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The 2 seasons I love the most are spring and autumn. The vibrant colours at each end of the spectrum vibrate with their own special energy.

The colour of Spring is yellow;

Fabulous daffodils

Daffodils in Limpsfield

Daffodils in Limpsfield

Gorgeous tulips

Tulips at Titsey Place

Tulips at Titsey Place

And beautiful rapeseed fields

Rapeseed fields Surrey

Yellow rapeseed fields in Surrey

What a joy it is to see this fabulous sunshiney colour spread far and wide in wild abandon.

How can you not feel happy when you see these glorious flowers.

Hello spring

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I shared 3 photos on instagram yesterday and titled it ‘the changing landscape of my life‘ featuring places I had been on the 18th of the previous 3 months. 

So I thought I’d drop in and post a photo of my travel diaries for today ; once again in transit from home to work. I am fascinated by this building; watched it being built,  and over the years I have photographed it countless times. The Shard London. Again 馃槈 

 

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Day 14 Wednesday 2017.09.20 Caldas de Reis to Padr贸n

Today I learned how ‘The Camino Provides’.

The Camino Provides - 2017

The Camino Provides – 2017

I had bought the badge before I set off on my #Camino2017 and although it was stitched to my bag, I didn’t really give it much thought until; today….I met my Camino Angel – her name is Susana

We are pilgrims on a journey,
we鈥檙e companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

Words from Richard Gillard鈥檚 The Servant Song

After I retrieved my phone the night before, I sank into a deliciously hot bubble bath; ahhh heavenly. I could feel the weariness seeping out my bones and my stress levels beginning to sink. Before I fell asleep in that pool of deliciousness I dragged myself out and before long, attired in my pyjamas – the ‘everything hurts’ t-shirt my daughter gifted me, hair washed and dried, teeth cleaned (I miss my electric toothbrush), I slipped between the cool crispy sheets of a marvellously huge bed with a superbly comfortable mattress at the Motel Caldas. Although my initial impression of the motel had not been favourable, I have to say the bed was divine. I slept like a baby, undisturbed by any sort of noise except the occasional howl of what I assume was a wolf….shivers of delight.

Awake bright and early, I waited patiently for my breakfast, which, after much sign language and a smattering of Spanish the night before, was arranged for 7.00am. By 7.30 it hadn’t appeared. I rang reception, but again my lack of Spanish tripped me up. Then I had the genius idea of using google translate. So once again ‘una momento Signora gracias’ I typed ‘good morning. please may I have my breakfast now’ into google translate and pressed the voice button. Hey presto, quick as a flash google had voiced my request, the lady answered (I have no idea what she said) but within 5 minutes my breakfast was in my room!! LOL Too funny. I mean seriously, using Google translate to talk to someone on the phone!! Whatever next?? But it worked. By 8:14 I was on my way…Padr贸n. My last night on The Way and I was feeling wayyy too emotional. I walked the 1.6 kms into town and was glad of it….

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Early morning in the spa town of Caldas de Reis

The rising sun, not quite yet above the horizon, cast a rosy pink glow over everything, even the sign board looked pretty. I’m so sorry I didn’t have more time to explore Caldas de Reis, it looks enchanting. I had seriously miscalculated the distances of the various stages. Virtually on my own, I enjoyed my early morning stroll through the streets of Caldas de Reis, so much so that I went for a brief walkabout 馃檪 I noticed that even the drain covers had a scallop shell pattern.聽I encountered one of the many ‘fierce’ animals in Spain LOL. I’d read so many reports from peregrinos saying they encountered fierce dogs and terrifying animals along the Camino, that I was quite trepidatious I may have the same problem…Nope.

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one of the very fierce animals I met on The Way to Santiago 馃槈 even the drain covers have scallop shell patterns

Wow, Day 4/5 – my pilgrimage was almost at an end; I was on my way to Padr贸n, but not before my early morning treat of coffee and pastry.聽 I spotted a likely cafe; Panader铆a Cervela just over the road from the Igrexa de San Tom茅 Becket tree-lined square and was soon ‘sitting in a cafe in Caldas de Reis in Galicia’ drinking caf茅 con leche and eating pastries on this my 2nd last day of my Camino 2017.

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Caf茅 con leche and a sweet pastry for breakfast

How amazing is that! My 2nd last day!! It felt so surreal. I’d been crying for ages and just couldn’t stop. This has been such an incredible experience – exhausted, excited, in pain and tired beyond belief, I don’t want this to end. Wow. Camino eh. Fantastic. I’ve a 19km push through to Padr贸n today and sent Pepe ahead again with Tuitrans. Tomorrow I’ll carry him into Santiago – suitably symbolic, me thinks. I can’t quite believe that I’m just 2 days away from my destination. Is my journey just beginning, or ending. I felt dazed.

As with Portugal, and the many towns of Spain now behind me, Caldas de Reis had it’s fair share of ramshackle buildings in the centre and outskirts of town. This really is a mystery to me, this urban decay.

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Urban decay and The Way

By 09:22 I had left CdR proper behind me and was heading into more rural terrain, the ever present scallop shells, arrows and little walking man on a blue board guiding me on my way. I was going to miss this so much.

With the suns rays casting a rainbow halo on the ground, I encountered my first marker of the day; 41.443 kms to Santiago. Oh my gosh! I had almost 200 kms behind me from when I left Porto. Truly, I could hardly believe I’d come this far. Awed AND dazed LOL

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41.443 kms to Santiago

Ahead of me, pilgrims trod a well-worn path past suburban houses; destination Santiago de Compostela. I briefly wondered where they had all started their journeys. And no matter where we started, now for this moment in time, we were all walking the same path; weaving our way through vineyards hung with bunches of deep red succulent grapes, treading quietly past ancient stone-built sheds adorned with small figurines sculpted of stone; St James – the pilgrim. Dotting the fields, the now familiar聽h贸rreos. The rising sun threw shards of light through leafy boughs still heavy with the leaves of summer. Soft rays casting shadows; highlighting the terrain of an ever-changing landscape; asphalt gave way to gravel and sandy paths, the whisper of footsteps – pilgrims walking in contemplative silence though tunnels of shady green forests, past the deep green and russet browns of ferns mixed with delicate pink heather growing with wild abandon along the wayside . A tearful pilgrim gently rests a token atop a cairn of similar tokens. Stop briefly to give her a hug. A temple of God could be no more hushed.

