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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 12 Monday 2017.09.18 and Day 2 of 5 of my Spanish pilgrimage – O Porriño to nearby the small fishing village of the San Simon Inlet (just beyond Soutoxuste and 1 km before Arcade).
The only way to climb a mountain is to put one foot in front of the other….

santiago de compostela, walking the camino, portuguese camino route, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. Nelson Mandela, inspirational quotes, climbing mountains,

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. Nelson Mandela

Time left O Porriño 08:30. Time arrived at San Simon 17:30. 9 hours including stops for meals and rests. Walked 21.87 kms. 48437 steps. Elevation 287 metres. Felt like Mount Everest.

Today was the first time I experienced rain on the Camino.
After a really good night’s sleep despite there being 6 people in the room, I left the hostel at just on 8.30am. I had planned to leave at 7.30am but my body was still tired and I’m trying to be sensible and listen.

About 5 minutes after I left the hostel as I was walking towards the Camino route I had a dizzy spell so immediately went into the first cafe I saw; Cafe Zentral and ordered café con leche and a croissant, delicious. By 9am, I was on my way. I mosied on thru O Porriño following the tiled scallop shells and ubiquitous yellow arrows; on the road, sidewalk, walls…ever so handy.

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Breakfast in O Porrino at Cafe Zentral

O Porriño was one of my planned cash withdrawal points so I stopped at one of the ATMs…have you ever tried to withdraw money in a foreign language? I remember the first time I needed to withdraw money in Portugal….The instructions were in Portuguese and initially I tried to guess which buttons to press based on the configuration I was used to in the UK. Uhmm, yes rather LOL. Eventually, I realised there were a number of icons; flags of various countries on the machine. Press the Union Jack…voila English. What an adventure. Admittedly though, I was terrified the machine would swallow my card if I made too many mistakes.

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learning the language is a good idea LOL

After withdrawing my cash I set off with determination; destination Arcade. This end of O Porriño was very industrial and not as pretty as the side I entered and as I rounded a corner, I saw there was a Lidl supermarket!! What?? Lidls in Spain? Bizarre. LOL

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leaving O Porrino via an indusrial estate

Shortly after that I had to negotiate a nasty round-about that was exceedingly busy but I finally got a gap and zapped across. In front of me lay a long stretch on the motorway; Estrada Porrino Redondela aka N550. Horrible.

It was thereabouts that I encountered my very first large group of Pilgrims. It was weird to see so many people occupying this space and I felt affronted by the noise of everyone chattering away and grateful that I was on my own and didn’t have to participate. I know it was really unfriendly of me, but I tried my very best to lose them…eventually after realising that they were walking faster than me – they had daypacks, I was carrying Pepe – I fell back and finally they disappeared into the future. The next time I saw them was at Mos, they were leaving as I arrived. Perfect.

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finding the way and encountering the N550 and large groups

I had noticed a metal plaque attached to a rock wall with famous mountain peak elevation comparisons and thought “oh please let us not be climbing mountains today!!!” Well, ultimately my prayer was not answered. OMG 😱😱😱😱 it’s hard going and it’s raining, a fine soft rain that soaks through everything.

Still following the tiled scallop shells and yellow arrows, on walls, stones and trees the route took us away from the highway and on a scenic tour through the suburbs. I saw a cute little doggie face peeking over the top of a wall from a distance and stopped to chat. He was sitting with his paws resting on his chin just watching all the pilgrims walking by. 😊😊😍

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how much is that doggie on the fence there…keeping an eye on the pilgrims

After crossing beneath the A52; Autovia das Rias Baixas, soon I was out of the city precincts. The route took me onto a fairly rural stretch where I started to see more and more pilgrims. The weather was inclement with spurts of soft rain and bursts of sunshine.

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a scenic route through Galicia and yes, those grapes were very tempting, and no I didn’t 😉

After a short while once again across the Estrada Porriño Redondela, and onto a more pleasant road; Camino das Lagoas. Except for the odd stretch of motorway, or crossing said motorway (N550), this was a pleasant route that zigged and zagged, this way and that, and stretched pretty much all the way to Redondela.

I eventually caved in and stopped at one point to put on my poncho and the backpack cover on. I got myself into an awful tangle with trying to straighten the poncho out after I got Pepe back on, so a tiny little Spanish lady assisted with straightening me out. She rattled away in Spanish but I had absolutely noooo idea what she was saying. I just kissed her cheek and said “Grazias Senora” and chau as I waved goodbye, ever so grateful for the assistance. It’s been hard work trudging up hills but I’m getting there…. wherever there might be 😂😂

I loved walking through the fields and vineyards, admiring the Spaniards creative recycling; using plastic bottles to make scarecrows, of which there were many and they were inventive and adorable. There were a number of the hórreo; Spanish granaries on the route, as well as some really beautiful shrines, some of which were works of art.

