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Posts Tagged ‘project 101’

It is my dream and goal to visit as many places in the UK as I possibly can, especially places relative to my Project 101.

If I could spend every day travelling and going to new places I surely would…in between visiting home and my family of course 馃槈 I’m looking forward to the day I buy my motor home.

A few weeks ago I contacted the agency I get my assignments from and asked if they could send me farther afield than Kent…I’ve been to so many places in Kent already as well as many in the neighbouring counties, and I really wanted to extend my range again. Since Nottingham is on my list of places to go, so when they suggested a position in the city for 2 weeks I jumped at the chance.

After a long day of travel I finally arrived at Nottingham Station. It’s a long way from Broadstairs to Nottingham…5.5 hours and 3 train changes.

The Nottingham Canal that I crossed over on my way from the station to the B&B opened in 1796. I love seeing canal boats on a river, they always look so quaint and intriguing.

This is my first visit to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, which is really exciting, as I’m now able to add this visit to a few categories on my Project 101: Domesday Book town, walled city, a major river, a castle, a cathedral city, a cathedral…which remarkably is linked to the Architect Augustus Pugin and ties in to the walk I did last year : The Way of St Augustine.

Can’t wait to explore, although proper exploration will have to wait till the assignment is finished, to which end I’ve booked to stay for a couple of days after. However there is no reason why I couldn’t pop out for a short walk around the city even though it was already dark out.

Nottingham is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book as “Snotingeham” and “Snotingham”. Named for a Saxon Chieftain ‘Snot’, it was dubbed “Snotingaham” meaning literally, “the homestead of Snot’s people” (Inga = the people of; Ham = homestead).

First on the agenda was a visit to Nottingham Castle. I’d walked past it on my way to the B&B and seriously it was quite simply amazing…..

Nottingham Castle was constructed in the 11th century on a sandstone outcrop by the River Trent. I have never seen any such location for a castle in my life. The outcrop appears to be pock marked with caves and holes…and apparently, after reading the storyboard nearby, it seems that there are in fact tunnels and caves below the castle…..now I’m really intrigued and excited. The opening time is March which means my timing is perfect…thankfully. At the side of the castle is a fab statue of Robin Hood, he of Nottingham Forest and Maid Marion fame…..steal from the rich to feed the poor. Remember the film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves… I wonder if he looked anything like Kevin Costner 馃槈

On the way there I passed Ye Olde trip to Jerusalem Inn which according to the blurb, is the oldest inn in England. Apparently this too has tunnels running beneath so of course I absolutely have to go back for a tour.

From there I took a stroll through the streets passing a fab little Tudor style house. I didn’t see many medieval style houses – I must try to find out if there are any.

The pedestrianised area is lined with the usual high street shops and stores…it look so familiar to many places I’ve been I could have been almost anywhere. Is there a template?

I did enjoy seeing the electrified trams…reminded me of Amsterdam and Dublin.

I stopped for a quick bite at Five Guys, I haven’t ever eaten there before, and probably won’t again. The sandwich I had was okay, and the fries edible but nothing to write home about.

Since it was was already very dark I decided to head back to the B&B and settle in for a nice hot bath, some T.V. – one of my favourite shows: Call the Midwife and then an early night is in order.

I’m looking forward to when the assignment is over and I can explore more thoroughly. I enjoyed finding these coats of arms and of course a door is always intriguing..

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I thought it was apt that today’s day of gratitude should be about my job. In this capacity I get to meet people from a very wide spectrum of humanity and I get to travel the country, mostly for 2 weeks at a time and sometimes for a longer stint…currently I’m at a 31 day position in north west Wales.

I have a love/hate relationship with my job; as a Carer for the elderly. Sometimes the assignment I am allocated is amazing, and sometimes its just plain awful – you never know which it will be till you get there. One thing I have learned in this job is that there are so many very unhappy people in the world, and there are some lovely folk who are a daily pleasure to be with.

In my capacity as a Carer I get sent all over the UK and sometimes even to Ireland. Its a fantastic way to see the country and mostly I don’t mind the travel, even though occasionally it takes anything up to 8 hours to get to a place from home; door to door. Fortunately I have social media to keep me occupied and every now and then I pull out my knitting and knit a few more squares for my motor-home blanket.

