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Whoo hoo, my Camino map arrived. It shows all the different Camino routes in Spain and from beyond the borders ; its stunning.

Looking at the map I’m made aware of the fact that despite having walked 240kms from Porto in Portugal to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, my route really was just a very very short distance in comparison to many of the others.

Wise Pilgrim's Guide map

Wise Pilgrim’s Guide map

My daughter joked that I should walk them all 😳😳😳🚶🚶🤣🤣🤣 Uhmm, yes, I’d need a 2nd life to do that!!!

Here’s the website if you’d like to buy a map or one of the guides. This is not an affiliate link

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I was chatting to my daughter yesterday and remarked that I had been particularly blessed this year. Usually when you get to the end of the year you kinda feel like there is more that could/should be done before the year ends (well I do), and the last few days of December are spent cramming in just a few more activities. But this year I can truly say that I have had a year jam-packed with adventures, and for that, I am truly grateful.

inspirational quotes

Die with memories, not dreams

So to that end I decided to list my 2017 adventures, and was astounded at how much I had actually done, and how many places I have actually been to besides all my Camino 2017 practice walks that took me to some fantastic places. So this is my final blog for 31 Days of Gratitude – Day 31 – 2017 in review.

January

New Year’s Day swim 01.01.2017 Broadstairs Beach, Isle of Thanet, Kent

New Year's Day, Broadstairs

New Year’s Day, Broadstairs

Wedding Dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping…so much fun

Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England

visit the isle of wight

A visit to the isle of Wight

Places I went while I was there; Nettlestone (1086 Domesday Book village),20170116_144130-01 Bembridge Windmilll, Brading Roman Villa, Carisbrooke Castle, Cowes, Ryde, rode on a Hover craft, The Needles and Quarr Abbey.

And Osborne House


Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick Park, London

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

February
Oxted, Surrey – the Greenwich Meridian runs through the town

Oxted

A closer look at Oxted

Limpsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

Down House – home of Charles Darwin

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Tatsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

tatsfield surrey

South East England’s highest village; Tatsfield. Ref wikipedia: “In Anglo-Saxon England, Tatsfield lay within Tandridge hundred. In 1086 it was held by Anschitill (Ansketel) de Ros from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its Domesday assets were: ? hide. It had 2 ploughs. It rendered 60 shillings (£3) to its feudal overlords per year.”

Tandridge & Crowhurst, Surrey

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Dublin, Ireland

 

Trim Castle & Trim, Ireland

March
City of Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester

Winchester

Torquay, seaside resort – Devon

torquay

Torquay

April

Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Sienna, Lucca – Italy

 

May

Newcastle, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

Dark Hedges – Game of Thrones, N. Ireland

the dark hedges northern ireland

The Dark Hedges – scenes for Game of Thrones were shot in this area

Sevenoaks, Kent, England

 

June
Tonbridge, Kent, England

Ironbridge, Shropshire, England – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lenham, Kent, England

Lenham

Lenham

July
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route – Southwark to Canterbury

Battle of Britain Airshow, Headcorn

St Augustine’s Way – Ramsgate to Canterbury

August
Arundel, and Arundel Castle, West Sussex, England

Bromham, Houghton House with my lovely friends Lynne & Tim and Elstow (birthplace of John Bunyan) – Bedfordshire, England

Bronham, Houghton House, Elstow

Bromham, Houghton House, Elstow

Zip Line with Zip World in London with my daughter

September
Walked the Caminho Portuguese – Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain 240 kms – Both UNESCO World Heritage sites

Coimbra, Portugal – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

October
Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

November
Caernarfon Castle, Wales – site where Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway Line Train ride; Caenarfon to Portmadogg through Snowdonia

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Porthmadogg, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Portmadogg, Wales

Climbed Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd – highest mountain in Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Montgomery, Powys, Wales – The Treaty of Montgomery was signed 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire. By this treaty King Henry III of England acknowledged Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as Prince of Wales.

Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery, Wales

December
Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Christmas in Broadstairs, Isle of Thanet, Kent

xmas 2017

Christmas 2017 with my delightful family

And in total, between 01.01.2017 & 31.12.2017 I have walked well over 1100 miles.

What an extraordinary year; 2017.IMG_20171231_100927_404

p.s. Days 14-30 Days of Gratitude will follow shortly….I eventually ran out of time 😉

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What a fantastic city. Coimbra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and world famous University City is perched high on a hill that just goes up and up and up some more. But the views from the University at the very top are astounding and worth the effort. 

I started out relatively early and took the 08:52 train from Porto-Campanha which is conveniently a 5 minute walk from my hotel. Within a hour we were at Coimbra-.

