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Posts Tagged ‘Porto to Santiago’

After months of reading up on other people’s facebook posts, reading blogs and posts on Camino forums, I finally narrowed down my Camino packing list.

packing for the camino, how to pack a backpack, camino de santiago, long distance walking, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, solo travel, women who travel on their own, baby boomers travel

My Camino 2017 packing; I’ve made relevant adjustments for walking in the UK

Items that I removed from the final pack before leaving: top left image; gloves, sandals, and I changed my walking socks after testing the marvellous socks I found at Mountain Warehouse; double thick…

packing for the camino, how to pack a backpack, camino de santiago, long distance walking, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, solo travel, women who travel on their own, baby boomers travel

some of the many articles I researched and a bit of a laugh

Admittedly I had bought a whole load of items while I was in South Africa in May 2016, but I realised over time that most of it wouldn’t really be needed/suitable for a Camino in September. I will however make good use of them when I start walking in the UK….we all know how changeable the weather can be here so no doubt the double fleece jacket, woollen beanie and thick woollen gloves will come in handy for those trips. So for now they shall remain at home.

One of the items I bought which will come in handy is the Glowstick which is of course packed.

So at the final Countdown to my Camino, this is what I packed:

Osprey Mystic Magenta Tempest Talon 40 – my erstwhile backpack 1.08 kgs

Osprey Water Bladder 1.5liter                                                            0.700 grams

Sandals (walking sandals swopped for flip flops)                               0.120 grams

Fleece – lilac                                                                                      0.500 grams

Jumper – lilac                                                                                     0.220 grams

Hiking pants x 2 pairs – black (packed)                                              0.620 grams

Hiking pants 1 pair – black (to be worn)                                             0.310 grams

Quick drying T-shirts x 3 – magenta (packed)                                    0.360 grams

Quick Drying T-shirt to be worn                                                          0.120 grams

Panties x 7 (black) & pantie liners x 20                                              0.100 grams

Hiking socks – double thick x 5 (black)                                               0.250 grams

Hiking socks – double thick – worn                                                      0.050 grams

Wick away inner sock liners x 2                                                          0.050 grams

Bras x 2 (one on & one packed)                                                         0.050 grams

Night t-shirt (slogan: everything hurts – gift from my daughter)          0.210 grams

Towel – magenta (quick drying) & face cloth                                      0.230 grams

Rain poncho (now ditched in favour of a lightweight poncho – 20g)   0.395 grams

Extras:

LED Light (glowstick)                                                                          0.020 grams

Pale blue scarf with silver scallop shell pattern (gift from daughter)   0.040 grams

Pilgrim’s Scallop Shell                                                                         0.020 grams

Pilgrim’s Passports                                                                              0.030 grams

Orange Emergency Sheet                                                                   0.230 grams

Silver Emergency Foil Blanket                                                            0.010 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 1)                                                         0.180 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 2)                                                         0.310 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 3)                                                         0.110 grams

Phone charger and cord                                                                     0.050 grams

Emergency travel charger for my phone                                            0.220 grams

Teabags (vital and essential for my morning cuppa)                          0.030 grams

Toiletries                                                                                             0.800 grams

(shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, face cream, hand wash, dish-washing liquid, toothpaste, detergent gel, toothbrush, dental floss, comb, nail clippers, emery board, small scissors, shower gloves, incognito spray (100 grams), citronella oil, Epsom salts, rehydration salts, immodium, various vitamins)

Below are images of what I’ve packed for my next Camino – new additions would be the pink travel case (not yet sure it’s going to be useful), small day pack for those days I send Pepe ahead (it’s a marvellous little bag and folds away into itself and weighs next to nothing). The bits and bobs have been dramatically reduced, I did find the little velcro straps to be incredibly useful as well as the elasticated straps with clips…good for hanging socks to dry.packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,

packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,

packing for my impending UK walk – my fabulous new puffer jacket and my wonderful Pepe; Osprey Mystic Magenta, packed and ready to go

packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,

the noodles came in handy one night after a very long day. I used the tea bags 3 times and the mug never LOL

Some stuff you just don’t need. 😉 It’s really tricky packing for a long distance walk, especially in a foreign country. I took way too much of medical supplies like plasters and stuff (they are in plentiful supply in all the large towns and some of the villages you pass along the way).

medical supplies, camino de santiago, walking the camino,

clearly took far too much stuff LOL

Admittedly, despite advice to the contrary, I took a load of stuff I really didn’t need – most of it came home with me. LOL

I’ll be rechecking my list before I start along The Pilgrim’s Way and hopefully I can ditch some more items before I start…..

Buen Camino

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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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It’s exactly 2 months ago today since I arrived in Porto and although it’s taken a lot longer than I expected, I’ve now written about my fantastic stay in Porto, a wonderful day visit to Coimbra (recommended) and the first 6 days of my Camino 2017 from Porto to Valenca. Before I continue writing about the final 5 days walking in Spain, I thought I’d pause for reflection and consider what I learned and discovered along The Way on the Portuguese Coastal Route and The Portuguese Central Way (via Tui) from Porto to Santiago.

portuguese coastal route mapacoastal

The Portuguese Coastal and Central routes; Porto to Santiago de Compostela

Firstly I must just clarify that I didn’t walk the Camino for religious reasons, but rather to learn more about myself, and for the sheer adventure. I love walking and I love travelling, so the Camino was the perfect opportunity for me to combine the two. I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for ever such a long time and Porto was my desired destination, as well as which I love the ocean, so it made sense to start there and walk the Portuguese Coastal Route. But because I wanted to visit the walled town of Valenca and of course cross the famous bridge that I’d seen in photos and to also visit Tui, I decided to start off on the coastal route to Caminha and then head inland to Valenca and finish off along the Central Portuguese route to Santiago.

inspirational quotes

I just wanna go on more adventures….

My goal was all about discovery. I wanted to see if this was something I could actually do. I’m a creature of habit and I love my home comforts. I get really grumpy when I have to get up early and/or go without my first cup of tea (usually preferred while relaxing in bed – with a couple of biscuits).

 

So it was going to be interesting to see how I would respond to both rising early and forgoing my cup of tea. I did take a packet of teabags with me….but in all the 21 days I was in Portugal and Spain I only used 6 teabags, and 4 of those were in Barcelona AFTER I finished the Camino 😉 So teabags won’t be on my packing list for 2018 then!

So although I didn’t walk for ‘religious’ reasons, I walked in the ‘spirit of learning’; about adventure and discovery, about what I can or cannot cope with, about the countries I walked through, and about their history. I walked with the aim of finding out how walking long distance, under sometimes challenging circumstances would affect me relating to my human spirit/spirituality or soul as opposed to relying on the usual material or physical things and my comfort zones. I could have planned a similar long walk in the UK but that would have fit in with my comfort zone….so Camino it had to be.

inspirational quotes

When it feel scary to jump….