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Pilgrims walking. Vineyards. Stone sheds. Morning sun. tunnels of green. Autumnal fern

And now; 39.337 kms to Santiago.

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39.337 kms to Santiago

10:32 and I’m in O Cruceiro, a marker tells me I’m still on the Via Romana XIX. Awesome. Ahead a stunning Iglesia;聽the Church of Santa Mari帽a in Campo, the sun’s rays casting rainbow halos from behind the facade. A still sleepy village, its inhabitants just glimpsed between the trees. Blue skies.

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The Via Romana XIX. O Cruceiro. Church of Santa Marina in Campo

36.284 kms to Santiago.

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36.284 kms to Santiago 馃檪 and pilgrims walking

35.568 kms to Santiago and a photo op. By now I am adorned with Camino trinkets; keepsakes or amulets to keep me safe? My fabulous walking poles ever to hand! I didn’t lose weight on the Camino LOL

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35.568 kms to Santiago and I’m adorned with amulets

In an orchard, the night’s chill leaves crusty ice on strands of a spider’s web; diamonds glinting in the early morning sun.

35.039 kms and a bunch of juicy green grapes…. left in offering or forgotten?

Then聽Casalderrique; a town on the outskirts of the Caldas de Reis聽to Padr贸n聽del Camino Portugu茅s聽to Santiago de Compostela. Fascinating. I’m loving these strange, evocative words and names.

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a spider web strung with diamonds. 35.039 kms and a bunch of grapes. Casalderrique

Suddenly the weather changes; a swirling mist descends, enveloping wooded hills, sleepy houses, and the watery rays of sun, sending a chill along my spine. And 3 minutes later we have blues skies again – the sun heading towards midday doesn’t quite warm the chilly air.

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a damp mist descends. pilgrims walk beneath blue skies

A self-service wayside caf茅 with a loo for peregrinos. A stunning pilgrim sculpture and scallop shell mark the spot.

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Peregrino stop; rest awhile

34.584 kms to Santiago – Benvidos O Concello de Valga – Camino de Santiago.
Once again we’re required to cross the dreaded N550 & it’s now 33.799 kms to Santiago
Reminiscent of Portugal, I am once again following footprints in the sand.

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Benvidos O Concello de Valga – Camino de Santiago.

33.089 kms to Santiago and once again we’re on asphalt and walking through forests of green.

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32.049 kms to Santiago back on the gravel, and it’s all downhill from here

By now my right ankle was burning; each step excruciatingly painful as I gingerly put pressure on each step downhill. I really could have done without downhills today.聽聽After the last 2 days of extensive and excessive walking, and crossing 3 mountains, my right ankle is in a bad way. I’ve barely covered 5 kms and walking down the steep downward and the steep upward inclines has been agony. I have a badly contracted muscle just above the right ankle that’s just seriously painful. For the last km I’ve been saying I’ll stop soon I’ll stop soon but just kept going. Suddenly there, in a shady clearing above a stream, I saw a wooden shelter and a group of 4 ladies resting. I hobbled over, they made space for me and to my sheer wonder, one of their party, a young lass said “I’m a massage therapist, can I massage your feet?” OMG I could have cried. Oh please!!聽馃挒馃挒 The pain of the massage was tremendous, but the relief was even more so. With lots of laughter and admonishment, 3 of the ladies, chirruping away in Spanish produced a scissors, a roll of strapping tape and foot cream! After massaging my legs and feet Susana strapped up my ankle; the relief was amazing.

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My Camino Angel; Susana from Vila do Conde

Thank you Susana from Vila do Conde, you were truly my angel today. Today I learned how the Camino provides 馃挒馃挒馃挒馃挒馃檹馃檹

The Spanish ladies left after admonishing me about walking too far (Susana translated) and then Susana left soon after, repeatedly asking if I was okay now. Yes, thank you so much. I’ll just rest awhile and continue on my way. With lots of hugs and a wave with the tentative possibility of crossing paths in Padr贸n we said goodbye. Sadly I didn’t see her in Padr贸n.

Walking a lot easier now as I made my way slowly to Padr贸n. Actually, I wasn’t in any hurry. It was a fine day, the sun now warm on my skin, I passed fields, a pretty stone church (they are so lovely), and then suddenly……..29.883 kms to Santiago. OMG!!聽馃榾

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Hoorah!! 29.883 kms to Santiago

To my delight I spotted a pair of old boots covered with stones of all shapes and sizes, sitting on top of a Camino marker. What story could they tell?

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these boots were made for walking…..

Another h贸rreo and a field of corn. And now Cedelo. The time was 14:09 and I had been walking for nearly 6 hours with just a few rest stops in between and a massage LOL. Another vineyard, dripping with plump bunches of ripe red grapes. Oh how delicious they looked. Hard to resist the temptation.

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snapshots of Spain

Don’t STOP walking Go. Go. Gooo

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Don’t STOP walking..Go Go Gooo!!! follow the yellow arrow!!!

Contrary to the advice given, I’ve stopped for a short break. It’s blazing hot. Almost 3pm and I’ve been walking for well over 6 hours.

26.603 kms to Santiago. 6 hours 38 minutes and 14.84 kms covered so far!聽 Padr贸n where are you. Slowww going today. Another downward slope. Urgh.

And on I walked; slowly passing towns and hamlets – As Cernadas, Chenlo, San Miguel, Condide, Valga. The names unfamiliar on my tongue, I longed to pronounce them properly. A silent vow to learn Spanish.

I passed a house adorned with the most glorious display of glorious bright pink Hibiscus!! A caf茅 wall adorned with dozens of scallop shells; fresh brewed coffee served here. A bizarre dummy dressed as a pilgrim nun standing next to a display stand of trinkets. An arrow points me in the right direction. A small village dominated by an enormous church its graveyard packed tight with marble and stone graves and memorials. A railway line to be crossed; my nemesis. A pretty painted house, red and white paint peeling off mouldy walls. A tunnel snakes beneath the railway line; the blue board with the walking man points the way; pilgrim this is your route.

