Day 4 on the Rota Vicentina
The Fisherman’s Trail
Carrapateira to Vila do Bispo 16 km/9.6 miles
On Day 4, we had a decision to make. The Rota Vicentina is a network of trails. Sometimes all the trails converge and there is only one trail, but other times there is a historical inland trail (marked by red and yellow stripes) or a seaside trail (marked by blue and green stripes). The seaside trail is generally known as The Fisherman’s Trail and it is the one we mostly walked all week, for obvious reasons. We love to be by the sea.
However, I had read about a village that has been recently restored from ruin that I wanted to visit called Pedralva. This village, which is making a name for itself in the “slow travel movement” by offering longer term rentals to digital nomads and surf enthusiasts, is on the historical inland route.
So if we wanted to see Pedralva, we needed to walk a longer inland route, or we could skip it and walk by the sea, which would be almost five miles shorter.
It didn’t take us long to decide to skip over Pedralva in order to walk the shorter route and stay along the sea. A theme of this trip was to choose the more gentle option.
What feels easier?
If I asked a question, someone usually could answer for us with the option that felt the most friendly to them.
Would it be easier to eat dinner now while we are already up here in the village even though we didn’t shower yet or do we want to walk all the way back to our apartment, shower and then walk back up the hill again?
Easy. Eat now.
Would it be easier to drop off our packs before we walk to the store and go have a drink or to go on to the store now?
I am ready to lose my pack.
Would it feel easier to wait until this coffee shop opens or to walk on to the next town in search of coffee?
The sun is shining. Let’s sit at this outside table and wait for this one. We’re not in a hurry.
I am not saying the whole walk was easy.
But I am saying that there was an ease to this entire walk.
Some of it was ease that we chose and some of it was just the generous nature of this particular trail and time.
The constant sunshine and blue sky.
The cliff trail with constant views of the big wide expanse of sea and the wild rocks below.
The wildflowers in bloom.
The storks flying all around us.
I guess maybe the ease of the trail created a theme that permeated the choices for the rest of the walk.
It was not hard to choose what felt lighter.
It was not hard to choose to not go hard.
When I hike with my husband and our friends in the mountains, we go hard. I am always very proud of myself at the end of it.
But I am also exhausted and sometimes even injured.
I think that’s probably why I spend the rest of the year seeking out walks that feel a little softer.
I try to strike a balance between not rushing folks along during the day and getting to the destination at a reasonable time.
We want to enjoy the day, and we want to get to the village before dinner, with time to rest.
This day ended up being one of our favorites. It had the most up and down of any other day, so we descended to the water and back up again several times, but we enjoyed the rhythm of the climbs and descents.
We could always see where we were headed, the next time the trail was going to dip and climb again.
I was grateful all day that we chose the route by the sea.
I will go back to Portugal and visit Pedralva another day.
But not this day. This day was for walking down to the water, dipping a toe into the sea, and climbing back up again.
At the end of the day, in order to get to Vila do Bispo, we had to head inland on a long, dusty road.
It probably took us about two hours to reach the town once we turned away from the sea.
The last part of the day I can sometimes just switch to autopilot and kind of march to the end. This road definitely felt like a long march. It was a good road for a set of headphones and an audiobook.
We were tired by the end of it, but we finally rolled into town around 4pm, dumped our packs and went to a little bar for cold drinks. Our host gave us a dinner recommendation for a seafood place down the road. We ordered (for the second time) Cataplana, which is a seafood soup that is served in a big stainless steel pot for your table to share. The broth is super rich, so you soak it up with bread. It was delicious.
We finished off our meal with a chocolate almond cake that our waiter said was special to the region. I think it was my favorite dessert of the week.
With full bellies, we headed off to bed. Tomorrow we would reach the lighthouse at the southwest tip of Portugal for our final day of walking on the Rota Vicentina.