I knew of and had read about the Camino in the past. My father had cycled various routes in his 70’s and 80’s and in 2005 we had toyed with the idea of doing a Camino together – except he wanted to cycle and I wanted to walk. So that never got off the ground. He died a couple of years ago, so that’s that in that area. In retrospect though, I doubt we would have made a success of it, we never really got on very well most of my life and being together day after day would not have been a picnic. However, my younger brother and one of my many younger sisters have cycled The Camino with my father, which is good. I have of course watched the 2010 film, The Way, with Martin Sheen and loved the idea of, but had no desire to walk the Camino Frances (then). Besides all that, I had been inspired to walk the Camino by someone I knew from 2009/2010; a lady in her mid 60’s who had walked the Camino Frances a few years before and loved it.

But because I planned on walking a different route, I didn’t have any preconceptions of how or what the route would be like beyond the fantastic photos I had seen on facebook and the many blogs I read before my September trip. I had read about how some people have major insights, or epiphanies, or religious experiences that changed their lives in a big way, but I wasn’t anticipating any of those and as it turns out, I didn’t have any.

But what I did have, was the joy of walking and being alone. I am a loner, I don’t have a large circle of friends and I am most certainly not a social butterfly; preferring my own company, social events are anathema to me. Even a tea-party or dinner out with a crowd gets me hot under the collar and I’d rather be ill in bed than have to attend a party. LOL

I had read that at certain points you encounter large crowds of people and apparently at the 100km mark (minimum distance required for the Compostela), the route is inundated with other walkers, but I didn’t find that at all, except for one day in Spain when I encountered a group of oldies on the way to Mos. But we soon parted company and in fact at many times I walked for up to 3-4 hours without seeing a soul except the odd local as I meandered by, or the occasional walker who whizzed on by at speed. So in all, the hours that I walked completely on my own suited me perfectly.

However, I did meet some wonderful people along the route in Portugal and spent an hour or so walking with a lovely couple from Poland; Jakob and Agata between Vila do Conde and Esposende. I was really sorry to lose touch with them after we parted ways for breakfast. But as mentioned in the blog, they were a lot younger than me, walked faster and were with a group of friends, and I dawdled a lot taking photos.

It was also going to be really interesting to find out how I felt about not having much by way of home comforts, about wearing the same clothes, not having the convenience of a washing machine, and carrying my belongings on my back day after day. My day job takes me all over the UK and I often get fed up with living out of a suitcase, so living out the backpack for 11 days was going to be a challenge…could I cope? How would I feel about not eating a proper breakfast? (you know what us English folks are like!! Full English and all that, or scrambled egg on marmite toast, but if not possible then oats and fruit, or granola and yoghurt with banana etc etc LOL). And I am not usually a coffee drinker…although the thought of pastries for breakfast every day filled me with joy!! 🙂 🙂 How would I manage? Weirdly it was these type of thoughts that I fretted about most prior to my Camino. Not would I be safe, not would I get blisters, not would I mind a mix-sex bathroom. No. My biggest worry was food!!

I am a magpie and a hoarder. I collect stuff all the time. I love books and am continually buying them (or should I say used to). Apparently my wealth profile is: ‘Accumulator’ – just a shame that didn’t apply to money!! If you saw my house in South Africa in 2001 pre UK, you’d know for sure that I collected ‘stuff’ – a lot of stuff. Since living in the UK the last 16 years, things carried on much the same…even though I arrived with very little, before long I was accumulating stuff; mementos, household items, linen, clothes and books; home comforts. But since I arrived back from my Camino, that has changed substantially. I had already started a few years ago cutting back on ‘buying’ and rather spent my money on travel and experiences like zip-lining. 🙂 which is quite simply awesome, and a must do again.

zip lining with zip world in london

zip lining with zip world in London. My daughter and I had so much fun

Cutting back on spending last year is the reason I had money for my Camino Journey, but now I’ve become quite militant about it. My daughter had already been discouraged from buying me things and has now been seriously encouraged/reminded to not buy me anything that I can’t eat, wear or experience.

inspirational quotes

Take a walk, not a pill….

So what did I learn along The Way?

  1. I can get up early and manage to not die without my first cup of tea…or any tea AT ALL for that matter. For someone who usually drinks 5-6 mugs full a day…
  2. I am fitter than I thought and certainly more agile.
  3. I can climb a mountain and survive.
  4. I can walk in the rain and survive, and I still loathe temperatures above 20 degrees centigrade.
  5. I really do love just being on my own and never once did I get lonely.
  6. I am not afraid.
  7. The scenery and the history of the places I walked through was more amazing than I imagined.
  8. I didn’t have any major epiphanies or insights or spiritual experiences.
  9. I’m still not religious.
  10. Although….I do and did love visiting the many churches along the two routes – so peaceful, real repositories of history, with a strong sense of spirituality.
  11. I can manage to live with only a bare minimum of life’s ‘necessities’.
  12. I loved calling out ‘Bom Caminho’ in Portugal and ‘Buen Camino’ in Spain, and getting a response in return…usually with a smile, especially from the locals.
  13. I enjoyed the brief connections I made with fellow pilgrims and locals; just enough to be fun, but not that long it got tedious.
  14. I can, if I make the effort, learn more of the native languages and managed to pick up quite a lot of extra words enroute. I’m currently learning more Spanish and my daughter is going to teach me to speak and listen comfortably before I go next year.
  15. I’m still an accumulator…..over 5,500 photos between 7-28th September bears witness to that LOL At least they’re light, albeit filling up my Dropbox.
  16. I really don’t want all the stuff I still have in my storage – in fact I nearly had a nervous breakdown when I returned home and saw all the boxes waiting. urgh.
  17. Food wise, I still stuck to what I know – like eating ‘tosta misto’ just about every day because I knew what was in it. And because I’m a ‘food coward’ I didn’t try the local ‘pulpo’ or anything too adventurous. LOL
  18. I left the maps behind, found my ‘Camino eyes’ on day 3 and never looked back.
  19. Despite my initial dislike of them, my walking poles became my best friend and my #1 item for future walks.
  20. After I reached Santiago, I could quite literally have just carried on walking…a bit like Forrest Gump, except I had a ticket to Barcelona booked for the 24th 😦
  21. Although it was tough at times, I loved every minute of the journey and even though I had NO PLANS AT ALL to walk a 2nd Camino before I started, I’m already planning for 2018, 2019 and 2020 – Camino Ingles, Camino Norte and Camino Frances respectively. Oh and not forgetting The Portuguese Central Route…I’m guessing that will have to be in 2021 hahahaha. Then there’s the Primitivo Route to think about…..hmmmm. The Camino bug has bitten.