I’m grateful that I am able to visit some of the most historic, quirky and amazing places in all 4 countries that make up the UK. It was during a visit to the Isle of Wight that Project 101 really took off….when one day while out walking I noticed the village sign board; Nettlestone 1086 馃檪 wowwwww a Domesday Book village.

31 days of gratitude, domesday book villages, nettlestone 1086, travel the uk, working as a carer for the elderly, not just a granny travels, project 101

Nettlestone 1086; a Domesday Book Villages

Intrigued, I decided to see how many of these I had already visited over the last 16 years. Before then I had merely been counting the islands I visit with a goal of 100, but since I saw that sign I decided to find out how many Domesday Book villages, towns or cities I had visited….currently it’s 107!!

I was astounded and that got me to thinking about other places I had been, and so Project 101 was born.

I am grateful too that I have work. During uncertain times, it is in fact a bonus to have a job, especially a job that I mostly enjoy. I’ve been with the same agency now for 10 years and in that time I have travelled to just about every county in England, a good few in Scotland (I worked in a castle once!!), 1 county in Ireland and currently I’m in Wales.

31 days of gratitude, domesday book villages, nettlestone 1086, travel the uk, working as a carer for the elderly, not just a granny travels, project 101

some of the many, many places I have worked in the UK

It’s not always an easy job and sometimes I leave after 2 weeks absolutely drained; emotionally, mentally and physically. Old people can be very challenging, on all 3 levels mentioned. But I have learned some fascinating stories…when someone is prepared to talk about their lives, you hear some extraordinary tales. I often wish they would put their stories into a book. Especially when it relates to WW2. So many personal accounts of life during the war are lost and we’re left with the ‘official’ accounts.

I am grateful for my job because it allows me to satisfy my highest value; travelling. I get to meet interesting people, see fantastic places, and steep myself in the amazing history of this country. And at the same time, I can pay my bills LOL聽馃捀馃捀馃捀馃捀

I’ve also learned to be extraordinarily patient, to create interesting and colourful meals and occasionally I get to enjoy an assignment that is so lovely, that I got back again and again.

31 days of gratitude, domesday book villages, nettlestone 1086, travel the uk, working as a carer for the elderly, not just a granny travels, project 101

preparing nutritious and colourful meals

I also get to meet all manner of pets, and now and then I fall in love with a real beauty.

I also get to meet all manner of pets, and now and then I fall in love with a real beauty.

a beautiful little boy

 

 

 

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I have the very good fortune to work in many different places in the UK. Currently I’m based in Wales, very near the border of the English county of Shropshire.

Having decided to walk, and in the midst of planning my 2nd Camino, I kicked off my #Camino2018 training with a practice walk from Montgomeryshire to Shropshire; a walk from Wales to England.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

Welcome to Shropshire. Welcome to Wales.

Thursday was the first day we had sunshine since I arrived the previous Sunday, and so a walk was in order.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

beautiful trees on a beautiful day

It was terrific to finally be out walking again. The last couple of months have seen me mostly in front of my computer writing blogs about my 1st Camino. I do wish I could hasten the process, but with my need to describe almost every detail of the walk (LOL) and with all the research about the places I walked through or stayed in, it sometimes take 3 or 4 days to write one article. That’s beside editing the photos!!!

This was the first time I’ve walked with Gemini, my Nordic walking poles, and my absolute #1 Camino item, since I got back from Spain in September. They’ve been on sabbatical, and quite rightly too, considering how hard they worked to keep me upright on The Way to Santiago.

Heading downhill along the Forden Road I branched off along New Road but ended up going the in the wrong direction…no arrows to point the way LOL. I soon realised my mistake and returned the way I had come and followed the opposite side of New Road to the Chirbury Road along which I walked till I reached Shropshire 馃檪

To my delight, not long after crossing over into England, I stumbled across Offa’s Dyke. Hoorah. I would love to walk along this route sometime, so after climbing over the stile, I took a quick bimble along the dyke, closely observed by a flock of daffy sheep that ran as I approached and followed when I turned and walked the opposite direction. Silly creatures.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

Offa’s Dyke

The sun was setting behind the hill and I could just see the outline of Montgomery Castle peeping out from behind the trees. It’s a rather remarkable building and must have been quite imposing in it’s heyday.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

