj will be joining me for the final 250km so that will be fun. For now I plan on resting and resting to prepare for the final two weeks!
I’ve been asked if I would recommend the Camino Portugues starting from Lisbon, and the short answer is no. There are too many sections that you’re just trying to get through, too many sections where you can’t hear yourself think along the highway, too many sections breathing in car fumes all day, too many sections of industrial zones, and too much pavement. Forests and paths are the exception and not the norm on this one.
There are a few good days but not many. Luckily I had a decent small group to enjoy it with, but there are also far less people on this route. I would highly recommend doing the French or Northern routes first. Perhaps the route from Porto is an improvement and I look forward to something different. What I would recommend is about 5 days in Lisbon, 2 days in Tomar, 2 days in Coimbra and 4 days in Porto before walking north.