So, having walked 240 kms through Portugal and Spain, would I recommend walking the Camino? Oh absolutely YES!!!! Is it for the faint-hearted? It can be if you allow yourself to open up and experience all it has to offer. It’s not a ‘walk in the park’, it’s tiring, and tiresome, it’s exhausting (especially if you mistakenly plan for long days e.g. 32 kms), but it’s interesting – the history is phenomenal and I really wish I’d had time to explore some of the towns more thoroughly. I’m planning shorter days for 2018. I have read about two nonagenarians (91 and 93 respectively) who have recently walked the Camino Frances, so pretty much anyone can walk it if they are of a mind to.

inspirational quotes

You are not too old and it is not too late

I would recommend packing light – somehow I managed to pack 11kgs which increased to 13kgs with my water-bladder filled. I don’t know how this came about as I weighed everything so carefully and totted it all up. But somehow I think in the final packing frenzy I bunged in a whole lot of stuff I really didn’t need. I won’t make the same mistake again and next Camino I will be militant about packing a maximum of 8kgs. In fact Pepe (my backpack) is already packed and ready for 2018. This is still to be reviewed.

I would recommend training first before setting off. You may think you’re fit. You may think it’s adventurous and fun to set off impulsively without proper preparation, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve read of walkers getting severe blisters, straining their knees or ligaments, damaging their feet or backs and one gentleman I met in Portugal actually had his stomach lining suddenly tear a few days into his walk which landed him in hospital for 6 weeks. It’s not just the distance you walk, it’s also the weight of the backpack that can cause injury.

Personally, I think the reason my walk went so well is because I spent 18 months in training prior to setting off and walked a total of over 800 miles in the 8 months preceding my Camino. Besides my almost daily 5 mile walks, I did two long walks; 1 of 60 miles and 1 of 19 miles in July before I left, and those gave me a really good insight into what I could cope with, how much I could comfortably carry and taught me to 90% read a map. The other 10% I made my own route when I got lost LOL. I also learned that it’s not a good idea to walk in wet socks!!!

I would recommend buying good equipment; a light-weight backpack – I bought the Osprey Tempest 30 L that weighs only 1.01kgs, the right shoes (I tested 3 pairs over the 18 months before leaving), 3 or 4 pairs of really good socks and 2 pairs of inner socks, and my absolute Number 1 essential – a good pair of light-weight walking poles. I absolutely would not have had as good a walk as I did or been able to negotiate those cobbled streets, sandy roads, steep inclines and declines without my walking poles. I most certainly would not have been able to climb those mountains in Spain.

As mentioned, some days were exceptionally long, and by the end of those days I was practically using my poles like crutches. Of all the equipment and gear I had, those would be the one thing I would recommend most highly.

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

a tad overloaded would you say? Laundry drying, my food bag…I looked like a bag lady!! LOL

I would even recommend walking The Camino to people who are afraid of being alone, of walking in a foreign country, or just fearful of travelling beyond the borders of their own country. The whole experience was wonderful. I was exceptionally lucky in that I didn’t have any unpleasant experiences, no illness, no tummy bugs, no bed bugs, no bites (despite an encounter with a very small snake in a Spanish vineyard), no theft of personal belongings, no dehydration (although I did get very thirsty on one day after running out of water), no sunburn, and only one small issue with my right ankle, a contracted muscle acquired while climbing those mountains in Spain, that soon righted itself after being massaged and strapped up. One thing I did suffer with, was swollen ankles. This unfortunately was not a new issue as I generally get swollen ankles when I’m at home too, but it was exacerbated by the heat and being on my feet the whole day, so by the time I reached my accommodation each night, they didn’t look good – however, I survived!! A hot bath/shower and a good sleep does wonders.

How did I feel when returning to ‘civilisation’? Overwhelmed!! I recall with clarity the shock and horror I felt as I entered the old city of Santiago.

I arrived at the old town via the Parque de Alameda and approached the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela and the Praza do Obradoiro via Rúa do Franco. The sea of pedestrians walking towards me, the crowds bumping against me, the beggars shoving cardboard in my face asking for money, and the sheer volume of noise was overwhelming. I was already exhausted, extremely emotional at having finally arrived, struggling to hold back my tears, and the noise and sounds were too just too much. I nearly turned and ran.

arriving in santiago, santiago de compostela, walking to camino, porto to santiago

arriving in Santiago old town

I stayed in bed, in my hotel room the next day until I was starving and had to get out for something to eat. It took a lot of energy just to face the crowds of people again. If you’re expecting peace and tranquillity when you reach Santiago…dispel the thought. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like at the height of summer.

When I got to Barcelona 3 days later, once again I was overwhelmed at the crowds and the traffic noise of the big city. It nearly spoiled my visit on the first day, fortunately I immersed myself slowly and with 4 days to explore I didn’t rush about too much, sticking to quieter roads and areas where possible.

Arriving back in the UK was also overwhelming. The rush and the crush of commuters at the airport, on the trains; being on the tube between stations was a living nightmare. Oh where was the wonderful peace and tranquillity of walking through forests and along deserted roads, the sounds of the ocean as I strolled along the boardwalks, sorely missed.

camino 2017, viana do castelo, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, viana do castelo to caminha, visit portugal

a good ocean breeze and a tumble down fort…what more could I ask for?

Thankfully my base is in a fairly quiet seaside town and the house in a cul-de-sac.

broadstairs, viking bay, isle of thanet, english coast, seaside towns of britain

a winter’s sunrise – Viking Bay, Isle of Thanet

Even so, being back in civilisation was a shock to the system. And as for my store-room; I took one look at all my possessions and nearly had a nervous-breakdown. Time to downsize once again.

The most important lesson of all that I learned on the Camino? I didn’t need 99.9% of the possessions I own in order to survive and be contented and happy.

Bring on Camino 2018.

To read more about my #Camino2017 adventures, my journey started here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Before leaving for Porto and my first Camino, I had read many an account of Camino families and how many of the pilgrims walking the various Caminos met and made friends with people they met along The Way. During my walk from Porto to Santiago I met so many lovely people, especially in Portugal, Some were just a fleeting connection, and some I connected with in a more meaningful way. With some I managed to capture a selfie, whilst others I connected with were just a fleeting conversation and they were gone, no time for a photo.

I had some wonderful encounters and conversations, especially in Portugal. Mostly because I was still full of joie de vie and not yet exhausted whilst walking the fabulous coastal route from Porto to Caminha. I still had the energy for meaningful conversations, a Bom Caminho and besides that, the Portuguese community were amazing. So friendly.