Montgomery Castle on the crest of the hill

Unfortunately I only have a 2 hour break each day, so had to hasten back before too long. But oh my, how lovely it was to be out striding along the asphalt with Gemini in my hands again. Although I must say that my left hand, between the thumb and forefinger was quite sore when I got back…it will take some getting used to, this walking with poles again….need to get back into my stride again….pun intended. 馃槈 Sorry.

a walk from wales to england, walk 1000 miles, camino practice walks, camino ingles, nordic walking poles, offas dyke, walks in the uk

Montgomery circa 1227

With just over 10 months till I cross the English Channel from Plymouth in England to Santander in Spain, I will have to get some serious walking in. Fortunately I have the Country Walking #walk1000miles challenge to spur me on again, as well as the knowledge that the Camino Ingl茅s crosses some serious elevations – ergo I have to practice and practice a lot.

Walked 5.84 kms / 3.65 miles. 8809 steps. Elevation 87 meters….that is not enough!! I believe there will be some mountains to climb out of Ferrol; 360 meter ascents….so I gotta find a mountain to climb…Oh wait I did……

 

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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 馃槈 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!! 馃檪 馃檪 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. 馃檪 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.聽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 馃槮
  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,聽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 R煤a 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.聽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.

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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 馃檪

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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 馃檪 I could barely believe my eyes and immediately struck up a conversation.

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

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.

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

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 馃檪 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.

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

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.聽 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 馃檪

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practising my Portuguese and asked for coffee at J贸se 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. 馃檪 Other than that I saw him again a few times but never took a photo.

My group of 5;聽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聽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.聽

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聽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 Pontevedraand 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 Padr贸n

Susana – Portugal : enroute to Padr贸n – 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. 馃檪

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My Camino Angel; Susana – Portugal

Day 16 22/09/2017 Santiago.

Leah & Michelle – Germany : I met these delightful young women in the聽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 馃檪 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.

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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.

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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.聽

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聽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. 馃檪 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 15 Thursday 2017.09.21 Padr贸n to Santiago de Compostela

The simplicity of just being.

I could scarcely believe that today is the day I was to finally reach Santiago. When I started this journey I had no idea of what lay ahead. I had read the blogs, seen the photos, read the guides, researched the areas, and none of them truly gave me any idea of what really lay ahead.

As mentioned in my previous day’s blog I woke really early, only to snuggle back between the warm sheets for an extra hour after looking out the window and seeing pitch dark…

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these shoes are made for walking….

2017.09.21 these shoes were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do…. Well this is it; day 5/5 and my last day on Camino. What a journey it has been. As I lay in bed last night I tried to reflect on where I’d been and what I’d seen and done, but I was so tired that I was asleep before too long. The bed is right comfy and now that it’s morning I’m reluctant to get up. But I did, quickly before the other pilgrims got going. I wanted to capture this image. Many of the albergues have a no shoes policy. So as you enter the living area you’re required to remove your walking shoes. Marvellous idea; keeps the place clean.

I thought this image epitomised the Camino….all coming together in one place for a brief moment in time, and then we’ll all go our separate ways. I wonder to where? Weirdly I haven’t seen even one of the pilgrims I’ve met previously. I think my marathon push through on Tuesday from Arcade to Caldas de Reis put me too far ahead. Pretty much everyone agrees, 32 kms was wayyyy too much. One of the disadvantages of having prebooked accommodation. C茅st la vie eh. But on the plus side I met my Camino angel; Susana yesterday 馃檪 Total bonus. I hope I see her again so I can say thank you one more time. I was surprised to note that the lass in the bunk above mine had already left – I never heard a thing…good earplugs, or a considerate pilgrim? 馃檪

before I left, I decided to take a last look at the river. The church looked other-worldly in the blue light as I passed through the square – fleeting shadows flittered as pilgrims walked beneath the pools of light cast by lamps on the corners.

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Igresa

On the way I noticed a tiny little coffee shop right across the square; Canton de la Iglesia, just in front of the church, so stopped off at this delightful place for breakfast; best cafe con leche and banana bread ever. I so enjoyed the warm, cosy, lively atmosphere… pilgrims filled the tables and the proprietors were busy bustling back and forth serving food and coffee. The conversation bubbled and you could feel an undercurrent of excitement….I wished once again and not for the last time, that I had made more effort with my Spanish language lessons.