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hibiscus

 

Suddenly we’re in suburbia once again – Pontecesures; thus named because in Roman times a bridge was built here. Pontecesures was聽one of the main Galician ports during the Roman era from whence products were shipped to聽Rome. The litchen-covered 10 arched bridge spans the River Ulla and separates the provinces of Pontevedra and A Coru帽a. I hurried along my way, crossing the bridge and for just a brief moment, again we’re on the dreaded N550. The sun-warmed day with bright blue skies reflecting in the water of the river as it flows rapidly by.聽 I’m getting closer now.聽Just a little further and I’m walking alongside another stone-arched bridge, this time carrying the N550 rather than spanning a river. At the junction of Aldea Calzada and Ponte Aldea, a scallop shell filled with plants rests on a stone pillar inscribed with the letters ‘no ori eses dsp’:聽interpreted as: “Neptune, the inhabitants of the Iria forum, placed this one at their expense“.

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Pontecesuras – not far to go now!!

15:19 – 7 hours and Hurrah. Padron is on the horizon 馃憦馃憦馃憦馃榾馃榾馃榾

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Padron!!!!聽馃榾

25.018 kms to Santiago. 16.425 kms walked. This was the last marker I saw before reaching Padr贸n, so I’m guessing mapmywalk (said I walked 13.83 kms) didn’t update properly after losing gps signal at various points along the way. Clearly my distance was indeed the 18.4 kms that the Guide book I bought calculated LOL

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The last marker before Padr贸n….who lied? Google, the Pilgrim’s Guide or the markers!!

Hoorah!!! its 15:09 and finally I’m in Padr贸n, a cafeteria on the corner tempts me in, but I resist.聽 I strolled along the tree-lined “Espolon Promenade” where I saw a statue of Camil Jos茅 Cela (1916鈥2002), writer and聽Nobel Prize聽winner who was born here. Padr贸n聽is a concello (Galician for municipality) in the聽Province of A Coru帽a and divided into five聽parishes. I’m in the parish of Santa Mar铆a de Ir铆a Flavia (or Ir铆a Flavia).

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Padron;聽the parish of Santa Mar铆a de Ir铆a Flavia

The town suffered several attacks in the 10th and 11th centuries by both Vikings and Normans….geez, they were everywhere!! According to tradition, it was in Ir铆a Flavia that the Apostle聽Saint James聽first preached during his journey in聽Hispania. Legend has it that soon after his death (AD44), two of his disciples brought his head and body聽in a stone boat to Ir铆a Flavia from Jerusalem where he had been beheaded by聽“Herod the king” (Herod Agrippa I). The river Sar flows alongside the promenade through Padr贸n and past the cathedral where you can see the ‘pedron’. After resting here the disciples聽took his remains inland for burial at聽Compostela, now known as Santiago de Compostela. As a result, Ir铆a Flavia, now colloquially known as Padr贸n, has developed into a popular passing place on the聽Camino de Santiago pilgrimage聽route. 聽Besides being famous for it’s links to St James,聽Padr贸n is famous for it’s peppers (Galician聽pementos de Padr贸n).

I stopped at the cathedral;聽Iglesia de Santiago where the body of St James lay before being taken to Compostela. Tradition has it that it was here that the boat coming from the Holy Land carrying the body of the Apostle James was moored on the 鈥減edr贸n鈥, a granite block; still preserved under the altar of the Iglesia de Santiago. The history of these places is just extraordinary. I stayed for about 30 minutes, just enjoying the overwhelming sense of spirituality, peace and tranquillity of the cathedral. I had my passport stamped, bought a trinket and made a donation.

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Iglesia de Santiago where the body of St James lay before being taken to Compostela

After a few minutes of contemplation I left the church and did a Google search for my albergue. Only 85 metres away 馃憦馃憦馃憦馃榾馃榾馃榾 Hallelujah.

I’m not sure who thought cobbled roads were a good idea, but I’d like to assure them they’re not. 馃槙馃槙馃槙聽Albergue Corredoiras is probably the most well organised albergue I’ve stayed in so far, although I had to make my own bed聽馃槀馃槀 Reminded me of boarding school. I’m in a multi bed, mixed sex dorm and now in the fully reclining position, as you can see from my last pic. I did not know that my feet could聽be this painful, however the 3 x 500mg paracetamol I’ve swallowed since this morning appears to be kicking in. So I’m going to do what every sensible pilgrim should do… sleep. 馃槾馃槾馃槾

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Albergue Corredoiras

What a journey. Today has been so painful, but it forced me to slow down. It’s been very hot again today and the last 5 kms were tough. I noticed that the Buen Camino greetings were more tired that before, pilgrims walked slower, feet dragging. Padr贸n looks amazing. I’m glad I got here early enough to rest for a while and then hopefully get out to explore. Just a little bit 馃槈

Day 4/5 walked 13.83 (?) kms and 39374 steps over 7 hours, 58 minutes door to door. I’m not sure which is more accurate, Google maps or mapmywalk聽18.7 vs 13.83 kms. Hmmm??

Tomorrow; Santiago de Compostela. Too soon…..

But first, a little rest and then time to explore…. LOL The proprietor gave me a basket for my laundry but I was so tired I simply didn’t have the energy to unpack. Dirty clothes till Santiago I guess. I figured that pilgrims of days gone by didn’t have the luxury of a washing machine, so I too would just wear whatever it was that came out my bag.

I loved the configuration of the hostel sleeping quarters. Each bunk had it’s own locker and a curtain for privacy. Pepe had once again been safely delivered, so into the locker went he, and onto the bed went I. Snooze time. See Places I stayed on the Camino for more about the聽Albergue Corredoiras.

In case you missed it,you can read about Day 3 here聽from Arcade to Caldas de Reis

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Day 11 Sunday聽2017.09.17聽– Valen莽a to Tui and onto O Porri帽o (part 1)

A S谩mi proverb states, 鈥淗ow it goes with the first day鈥檚 travelling, so it will be with the rest of the journey.鈥 – and in this instance that proved true; I had an awe-inspiring journey, an mix of early mornings, beautiful albeit tough terrain, cool air, peaceful forests and joyful greetings. I was on my Way.

