33: Porto – Vilarinho – Rates

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;

Prologue, Canterbury Tales

It was a bit of a mission to get to our starting point. FF and I made our way first on the bus from the youth hostel to the centre of the city to get our Pilgrim’s credencials from the Se. From there we walked to the Metro station where we waited on the platform listening to Michael Buble being piped through the sound system for a train to take us up the coast to the small fishing resort of Vila do Conde.

It was 1pm when we arrived and we walked under a large derelict viaduct into the virtually silent town, at the beginning of siesta.

We found a cafe, bought coffee and a pastry and contemplated our next move. Our starting point was only six kilometres from here, but we weren’t entirely sure how we were going to get there and find it. And neither of us speaks Portuguese so asking for directions wasn’t going to be straightforward.

An older man came and sat at the table next to us, drinking an espresso and reading the paper and so we asked him for directions. He waved his arms a lot, drew an inexplicable diagram and sat down again satisfied that we were clear on where to go.

We were not clear on where to go but we pulled our bags on and set out anyway.

Less than a minute later, he caught us up, and gestured for us to follow him. He was going to give us a lift.

He pulled up in a square, told us to wait one moment, launched into a conversation involving pointing, arm-waving, brow rubbing and some occasional shouting with three men sitting on a shady bench, before it was confirmed to us, in a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish and English that we were in exactly the right place. A yellow arrow on a lamp post ahead of us pointed the way to Santiago. And so with much thanks to a very kind stranger we began our journey properly, with the words ‘Bom Caminho!’ ringing in our ears.

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