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coffee and carrot cake; wonderful hospitality

I felt so bemused and quite out-of-body. Besides being really tired, despite a good night sleep, I was feeling so bemused at the fact that I had over 210 km’s behind me, with just 20 or so ahead, and only today left before I reached Santiago, I felt like I was in a bubble, my mind in a fuzz. It hardly seemed possible. I cried a lot today LOL

I finished off my coffee and the banana bread, gathered my things together, the proprietor gave me a big hug and a kiss on the forehead and accompanied by the sound of clapping (they applauded everyone who set off 馃檪 ) I left the warmth of the caf茅 and before starting my final day’s walk to Santiago I turned left for a last look at the church and river.

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coffee and carrot cake; wonderful hospitality on the Canton de la Iglesia

All was quiet and hushed as I walked, the sky an ethereal shade of blue-grey with a splash of pink just tinging the river and sky as the sun rose higher.

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early morning in Spain; leaving Padr贸n

Finally I could delay no longer, it was now getting on for 08:30 and unless I planned on getting to Santiago in the dark…

As I walked back through the square I noticed the proprietor from the caf茅 waving at me…I waved back and smiled. He waved again and held up 3 fingers…..as he did so, to my intense and everlasting mortification I realised that I had forgotten to pay them for the coffee and cake. I nearly died. Have you ever had the wish that the ground would open up and swallow you? Well…..

Red-faced and highly apologetic I made my way back into the caf茅. It felt like all the eyes, accusing eyes, of the world were upon me as I stumbled across the threshold, my apology falling from my lips. Mortified!! Especially as they had been so hospitable and kind.

Oh well…..it stills makes me cringe, even today, 2 months later LOL

After paying my dues, I felt like I should probably also pay penance for my sins, but the church was closed still, so instead I tried to gather my dignity back together and mentally bashing myself on the head I set off along the pilgrim’s route I had discovered the night before.

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Calle de Dolores – The Way to Camino de Santiago

The rain in Spain falls mainly……in Galicia on The Way to Santiago LOL

I had hardly walked a few yards than I had to stop and hoick Pepe off my back, and put our relevant rain covers on before getting set, ready, go again.聽The 2nd rainy day out of 11 days on the Camino….not too bad.

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the dreaded N-550

Barely 1 km out of Padr贸n and I encountered the dreaded N-550 Precauci贸n Intersecci贸n. Urgh. Weirdly the sign said 16km to Santiago. I’m guessing that was for motorists and not pilgrims.

Wish me luck, 22.519 kms to Santiago.

Ahead of me and coming up from behind were a number of pilgrims. As you will note their backpacks were covered…yes it was raining proper now. Thankfully I had already put rain wear on. It rained on and off pretty much the whole way.

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along The Way of St James

We soon left the suburbs and entered a more rural area passing small plots with charming houses, the now familiar h贸rreo, and all with animals of one sort or another. I stopped to say hello to some of the ‘girls’ along the way.聽I saw some fantastic h贸rreos …they are certainly very interesting. I must find out more.

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Rural Spain, follow that pilgrim along The Way of St James

Day 5/5 Hah, 19.595 kms to Santiago……first 3 kms done and dusted 馃槉馃槉

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19.595 kms to Santiago

The route today took us through various hamlets, rural land with a variety of crops, through stands of tall trees and past h贸rreos and lavendarias. I saw and passed an elderly gentleman strolling along the path…..consider that it was raining!! I was like hello!! Where’s your raincoat dude?

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rural Spain

Suddenly it was 18.369 kms marker…the k’s were going down…weirdly on top of the marker was an eye-mask??? Why do people leave these things?

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18.369 kms to Santiago, rural Galicia

Once again I noticed so much urban decay. I mean seriously, the abandoned houses looked amazing..so beautiful in their slow decline, but oh so sad. People used to live there.

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signs along The Way to Santiago

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Along the Way of St James

Before too long we came to an amazing church; Satuario da Virxe da Escravitude – Santuary To Our Lady of the Slavery. A huge imposing edifice of grey stone slabs towering above the sidewalk. First a long flight of steps to negotiate. By this stage, anything more than 3 steps was classified as a ‘long’ flight of steps LOL Tradition has it that two miracles occurred that caused a temple to be built and eventually this magnificent church.聽The first one occurred in聽1582.聽The second of the events took place in聽1732.