This was day 1 of 5 walking from Tui to Santiago de Compostela; no rest days inbetween. With my alarm set for 6am, I woke with an overwhelming sense of anticipation, finally the day had arrived for the push through to Santiago de Compostela and excited beyond belief, I felt like I wanted to run every mile and jump with joy. I didn’t of course 馃檪

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117.624 kms to Santiago – this was the first of many such route markers I saw along The Way.

I set off really early at 06:43 while it was still dark, and made my way to the walled city. Thank goodness I had found the route last night. Thanks to Mel for the heads up!

Although still quite dark I could see the sky lightening in the east. The streets were eerily quiet and while navigating the city I saw only 3 people the whole time I was walking through. The air was fresh and cool with the wonderful stillness of pre-dawn. I faffed around taking photos of each section of the route, recorded the church bells (because I am like that!) and took a few selfies while keeping an eye on the time. I was keen to watch the sunrise from the bridge into Spain.

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Fortaleza de Valen莽a do Minho (Valen莽a do Minho Fortress) boasts over 800 years history.

The city felt timeless as I made my way along the quiet streets, stopping briefly at the Roman milestone and聽Santa Maria dos Anjos church. If you walk this way look out for the聽Roman milestone聽dating from the 1st century AD. It marks 42 Roman miles (62 kms) on the road from Braga to Tui, and has the following inscription:

TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS CAESER AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS. IMPERATOR V CONSUL III, TRIBUNICIA POTESTATE III. PATER PATRIAE BRACARA XLII.

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A Roman milestone dating from the 1st century and Igreja de Santa Maria dos Anjos; the mother church of Valen莽a do Minho consecrated in 1276

Finally I set my compass for Spain, my ‘Camino eyes’ carefully scanning for the yellow arrows as I trod gingerly along the cobbled lanes, down numerous stairs, through tunnels and beneath the fortified walls; muralha primitiva. It felt primitive.

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along the narrow lanes of Fortaleza Valen莽a – a fortress started at the beginning of the 13th century and relating to the reign of King Sancho I

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Fortaleza Valen莽a – a fortress started at the beginning of the 13th century

It was thrilling thinking about all the thousands of pilgrims who, through the aeons, have walked that route before me. The history of this awesome place is mind-blowing.

Then suddenly I was on the bridge and standing on the border, with one foot in Portugal and the other in Spain. My excitement knew no bounds.聽馃毝鈥嶁檧锔馃懀馃毝鈥嶁檧锔馃懀馃毝鈥嶁檧锔馃懀馃憦馃憦馃憦

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Tui International Bridge (known in Portugal as Valen莽a International Bridge), completed in 1878 is on the Portuguese Way to Santiago de Compostela

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Tui International Bridge leading to Spain (known in Portugal as Valen莽a International Bridge)

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Tui International Bridge leading to Spain crosses the River Mi帽o from Valen莽a in Portugal. In the distance to the right you can see the cathedral of Tui on the hilltop

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In the past, pilgrims coming from Portugal had to reach Galicia, Spain by crossing the river Mi帽o on a boat, but lucky me I could walk across via the bridge 馃檪 These shoes are made for walking…

Tip: when you walk across the International Bridge from Portugal into Spain, be sure to walk on the right-hand side looking upstream, for the markings on the walkway. A footnote (pun-sorry LOL): I was so impressed with my walking shoes; a last minute buy a couple of weeks before I left, these shoes have done me proud: 123 kms so far…good support and no blisters!! The socks; brilliant combination of IsoCool liner socks and double layer anti-bacterial socks worked really well for me. But back to the sunrise…..

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The river Mi帽o flows between Portugal and Spain.

Tui International Bridge leading to Spain crosses the River Mi帽o from Valen莽a in Portugal. I watched a magnificent pink-hued sunrise, took dozens of photos and finally once the sun peeked above the horizon in Portugal, I walked the final yards into Spain…. Hurrah, now I was on the Camino Portuguese Central Way to Santiago de Compostela. (Compostela (comes from the Latin “Campus Stellae” (i.e. Stars Field) – love that!!! 鉂ぢ

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Espa帽a 馃檪 finally I was in Spain for real and on my way to Santiago de Compostela聽– Camino Portugues – Cami帽o de Santiago

Unbeknownst to me at that point, I was also going to be walking along sections of the old Roman Road ‘Via Romana XIX’ – see pic in top right hand corner. I just liked the design without realising the connotations 馃檪

Tui,聽one of the seven capitals of the聽ancient Kingdom of Galicia, is the first town in Spain on the Camino Portugu茅sCentral Way and has an awesome cathedral just waiting to be explored. I met two ladies who told me the hotel; Parador Nacional San Telmo, would stamp my passport so I popped in and got my first Spanish pilgrim’s stamp. There was no way I was going to leave without visiting and getting a stamp. Hint: It’s advised that you聽get your credential (pilgrim’s passport) stamped at least twice a day between Tui and Santiago de Compostela to qualify for your certificate. This is not too difficult as there are so many churches and restaurants etc enroute where you can get a stamp (sello).

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Tui was the capital of a province in the Old Kingdom of Galicia, Spain.

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Parador Nacional San Telmo where I got my pilgrim’s passport stamped, the view across the River Mi帽o and a final photo of me before setting off

Then it was a strenuous but picturesque climb up steep winding streets to the cathedral.

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Benvidos a Tui – Welcome to Tui on the Cami帽o de Santiago Cami帽o聽Portugu茅s : 115.454 kms

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Tui, Galicia in Spain – 1st town on the Portugu茅s Central Way to Santiago de Compostela

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the medieval narrow cobbled streets and lanes of Tui. I loved it 馃檪

Tui has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Evidence of this are the sites found during construction of the highway Vigo-Tui, on the border with Porri帽o. The medieval city was composed of three elements; the cathedral, its hamlet of dwellings, and its city walls. After a very steep climb I finally reached the cathedral.

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Catedral de Santa Maria, Tui.聽On the top of the hill, the cathedral, begun in the 12th century, preserves Romanesque elements and has a Gothic聽fa莽ade.

