Every walk has a beginning. I’m not very ceremonial when I start my walks. I’m usually thinking, okay, let’s get on with it then. When I walked from Porto to Santiago this past May, I decided to start my walk by taking Porto’s Metro.
Porto is a walkable and beautiful Portuguese city. I highly recommend spending a few days there. I walked everywhere in the city center. I went to the Cathedral, the Contemporary Art Museum, restaurants, the river front, and the central market.
Porto also has great public transportation with Metro trains and buses. The Porto Metro is clean, efficient, and not expensive. The Brierley guide mentioned that I could eliminate eighteen kilometers on my first day by taking the metro, and I decided to do just that.
To take the Metro, you need a Metro card with the correct fare on it. You can buy a card at any machine in any Metro station. The Metro card can be refilled and there are all sorts of options like a day pass or a single fare. Metro station machines have an English language option, and they take both cash and card. You can also take the Metro from the airport, and the Metro station is easy to find once you land. There was even a Metro representative helping people get their Metro cards at the machines.
To take the Metro for the Camino Portuguese, you need to get on a B red line train heading to Povoa de Varzim and get off at Vilar do Pinheiro. The entire ride took 45 minutes to an hour from Trindade. I went in the late morning, and the train was not crowded. If you are catching the train in Trindade, several different lines stop at the same platform. Make sure you get the local train going to Povoa de Varzim.
In addition to eliminating the eighteen kilometers, the train will take you out of Porto, past apartment blocks, and urban stuff and deposit you on a country lane with trees.
When you get off the train, you can either go right for the Central Route or left for the Coastal Route. There’s only one road. I had a booking for my first night in Via do Conde, so I went left for the Coastal. There is a map and info about the Camino Portuguese at the station, so my guess is that a lot of pilgrims use the metro option.
I walked about a half kilometer down a paved country road. When I got to the airport (I was at the far end of the runway, not at the terminal), I turned right and sure enough, there was my first Camino marker. I then followed the marks and walked twelve kilometers to Via do Conde.
There were lots of trees but I would describe the way as all road going past farms, a motorway, and an outlet mall. The walk in Azuara and into Via de Conde was lovely, and I easily found my accommodation along with a good pilgrim menu dinner.
Is the Metro option cheating? No, I don’t think there is any cheating on the Camino. I think one can do the best one can with the options available. Do what you have to do to get yourself going.
I was nervous about starting this Camino. I had issues with fatigue, so I wasn’t sure how my body would react. However, once I got myself walking, everything physical, emotional, and mental started feeling good. I was able to build on the 12 km first day with a few more kilometers the next day, then a few more kilometers the day after, and I started feeling stronger. I’m glad I took the Metro option. I felt like I was fired out of a cannon, but I landed on my feet.