“Don’t be a tourist. Plan less. Go slowly. I traveled in the most inefficient way possible and it took me exactly where I wanted to go.” — National Geographic’s Andrew Evans
The day is free and easy with level board walks much of the day as we hug the Portuguese coastline. We cross the bridge into Vila do Conde, look for the albergue and sit in line until allowed to enter and register. Here we meet Tiina from Finland as we pass the time away.
A large group of 11 are right ahead of us and will probably continue to snag the future limited available albergue beds if we stick to the coastal route. Unfortunately, it has become a bed race of sorts. A decision needs to be made: Do we stick to the coastal trail or walk to Rates to join the central route? What to do?
We contemplate route options as we tour the city. Vila do Conde is situated at the mouth of the Ave River, historically a center of shipbuilding and seafaring. It is obvious that the main industry today is tourism with beautiful beaches and seaside resorts.
The impressive Santa Clara aqueduct towers over the city and befitting its power the Convent of Santa Clara once drew a lot of water. Quite literally in fact, as in 1626 it initiated a giant project to improve its water supply. Channeling water down from the high ground in Terroso, this structure stretched for four kilometres and needed almost 90 years to complete. One reason it took so long is that there was an interruption in the 1630s when they realized they had miscalculated the slope. Parts of the aqueduct were lost in the 18th and 19th centuries to construction and storm damage, but when it was finished in 1714 it had 999 arches. ~thecrazytourist.com
Add in a bell ringing, walking funeral procession, a wedding recessional being photographed by a drone, ice-cold Super Bock and I’d say it was a pretty good day. … and bottom bunks!