Wowwww what an awesome church. Begun in the 12th century, during the Romanesque period, it has a Gothic fa莽ade, one of the first in this style in the Iberian Peninsula. The interior is, like most of the churches I had seen so far in Portugal, very elaborate with a number of chapels, altars and shrines to various saints. There’s a fantastic scallop shell as you enter the church and a number of references to St James and decorative scallop shells. In a corner near the front of the cathedral interior is a statue of King Alphonso.

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I explored every corer of the church and the museum. It’s absolutely beautiful

The cloister is also of Gothic style; the oldest in any Galician cathedral. Along the walls and over the archway of the 12th century Chapter Room are a number of intriguing Roman numerals.

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The Cloisters and Romanesque Chapter Room of the 12th century, the primitive meeting room of the canons of the first temple of the city. Just mind-blowing.

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The Cloisters of Catedral de Santa Maria, Tui

I had my pilgrim’s passport stamped at the Tourist Information Centre next to the church, my 2nd of the day in Spain…too exciting. I paid the 鈧4 entrance fee at the cathedral which gave me access to the church, museum, cloisters and battlements, and spent a good 45 minutes exploring and, despite saying no more climbing towers, I climbed the tower battlements for some amazing views. The steps were so high you almost needed a step ladder to get up them!!! Going down was tricky.聽

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climbing the church tower of the Cathedral of Tui

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the view across Tui, the river Mino and in the distance the International Bridge and on the hilltop, the walled city of Valenca, Portugal

I was, at about 9:20am, startled to discover the time!!! Wow, I figured that I had been exploring the church for 2 hours, but in fact I had forgotten that the clocks went forward by 1 hour between Portugal and Spain LOL. Whew. Nonetheless, it was time to get going. As I was leaving I stopped to photograph the elaborately carved doors and noticed the cross patt茅e (?) carved into the walls on both sides of the entrance…intriguing.

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A cross patt茅e carved into the walls and the elaborate doors

As the bells chimed 10, I reluctantly left the cathedral area and made my way along steep winding picturesque streets, only this time downhill. I looked out for the Camino markers, which were plentiful and believe it or not, I photographed every one of them all the way through Tui and just about the whole 18.39 kms to O Porrino…just because. 馃槈

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looking back at the cathedral, charming little pilgrim sculptures, streets of Tui

I just loved the little pilgrim sculptures on the walls.

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a little pilgrim sculpture shows the way. if you look above his head you can see a faint yellow arrow

I passed the Hospital for the Poor and the Pilgrim’s, past the Convent of Las Clarisas where I saw my first rather large groups of pilgrims,convent of saint domingo tui, church of saint bartolome tui, Camino Portugues, Camino de Santiago, tui, spain, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, portuguese central route to santiago, walking the camino, porto to santiago, walk 1000 miles, over the hill and still travelling, baby boomers, silver surfers, the boomer generation, things to do in your 60s, bucket list for the older generation, walked down stairs, through tunnels and along deserted downward sloping streets and lanes. It seemed spookily deserted!

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Tunel das Monxas and following the Way through the streets of Tui in Galicia

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the route is so well marked with yellow arrows, scallop shells, shell tiles and various other markings, you can’t fail to find your way. I walked completely sans maps or guide books.

I saw only a few of the locals along the route, and occasionally a few pilgrims, certainly not in the large numbers I was expecting.

There was one sculpture and cross that absolutely intrigued me; located on the wall of the bridge that crosses over聽R煤a Can贸nigo Vali帽o, it looks like a sculpture with religious connotations; souls burning in the fires of hell?? Intriguing.

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an intriguing sculpture

I have not been able to find out more information about this despite extensive google searches.

(2017.11.13 – addendum with huge thanks to Maria of聽 ‘Spanish Tuition Services‘ “I can help you with the 鈥渋ntriguing sculpture鈥. This type of construction is called 鈥減eto de 谩nimas鈥 (roughly translates as souls鈥 money box) and they are quite common in Galicia. They represent souls in the fire of purgatory, with some figure watching over them (in this case, the dove/Holy Spirit). They also have a 鈥減eto鈥 or money box for passers-by to leave an offering for the salvation of those souls. When a soul is saved and goes to Heaven thanks to your offering, they will later intercede on your behalf, so you can go into Heaven too”. – so there you have it; I’m so delighted to finally know what it signified)

Passing a number of fascinating historical buildings and churches I was longing to tarry awhile and explore further, but O Porri帽o waits and I can tarry no more.

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The Judaic Tower, the Convent of Saint Domingo (built 1330), 聽Praza San Bartolom茅 bandstand, the Church of St Bartolom茅 and an ancient communal washing area.

I was absolutely amazed to discover that I was also walking along the Via Romana XIX!!

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walking along a section of the Via Romana XIX

It always gives me a thrill, no matter where I am walking, when I discover links to Roman times…the thought of those Roman soldiers marching along the roads…I can almost hear the tramp tramp tramp of their sandalled boots on the cobbles….ahead of me was the tramp, tramp, tramp of the modern day pilgrim in their special super duper gortex, arch-supporting inners and uppers, special lace-up, isogrip boots in leather, fabric and waterproof, with聽 performance soles and protective toe bumpers!! I wonder what the Romans would make of today’s hiking footwear. – according to wikipedia:聽 Caligae (heavy-soled聽hobnailed聽military聽boots) were constructed from three leather layers: an outsole, the middle openwork layer which formed the boot’s upper, and an insole.聽They were laced up the centre of the foot and onto the top of the ankle. Additionally聽iron聽hobnails聽were hammered into the soles to provide the caligae with reinforcement and traction – okayyyyy, not quite what we wear today then.聽

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a few pilgrims on the way; Bom Caminho – 114km to Santiago de Compostela

Suddenly I was out of urban Tui and into fields and the rural landscape of Galicia.

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and suddenly I was in the countryside…..

I was seeing more pilgrims now as well as locals. I called out “ola, bom dias” or “ola, Buen Camino” to everyone I saw and got many a cheery wave and “Buen Camino” in return. I’m on the Cami帽o de Santiago聽馃榿馃槏馃毝鈥嶁檧锔

Continued….Part 2 Tui to O Porri帽o.