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a stroll through the Galician countryside on a cloudy day, lots of hórreos scattered about and beautiful shrines

shrines on the camino, hórreos, o porrino to arcade on the portuguese camino, walking the camino, camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese coastal route, portugues central route, the way of st james

a beautiful shrine and creative scarecrows

It rained on and off the whole morning. Well done to my Mountain Warehouse backpack cover, absolutely brilliant. Kept everything dry. My Mickey Mouse poncho, bought in Florida in 2003 and never yet worn, was put to the test. It passed.

Finally I reached Mos, not that far from O Porriño as the crow flies, but bleeding hell going up those steadily increasing inclines. Murder. I hadn’t ever considered there might actually be mountains on the Way to Santiago LOL.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Mos was such a pretty little hamlet.

Mos was a delight!! Beautifully paved road, a few houses and a scattering of restaurants, a Pilgrim’s gift shop and a quaint little church; the church of Santa Eulalia. I decided right there and then to stop for another café con leche and a rest. But first I had to investigate the gift shop; Bo Camino, and have my passport stamped.
Stamp. Carimbo. Sello. Timbre – catering for many languages!

bo camino mos, walking through the galician countryside, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Bo Camino, Mos. Get your passport stamped here. I loved the way they used the scallop shell to register different languages

93.194kms to Santiago.
I tried to find out more about Mos but there is very little by way of information on Wikipedia and don’t even bother to look at TripAdvisor: Type in keyword Mos and you’ll get dozens of responses, none of which are actually in Mos, but mostly miles away. Urgh. All I got was “There is no significant urban nucleus and most of the population live scattered across the municipality. Family-owned farms and vineyards are very common.” And that was that then.

By 11:15 I was on my way – 92.936kms to Santiago; barely 200 yards LOL

I was amazed to discover I was still on the Roman route: Vias Romanas A Tianticas!! Part of the 19th Roman road on the Antonine Itinerary. Whoa, okay! Awesome. I did some research while writing this blog and found an absolutely fascinating website (you’ll need to translate it) that lists a number of routes and places. Awesome http://www.viasromanas.pt/

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

the route out of Mos and onto the ancient Roman roads; Camino da Ponte da Roma and “Cruceiro dos Cabaleiros”

Leaving the Pazo dos Marqueses behind, you start climbing the Rúa dos Cabaleiros up to the cross of “Cruceiro dos Cabaleiros”, a polychrome 18th century cross, on one side the image of the Virgin and on the other of Jesus Christ, named for the horse fair that is held here. Also called “Cruceiro da Vitoria” to signal the victory over Napoleon’s troops, the milestone not only worked as a boundary marker, but it’s also believed to have fertility powers for women who want to have children. After opposition from the locals it was left insitu and not moved to the Museum of Pontevedra.

After leaving Mos the route takes you along Camino da Rua onto the Estrada Alto de Barreiros Santiaguno and eventually onto Camino Cerdeirinas and back onto the Estrada Alto de Barreiros Santiaguno. It’s not a straight road to Arcade!! You have to wonder about the all the mead those Romans drank. The route switched back and forth between Via and Estrada to Camino and Egrexa (?) and a sign saying Camino de Santiago. At that moment I kinda wished that I was in Santiago, I was that tired. But….not to be wishing the days away, I was loving my Camino.

the pilgrims way to santiago, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

following the yellow arrows and scallop shells; the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago. I loved the sculptures

A Roman marker; fascinating discovery

the pilgrims way to santiago, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

a Roman marker indicating the remaining miles, much like the markers we have today

Time 12:43 Walked 11.80 kms. Approx 10 kms to go to Arcade. Thankfully it’s mostly downhill now. About 5 minutes ago I missed the turn off from the asphalt and walking determinedly head down ‘in the zone’, when I heard people shouting “Hello, Hello. Hello Senora!!” I looked back and a group of pilgrims I’d seen a few times were shouting for me to indicate I’d missed the turn LOL Who knows where I’d gotten to… probably not Santiago.

the pilgrims way to santiago, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Camino de Santiago…but if you’re walking with your head down, you won’t see it!!!