But, I did mange to capture some photos, and thought to make note of the names too LOL

People I met along The Way; Camino 2017.

Day 4 Porto to Foz do Duoro 09/09/2017

Jasmine – USA : I met Jasmine as I was walking along the River Duoro towards Foz do Duoro. Jasmine had just finished her Camino and was visiting Porto for a few days. I was over the moon with excitement at having met my first bona vide pilgrim 🙂

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Jasmine USA met in Porto enroute to Foz do Duoro

Day 5 Porto to Vila do Conde 11/09/2017

Roger and Amanda – South Africa : we met on the bus just before Matasinhos and bumped into each other the whole day at one place or another. As we were nearing the bus station I saw a backpack coming down the stairs with a South African flag attached 🙂 I could barely believe my eyes and immediately struck up a conversation.

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Roger and Amanda – South Africa

Mel – UK : we met when we both stopped to photograph a small chapel just beyond Matasinhos (behind us). I met Mel again in Vila do Conde when we stayed at the same B&B, briefly in Valenca and again briefly in the Cathedral in Santiago.

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Mel – UK

Laura – Austria : I came up behind Laura just as we were approaching Vila do Conde. She was hobbling with leg pain. I walked with her over the bridge. Turned out we were staying in the same B&B and were room-mates 🙂 She, Mel & I had supper together.

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Laura – Austria

Day 6 Vila do Conde – rest day 12/09/2017

I met this lovely young girl from Germany who was also walking the Camino on her own. Just 19 years old and an absolute delight. I’m just sorry I can’t find her name.

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at the main church in Vila do Conde

Day 7 Vila do Conde to Esposende 13/09/2017

Inge – Denmark – I met Inge in Vila do Conde. We were roommates on my 2nd night at the B&B. I saw her briefly in the morning as we were leaving and again somewhere along the way. We connect on the facebook page.  Unfortunately I didn’t do a photo

Helga – Germany : we connected somewhere along the way and she was in the same room as me at the albergue in Viana do Castelo

Jakob and Agata – Poland : we met just outside of Vila do Conde and chatted all the way to Povoa de Varzim. I was really sorry to lose touch with them, they were so sweet. (if anyone reading this blog happens to know them, please let them know I would love to be in touch)

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Agata & Jakob – Poland

Jose & Teresa’s – Povoa de Varzim (coffee stand) – again I didn’t take a photo. But she was lovely and I can recommend you stop there for coffee. She signed my Pilgrim’s Passport 🙂

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practising my Portuguese and asked for coffee at Jóse and Teresa’s shack in Povoa de Varzim.

Guiseppe – Mr Barcelona : we had a very funny conversation, mostly in sign language. Between my minimal Spanish and his non-existant English we manage to establish that he was from Barcelona, so I told him I was going to visit there later that month. 🙂 Other than that I saw him again a few times but never took a photo.

My group of 5; Mo, Ed, Joan & 2 other ladies whose names I never quite caught. We met just outside Povoa de Varzim, again in Vila do Conde on my rest day, again in Valenca where we stayed at the same hotel, and then this photo was taken on the day (17/09) we stopped at O Chiriringo enroute to O Porrino. So these are the folks I saw the most of. Joan and I walked together a lot and had some fun conversations.

Orbitur camp site

my group of 5 – Ed, Joan & Mo and the 2 outside ladies all from AUS

Day 8 Esposende to Viana do Castelo 14/09/2017

Mr Cyprus – met at Orbitur camp site enroute to Esposende. I never did get his name, but he said he was from Cyprus. We had a brief but interesting conversation while resting at the camp. We met again briefly the next morning at the hostel in Esposende where I stayed the night before. Sadly no photo.

Day 9 15/09/2017 Viana do Castelo to Caminha

Lina – Russian (lives in New York) – met at Viana do Costelo at the hostel and again in Caminha by coincidence at the restaurant. I invited her to share my room at the hotel as she was staying in a really grim hostel.

Orbitur camp site

Lina – Russian living in New York

Amelie – Barcelona met at the beach side cafe in Carreco. We walked together for a few kilometers and stopped to look at some ancient rock markings. She walked much faster than me so we lost contact. 

Day 12 18/09/2017 Proprietor at Albergue O Recuncho do Peregrino near Arcade

Miguel, our lovely host

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Miguel at the best albergue ever….

Day 13 Arcade to O Porrino 19/09/2017

Maria, Antonio and Guiseppe – Spain. I first met these 4 pilgrims at breakfast at the Albergue O Recuncho do Peregrino. We crossed paths again between Arcade and Pontevedra and again in Santiago

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pilgrims at the Albergue – on the left: Maria, Antonio, Guiseppe. Chap on the right I didn’t get his name – all from Spain

Gregory – UK : I met Gregory on the diversion from Concella de Vilaboa along the rio Tomeza to Caldas de Reis. We had a fascinating conversation about Pope Gregory and St Augustine. We crossed paths again later in the afternoon, but not again after that.

Day 14 20/09/2017 Caldas de Reis to Padrón

Susana – Portugal : enroute to Padrón – my Camino angel. On this day my right ankle was in a bad way and I limped into this shelter on the route intending to rest. Susana introduced herself as a massage therapist and offered to massage my legs. She strapped up my ankle after which I was more able to walk comfortably. A true angel. We met again in Santiago. 🙂

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

My Camino Angel; Susana – Portugal

Day 16 22/09/2017 Santiago.

Leah & Michelle – Germany : I met these delightful young women in the Plaza del Obradoiro in front of the Cathedral in Santiago at 8:30 in the morning. We had a wonderful conversation before they left on their way to Finisterre. They were so full of energy and vibrant with joy. I hugged them long and hard.

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Leah and Michelle – Germany

Susana 🙂 I had been to the 12noon service at the Cathedral and afterwards was just meandering around looking at everything and taking photos of all the details in the church when suddenly there before my eyes was Susana. I hugged her so tight. I was delighted. I had so wanted to see her again and there she was.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Susana and me outside the Cathedral in Santiago

We spent some time meandering about the square and then met up with the Spanish ladies for dinner at a tapas bar. Unfortunately I was exhausted and very emotional, and not speaking the language was unable to really participate in the conversation. But it was wonderful to see them again.

porto portugal, porto to santiago, camino de santiago, walking the camino, project 101

Susana and the wonderful group of Spanish ladies who helped me enroute on the day I met Susana

Day 16 23/09/2017 Santiago

Sabrina – Germany : Santiago cathedral. I met Sabrina at the evening service in the cathedral. We sat together on the edge of a very hard pillar for the duration of the service chatting about all things Camino. She had just finished walking the Camino del Norte and was so excited at the prospect of seeing the botafumeiro being swung. 