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2017.09.16聽Day 10 – an evening in Valen莽a.

Walked 4.5 kms / 8563 steps

After leaving Caminha, I soon arrived in聽Valen莽a 馃檭馃檭聽– only 20 minutes by train but a whole days walking. Sadly this was one of the sections I had to cut off my route once I completed the #SouthwarktoCanterbury and #WayofStAugustine walks in July and realised that with the backpack on, my pace is almost half what it normally is and I’d have no rest days.

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Valen莽a station and the apartment block I stayed

instagram post: So the section from Esposende to Viana do Castelo and Caminha to Valen莽a were my rest days. I’m glad of the breaks, it helps me physically and mentally to prepare for the next day. I finally located my lodgings and聽checked in at聽Residencial S Giao聽(graded #9 on my list of places I stayed on the Camino). I have a private room and ensuite bathroom for 鈧30. The prices in this country are astounding, everything is so cheap, even the train ticket was only 鈧2.95. Valen莽a is a whole lot bigger than I anticipated so I’m guessing I won’t be exploring as much as I’d like to. Cest la vie 馃檭馃檭 I’ll have to come back for another Camino 馃槀馃槀馃槀馃挒

I was delighted to finally arrive in Valen莽a after reading so much about it. I had read that it was a walled city, but by the time I arrived I was so tired that my brain didn’t really clock the ‘walled’ part of the city that was right in front of me when I arrived at the hotel. I thought it was just the wall of another fort, albeit a very well preserved fort in comparison to the others I had seen enroute from Porto to Caminha. So I didn’t really think much of it. As mentioned I was really tired, so as soon as the proprietor shut the door behind him I whipped my shoes off and crashed on the bed. I tried but couldn’t sleep. The noise from outside was horrid so I decided to close the windows (I’m a fresh-air fiend and usually love the windows open). As I leaned over the sill to close said window I happened to notice the wall properly and the turret I could see intrigued me, so I thought I’d at least make the effort to go look and possibly get something to eat. Woww.

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Fortress walls of Valenca – similar to what I saw from my hotel window

I was enthralled! Initially I could not quite get my head around what I was seeing. Then suddenly the penny dropped…ping!!! THIS!! was the walled city!! OMG. My head was spinning, from tired and surprise. Suddenly I was like “Oh no, I only have a few hours before sunset…will I have enough time to see it all?” I tried.. I think I pretty much succeeded.

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Porta do Sol, Valen莽a Portugal

Valen莽a; Northern Portugal’s fortress town, contains a settlement and聽has origins that date back to Roman times.

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descendants of those Roman horses?

Initially known as ‘Contrasta’ which means ‘village opposite to another’ – in this case Tui, across the river Minho in Spain – the name was changed to Valen莽a by King Alfonso III during the 13th century.

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Entering the Fortress of Valen莽a, Portugal

The ‘walled city’ is actually a fortress built across two hills with an enormous military advantage and cannons still adorn the ramparts facing across the river towards Spain; a reminder of Portugal’s military history in the days when the invading Spanish were not quite as peaceful as they are today.

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cannons; quite impressive. decorative rather than useful now, but still quite awesome

The first walls, a piece of gothic and baroque military architecture, were built in the 13th century and upgraded during the 17th and 18th centuries, and form the current bulwark design.

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Acougue Gate above and the walls that look pretty impregnable to me!!!

D. Afonso or Acougue Gate in one of the best preserved sections of the medieval fortification in Valen莽a built during the 13th Century. Opened on the western side of the fortification is provided access to the Fonte de Vila located on the exterior. Archaeological excavations have yielded ancient remains dating back to Roman times.

The fortress walls have been destroyed several times; variously by the Barbarians, then the Moors, the armies of Asturias and Leon as well as聽 French troops in the 19th century.

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can’t imagine they would have been that easy to destroy

They were restored each time and are very well preserved. On 12 June 2009 Valen莽a was officially made a city. It was absolutely thrilling to discover this place.

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Porta do Sol; entrance to the walled city of Valen莽a, Portugal

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Paths of the Sacred Way of Valen莽a.

There are a number of churches and chapels within the walled fortress of聽Valen莽a. I managed to see a few of them in the short time I had.

1. Capela Militar do Bom Jesus and S茫o Teot贸nio聽the first Portuguese saint was born in Ganfei near Valen莽a, and was the confessor of King聽Afonso Henriques. The statue of S. Teot贸nio is a sculpture from the 20th century and evokes the figure of the 1st Holy Saint – the inspirer and protector of nationality.

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Capela Militar do Bom Jesus and statue of S茫o Teot贸nio, Valen莽a Portugal

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Capela Militar do Bom Jesus

Born in 1082 in the Valencian parish of Ganfei,聽 St. Teot贸nio died in Coimbra on February 18, 1162.聽 He became the first Portuguese saint to be celebrated as the reformer of religious life and is known as the patron saint of enslaved Christians, for having supported 1000 Mozarabic men, women and children, captured in an incursion to Andalusia by D. Afonso Henriques. Cannonised 1163,聽by聽Pope Alexander III, Rome.

2. The聽church of聽Santa Maria dos Anjos聽is the parish church of聽Valen莽a聽built inside the medieval fortress.

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Santa Maria dos Anjos, Valenca, Portugal

This is where I bumped into Mel.

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Santa Maria dos Anjos, and Capela da Misericordia, Valenca, Portugal

Capela da Misericordia Valenca. Next to the altar of Christ aux Outrages, there is a niche added in recent times to highlight the Triptych das “Almas Pertencentes”.
This triptych, is listed in the parish registers since 1758. It represents a Last Judgement with a spectacular representation of Hell, in the flames of which are consumed the rich and powerful among which a king , a pope, a bishop, a monk … and many others!聽

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Capela da Misericordia Valenca, Portugal

Founded on the eighth day of July of 1276.聽In the church are several altars and altarpieces built in a rich聽Baroque style. Although the church has a funeral chapel, the wooden panels that pave the floor of the entire church are the burials of wealthy families of the city. This was an absolutely fascinating church to visit.

3. Church of Santo Estevao, a 13th century temple located in the historic centre of Valenca. Reconstructed in the 18th century to a neoclassical design.