It’s been really challenging all this climbing, but according to a couple I met yesterday, I’m walking strong and that’s encouraging to hear. I truly could not have done it without my walking poles; Gemini. I stopped in a forest glade to recuperate. The pilgrims are all whizzing by me now as I sit relaxing and finally eating the trail mix I’ve carried around for the last 12 days hahaha. 300 grams off the load soon. It’s been raining on and off most of the morning and Mickey Mouse has given me a free sauna. Jeez it’s hot under that poncho. I’m hoping to reach Arcade today… Hold thumbs 😉
Galicia is poetically known as the “country of the thousand rivers” (“o país dos mil ríos”) and although I don’t recall crossing many rivers today, I did see and pass a number of streams. I guess the rain helps to keep them filled.

estrada de padron, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Estrada de Padrón and those downward inclinations that I was not inclined to walk down. Level ground was gratefully received. My walking poles a life-saver

Enroute I walked along the Estrada de Padron!! But not the Padron I was aiming for located just before Santiago, although it was marvellous – lots of trees and greenery. And now we were into the serious inclines….up and up. It seemed never ending. The views, albeit misty were amazing. I got all excited when I spotted some boots on a wall, being used a flower pots. I remembered seeing this on Facebook!! My spirits lifted and I grinned from ear to ear. I so loved discovering these little scenes.

estrada de padron, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

One of my delightful discoveries. Just before Bar Corisco

8 kms to go to Arcade. I’ve stopped again 😉 Barely made 1 km progress in 1 hour but OMG that was the worst incline I’ve experienced so far. What goes up, must assuredly go down again. If I’d known what was waiting for me, I’d have stayed in that forest glade. Blimey. The downhill gradient was so steep that I couldn’t actually go down straight. I took it in a zig-zag fashion and hopped sideways. My right ankle is unhappy and my left knee even more unhappy. I wish I had a sled.

Meanwhile it seems I’ve walked 5 kms since I saw the sign for the Bar Corisco on the Camino Romano. When I saw that I had arrived at the place I decided to stop for lunch. Many other pilgrims had the same idea and the place was full. Incredibly, with all those patrons, there was just the one Senora rushing about taking orders and serving food. Poor woman. I felt like I should help her. The soup was just amazing and I ordered a 2nd bowl. Food for the soul and spirits. For someone who doesn’t normally touch Coke, I sure drank a lot on the Camino. Gave me energy.

estrada de padron, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Lunch at Bar Corisco. Best vegetable soup ever

I left her a whopping big tip. I know you’re not meant to, but by golly she was working hard. They also have an albergue here. Camiño Romano, 47 – SAXAMONDE – 36816 – Redondela (Pontevedra) If you’re interested in finding out more about Bar Corisco https://www.paxinasgalegas.es/corisco-194770em.html

After leaving Bar Corisco I continued walking downhill on the Camino Romano. Just after the bend I saw a tractor chugging up what is a very narrow road and steep incline so crossed to the other side and stopped to wait for it to go past. As soon as it was far enough past me, I turned to my left to look for traffic and a car raced past so close I’m sure my pants cleaned the side of his car!!! I shudder to think of how close he went by. If perchance I had stepped forward just one step first and then turned to look he would have knocked me down. If I’d been unfocused before that moment, I was hyper alert after!!!

Hint: Just after Bar Corisco the road narrows substantially and is very steep going downhill (Camino Romano).

The route from here was horrid….exceptionally steep declines. What goes up, must I guess, eventually go down. Very uncomfortable to walk along. I can’t remember much of the walk after that, except that there were uphill and downhill challenges to get through. I do remember a group of about 13 cyclists whizzing by at one stage, most of them calling out “Buen Camino” I shouted back “grazie, Bom Camino” and tried to not feel envious at how quickly they flew by. I did call them bastards in my head. Petty jealousy LOL

Continuing along the Camino Romano which blended into Camino dos Frades and then after about an hour or so I was back on the N550; Rua do Muro/Estrada Porrino Redondela…..blah blah blah. I was too exhausted to care about much except a bed.

reaching redondela, concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Reaching Redondela.

And then I was in Concella de Redondela, passing along a stretch of the N550 which was exceptionally busy and quite horrible. Mostly industrial. I finally entered the town proper and was so glad I’d decided to go to Arcade instead of stopping there. I passed a handsome church as I entered the town; Convento de Vilavella, aka Vilavella Ensemble – a combination of convent, church and monuments. Construction started in 1501 and completed by 1554. After various changes, it now functions as a restaurant and wedding hall. I wished I had the time to visit….

