Did I mention that we booked our hotels, baggage transfer, and sundry other services through a company called Portugal Green Walks? So far it seems like it was a great decision, so thanks to Adele’s friend Sunny for recommending them!
When we booked our Caminho, their usual hotel in Porriño was booked full up, so although we’ve already spent our last full day in Portugal, we still have tonight. The little bit of O Porriño we saw didn’t really inspire me, though, so I don’t mind another night in Valença, even if this hotel is a pretty big step down from some of the others we’ve stayed in on this trip. Great staff, ok room, sub-par breakfast. Great location, though, just beneath the walls of the old city.
Last night we had an amazing dinner at Fatum, an excellent Portuguese restaurant just inside the inner wall (in fact, within that inner wall, I think). We shared a brilliant sausage and cornbread crumble, house made cheese and a ‘tomato carpaccio’ salad for starters, and a stunning pork knuckle confit for a main. After that, we were too full for dessert.
We loved the meal so much, Adele asked if she could get a picture of the chef and our server. They were both amazing women.
This morning, we had an unsatisfactory breakfast (the coffee was terrible – first time that’s happened in Portugal! – and in spite of the yawning chafing dish, there were no eggs or meats, other than cold, square cut ham), we set off for Spain.
The Way today was mostly beautiful. After a short jaunt through the old, walled city, we wound our way through the cobbled streets and alleys of Valença, to the Ribeiro Minho, which is the natural border between Spain and Portugal. We crossed the bridge inspired by Gustave Eiffel, and we were in another country – just like that. No customs declaration, no security checks.
We talk a lot about “the world’s longest undefended border” between Canada and the U.S., but it’s largely a fiction. Just try crossing over between customs checkpoints! Actually, don’t. It’s a really bad idea. Maybe someday our border will be as easy to cross as an EU border, but I doubt it.
Today’s walk was mostly off the beaten path, and notable for both its prettiness, and the very unpretty temperatures. We often found ourselves longing for a shady reprieve from the sun, and wondering how much further we had to go.
We took a couple of detours recommended by Portugal Green Walks, which added a bit of extra distance to our walk, but eventually we found ourselves in Porriño. We summoned our transfer back to the Hotel Lara in Valença, and arranged our transfer forward to our starting point in Porriño in the morning. From there we’ll walk to Arcade, having said goodbye to Portugal for the last time on this trip. It will be bittersweet. I’ve fallen in love with Portugal – its food, its wines, its language – but I’m also looking forward to experiencing Spain.
But that can wait for tomorrow.