I walked into the city from there and enjoyed the coolness of the morning ; the temperature changed fairly soon and I got very burned and hot.

The city as I said is perched on a hill. Winding cobbled lanes lead up and up, very steep slopes, the houses balanced haphazardly one in top of the other, so close together you couldn’t fit a sheet of paper between them.

The architecture is fascinating, but I was sad to see do many wonderful old buildings in a complete state of disrepair and dereliction.

There are te dozens of churches, monasteries and a few cathedrals. I managed to visit a few, all of which were wonderful. I’m always reminded that people built these places. The minds that conceived of them… I’m left amazed.

Coimbra is an 11th century city and some of the ecclesiastical buildings go back to the early 12th century. Awesome.

There are dozens of squares each with tables and gaily coloured umbrellas, lots of quirky shops with a delightful array of goods. I bought 2 tea-towels and an oven gloves as mementos. Like I need more weight in my bag LOL

I had a cappuccino and a custard cream pastry at this restaurant. Delicious.

I walked along the riverside. The River Mondego is incredibly wide! There’s a colourful pedestrian bridge I walked across that offered amazing views of the river and city.

I discovered an extraordinary Monastery on the other side of the river. Archaeological ruins offer a tantalising glimpse into the ancient past.

 On the hill is an amazing church and what looks like another monastery. I need to do more research on that.

Before leaving I stopped off at a cafe and partook of a cappuccino and a most delicious custard pastry.

Coimbra is an enchanting city with so much to see.

 Centuries of history in those cobbled streets that play havoc with your ankles. 

And then it was time to go. I took a taxi to the station. By 17:45 my feet, after 15 kms had had quite enough thank you.

Walked 15kms. 32,419 steps from when I got off the train until I stepped into the taxi. 

I mistakenly jumped on the wrong train, but since it was headed to Porto, it was all good and the ticket inspector didn’t come by.

After paying my bill at the hotel in preparation for my early departure tomorrow, I popped in at a local cafe and enjoyed a cheese and tomato omelette. Delicious. 

Tomorrow my Camino proper begins. Wish me luck, hope that the Camino does indeed provide and Buen Camino. 

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After walking my legs into the ground yesterday and a very late goodnight, I slept till 9am today. I did wake as the sun tinged the clouds pink, but fell asleep again. Missed breakfast so bought myself two croissant on the way to the Metro. Golly, what a mission to buy a trip. It’s similar but very different to London’s top up oyster cards….which is way more easy.

I eventually got it sorted and into town. Got off at Trinidades which is meant to be close to the Se Cathedral but isn’t LOL. If I’d been paying attention yesterday I’d have realised that Sao Bento Station is a 5 minute walk away. But on the plus side I got to see parts of Porto I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Besides the amazing street art I visited an amazing church that left my mouth agape. I needed some touristy information so popped in at a nearby info centre where my questions were answered by a delightful young man, and had my pilgrim’s passport stamped….my first stamp for today. It’s amazing.

After that I went walkabout, recorded the 12noon chimes on the Avenue Liberdade and meandered about till I found the famous Lello Library that everyone talks about. I had planned to visit yesterday but thought the price a tad high. But today I changed my mind and reminded myself that I may never visit Porto again and to make the most of my time here. The Livraria Lello is famous for its staircase which is quite beautiful and an unusual design. A tad pricey at 4.80euro but worth seeing.

From there I stopped off at a small restaurant for a toasted cheese and ham. I needed some iron for energy. Sometimes when you order an old favourite, it arrives and you’re surprised at what you get LOL This is not what I was expecting. It was also very expensive. Lesson learned; check the menu for prices before ordering.

From there I finally took the first steps on my Camino. I walked back to Catedral Se popped in for a 2nd pilgrim’s stamp

 and followed through pilgrim’s route down a multitude of steps along a winding route

 to the riverfront and onto Foz do Duoro. I passed the extraordinary Sao Francisco’s Church so stopped to visit. There are catacombs.. Whoa. But sadly no skulls and crossbones, just rows and rows of coffins.

And then finally I was on my way. Wow, what an amazing walk. Just on 5kms of amazing scenery, an extraordinary bridge and typically traditional Portuguese houses.

I then had the delightful pleasure of meeting my first pilgrim. 😁😁😁 Absolutely over the moon and thrilled to have met Jasmine from Colorado USA!! I saw her walking towards me with her backpack along the pedestrian bridge that juts out over the river. As we drew near I said: “ola! Camino?” and she said “yes!” 😊😊👏👏 OMG I was so delighted I nearly kissed her. My very first bona-fide camiga. 💞💞 She’s just completed the French route from SSJDP to Santiago and then took a bus to Finesterre and a train to Porto where she’s planning to stay for a few days.