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Convento de Vilavella, Redondella. circa 1501

I passed some fountains and a few interesting features but there was nothing to get excited about until the route took me through the old town which was just charming. Since I stuck religiously to the Camino route, following the arrows and tiled scallop shells, I didn’t venture off course and thereby I suspect I may have missed the more picturesque areas of the town. When I look at my route on mapmywalk I can see there is a large park-like area alongside the canal/river.

concello de redondela, redondella, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

passing through Redondela on the Portugues Camino de Santiago

I passed the house, built in the classic Galician style, where Casto Sampedro y Folgar lived; lawyer, archaeologist and folklorist, he was apparently one of the most emblematic characters of Galician culture. The streets along this section were absolutely fascinating and I briefly wished I wasn’t just passing through. A priest asked me, in Spanish, if I was looking for a place to stay or passing thru. I had no idea what he actually said, but with my few snippets of Spanish and some sign language I got the gist of it. I’m passing thru grazie. We waved goodbye. A few paces on and some random gentleman walking past wished me Buen Camino. Even after all these days, it still catches my heart and I just wanted to kiss him. Instead I shook his hand and thanked him with a big smile.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

passing through Redondela on the Camino Portugues

hórreo galician granary, concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Right in the centre of town; An hórreo is a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula built in wood or stone.

hórreo galician granary, concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

passing through Redondela. Wish I’d had more time to explore

Apparently Redondela is where the Portuguese Way of St James becomes one; coastal via Vigo, and central via Tui.

Redondela is apparently most famous for its viaducts. Two viaducts built in the 19th century meet here; the viaduct of Madrid and the viaduct of Pontevedra. I think I shall have to walk this route again….I didn’t get to see the viaduct properly this time around 😉 There is also the church of Iglesia de Santiago de Redondela dating from the 16th century that I didn’t get to see.

viaduct in redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

the viaduct of Madrid and the viaduct of Pontevedra meet in Redondela

It took 45 minutes to pass from one end of Redondela to the other!! I was in quite a lot of pain and hobbling more than walking. That right ankle was a bitch, but I didn’t want to stop. It felt like if I stopped, I’d not get going again.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

following the blue tiled scallop shells and the yellow arrows

And then I was into rural countryside and from 4pm onwards I barely saw a human being, till I reached the albergue.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

leaving Redondela and this chap was pretty much the last person I saw till Arcade.                     Rua Torre de Calle 81.775 kms to Santiago

The Rua Torre de Calle. 81.775 kms to Santiago.

The route took me past some beautiful areas, forests and farms. The only sign of life; a few sheep and birds. My right ankle was hurting terribly by then and I hobbled along like a decrepit hobbit. Hahaha. Oh I’d have paid a king’s ransom for any form of transport at that stage.

Every now and then I encountered the dreaded N550 again!! ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ – Cesantes 0.5kms. I passed loads of sign boards advertising the names of various albergues, but I wasn’t quite ready to stop just yet…I had planned on reaching Arcade before nightfall with the hopes of finding somewhere to sleep there.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

shady glade, inclines, declines, and the dreaded N550 ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ – asphalt and gravel were my constant companion LOL

Traversing the slopes of A Peneda, a mountain with an elevation of 329 meters, was a real challenge. Dragging myself up inclines and zig-zagging down the declines, I walked through lovely, green forested areas, so quiet and peaceful. Thankfully the route didn’t take me all the way over the crest of the mountain, but rather along the sides…still, it was high enough!!

I passed an installation near Cesantes covered with dozens of scallop shells, all with dates and names written on. If I’d had a marker handy I could have left a message.  I hadn’t seen anyone since I left Redondella and was entirely on my own.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

the scallop shell installation near Cesantes and O Recuncho Do Peregrino 🙂 and the sun was now behind me

I noticed a sign-board with details for an albergue that I’d seen at least 3 times before now; O Recuncho Do Peregrino (raven of the pilgrim), and suddenly I just made up my mind; this was the right place and exactly at that minute I phoned and asked if they had a room available for the night? Yes, a double room. I don’t care that I’m paying double I just want a bed and my own space. I booked it. Arcade can wait till tomorrow!

79.122kms to Santiago. I could scarcely believe that it was now less than 80kms to go.

It was completely wild here, lots of trees. Galicia is one of the more forested areas of Spain, mostly eucalyptus and pine and shrubbery growing with wild abandon. The route is incredibly variable; asphalt, gravel, sandy and cobbled and as I hobbled along I suddenly noticed glimpses of what I thought was the sea through the trees!! It was in fact the Ria de Vigo lagoon.

o recuncho do peregrino, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

The Ria de Vigo Lagoon, and my journey’s end O Recuncho Do Peregrino and my bed!! Hoorah 🙂

And then finally, O Recuncho do Peregrino; 250 meters. I had arrived at my destination. The albergue is just 250m from the Pilgrim’s Way and despite being right on the verge of the N550, it wasn’t noisy. As it turns out, Arcade was only another 1 km further, but I was in no mood for walking…I wanted a shower, food and a bed. Pronto!!!

