Day 4 of the Rota Vicentina
The Fisherman’s Trail
Zambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe 18.5 km/11.4 miles
Rain was predicted on our last day of walking the Rota Vicentina, but the host at Hostel Nature told us that it would not rain.
He was right. We woke up to blue skies, yet again.
After a quick breakfast of coffee, yogurts and bananas, we hit the road.
From Zambujeira do Mar, you descend to the beach and then climb back up out of the cove for views back towards the sea town.
Zambujeira do Mar is for sure a place I would enjoy spending some more time. Anna and I said we would love to go back there one day.
But now we were headed south towards Odeceixe, our final stop on the Fisherman’s Trail, at least for now.
The trail continues south and continues to meander along beautiful coastline.
We spotted more storks hanging out on rocks, and we passed more deserted beaches.
We moved a bit slower on this final morning, just soaking everything in.
Neither of us really wanted to leave Portugal. It seemed like we had made an unspoken pact to take this final day as slow as possible in order to enjoy every minute.
When the path descended again and crossed a wide beach, we walked all the way out to the water.
We took off our shoes and put our feet in the sea.
The water was cold enough that we didn’t want to get all the way in, but it felt good on our toes.
We sat down at a little beach cafe that was closed for the season in order to brush the sand from our feet and put our boots back on. There were signs for a surfing camp and school, which we thought would be another fun way to spend time in this part of the Portugal.
On our next ascent, we followed the trail away from the sea and around a large private wildlife park.
We’d been told that a wealthy man keeps a lot of African animals in this wildlife park near the trail, so we were watching for it. It was hard to see because the trail follows a tall fence, but in the distance you can spot zebras, antelopes and water buffalos. Kind of crazy.
That part of the trail is a bit overgrown, so we were glad when the route left the wooded area and took us back out to the water.
About mid-morning we reached a place on the trail where a kind of plateau jutted out into the water, so that you could stand on it and see the curves of two beach coves, one behind and one ahead at the same time.
We decided to stop and rest there for a while. We had a snack while we watched the storks and other sea birds fly all around us.
We both took videos from this spot because it was so gorgeous.
I think we were a bit tired from the previous days of walking, so the rest was welcome.
We kept commenting on what a perfect day it was.
We knew we had been so fortunate with the weather all week and this day was no exception. Some clouds rolled in now and then, and just when would think maybe we were going to get a little rain, they would part and clear.
Again, since it was our last day, I spent more time looking at the vegetation and flowers.
Also we had seen on the map that there was a small town about half way through this section of the trail.
We were excited and hopeful that there would be an opportunity for a lunch stop in the town.
I reflected on what a gift the whole week had been, what a beautiful start it was to a new year. I’m super close to my sister, and we catch up regularly on the phone, but to have a whole week of being able to walk and talk was such a treat.
Expansive time for conversation is a delight. To tell stories. To dream. To confess.
And then we had times of walking along in silence as well.
It’s for space like this that I so appreciate these long walks. The trail holds equal space for all the talking and all the silence. And I need both.
At the end of the walking days, if we were lagging, we would sometimes share a set of headphones and listen to a podcast together.
After our short rest, we carried on a few more miles before spotting the town:
A Azenha do Mar…which I believe translates to the seat of the sea.
We entered by way of The Fisherman’s Street.
And then we found our restaurant.
It was quite busy and they said they only had tables left outside!
We found that so funny because of course we wanted to sit outside.
Since we were outside, Anna could discreetly dump all the sand out of her boots!
We ordered up too much gorgeous seafood, and then of course we ate it all!
We had a long, lovely lunch, and even had coffees afterwards. Almost too full to walk, we eventually dragged ourselves away from the sun-soaked terrace of A Ahenza do Mar.
Onward to the final stretch.
One more beautiful afternoon of walking by the sea.
The walking with a full belly was a bit challenging, but we were up for it.
I had to rest a bit on the tops of hills.
Soon the little town that was seated by the sea disappeared behind us.
And the blue sky opened up in every direction. The clouds of the morning were long gone.
The last stretch along the sea was beautiful, like every stretch along the sea so far.
We followed these sandy footpaths until we could see Praia de Odeceixe.
The destination for this stage of the trail is Odeceixe, but the Praia de Odeceixe is a few kilometers out from the town.
When you reach the Praia (the beach), you are actually on the wrong side of a river that keeps you from being able to walk straight on to the beach.
The trail twists and turns down to the river, and it’s at this point that we had to say farewell to the sea.
From here, you turn inland and follow the river to Odeceixe.
You walk along the road for at least a couple of miles to get to town. Lots of folks say this bit at the end of the day is not their favorite on this stage, but we didn’t mind it too much.
The sun was out and we were still floating from our delicious seafood lunch by the water.
When we crossed the river and headed into the town, we realized we were the last of our small party of walkers to arrive that day.
Our Dutch friend had arrived at our shared apartment well before us.
And Jan was sitting in the square having drinks and wondering where we were.
We had a quick shower and a rest in our cute apartment. Then we all four went out for a final dinner.
We had such a good time visiting and talking about the walk. I still wasn’t hungry so I ordered a salad and split something with Anna.
The next morning when we woke up, it was cloudy and raining! We couldn’t believe it!
After a quick coffee and breakfast on the square, we caught a bus back to Lisbon from Odeceixe.
We said our fond farewells to Portugal the next morning, but we both said we would be back before too long!
And I meant it! I am heading back to the Fisherman’s Trail this week! I’m going to get a bus to Odeceixe and pick up right where I left off.
This time I will (hopefully) make it all the way to lighthouse at the far southwest corner of Portugal.
I can’t wait to see what is in bloom two months later. I wonder if the storks have built their nests in the rocks. Also I’ve heard that you can spot dolphins in the springtime. My trusty pack is ready to go and the trail is calling!