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Church of Santo Estevao a 13th century temple
valenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagranny

Capela de S茫o Sebasti茫o – The chapel of San Sebasti谩n represented the last of the four stages of Via Sacra de Valen莽a.

instagram post: Well what a surprise I got today. When I initially arrived at my hotel I wasn’t really in the mood for exploring and thought I might just rest. Hah!! Till I put my head out the window and glimpsed what looked like the edge of a fort. I immediately decided to get out and go see what it was. So at just after 5pm I set off….. Well, were my socks ever knocked off!!! 馃槼馃槼馃槼馃槼 It wasn’t a fort, but only a walled city!! Yes!! A whole city within the walls. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Of course my poor camera worked overtime as I whizzed around this marvellous place just revelling in the sheer amazingness of the place. I had my passport stamped at the main church and after wearing my feet out, I finally settled down to some supper and then went to watch the sunset. Eventually my battery died but not before I managed to capture my last Portuguese sunset 馃槉馃槉馃槉 I Sat on the ramparts for well over 30 minutes just enjoying the quiet and reflecting on the journey ahead. At some point in the city I bumped into Mel who I met on my first day out of Porto. What a delight to see her again. Andddd she told me that you can walk through the tunnels and walled city to reach the bridge that crosses into Spain 馃憦馃憦馃憦馃憦馃榾馃榾馃榾馃挄 So from tomorrow I’ll no longer say #bomcaminho but #buencamino as I start on my final 100 kms to #Santiago following the #CentralWay through #Spain Hurrah 馃槉馃槉馃槉 I’m so excited.聽

The international road and rail bridge, inspired by Eiffel (as in the Eiffel Tower) across the River Minho was built in 1879, once invasions聽had become a thing of the past.

valenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagranny

The bridge to Spain; The Way to Santiago de Compostela – Tui in the distance

And what an extraordinary city it was. I can highly recommend that if you pass this way and have the time, you spend at least a few hours exploring this amazing place! People actually live there and have for centuries.

valenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagranny

ancient cobbled lanes and houses.

There are churches aplenty, restaurants, markets, outdoor eating and cool green squares and fantastic cobbled lanes (hell to walk on, especially when wet) and narrow streets lined with houses and shops offering a variety of goods from clothes, to marvellous embroidered linen, gorgeous painted china and tat (the 拢1 shop kind of tat LOL) and lots and lots of souvenir shops with an array of things to make your head hurt.

valenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagranny

scenes of the Fortress city of Valenca, an important city on the Camino route

The architecture is absolutely amazing and the houses are built higgedly piggedly virtually right on top of each other. I was seriously blown away. As mentioned in my instagram post, my poor camera worked overtime and eventually the battery ran down and the phone switched itself off just after the sunset. I was so mad at myself for not having my battery pack with. urgh. I always carry it. Anyway there it is. I think I captured pretty much just about every street, corner and building in the city that I passed along.valenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagrannyvalenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagrannyvalenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagranny

The views were spectacular and I so enjoyed my few hours walking around the walled city of聽Valen莽a. As mentioned I bumped into Mel near the聽Igreja de Santa Maria dos Anjos at the far end towards the river. We chatted briefly. She was looking for their Priest who was to conduct the service at this church later on. Before saying goodbye again with the promise to meet up in Santiago on Friday, she told me that there was a Camino route through the walls and tunnels of the city!! What???? Seriously!!! I was totally intrigued by that snippet of information. Okay, so that was right up my alley (pun!! LOL)聽She didn’t have time to tell me more and where etc. and I was determined to find this route and follow it in the morning.

Time was marching on, so before heading over to watch the sunset, I decided to have something to eat. There was a little cafe nearby so I made my way聽 there and had another (the umpteenth) tosta misto and coke. The only thing I could order in Portugese that I was sure didn’t contain chicken or octopus LOL. It did contain ham, but cest la vie….a girl has to eat. I am so going to make sure that I speak and read a lot more of the language before my next Camino.

But first the sunset…..

I was just enthralled to be in Valen莽a. It was totally surreal sitting on the walls of the fortress, aeons old with stories to tell that I couldn’t even begin to imagine. Besides that, I couldn’t quite believe I was actually there. It felt like a dream. I climbed right up onto the walls and sat in a gap between the ramparts, totally on my own – I felt so chilled, relaxed and amazed. What a life.

valenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagranny

sunset over Spain viewed from the Fortress in Valen莽a. Isn’t life just amazing.

After sunset and before it got too dark, I walked back out the walled city, down to the river, so excited that I couldn’t wait for the morning….so I crossed the bridge on the downstream side to Spain (just because I could 馃檪 ) and then back again on the upstream side, and on my return I looked carefully for the exit from the fortress. To my delight I found it quite easily and climbed a long, steep set of stairs and into the tunnels. The route was intriguing, twisting and winding through the tunnels, along ancient cobbled lanes, across the walls and arrived eventually back at the church where I had met Mel. Delighted that I had managed to trace the Camino route, I made mental notes of where to go; landmarks for the morning. I am soooo glad I did. What an extraordinary feeling to be walking in the footsteps of countless pilgrims who had followed this route over the centuries. I can’t describe fully how I felt….it was extraordinary.

The route; Valen莽a is also a passage for the Way of St. James on the way to Santiago de Compostela, although many pilgrims now follow the road; Av. de Espanha that skirts the fortress (a real shame in my opinion. If more people knew of the route through the fortress I’m sure they would rather walk that way and enjoy the intriguing route). See Day 11 – my 1st Day of 5 from Valen莽a to Santiago. – post to follow shortly.

After that little adventure, and totally excited that I’d found the route, since my battery was flat and I couldn’t take any more photos, I went shopping….as you do!! 馃檪 From the next day onwards, I used the bag and wore the cap 馃槈

valenca, fortress city valenca portugal, camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, santiago de compostela, walking the camino, notjustagranny

time for a bit of shopping

And then it was time for bed. I had earlier, on arrival, bumped into my lovely group of 5 from Australia in the foyer of the hotel…seems they were also staying there. We had tentatively agreed to meet up later but when I knocked on the door there was no answer. Instead of a natter I had a fantastic hot shower and before long I was tucked up snug in bed. Goodnight聽Valen莽a, I do wish I had another day to stay….next time 馃槈

Although my mind was whirling with excitement and thrilling in the knowledge that on the morrow I was to cross into Spain, I was really tired and despite the traffic noise I was soon fast asleep….my alarm set for 6am!! Whoooo!! Tui, Spain in the morning and the final 100kms to Santiago de Compostela…I could hardly wait to discover what adventures lay ahead?