 We chatted, exchanged notes and ideas and recommendations of what to see in Porto then hugged and wished each other Buen Camino and waved goodbye.

After that I had a spring in my step and bounced along with a smile on my face. It made my day. The walk was wonderful, the scenery too beautiful – looking back upstream to Porto.

Foz do Duoro is wonderful and if I’d known just how lovely it was I’d have planned my route differently and stayed a night there.

I saw a tall ship sailing by,

watched fishermen cast their lines, smiled and waved ola at everyone,  stopped for a Nutella crepe and café com leite from Maria Limao ‘love made’… Highly recommended crepe for 3.50. In fact it was so yummy I went back for a 2nd one.

I walked to the lighthouse,

 visited the fabulous fort,

watched the sunset

and then rode the Porto City Tram back into town… Too much fun.

 I had planned on walking to Matosinhos but loved Foz so much I tarried too long.
After all that adventure I walked all over the place just enjoying the evening atmosphere,

then finally jumped on the Metro back to my hotel.

Walked 15kms. 38,500 steps+

I’ve just finished sorting and repacking my backpack in readiness for Monday. Let my Camino begin…

Tomorrow I’m finally visiting Coimbra.. If I wake up in time 😉

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Walked 14.5 km. 52282 steps.

I’d ordered breakfast at the hotel for today so before setting out to explore I partook of the typical European Continental breakfast ; bread, jam, cheese and juice. Not my usual breakkie but better than the dried out croissant I had in Venice. LOL

Just after 10am I set off out into a beautiful day. Roads familiar to me now led me back towards the cemetery which I was keen to explore. Wow, there are hundreds if mausoleums, some almost as big as our house.

From there I followed my nose towards the city centre, walking here and there depending on what caught my eye.

I visited a fabulous cathedral where I got my first official pilgrim’s stamp. I was so thrilled I almost cried. The gentleman who stamped my passport told me he had also walked the Camino and wished me Buen Camino. 🙂 it gave me goosebumps. Happiness is.

From there I strode down a very steep hill to what turned out to be the Clerigos church and tower. A 45 minute wait to climb the steps for the most incredible views of Porto.

Afterwards I set off towards another cathedral I had seen; Catedral Se. Cathedral of Porto. Wow, I tell you what, they sure knew how to build churches in those days.

It’s fascinating. I bought the ticket to explore the cloisters, the exhibition, sacristy and climb more steps to the ramparts above the cloisters  I found a small wooden statue of St James as a pilgrim upstairs 🙂 I also obtained my 2nd pilgrim’s stamp.

 After my visit I wended my way downhill following the route that marks the start of the Camino from Porto. Then walking back I visited the Sao Bento Station. By golly its beautiful.

From there I walked to and over the Pte Luiz I bridge and made my way uphill to visit the monastery I could see perched above the river.

 It turned out to be linked to St August in which is brilliant. A link to my Way of St Augustine walk in July. It’s an incredible church, the cloisters and church are both round and of exactly the same size.

After climbing the tower (and that is it, I’m not climbing any more towers!!) but the views were outstanding so it was worth the effort.

 I crossed back over the bridge and went to visit the Lello Bookshop. But at 5 euro I decided to wait till Sunday as I don’t want to go over budget.

Instead I visited another 2 amazing churches

and then bought a pastry that looked and tasted delicious. I’ve no idea what the filling was and I’m not asking.

While munching I meandered down hill now towards the river front. Magical. Just in time for the sunset, which was beautiful. I again crossed the Pte Luiz

 I and wandered along the waterfront on the opposite bank of the River Duoro.

By now it was getting dark do I stopped at a small restaurant for French fries… Not very Portuguese but they were good. To my delight I noticed a scallop shell and Pilgrim’s sign. I nearly cried again. Now it’s real.

After eating, I  set off back to my hotel and just for good measure climbed another very steep hill.

Then bath and bed. What a fantastic day. I said ola and obrigado a lot today 🙂

And now I can officially say that I’ve visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the medieval city of Porto

A birds eye-view of Porto from Torre dos Clérigos

A busker at the Sé Catedral in Porto

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After a very early start, a long day in transit between home and Porto, I arrived safely at my hotel.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, walking the camino,

Leaving home and saying goodbye; excited but with butterflies in my belly.

To my amazement and delight I spied a Costa at the airport in Porto. I immediately ordered an iced cappuccino and spent the next 30 minutes just gathering my thoughts and relaxing…. Felt like home.