All the pilgrims ahead of me were making their way up the steps, so I followed suit. Wow, what a fantastic building. To my delight, at the back of the church, just behind the magnificent altar, was a tiny office where we queued for our passports to be stamped. The guy was really busy with a large group just ahead of me. I noticed again how few people bother to leave a donation. Surely it’s not to much to ask….for their time and contribution to our journeys!! HINT: Leave a small donation 馃檪

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Satuario da Virxe da Escravitude

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Satuario da Virxe da Escravitude

Once again the route took us uphill and down… Thankfully not as steep as the previous 4 days which were at some stage pure murder on the legs. Not long after leaving that church behind us, the route took us past another beautiful church. They are quite simply amazing. I wished I had more time to visit them all.

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Igrexa de Santa Maria de Cruces

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snapshots of Spain – and it’s still raining

I passed the quirky entrance for a restaurant; Bella Vista (beautiful view) and was sorely tempted to stop, but the extra distance off the route just seemed too much. For someone who normally has no qualms at all about taking lengthy diversions, to consider 20 meters too far, was something of a novelty. Truly, by now my sense of adventure was well and truly tired.

I passed one of many memorials. Some of these have been raised in memorium to pilgrims who have died on the route. They are so melancholy. The realisation that someone died on that spot, just feet from where I was walking was a stark reminder that the Camino is not all fun and games.

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snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela

As I passed through a tiny hamlet, a wizened old lady was gathering bundles of hay and carrying them along to a barn – I mused at how different life is between here and the UK. Shortly after that I walked beneath a grapevine covered tunnel and was reminded of the snake I’d seen in the last vineyard….eeeek!!

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vineyards – snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela

The arrows were really inventive and as usual the route is really well marked. Unless you stray off course there really is no reason to get lost.

It’s 10:51 and I’ve stopped briefly for a break. 7.66 kms covered so far. I’m feeling stronger and full of energy. My ankle, strapped securely, is holding up well. This gorgeous little boy has decided to hitch a ride to Santiago 馃槏馃槏馃槏 isn’t he a beauty!!

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signs along The Way – snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela. A wee kitty hitching a ride

15.052 kms to Santiago and it’s still raining. I had read that it rains a lot in Santiago so I wasn’t too surprised.

Another of the very fierce animals I met along the way LOL This little boy just loved having someone stop and talk to him with a bit of a pet through the fence. I had noticed another lady also stop before I got there and then after I walked on, someone else also stopped to chat and pet, so I’m guessing he has wised up to the free love. Clever boy. Not long after that, just a few feet in fact, a wee girlie slunk up and looked for some loving too 馃檪 She followed me for ages and despite me picking her up and taking her back to her house, she just followed again and eventually I gave up and just ignored her. She eventually turned back and went home.

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signs along The Way – snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela and some of the very fierce animals

I’ve stopped for food 馃槉馃槉 Just delaying the inevitable. Walked 9.96 kms so far and 14.664 kms to go. I’ve met some of the really fierce animals along聽The Way聽today 馃槏馃槏馃槏 That dog just loved having his nose tickled. The little cat followed me for ages. Mind you she followed everyone. 馃槆馃槆 I’m having such an amazing day. The kms are just flying by, the pilgrim’s are all full of joie de vie and there seems to be a spring in their step. I know there is one in mine!!! I’m trying very hard to not think about arriving in Santiago, coz each time I do, I well up with tears. 馃槀馃槀馃槀 nearly there and it hardly seems possible.

14.5kms to Santiago – Some of the markers along the route were very decorative and I could feel my excitement escalating with every one I saw.

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14.5 kms to Santiago! signs & towns along The Way – snapshots of Spain

I stopped in O Faramello for lunch and a drink; tuna mayonnaise (hot) on a baguette and a glass of the heavenly orange juice. The food in Portugal and Spain always managed to surprise me…when I was expecting it to be cold, it was hot, and when I expected hot, it was cold!!! I was tempted to buy the cake on offer…hot or cold?

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urban decay along The Way; O Faramello – snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela

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Stopping for lunch in O Faramello on The Way to Santiago de Compostela

12.901 kms to Santiago – wheeeee 馃檪 so excited now. I passed a little church; Capilla de Francos, Abierta. Doors closed sadly.