This albergue is excellent, very simply furnished, and very clean and Miguel, the proprietor is wonderful. So welcoming, friendly and helpful. I had a fantastic hot shower, which was blissful. In O Porriño the water was cold by the time I got to shower so this was sheer heaven. Miguel organised my laundry for me; washed and dried for €6. Brilliant. He also organised to have my backpack transported with Tuitrans to the motel in Caldas de Reis. I quite simply cannot carry it again through the mountains and tomorrow is a 32/35 km day. For €7 it’s well worth the cost and will take the pressure of my ankle. I hope I can actually walk tomorrow.

Not so much a #buencamino at this stage than a mere #camino. If I wasn’t in polite company I’d use that word that Helen Mirren advocates, I was that tired LOL I would have loved to take a walk down to the beach, but just the thought of walking even 10 feet, never mind 30 meters was too much for me. I repacked my bag and went to bed, too tired to even be hungry.

So wow my Camino 2017 set about throwing up some interesting challenges. Never once in all the planning and researching I had done prior to walking the Camino had I registered/realised that I would have to climb ‘mountains’. I couldn’t believe how many inclines there were. Okay it wasn’t really proper high mountains, but I can assure you, that with Pepe on my back and my ankle playing up, it felt like Everest.

Places I walked through today: O Porriño, Ameirolongo, Veiga Dana, Mos, Santiaguino das Antas, Saxamonde, Redondela and stopped just 1 km short of Arcade near the fishing village of San Simon Inlet. I could see the shimmer of blue of the lagoon from my bedroom window. I’d forgotten there was the island nearby, but truly, I was too tired to care. Even if Queen Elizabeth had come to visit, I woulda said – terrific, I’m glad for her. And still gone to bed!! LOL

FYI the albergue; O Recuncho do Peregrino, is closed during 2017 for the months of November, December, and January and February 2018. This albergue is listed as #1 on my Places I Stayed on the Camino If you’d like to know more for 2018; his website is http://orecunchodoperegrino.com/

If you’re interested in learning more about the Roman routes, I found this website linked to the Portuguese aspect of the Roman roads. http://www.viasromanas.pt/vrinfo.html

Tomorrow: Arcade and the marathon to Caldas dei Reis.

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Day 11 Sunday 2017.09.17 – Tui to O Porriño Day 1/5 Camino 2017 part 2 (read part 1 here)

After leaving the city of Tui behind me I was mostly on my own walking through fields and wooded areas, sometimes on asphalt, or along sandy lanes, setting a good pace, all the while looking for the arrows. Sometimes they are elaborate and sometimes quite faint and obscure. But I know now what to look out for; my ‘Camino eyes’ are open.

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and suddenly I was in the countryside…..the Ponte Romano in the distance

As I reached woodland and found the Ponte Romano along which the Via Romana XIX route continues crossing over the River Louro, I noticed a stunning rock sculpture; a cut out pilgrim and a delightful water fountain where some pilgrims were filling their water bottles. “Ola! Buenas dias” …. I walked to the middle of the bridge, just because 🙂 and then continued on my way into cool green refreshing forests.

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a stunning sculpture on the Via Romana XIX near the Ponte Romana, a place for pilgrims to fill their water bottles and the Ponte Romana over the Louro

Walking through the beautiful landscape of the River Louro valley in Galicia, a 700 ha nature reserve, I noticed that the weather was a lot cooler, the landscape was greener and not as arid as Portugal. I felt absolutely joyful. The day was cool with a faint breeze and as usual I shouted a greeting ‘Ola’ or ‘Buen Camino’ as I went. I saw quite a few pilgrims today, but was never in a crowd.

Once again the terrain was variable; all change please…asphalt, gravel, cobbles, paving, mud…repeat…

10:50 Passing beneath a substantial bridge I saw this writing on the wall (I only photographed one side of the message)….

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whizzing through the Galician countryside, the route was variable

Peregrino: que véxalo ceo na terra cando teus ollos divisen as torres de Compostela.

Onde vai aquil peregrino (?), meu peregrino onde irá(?)
Camiño de Compostela. Eu sei que alí chegará.
Bo Camiño e un desexo CONCELLO DE TUI

Which roughly translated means:

We hope you see heaven on earth when your eyes spot the towers of Compostela.

Where is THAT peregrino going ? Where is MY peregrino going?
He is going to Compostela. I know that he will arrive there.
Buen Camino and a wish TUI MUNICIPALITY

Just on 11am I took a small diversion I stopped at a cafe; Bar Muniz just off the N550 for a visit to the loo (by now I learned how to use the loo with my backpack on!! 😂😂), then ordered a café con leche (no longer café com leite) and cheese on a very big roll; which was never what I was expecting.  Soon satiated, with Pepe on my back, I set off once again. Along the way I visited a tiny chapel; Capela da Virxe do Camino, an 18th century basilica building built on the remains of a previous church, which had a simply beautiful interior. The polychrome image in the sacristy depicts a seated Virgin with a baby boy at her breast.