I’ve found the Metro to be so easy to use. It’s very much like the Overground trains in London, but better coz the stations are mostly open from the streets with no barriers and steps etc.

After checking in at my hotel, home for the next 4 nights,  I went walkabout.

There’s something so thrilling about being in a foreign city where you are to all intents and purposes invisible. No-one knows who you are. You don’t know where you are. And taking that first walk into the unknown is just amazing.

I love just meandering. Although tonight I didn’t meander so much as set out purposefully to see the river. Wow.

Perfect evening with a rose pink sunset. After heading back towards the hotel, I stopped enroute at a local restaurant for a most yummy meal of cod fritters with bean rice… Delicious.

As I stepped back out into the sidewalk I noticed the big old moon hanging fat and bulbous in the sky like a fat, ripe apricot. A fabulous full moon.

Life is good.

Walked 3.8 km.  6382 steps

Day 2 exploring Porto

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Whewww. 1 week till I arrive in Porto at the beginning of my Camino 2017 : 7 days : 168 hours : 10,080 minutes 😂😂😂 and just 10 days till I start walking the Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. In fact by this time next week I will have landed in Porto…all being well.

inspirational quotes

Sometimes we have to stop being scared and just go for it. either is will work or it won’t. that’s life!

I can’t express just how excited and trepidatious I am feeling. My mind is swirling with thoughts like; have I got this, do I have that, what if I lose my meds, should I carry this or that or the next thing, will I have enough money? Will my shoes be suitable? Have I enough clothes? Do I have the right clothes? Do I have enough time? Can I find my way?

Blah blah blah and horrors…. what if I find I can’t walk 25kms+ for 11 days in a row!!! With a 7.5kg backpack on my shoulders. 😦 😦 😦 I’m under no illusions as to how heavy it can get after walking for 6-8 hours per day….even though I only walked for 3 days each journey last month. Southwark to Canterbury ‘in the footsteps of Chaucer‘ and Ramsgate to Canterbury ‘The Way of St Augustine‘.

So yes, all the fears, all the uncertainties and all the excitement of the experiences I’ll have, the issues I’ll face, the challenges ahead, the places and wondrous things I’m going to see are whirling like dervishes about inside; my mind is in turmoil as the date for lift off approaches and all I want to do is go home right now and I bloody can’t because I’m working 😢😢😢 I’m not sure if I should cry, scream or laugh… I’m trying to focus on the latter.

So OMG 7 days. This all seemed like such a brilliant idea 18 months ago. 7 years ago it seemed like even a better idea!!!! LOL urgh. I love travelling. I love going to new places. I love exploring. So why am I so conflicted about this trip? I’ve trained and trained and trained some more. The #walk1000miles challenge has been brilliant for encouragement!

walk 500 miles

Becoming a Proclaimer 🙂 – heading now towards 1000 miles

I’ve done dozens of practice walks, climbed hills and down dales, through fields and along rivers. I’ve practised with the poles…still can’t quite love them, but they are useful. Got proper shoes and breaking them in. Tested 4 different types of socks (found the best ones) and learned that it’s never a good idea to walk in wet socks 😕😕

packing for the camino de santiago

By the time I get back from my Camino, I will have walked 1000 miles..however these are not the socks I’ll be wearing. But those are the poles I’ll be taking.

I’ve experimented with the backpack… Which I think is really the crux of the matter. It’s bloody murder carrying that thing. Sigh. Oh well.

nordic walking poles and osprey backpack

my nordic walking poles and osprey backpack looking fairly benign….

I’ve researched and read dozens of sites and packing lists…what should I take? What will I need? Is this useful? Do I have the right shoes? Will I need a rain-jacket? I have to keep reminding myself I’m going to Portugal and Spain, not outer Mongolia!! I’ve already ditched 1.5kgs of stuff…..I guess my intentions to minimalize my life before I buy my motorhome are being put to the test. This is a good start.4 camino packingBesides all that, after my phone crashed in July, I’m a little fearful for it happening again, so I bought a 2nd phone as back-up (like I need the extra expense) and for the last few days I’ve been transposing all the VIP information from the Camino spreadsheet to my phone calendars and into a small notebook that I’m carrying in case my phone gets lost or I can’t get wi-fi – I’m an old fashioned gal, I still like paper and pen 😉