In case you missed my morning in Caminha; a gorgeous town on the Portuguese Coastal Route of the Camino de Santiago.

(addendum. Unbeknownst to both of us at the time we bumped into each other outside the church, sadly Mel’s Priest had died. There in Valen莽a. So tragic. I only found this out much later when I was near Padron in Spain by a very strange coincidence.)

 

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As the year moves on, the time for me to step up and out on my dream of and goal to walk the Camino de Santiago (the Portuguese Coastal Route) is getting closer and closer, I’m reminded that no matter how old you are…….

In order to get more fit, I recently joined the #walk1000miles 2017 challenge. I’ve always loved walking and have done loads over the last year, but what I love about this challenge is that there are thousand of people around the world also walking and sharing their experiences and photos. Just brilliant.

What I loved about this quote, besides the image and the words, is that a few months ago I worked in Great Malvern where C.S. Lewis once spent some time, and where urban legend has it, he found inspiration for the lamps in The Witch and The Wardrobe after seeing the lamps there.

lamps in great malvern

lamps in Great Malvern; inspiration for C.S. Lewis

p.s. I had planned on walking the Camino last year, but money or lack thereof got in the way. This year then…..

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It’s normal at this time of the year to think about and consider what, if any, resolutions you may want to make. Hundreds of articles are written each year on the ‘how to’, ‘ the why’, ‘the when’ etc etc, only for many of them to fall by the wayside when real life takes over.

Personally I stopped making resolutions decades ago (urgh, that word ‘decades’ ages me LOL). I seldom kept to them. I am a procrastinator, something I’ve recently named and shamed, and my philosophy in life has always been ‘if it can be done tomorrow….’ And so my resolutions usually fell by the wayside. I’m also fairly lazy…especially if my resolution doesn’t match my values. Ergo…..the “I want to lose weight” resolution simply doesn’t work well if you love food! And chocolate. And cake. And ice-cream. And Vogels bread with latherings of butter and Robertson’s Lime jelly…….and so on and so on; you get my drift. So I’ve pretty much given up on making any resolutions that have anything to do with dieting – besides being unhealthy for my psyche, as soon as I decide to cut something out…I start to crave it.

So no, resolutions don’t work for me. Goals….hmmm, there are so many goals I would like to set and I went through a stage of trying to learn how to set goals but I find it incredibly difficult to make a goal only for my circumstances to change and the goal disappears (my personal development journey that didn’t work too well for me…) and so we get down to plans and intentions.

Plans I can do!! I love lists. I love spreadsheets. So plans I can do. I find it a thrill to make plans to do something. It’s like Dr John Demartini says “find someone’s highest values and they will be more likely to succeed”.

quote# 鈥淲hatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.鈥欌櫬 Ralph Waldo Emerson 鈥 Poet and Essayist

So what are my plans and intentions for 2017?

  1. To walk more – dead easy…I love walking. I would walk for miles every day if I could.
  2. To travel more – I love travelling. The thrill of going somewhere new. Visiting a new place for me is like discovering a closed door….open the door and all manner of delights await.
  3. I intend to spend more quality time with my daughter. Again this is just so easy!! I will be moving to new accommodation at the end of January, so we will be able to plan to get together 馃檪
  4. To start saving for my daughter’s 2018 June wedding – I intend to work a few extra days each month to achieve this.
  5. To visit at least 2 islands I haven’t been to yet.
  6. To visit at least 4 new cities in England – I can ask the agency to send me to different locations and while I’m there I can explore the area.
  7. To visit my brother and his family in Budapest.
  8. To improve my photographs and learn more about what makes a great photo. I love taking photos…in fact I take way too many, but I enjoy keeping a record of where I was when and photographing everything I see 馃槈
  9. To explore healthier options in the food line. While I was working at my last job I discovered the joy of experimenting with recipes. This however could lead to a bit of a challenge…..if there’s more than 3 ingredients…I get bored. hahaha. Also many of my clients prefer plain simple聽English cooking….
  10. To read more books. To that end I’ve listed a few books on my Amazon wish list that I plan to buy.
  11. 聽To reduce my debt. This is still a very sore point with me. Thanks to the personal development journey in 2007/2008, and the said guru’s advice on OPM I am still struggling to pay off my debt. But I’ve reduced it from 拢50k in 2008 to just over 拢15k in 2017. eish. 10 years on. Anyway that issue still irks me so best to leave it alone. Suffice to say, I am slowly getting there…paying the credit cards off while still having a life.
  12. And the biggie for me this year…..to walk the Camino de Santiago. I had planned to walk the Portuguese route last year in September, but the UK Customs & Excise taxes on my SA shipment put paid to that. New Year = New Intention!!
  13. To see more sunrises or sunsets…depending on where I am in the world.聽鈥淭he Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.鈥 Eden Phillpots
  14. To blog more often……hence this blog 馃槈
  15. To walk the Worcestershire Way.
  16. To book to watch the 2018 London fireworks….they are amazing.

    plans, goals, intentions and resolutions

    Happy New Year 2017 – London

Where and when to start? Needless to say the easiest plan to start with is the walking. It is my intention to walk the Camino this year. To do that I must at least have achieved a certain level of fitness to make the walk pleasant….I do not want blisters and sore feet!

So with that in mind, and despite it being a perfectly vile day; wet and cold and windy….typical New Year’s Day weather in the UK, I set off on the first of my intentions; to walk more. 聽Bundled up in my winter woollies and raincoat I set off along the coast and walked to just past Dumpton Gap and back – 1 hour; 5.1 kms; 7282 steps; yes!!!

goals, plans, intentions and resolutions

New Year’s Day – Camino practice walk

Happy New Year folks…..I’d love to hear what your聽Plans, Goals, Intentions and Resolutions might be….

 

 

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