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11am café con leche and the Galician version of toasted cheese LOL Still on the Via Romana XIX, and the delightful Capela Virxen do Camino

Not long after that I encountered one of those places where I stopped with a wtf exclamation… where to now? It happened from time to time…. I was on the verge of a very busy road with a 70 kms per hour speed limit 😲😧 and it appeared as if I was meant to cross over the bridge in front of me (in my mind I was thinking ‘seriously’ are you F@%$ kidding?)

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….seriously??? I missed that marker altogether

…after walking a few yards towards the crest of the bridge I soon realised that no! this was definitely NOT the Way, so I retraced my steps and lo and behold there across the road was a Camino marker…hallelujah! I had missed it altogether. I scurried across, and carried on. As I walked it felt like I was taking strain on my left shoulder and right hip, which was weird as I had been very careful to balance out my packing, but realised, from a similar experience a few days before, that a strap had loosened. I stopped and removed Pepe to tighten the straps up and suddenly heard a cry of “hello Cindy!! ” To my surprise and delight it was my group of 5 that I’d crossed paths with a few times since Porto. Coincidentally they had stayed at the same hotel in Valença as me last night and we had bumped into each other in the reception. I thought for sure they’d be well ahead by now, but no, it seems I was ahead 🙂 So for the next few kms right through to O Porriño I walked with them. It was lovely and lively as the conversations ebbed and flowed. As we traipsed along through the gorgeous woodlands and wetlands of the national park, Gándara de Budiño, we came across a small granite cross and shrine; this marks the spot where San Telmo, the Bishop of Tui, died of a fever 750 years ago on his return from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The inscription reads as follows: ” Caminante, here he was sick of death in Telmo in April 1251. Ask him to speak with God in your favor .” It’s a beautiful place so we, like many pilgrims before and I’m sure also since, stopped for a rest by the stream. You will notice the granite blocks used to pave the path. Not easy to walk on.

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A small cross and shrine marks the spot where San Telmo, the Bishop of Tui, died of a fever on his return from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela 750 years ago. The horseman riding by was surreal to say the least

Enroute at about 12:20 we stopped at a marvellous little roadside cafe; O Chiriringo in Ribedelouro, where we had café con leche, a sugary bun and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice; nectar of the gods. They also stamped our passports 🙂 I love all the little pilgrim reliefs and sculptures on the walls; pilgrims, a pilgrims staff and the ever present scallop shells.

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the wonderful garden cafe of O Chiriringo Ribedelouro, my group of 5 from AUS, and the best orange juice on the planet

After a lovely relax and a chat with a delightful Scottish couple who had also stopped (I met them again a couple of times along the route) we set off again. It was here that I saw my first hórreo; a Galician granary, built up off the ground to discourage rats and mice. The first of many I was to see eroute to Santiago. The oldest document containing an image of an hórreo is the Cantigas de Santa Maria by Alfonso X “El Sabio”. The oldest of these date from the 15th century, are listed structures and therefore protected under law. I just loved the direction board in their garden – O Porriño 9.5kms and Santiago 107kms.

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An hórreo; a Galician granary, a fabulous sign board; O Porrino 9.5kms and scallop shells decorate a wall at the garden cafe of O Chiriringo Ribedelouro

At 13:16 in the neighbourhood of Orbenlle, where the Camino Portugues leaves the municipality of Tui and enters the one of Porriño, at a bend in the route of the Camino de Santiago, we came face to face with a magnificent reproduction of the (The Portal of Glory) ‘Portico de la Gloria’ of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral made by the painter Xai Óscar. The ‘Portico de la Gloria’ is the Romanesque portico, the cathedral’s main gate, created by Maestro Mateo in 1188.  Xai Óscar, invested four months of ‘nights’ to capture this in the mural. Next to that ‘The Old Pilgrim’ by the same artist; Xai Óscar. Stunning!!

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the fabulous mural, a reproduction of ‘Portico de la Gloria’ painted by Xia Óscar at a junction on the Way to Santiago and the Old Pilgrim

Continuing on our way, by 13:52 we left the quirky houses, rural lanes and sleepy villages

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walking through the Galician countryside, nearly there….just over 6kms to O Porrinó and 105.519 kms to Santiago

and the route took us through the horrible industrial area of Las Gándaras, along Polígono das Gándaras a 3.5-4 km straight stretch of road of dull, harsh tarmac and pollution. Yuck. Glad it was Sunday or it would have been very busy. (you can take the alternative Camino through As Gándaras and the River Louro valley to avoid crossing the industrial park.) It was terribly hot by now and humid. I longed for the cool forests.