And our patience was rewarded. Sadly I didn’t get her photo either, she was lovely.

Day 17 24/09/2017 Santiago

On my last day in Santiago de Compostela I was up really early in the morning and in the Plaza del Obradoiro by 06:45. I wanted to see the square before it was overcrowded with pilgrims and people. Initially there was not a soul about, but by 7am people were starting to cross the square in various directions; locals on their way to work. Suddenly to my amazement and delight who did I see crossing to the centre of the square???

Maria, Antonio and Guiseppe. 🙂 They were on their way to Finisterre…I wished I was going with them. We chatted for a while and then after a big group hug we waved goodbye….

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my pilgrim group from Arcade – met on my last morning in Santiago. they were enroute to Finisterre – Maria, Guiseppe, Antonio

Buen Camino peregrinos, I miss you all. Each person in their own different way made an impact on my Camino and will forever be in my heart.

My only regret for the whole Camino was not learning the languages of the two host countries. I do feel that if I had had more Portuguese and Spanish I would have enjoyed a richer experience. I am now rectifying this and learning Spanish in anticipation of my Camino Ingles in 2018. I have been fortunate enough to connect via Facebook and wordpress with Maria who posts a weekly blog; Spanish for the Camino.

 

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Day 14 Wednesday 2017.09.20 Caldas de Reis to Padrón

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’re companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

Words from Richard Gillard’s 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…Padrón. 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 🙂 I noticed that even the drain covers had a scallop shell pattern. 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 😉 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 Padrón, but not before my early morning treat of coffee and pastry.  I spotted a likely cafe; Panadería Cervela just over the road from the Igrexa de San Tomé Becket tree-lined square and was soon ‘sitting in a cafe in Caldas de Reis in Galicia’ drinking café con leche and eating pastries on this my 2nd last day of my Camino 2017.

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Café 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 Padrón 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 hórreos. 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; the Church of Santa Mariña 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 🙂 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 Casalderrique; a town on the outskirts of the Caldas de Reis to Padrón del Camino Portugués 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 café 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.  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!! 💞💞 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 💞💞💞💞🙏🙏

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 Padrón we said goodbye. Sadly I didn’t see her in Padrón.

Walking a lot easier now as I made my way slowly to Padrón. 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!! 😀

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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 hórreo 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!  Padrón 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 café 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 one of the main Galician ports during the Roman era from whence products were shipped to Rome. The litchen-covered 10 arched bridge spans the River Ulla and separates the provinces of Pontevedra and A Coruña. 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.  I’m getting closer now. 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’: 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 👏👏👏😀😀😀

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Padron!!!! 😀

25.018 kms to Santiago. 16.425 kms walked. This was the last marker I saw before reaching Padrón, 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 Padrón….who lied? Google, the Pilgrim’s Guide or the markers!!

Hoorah!!! its 15:09 and finally I’m in Padrón, a cafeteria on the corner tempts me in, but I resist.  I strolled along the tree-lined “Espolon Promenade” where I saw a statue of Camil José Cela (1916–2002), writer and Nobel Prize winner who was born here. Padrón is a concello (Galician for municipality) in the Province of A Coruña and divided into five parishes. I’m in the parish of Santa María de Iría Flavia (or Iría Flavia).

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Padron; the parish of Santa María de Iría 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 Iría Flavia that the Apostle Saint James first preached during his journey in Hispania. Legend has it that soon after his death (AD44), two of his disciples brought his head and body in a stone boat to Iría Flavia from Jerusalem where he had been beheaded by “Herod the king” (Herod Agrippa I). The river Sar flows alongside the promenade through Padrón and past the cathedral where you can see the ‘pedron’. After resting here the disciples took his remains inland for burial at Compostela, now known as Santiago de Compostela. As a result, Iría Flavia, now colloquially known as Padrón, has developed into a popular passing place on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.  Besides being famous for it’s links to St James, Padrón is famous for it’s peppers (Galician pementos de Padrón).

I stopped at the cathedral; 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 “pedrón”, 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 👏👏👏😀😀😀 Hallelujah.

I’m not sure who thought cobbled roads were a good idea, but I’d like to assure them they’re not. 😕😕😕 Albergue Corredoiras is probably the most well organised albergue I’ve stayed in so far, although I had to make my own bed 😂😂 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 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. 😴😴😴

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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. Padrón 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 😉

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 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 Albergue Corredoiras.

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

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Day 14 Wednesday 2017.09.20 – After spending the evening in Padrón I realised I would have to add it to my growing list of ‘favourite places on the Camino’ LOL. What a charming town, also with Roman connections.

After arriving at my albergue, as mentioned in my previous blog, I had a couple of hours snooze and then I hit the high spots…literally. On my arrival in Padrón I had noticed a very large church sitting majestically on the hill above the river overlooking the town, so made my way in that direction.

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Convento do Carme

Crossing through the Canton de la Igliesia, I stopped first at the Iglesia de Santiago, where I had spent some time on arriving in Padrón, for a second visit and look around. It is a truly remarkable church, with centuries of history. The original temple was erected circa 1133 by Archbishop Xelmírez and over the centuries various temples and churches have been built on and added to. The atmosphere is one of quiet contemplation, a stillness hard to match in the outside world.

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side entrance of Iglesia de Santiago entered via the Espolon Promenade

From there I  strolled along the tree-lined “Espolon Promenade”, the large rectangular tree-lined park that runs parallel to the river, along which I had walked earlier, just enjoying the early evening setting sun casting shadows across the dusty gravel. Strolling into town at the far end; pilgrims just arriving, along the riverside; locals sitting on benches relaxing in the warmth of the sun’s rays.

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Espolon Promenade in the early evening

From there I crossed the river Ulla/Sar via Ponte Santiago, past an old and elaborate stone fountain; Fuente del Carmen, a Carmelite fountain built by Pedro de la Barcena in 1577.

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view of the River Ulla from Ponte de Santiago

Located just below the convent the monument boasts a link with St. James.

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Fuenta del Carmen

This fascinating construction consists of three bodies; in the lower one is the Virgen de los Dolores (Virgin of Sorrows), protector of women in labour. In the centre you can see a representation of the Apostle James’ body being brought to this Galicia by his disciples. And in the upper body is a representation of the baptism of the Queen Lupa by the Apostle St James ‘Santiago’.

I followed the road up hill and then up numerous steps to the church built on the rocky area above Padron called “Santiaguino del Monte” to the Convento do Carme. An enormous monastery built at the beginning of the 18th century on living rock, it’s first inhabitants were the ‘Discalced Carmelites’ or Barefoot Carmelites (a Catholic mendicant order with roots in the eremitic tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers who dedicate themselves to a life of prayer – ref wikipedia). The convent eventually passed into the hands of the Dominicans, an order still present today.

