Vila do Conde was so charming that I spent over an hour walking around the old historic section before beginning my day’s walk. The day’s walk was only 15 miles, but I added 3.5 miles of walking around the town in the cool of the morning.

The aqueduct is said to be the fourth most beautiful and best preserved in the world. It brought water to St. Catherine’s Convent, which was established in the 12th century. The newer convent behind it was transformed into a deluxe hotel and spa, but is closed for renovations.

The first third of the walk was through a boardwalk area clambering with summer visitors. It had all the fun of walking around an outdoor shopping mall, which is not my kind of thing.

Unlike the cheerful Italians and Spaniards, the Portuguese look morose. They almost never greet you as you pass by. It’s as if saying, Bom dia,” or good day would kill them. I’m told that if you approach them and ask for help that they open right up. So, I keep my head down and trek along. Spain is on the horizon. Things will change.

Eventually, the developments disappeared and the crowds were gone. I trekked through a seaweed farm. This is an important but vanishing and threatened industry in this region. There were two old windmills.

The highlight of the day for me was stopping to watch some high quality soccer at a local playing field and removing my walking shoes so that my feet might breathe.

I had interesting conversations with a few pilgrims – some in Spanish and Italian when I arrived in Esposende, where I stayed the night. Everyone has their own reason to walk the Camino. Some walk it because they are Catholic. Some have seen “The Way” – the movie starring Martin Sheen and are taken by it. (I highly recommend this film. It truly captures the Camino). One young German responded when I asked him why he is walking the Camino, “I want to find myself.” He has battled depression. I shall keep him in my prayers.

With love and prayers from Portugal,
Marek