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3.5-4 km without any shade and along an asphalt road through a horrible industrial area.

While walking along this stretch, I suddenly found myself in ‘the zone’, and head down, my walking poles rhythmically swinging I just walked and walked, looking neither left nor right I was soon through the industrial park and as I neared the end I found one of the group at my side and steaming ahead – Joan was on a roll (pun intended LOL) – she knew of a cafe nearby; Café Adele. Hurrah, a place to stop. It was hot and I needed an icy cold drink….I knew just what would fit the bill 🙂 Unfortunately the cafe was closed 😦 Onwards……

Then, just when you feel like you want to lie down and die, the route takes you over a steep bridge LOL. It took 30 minutes to get from one end of the industrial park to the other. But the reward was just on the other side in the form of Café Neuvo.

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just when you need it least…a bridge. …and now it’s 101.379 kms to Santiago

And finally at 14:20 Hurrah!! Café Nuevo Eidos Bar; not exactly The Ritz, but it offered a place to sit down, as well as food and drinks. We hurried inside, nature calling loud and clear, and then it was time for ‘Super Bock’. Damn that beer tasted good. The break offered some respite and we all removed shoes and socks and compared/massaged our achy feet. My Aloe Vera Heat Lotion was, as ever, my salvation. So far I have no blisters, but 2 of the ladies from the group of 5 had nasty blisters. Ewww, painful.

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and finally Café Neuvo Eidos – time to rest, drink a Super Bock and compare injuries LOL

After a brief respite, with just 4 kms left to go we set off at a good pace, and with my head down, walking poles swinging, for the next hour and 50 minutes I didn’t stop for photos or anything else except to capture the Capela de Angustias (the chapel of Sorrows) on the edge of O Porriño

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The chapel of Angustias (the chapel of Sorrows) on the Camino through O Porriño

…and then suddenly there we were, in O Porriño. It was now 99.408 kms to Santiago!! Hoorah, less than 100kms to go. Although exhausted, my spirits soared.

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tah dah!! O Porrino and now it’s less than 100 kms to Santiago de Compostela – 99.408 kms

I was caught by surprise that we reached O Porriño so quickly and sad to say goodbye to my group of 5. They were staying at a pre-arranged hotel and I still had to find my albergue. We made a loose agreement to meet up on the road to Arcade in the morning and said goodbye. As it turned out this was the last time I saw them. With no idea where my hostel was I sat down on a nearby bench and gathered myself… Where to next? I had no idea. But with occasional help from the locals, Google maps, and the Camino signs, I was guided to my destination.

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following the signs through O Porrino and finding my bed for the night; Albergue Alojamiento on the Camino Portugués

I didn’t make a pre-booked reservation for the night, but instead I’d taken note of an alburgue; Albergue Alojamiento recommended by someone on Facebook, and phoned ahead earlier in the morning. Yes, they could accommodate me. Awesome. What time will you arrive? Oh about 6pm maybe 7pm. Okay, we’ll wait for you.

As it turned out, I arrived at 4.25pm. I’d wanted to experience the Camino way of not having accommodation sorted months ahead but just phoning ahead on the day and hoping to get a place for the night. I was very happy they had a place at the inn for me 😉

Soon I was checked in and reclining on a very comfy bed in a mixed dorm close to a very busy noisy highway. Thank goodness for my foam earplugs.

Alojamiento Camino Portugues,

Alojamiento Camino Portugués

What a marvellous day. I’ve seen so many wondrous places, enjoyed amazing scenery and all the place names that I’d seen on the maps, researched and wondered about, are now coming alive.

End of Day 1 of my Spanish #Camino2017, and day 11 since I arrived in Porto. So far I have walked/travelled 140kms or so and I am astounded to realise that by Thursday night, all being well, I’ll be in Santiago. Buen Camino.

Walked 18.39 kms. 8 hours 47 minutes and 2 seconds door to door (of which at least an hour was spent in the walled city of Valença and on the bridge over the River Miño on the border between the two countries). Steps taken: 45,382.

After making the acquaintance of my room-mates; an elderly gentleman from Spain, 2 young Korean girls, a young man from the Netherlands and a young woman from I don’t know where, I made my bed and a had brief rest – socks airing above me, then a quick shower, and after repacking my bag and getting my clothes ready for the morning, I grabbed my phone and set off to explore…….

Day 11 exploring O Porriño

Read part 1 of my journey from Valença to O Porriño.