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Convento do Carme

Unfortunately the church itself was not open to viewing at the time I visited, but oh my word…the views from the atrium were astounding. With the setting sun casting long shadows Padrón looked ethereal and other-worldly. It escalated to top of the list of my favourite places on the Camino.

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views of Padrón and the Mahia valley

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Convento do Carme and me 🙂 and views of the town and mountains behind

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Cruceiros in front of the Monastery

Then back down the steep steps and back over the bridge; Ponte do Carme and into the town proper.

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cart sculpture and Ponte de Santiago and Igresia de Santiago

Padrón is an ancient town, once more important than, but overshadowed by Santiago once the remains of Saint James were discovered during the 9th century and thus proclaimed patron saint of Spain by King Alfonso II, who built a church and monastery over the tomb in honour of the saint. It is however, now an important stop on the Portugués Camino Route to Santiago de Compostela – (Campus Steliae or field of stars).

As with most of the towns I passed through or stayed overnight in, Padrón houses and buildings, that tend to merge one into the other, are built of thick stone slabs which offer a cold dark feel, with the by now familiar decay, shuttered doors and peeling paint overshadowed by charming balconies and glimpses of quirky characters and sculptures. I absolutely loved it.

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Padrón; a labyrinth of alleyways

Meandering the labyrinth of streets and lanes I encountered some fascinating statues and sculptures.

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sculptures in Padrón

An oversized scallop shell. Macías o Namorado, Padrón, Galiza. Escultura de Ramón Conde. a sculpture to the Padron Pepper Pickers. Pilgrims carved into stone. An elaborate cross. Statue of a Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago.

Then it was time for food. I spotted a likely looking cafe; Cafeteria Bocateria Alfoli on the Plaza Ramón Tojo and was soon tucking into a delicious omelette and chips with the by now inevitable coke.

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supper

After satiating my hunger I decided to head back for a shower and an early night. I walked back long the Calle de Delores and discovered to my absolute delight that this was the route I would follow to Santiago on the morrow, a route that was just meters from the albergue where I was spending the night. 🙂 Thrilling.

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Calle de Dolores – The Way to Camino de Santiago

Soon, showered, teeth cleaned, Pepe repacked ready for an early departure, my clean clothes sorted and ready for the final day of my pilgrimage to Santiago, my leg massaged, creamed, and strapped I slipped between the cool sheets of my bunk. By 10:30 pm it was lights out and a heavy cloak of silence fell over the albergue. I really loved that about this particular venue…a lights out policy of 10pm and silence by 10.30pm.

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lights out at Albergue Corredoiras….all the Pilgrim’s boots tucked up safely for the night

Tomorrow….Santiago de Compostela. My final day of pilgrimage to the field of stars.

All too soon I was in the land of nod, undisturbed till my alarm went off at 6.30am. My foam earplugs worked a charm once again.

Early to arise, early to arrive…..or so I thought LOL Ultimately I didn’t actually get away till just before 8am…mostly because at 6am, it was still as dark as pitch. I didn’t fancy walking in such darkness so I snuggled back between the covers till 7.30 😉

To read more about the Albergue Corredoiras visit Places I stayed on the Camino

Day 14 Caldas de Reis to Padrón

 

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Day 13 Tuesday 2017.09.19 Arcade to Caldas de Reis

I must give Miguel of Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino a shout out. Such an amazing host. If you walk from Tui, then I can recommend a lovely albergue on the stage between O Porrino and Arcade. Just a few kilometres after Redondela and just 1 km before Arcade. The place is spotless and bed comfy. €10 per person per night. Breakfast is €2.50. Laundry €3 to wash. €3 to dry. (these were the rates at the time of my stay). Excellent value. Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino, Estrada de Soutoxuste, 45, 36810 Redondela, Pontevedra 617 29 25 98

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a band of pilgrims at breakfast and our lovely host, Miguel

A band of pilgrims at the fantastic Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino. I had planned on getting up at 6.30 for breakfast and an early start, but I decided to hold off till the more reasonable hour of 7.30 and so I got to join a lively lovely band of Spanish pilgrims. Even though I could barely speak their language, one of the group Antonio, who was a delight, translated for me and them. We had a lively breakfast. Then it was time to go.
Just said goodbye to Miguel and the band of pilgrims. I was to see them on and off over the rest of the day and one last time in Santiago…but more about that later. Aww I’m going to miss Miguel, he was genuinely lovely person. What a great host.

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buying a cup of coffee and getting your passport stamped along the way. 77.870 kms to Santiago

By 08:30 I was on my way and at Miguel’s suggestion I stopped at the roadside café; Conchas del Camino, just 250 meters up the road from the albergue, and had my passport stamped, a cup of coffee and a chat then started my walk into Arcade – Destination today is Caldas de Reis. 35 kms or so. 😱😱😱 I’m feeling very emotional today. I cried a lot today. I’ve only got 3 days left till I reach Santiago. It’s too soon. I’m loving this journey.

Crossing back over the N550 ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ I set off somewhat lighter than the last few days…Pepe had been left behind at the albergue for transport with Tuitrans to my motel in Caldas de Reis. I’m missing him already 😉 No not really.

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Taking care on the Camino and following the signs along The Way

Today was tough. I was looking forward to reaching Arcade. After leaving the N550, pretty soon we were onto the Rua de Portas, another decline. I saw so many wonderful quirky features; scallop shells strung across the wall and gate of a house, beautiful tiled pictures on walls, a delicate shrine, the Fonte da Lavandeira, along the Rua das Lameirinas, and into the Concello de Soutomaior. A tiny church (just begging to be explored – but no time), suburban streets, an hórreo (I just love them)

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walking through Spain on the Camino de Santiago Portuguese Route

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I loved these ‘lavandarias’

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Concello do Soutmaior

At some point I decided to phone ahead to the Motel to let them know that I was sending my backpack with Tuitrans and my eta.

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wonderful Spain. The landscape and terrain changed dramatically once I left Portugal

But the lass who answered the phone had no English and I had my minimal Spanish. So I hurried into an hotel nearby; Hotel Duarte on the Rua das Lameiriñas, and asked if anyone could speak Spanish…no!! Panic. I had asked the lady in my best mix of Italian and Spanish “excusi Senora una momento grazie”, so the poor girl was still holding on. Then in my best South African voice I yelled “does anyone here speak Spanish?” to which a young man in the garden in front of me replied, “I don’t, but you see that lady walking there (in the distance), she does”. He yelled after her, she stopped, he explained, I ran, she indicated ‘slow down’, so in my best hobble I caught up with her, explained the situation, handed her the phone and she spoke to the ever patient lady at the motel and explained what I had wanted to tell them. Whew. Panic over LOL Lesson #1 – learn the language. Tut tut. I had been lazy.