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Capila on The Way to Santiago de Compostela

The markers were becoming more colourful now 馃檪 The landscape really beautiful I passed a sleepy hamlet where I saw a flock of exotic ducks or were they geese, waddling across the road. Mostly the villages are virtually deserted…I hardly saw anyone besides the pilgrims, who were now quite numerous and I was seldom alone.

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this way…..

The Camino聽Portugu锚s聽takes you through some of the most beautiful countryside as well as busy towns and urban sprawl.

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beautiful countryside in Galicia

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Rio Tinto!!! Camino聽Portugu锚s Galicia, Spain

Rio Tinto!!!! Have I been teleported to the Wild West? Where’s that dude on his horse? I just laughed when I saw this. Too funny. My emotions were very raw by now and anything, no matter how mundane, had the capacity to make me either laugh or cry….

As I reached this little bridge my excitement went through the roof!!! OMG just look at that!!! 10.166 kms to go to Santiago. I’m more than halfway there 馃榿馃榿馃榿馃槉馃槉馃憦馃憦 Wowwww.

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10.1666 kms to Santiago de Compostela

Overwhelmed by emotion I had to just sit down to gather myself. While I was just sitting there at the marker and reflecting on how far I’ve come, pilgrims whizzed by. Sometimes just a Buen Camino or a wave, other times an enquiry: are you okay? Si gracias. Just resting. When I started this journey 11 days ago I had no idea whether or not I’d even be able to walk this far. I didn’t know about all the amazing things I’d see, the fantastic countryside, the stunning churches and views, the hamlets, villages, towns and cities I’d pass through; places that were all just names on a map on 6th September. I hadn’t yet met all the wonderful people along The Way or experienced the kindness of strangers. I hadn’t practised my smidgen of聽the Portugu锚s language and a little more of Spanish. I hadn’t yet climbed a mountain with Pepe on my back, slept in an albergue or a mixed dorm. I hadn’t crossed these foreign rivers or bridges, both real and metaphorical. Yet here I am; 230 kms on from where I left and with just on 10kms to Santiago I’m overwhelmed – emotions raged, disbelief, gratitude, excitement, wonder, amazement.

I thought Pepe and Gemini deserved some recognition so today they’re both in the picture. Despite being exceedingly heavy to pick up and put back on, Pepe (backpack) has been my constant companion and without Gemini (nordic walking poles) I doubt I would have made it without a tumble or two; together we’ve come so far. My body is doing great and I’m both exhilarated and excited, and yet sad it’s all coming to an end. The tears are flowing. I wasn’t ready to reach Santiago yet!!! I wanted this to carry on…this wonderful walking. The simplicity of just being. The pilgrim’s are whizzing by while I sit. Oh and it’s raining again 馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ聽Raincoats on. Time to finish my journey. I’ll see you in Santiago. And once again I set off.

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that way to Santiago de Compostela

I photographed every marker from here on……

And then there was this…..

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when the next marker suddenly shows more kms to go than the last???

6,660 kms – the number of the beast apparently

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6,660 kms to Santiago de Compostela

2017.09.21 Day5/5 and 5.733 kms and I have no words 馃榿馃榿馃榿馃ぇ馃ぇ馃拑馃拑馃拑馃挄馃挄馃憦馃憦馃憦

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5,733 kms to Santiago de Compostela and it’s raining again

Just after the 4,560 km marker I came across a little wayside caf茅; A Paradina and decided to extend the day even further, so stopped for a pee and a coffee, and a stamp for my passport. LOL.

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a paradina, galicia

While ordering my coffee, a couple of ‘pilgrims’ pitched up and very rudely demanded the stamp for their passports. No please. No thank you. Just “sello!!” grabbed it and stamped their passport and off again without so much as a by your leave. That’s just not acceptable. At least buy something, this is a business. These people are doing you a favour by providing the ‘sello’, no one has a ‘right’ to it. If you don’t have time to buy something, then leave a small donation. Pilgrims say thank you and please. Tourists demand. Be a pilgrim.

Much of the route was through green forests dripping with water, over little bridges, past intriguing gates, through tiny villages, and then…..