I took this image in March while on holiday in Torquay with my beloved daughter and it seems perfectly apt right now; I’m a ‘wreck’ 😂😂😂

camino de santiago porto to santiago

7 days to the start of my Camino 2017 – Porto to Santiago

I read a lovely quote in the notebook “The beginning is always today!” Mary Shelley. I guess that yes, today is certainly that; the beginning; of my countdown to Porto…this shit is getting serious now. I can’t understand why I’m so conflicted though. I think the seeds of my fear were sown back in 2016 when I stumbled upon a blog written as a memorial to all the people who have died on the Camino routes in the last 10 years or so. Prior to that, it had never entered my head that people actually died!!! while on Camino. I was horrified. I think that knowledge may have played a part in my cancelling the trip I was going to make in September last year. Since then my daughter has become engaged and due to be married in May 2018. ❤

Although I try to not think of it, I am fearful that I too may die while on Camino. It’s not like I’m ill or anything, but some folks were healthy enough when they started and had a heart-attack enroute, some were knocked over by traffic and one lady Denise Theim was murdered. Now as I say, although I’m not focusing on death, the niggling is there in my mind. I would hate to let my daughter down…I’m meant to be walking her down the aisle when she gets married and it would be heart-breaking if I wasn’t there for her special special day. I’ve asked her to promise me that she’ll ask her father to walk her down the aisle in the event I’m not there…but meanwhile I’m visualising me escorting her….actually I can’t wait for the day, she looks absolutely gorgeous in her dress 🙂

So back to the Camino. One thing that has been really good is reading other people’s blogs and facebook updates on the various pages I’m following. It’s good to know I’m not alone in my fears. So many women and men have posted at how fearful they feel in the days preceding their start, how nervous…many with exactly the same fears I have.

camino de santiago porto to santiago

Inspirational quotes

A couple of days ago I got a sudden burst of excitement and wanted to just go already…now! I posted this on instagram: “14 days to go and I’ll be on my Camino. I had a few options for this number but I quite liked the story in this. The unicorn reflects my dream to walk the Camino, now just about to come true, and the words ‘seeds’ reflects that I’ll be sowing new seeds (experiences) in the garden of my life.

my camino 2017 porto to santiago

sowing the seeds of my adventures

I wonder what will grow from this journey? New friends? New feelings? New emotions? New thoughts? New perceptions? I suspect it will be all the above. I do know for sure that new adventures await, new photos (of course), new places to be seen and new challenges await… My feet hurt just thinking about that! 😂😂😂 I hope you don’t mind that I’ll be posting my #countdown from now till I go. I’ve suddenly gone from trepidation to excitement and now I just want to GO ALREADY. In fact it brings tears to my eyes… OMG what an adventure. Although I’m sure that within 3 days I’ll be saying OMG I must be mad!!! What am I doing!!????”

portuguese coastal route mapacoastal

The Portuguese Coastal and Central routes

And yes, just 4 days later, that euphoric emotion has passed and I’m back to wavering between fear and excitement.

I love travelling. I’ve travelled all over the world entirely on my own. I have stumbled through the language barriers. I have enjoyed meeting people. I have loved being solo…..but for some reason, this trip feels different. I guess it’s probably because I’ll be moving constantly for 11 days; walking between 18.5 – 32 kms at different stages staying at a different hotel/hostel/alburgue each night bar 3. 184.2 kms is an awful lot more than 66.91 over 5 days and 109.01 split over 3 days – 2 weeks apart!!

I’ve planned and replanned my route, changed the distances between stages, reduced some days and increased others. Cut out two days of travelling and reduced the distance from 235kms to 184kms.

Somehow this looks awfully far…..

 

 

 

I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for ever such a long time and Porto has been my top destination. In Spain it’s Barcelona which I’ll be travelling to after my journey to Santiago. I’m so excited to be seeing those places….and yet the 11 days between Porto and Santiago are looming large in my head. I’ll also be adding to Project 101; 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Porto Historic Centre, Coimbra and Santiago. I’ll be visiting a number of cathedrals….I’ll count them once I’ve been, a few walled cities, and crossing a few rivers, and ancient bridges. And besides that…..I’ve no doubt that I’ll be visiting a LOT of churches 🙂

All that remains now are for the days to march on by and soon I shall be on ‘my way’. Porto to Santiago de Compostela along the Portuguese Coastal Route….

camino 2017

Camino de Santiago

Buen Camino….

Porto to Santiago de Compostela - my pilgrim's passport and the scallop shells

Porto to Santiago de Compostela – my pilgrim’s passport and the scallop shells

Other blogs I’ve written about the impending Camino

Camino 2016, my way

My Camino the journey so far

My Camino 2017

On the road and what to pack #Camino2017

Pilgrimage – the road to Santiago

The Spirit of the Camino

Walking the Camino and lessons learned

Harrassment on the Camino

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