Not too long after that, I reached Pontesampaio, already in the municipality of Pontevedra. Its Roman bridge used to have 10 arches, although the current bridge dates from medieval times. It crosses the River Verdugo and played a key role in the battles that ended the French occupation in the 19th century. Nearby, you can find the river beach and several miradors over the Ría de Vigo. Oh I wish I had time to explore!

Tah dah!! Puente Sampaio Bridge the 10-arch Roman bridge (what you see today is the medieval structure), crossing the river Verdugo. Finally!

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reaching Arcade and the Ponte Sampaio. marvellous

This was one of my ‘must see’ points along the Camino and I was delighted to finally be there. It is stunning. I diverted off the road and onto the wooden platform that runs alongside the river and approached the bridge from that angle. Apparently Arcade was the setting for an important battle during the Napoleonic Wars. Between June 7 and June 9 in 1809, The Battle of Puente Sampaio was fought at the mouth of the Verdugo River. Wow, talk about walking in the footsteps of history.

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the fabulous Ponte Sampaio, Arcade

Arcade is a pretty little town with houses scattered across the hill tops and along the slopes down into the town. Walking across the bridge was exhilarating and we’re still on the Via Romano XIX. Just mind-blowing to think that this was once a Roman route.

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walking in history

Needless to say I took lots of photos.

And then, once over the bridge we were suddenly in the Concello de Pontevedra.

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crossing metaphorical boundaries

After Arcade the route once again had us climbing a mountain. Camino Xacobeo Portugues.

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Camino Xacobeo Portugues.

From here we went up and up and up and up and then down and down and down, along narrow lanes between gorgeous houses, a number of hórreo – practically every house had one. Along gravel paths amongst fields of bamboo, shady trees, and vineyards. We passed another scallop shell installation and climbed some hellish boulder-strewn paths.

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following the Portuguese Camino through Spain

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me. a scallop shell installation. resting on my walking poles…exhausted. 73.813 kms to Santiago

See this path with the large rocks, well just behind me was a lady on a mobility scooter. Two gentlemen were carrying her and all their equipment up the mountain and over all that. I can’t comprehend that. I just complemented them and said “bravo”, buen camino.

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climbing this path was tough going…it’s here that I did some real damage to my right ankle

On top of this hill (mountain) at the 72.020 kms to Santiago marker, there was a table set out with some gentlemen giving information and selling trinkets and fruit. I bought an apple and they reliably informed me that it’s all downhill from here and 7 kms to Pontevedra. Hurrah. Lunch. They also told me about a tiny church at the bottom of the route where I should stop to stamp my passport.

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71.687 kms to Santiago. Maybe like Dick Whittington I could persuade the cat to go with me 😉

And it’s now 71.687 kms to Santiago and we’re on the flat again. Thank the lord, those hills were a killer. I saw a beautiful black cat sitting on the path, but it didn’t cross my path so I should be okay LOL

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70.955 kms a-sing-a-long in progress and then just 70.273 kms to Santiago

Despite my aching ankle, I was eating up the k’s. 70.955kms to Santiago. At a bend in the road a group of Irish pilgrims with whom I had walked, chatted, shared stories and crossed paths with all morning had stopped for a rest and a spontaneous sing-song. As I walked past they were singing ‘Molly Malone’ so I picked up on the chorus and sang along as I walked past. Too much fun. 70.273 kms to Santiago. 🙂

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69.971 kms to Santiago

Finally, now we’re below 70kms; just 69.971 kms to Santiago. I was getting really excited now. The k’s were flying by and I eagerly awaited each marker along the way.

And there it was; Capela de Santa Marta c1617, just like he said it would be. A number of pilgrims were standing in a queue waiting to enter and stamp their passports, so I joined the back and eventually made my way in. It was simply beautiful. I did feel for the local lady sitting at the front, clearly in quiet contemplative prayer, her peace disturbed by all these noisy pilgrims in and out. I made a point of leaving a donation at every church where I got my passport stamped and always bought coffee or food of some sort at any café where I got my passport stamped.

11:49 Now we’re in the Concello de Vilaboa. Walked 3 hours and 20 minutes

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17th century chapel; Capela da Santa Maria

Not long after leaving the church there was a diversion that would take the route along the Rio Tomeza, a tiny stream that meandered beneath cool green shady trees…yes 🙂

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Rio Tomeza

I crossed paths with a group of pilgrims from the UK and struck up a conversation with a gentleman; Gregory. We enjoyed a most interesting conversation right along the diversion chatting about Geoffrey Chaucer, the Canterbury Tales, the Camino and walks in the UK. It seems his mother named him Gregory after Pope Gregory. How cool. The time passed quickly and my mind was diverted from the pain in my ankle.

Once we reached the edge of Pontevedra I decided to stop for a rest at Taperia Casa Pepe, something to drink and a pee. Not in that order. LOL The best part of the day. Super Bock. I’m having the Negra today. It’s delicious. Quite strong and should go some way to numbing the pain. My poor poor feet. 22 kms to go to Caldas de Reis 😱😱😱 Sending Pepe (my backpack) ahead with Tuitrans, although really hard to let it go, was the best decision I’ve made so far.

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you have no idea how delicious this beer tasted after hours on the route

Not long after that, and there were a lot of pilgrims. The route got really busy from here onwards and I was seldom alone for long. I also bumped into the band of pilgrims from breakfast 🙂 Awesome.

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O Camino Portugues a Santiago – Tui (Tuy) to Santiago de Compostela – can you see how far I walked!!! Insane

Then finally the city of Pontevedra. With the River Lérez at its feet, Pontevedra has been given many international awards for urban planning due to revitalisation in recent years and the prioritisation of pedestrians over cars. The old town is considered the second most important old town in Galicia after Compostela where you will find the church of the Virxe da Peregrina, and many small and lively squares: Praza da Ferrería, Praza da Leña and Praza da Verdura. I spent about an hour in this lovely city.

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A fantastic fountain in Pontevedra, Spain

I stopped at the chapel of the Virgen Peregrina; Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra, circa 1753, an absolutely beautiful church with many reference to Saint James; scallop shells; symbol of the pilgrims adorned just about everything. I spent quite some time here, had my passport stamped and bought a memento. Afterwards I sat outside on a stone bench just resting and looking – it’s so beautiful. As was the day.