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the beautiful countryside of Galicia

Whattt??? You give me 2 options now!!! After 235 kms!!! Seriously dude. 馃槫馃槫 I’m going right. Because….(mostly because it was downhill LOL)

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which way to go to Santiago

Then, after heading downhill and beneath a huge motorway, and walking along some narrow lanes, at a gap in the trees I could just see on the horizon, the towers of the Cathedral. Oh wowwww. I loved the colourful houses I was now seeing. Urban sprawl.

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I can just see the towers Santiago de Compostela in the far distance

Soon the route reached the outer precincts of the city and now it’s just 2.329 kms and the route is getting manic; confusing roundabouts, traffic noise, the hustle and bustle of people. It had stopped raining by now and I was sweltering under my raincoat, so I stopped and removed the rain covers….just an excuse to delay the inevitable really LOL

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2,329 km to Santiago

I’m crying so much by this stage I find it difficult to see. I crossed paths with some of the Irish group I’d met a few days before. 馃檪 We had a brief exchange of news, catching up on events and ‘how are you holding up?’…. and then I was off…a cathedral was waiting…

And before I knew it; the old city. I passed some fantastic buildings…..

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Santiago de Compostela 馃檪

…..walked alongside the Alameida Park, not realising I could walk through it

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Santiago de Compostela – Rua do Franco

and then…..crossing over at the traffic lights I was confronted with the crowds…I almost had a panic attack.聽Rua do Franco…..the traditional route of the Portugu茅s Camino to the Cathedral. Tears are flowing. Pilgrims in front of me, tourists and travellers…..it was so busy and noisy and overwhelming.

After walking for days with hardly seeing a soul, spending hours on my own walking through forests and fields, alongside rivers and streams and the ocean, to suddenly be confronted with hordes of people was a massive shock to my system.

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Santiago de Compostela – Rua do Franco

And as I walked, nearer and nearer… the tears just flowed….

…..at the end of the passage I could see the top of one of the towers……I cried a river…

2017.09.21 16:41 Praza de Obradoiro and 0.000kms to Santiago de Compostela 馃槉馃槉馃槉馃槉馃憦馃憦馃憦馃ぇ馃ぇ馃ぇ聽11 days 9 hours 21 minutes / 240 kms since I left S茅 Catedral in O Porto in Portugal at the start of my very first Camino. I just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

I tried to make a video to send home, but I cried so much I could barely speak. What an overwhelming feeling to finally be in Santiago. Too soon. Not soon enough. I wanted to start again!! I wanted a bed!!!

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Praza de Obradoiro and 0.000kms to Santiago de Compostela

The queue at the pilgrim’s office was 1 hour and 55 minutes 馃槀馃槀馃槀 and worth every minute, despite my painful feet 馃槈馃懀馃懀馃ぇ馃ぇ

2017.09.21 Day 5/5 And at last journeys end; my now completed pilgrim’s passport, the Compostela and Certificate of Completion 240 kms O Porto to Santiago de Compostela.

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The Pilgrim’s Office at Santiago de Compostela, my now completed and certified Compostela and the angel I carried by my side all The Way; a gift from my daughter.

What an amazing, incredible, heart-warming, painful, emotional, exhilarating and at times exhausting but unforgettable journey. This I shall never forget. It has indeed been a聽buen camino; a ‘good way’ for me. I have had the most incredible journey, way way more than I ever thought possible or anticipated – from聽Porto to Santiago聽on my聽#Camino2017

I’m here. My hotel, Anosa Casa was in聽R煤a de Entremurallas, but there was a road with a similar name; R煤a de Entremuros, on the opposite side of the city….after being sent back and forth a few times, by which stage I was crying again and ready to scream, I finally logged onto the internet and looked it up on Google maps (a life saver). So, after getting my Compostela it took nearly an hour to find my hotel……I was a very unhappy bunny.

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hoorah!! my bed 馃檪

The hotel had said they were close to the cathedral, they just didn’t say on which side of the city LOL As it turns out I had virtually walked right past the road on my way in along R煤a do Franco as I entered the city. After checking in and reaching my room, within an hour I was showered, teeth cleaned and sans supper, in bed! Time to sleep….I didn’t stir till 8am the next day. Exhausted on so many levels. But I was here…….Santiago 馃檪

Keep the ocean on your left and head north……a journey to聽Santiago de Compostela.

Going back to the beginning….leaving Porto on the 11th of September 2017

 

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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

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,

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.

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,

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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