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Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra

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Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra

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architecture of Pontevedra, Spain

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scenes of Pontevedra; loved the pedestrianised streets

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I loved the ancient architecture of Pontevedra.

Soon it was time to push on. I will however definitely plan this as one of my sleep overs when I walk the Camino Portugues again in 2021.

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decisions! which way to go to Santiago…..

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Ponte de Burgo, Pontevedra, Spain – originally it had 15 arches

The first references for this bridge date from 1165 , when the kings Fernando II of León and Galiza and Afonso de Portugal signed a peace accord. Ponte de Burgo crosses the river Lérez near the estuary, a 60 km river born in Serra do Candán. What a thrill to finally see this bridge. I had seen so many images on Facebook, and now I was here!!

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Ponte de Burgo, Pontevedra on the Camino de Portuguese. what a thrill to see this 🙂 Note the scallop shell reliefs carved on the bridge

Crossing this bridge was really exciting. I was nearly half way to Caldas de Reis and just 63.183 kms to Santiago. By now I had walked 14.69 kms over 6 hours including rest stops.

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Camino Portuguese a Santiago

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still on the Via Romana XIX 🙂 amazing. 62.086 kms to Santiago

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follow the signs along the way

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Santiago that way

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after walking for quite some time I came across this lovely little statue and church. Igrexa da Santa Maria del Alba

Located in the parish of Alba, an area through which the Camino Portuguese passes, the place is known as Guxilde. In days gone by it housed a large number of pilgrims, one of whom was the Queen of Portugal, Doña Isabel, who in the year 1325, made a pilgrimage to Santiago to pray for her late husband. The little statue is D. Juan Lopez Souto, a parish priest. I sat for a while and kept him company, wondering what he saw with his stare.

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a ramshackle house along the way; I wonder how many pilgrims it has seen over the years

One thing for sure, the ever changing terrain kept you on your toes….

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cobbles, stone slabs, muddy paths, rock strewn and gravel

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Supper time. It was just on 5pm when I stumbled into Barros. I spotted a cafe and stopped for something to drink and eat. Got my passport stamped too. The orange juice is like nectar

I was shattered by this stage and still had quite a way to go. I could quite easily have just curled up in a ball and slept….. 54.786 kms to Santiago. Whew.

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slowly slowly the km’s went down down down….

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Hoorah!!!! 49.995 kms to Santiago

OMG finally. I’m at the 48.995 kms to Santiago marker. Hallelujah. Thus means I’m very close to my destination for tonight. I hope 🙏🙏🙏 I’ve been walking since 8.30am except for a few rest stops. I’m so looking forward to my bed 😂😂😂💞💞

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49.121 ms to Santiago and the shadows are drawing in

The sun was beginning to sink towards the horizon, the shadows were lengthening and I was beginning to get a bit panicky. I still had some way to go to Caldas de Reis but I simply couldn’t walk any faster. And then whoopee

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oh my gosh….the very first roadway sign for Santiago that I saw 🙂

My excitement levels escalated exponentially and suddenly I was infused with a renewed energy; Santiago 🙂 I cheered.

After safely negotiating this horrible road, the N550, the path steered into a vineyard. As I walked along the dusty path between rows of vines hung with thick juicy red grapes that smelled like thick syrupy juice, I saw what I though looked like a small snake on the path ahead of me. As the thought went through my head that it looked like a snake, it moved. IT WAS A SNAKE. I ran. I was exhausted. But I ran. I didn’t even stop to take a photo for proof, I just ran LOL Up until that very second it hadn’t entered my head that there were snakes in Spain!! I mean seriously?? Why wouldn’t there be? It’s a hot sunny country. After I recovered my equilibrium I continued on my way, somewhat more alert now. Just beyond that I happened upon an elderly couple snipping bunches of grapes off their vines. I greet them “ola, buenas dias” and was rewarded with a reply in English 🙂 Seems their daughter lived in London and the lady had been over to England for 6 years…hence her English. We exchanged stories and they offered me a bunch of those heavenly grapes. Oh yes please, gracias. 🙂 They tasted as amazing as what they smelled.

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my heavenly bunch of sweet, juicy grapes.

After my brief encounter with the snake I decided that there would be no more visits to the bushes LOL. My bladder would have to wait.!!

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46.787 kms to Santiago. Concello de Caldas de Reis. Capela de Santa Lucia

46.787 kms to Santiago – As I approached Caldas de Reis I started to see more and more suburban habitation. I passed a tiny little church; Capela de Santa Lucia and a farmer on his tractor. There were more and more scallop shells to be seen.

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Igrexia de Santa Maria de Caldas de Reis

Days end. Time 20:20 and after a very very long day of approx 32 kms I literally staggered into Caldas de Reis as the sun set. Not a recommended distance if you want to be able to walk the next day.

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Finally: Caldas de Reis. Crossing the Rio Umia at sunset and the town centre is in sight

When I arrived in Caldas de Reis, I discovered the Motel I had booked to stay in was another 1.6 kms outside of town. I simply couldn’t walk another step, so hailed the very first taxi I saw. Because my Spanish was so bloody bad, he couldn’t understand me. Finally I showed him my calendar with the details noted. Thankfully I had had the foresight to do that. When we arrived at the massive, unwelcoming red metal gates of the motel I put my phone down on the seat while I paid the driver…..and forgot said phone in his car. I only discovered this disastrous mishap after I had located the reception, been shown to my room, had Pepe delivered, had a drink and something to eat and lay down on the bed to send a message to my daughter to say I had arrived. MAJOR PANIC ensued. All my photos and phone numbers were on that phone. Thankfully I had my 2nd phone with me and had obtained a receipt from the taxi driver, so I phoned him and he agreed to bring it back… I had to pay another €7 to get it delivered. Expensive end to the day 😱😱😱

Panic over, I settled down. I had a lovely room, a huge bath (bliss) and Pepe had arrived safely via TuiTrans. Hoorah. I’m sending it on again tomorrow for the leg to Padron. I may just smuggle myself in the bag too 😢

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Despite being really really long and very tough with lots of hills to ascend and descend, it was a most enjoyable day, lots of pilgrims to chat to – the groups ebbed and flowed, ever changing scenery, beautiful buildings, churches, towns and villages, a few animals, a tiny capella for a pilgrim’s stamp, a few rivers and thousands of steps. And not forgetting I crossed paths with that snake; and despite being exhausted and barely walking I jumped and ran… I also used a lot of South African swear words. White girls can run!!! LOL It never entered my head there would be snakes, but of course there are. I just hadn’t yet seen any 😂😂😂😂😂

Thankfully I only have 19 kms to Padron tomorrow.

In case you wondered where Ponte Sampiao was…. https://mapcarta.com/18571126

 

 

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