Exploring O Porriño

 

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2017.09.15 Day 9 – Viana do Castelo to Caminha – sunrise to sunset

“Bom Dia” a cheerful, jaunty greeting that sums up every day I’ve had so far in Portugal.

Walked 30.28 kms / 65573 steps

Along The Way, I walked through a number of villages; Areosa, Afife and Carreço along old narrow roads that split several 19th Century farmhouses, until the old fishing village of Ancora on the Rio do Paco, through Fontela and finally into Caminha.

So yes, another very long day from Viana do Castelo to Caminha, after which I still had energy to rush over to the estuary and watch the sunset and take a brief exploratory walkabout 🙂

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from sunrise in Viana do Castelo to sunset in Caminha. what a fantastic day.

I’m insane, truly. I need to learn the meaning of……

Rest: verb : cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength.

rest: noun : an instance or period of resting. LOL – difficult!!

Seriously though, I wanted to make the most of my Camino, to see as much as possible without being hospitalised for exhaustion LOL. I have a philosophy in life; when I visit a place, I extract as much as possible from myself to see as much as possible before I move on. I never know if I’m likely to pass that way again, and being of an exceedingly curious nature, I find it impossible to be somewhere and not explore it thoroughly. So cest la vie…explore away.

Once again I met some lovely people along The Way, greeted everyone left, right and centre with “Bom Dia” and a big smile, or “Hola, Caminho?” and a huge grin when they responded with “si! Buen Camino”. The feeling of camaraderie on the Camino is amazing. I loved meeting people from all over the world, but today I just greeted, exchanged brief details and didn’t stop for any meaningful conversations.

Today I decided to instagram more often and to keep track of my distances as I went. I think I succeeded 🙂 So instead of writing a whole long epistle about my ‘step-by-step’ guide along the Camino from Porto to Santiago, I’ll let my instagram posts do the talking! – addendum (I did try, but verbosity overcame me once again, sorry LOL).

1) It’s 07:15 and incredibly, not only is it almost the exact time I left Vila do Conde on Wednesday, but the weather is gorgeous, I’m seeing the sun rising and I’m walking today… Wish me luck, I hope it bodes well. #bomcaminho #Camino2017 #VianadoCastelo to #Caminha

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07:21 sunrise on the banks of the River Lima, Viana do Castelo, Portugal

I took a walk down to the riverside to watch the sunrise. The colours were exquisite. I could get used to this. I’m not usually an early riser, but being on the Camino was such an incentive to get up early and enjoy walking before the day got too hot or busy. Saying goodbye to the Eiffel Bridge and a sad farewell to the town as I walked alongside the river, I soon reached the harbour.

2) It’s 9.15am, I’ve walked 5.28 kms and only now leaving the precincts of VdC. 😀😀On the way I stopped to capture the sunrise, a group of fishermen preparing their net, visited a church and got a stamp in my passport, then crossed 2 fields, a hedge, a ditch and a wall to get to the ocean and visit a tumbled down 18th century fort.

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fishermen in Viana do Castelo preparing their nets

Once I left the harbour I decided to visit the church I could see in the distance; Capela de N. S. a da Agonia, Viana do Castelo. It was still closed when I got there, so I sat on the bench in the gardens and ate my breakfast, and after a short interval, by a stroke of luck someone came along an unlocked the doors 🙂  Said person was also kind enough to stamp my passport….after much gesticulating on my part and showing him my pilgrim’s passport, with the word ‘caminho’. voila.

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Capela de N. S. a da Agonia, Viana do Castelo

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Of course by taking this little diversion I totally ended up on a road where I didn’t want to be; the dreaded N13. I wanted to walk alongside the ocean, not along a busy highway. So spotting a sliver of the ocean on the horizon, I headed west….and as the instagram post says….’2 fields, a hedge, a ditch and a wall’ later I finally reached the ocean.

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detours…..getting from here to there was like an obstacle course, although it looks flat, it wasn’t

I was undeniably unimpressed with myself. But it was worth it. Walking alongside the ocean was wonderful with the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks and a cool ocean breeze blowing over me. And I found my first fort of the day….

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

Never one to pass by a good ruin, I stopped briefly to explore. wow. 1703!! awesome.

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Forte de Rego de Fontes (1703), Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Then stretching my legs, and with Pepe settled comfortably on my back, and my walking poles, nicknamed ‘Gemini’ by now (twins haha), in full swing I strode along a superb pathway of gravel; ocean to the left, heading north. I absolutely love Portugal.

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following The Way

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following The Way

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following The Way; both Coastal (red) and Littoral (white)

3) 9.58 kms walked. It’s just on 11am and Pepe and I have had enough so we’ve stopped for 2 cafe com leite and 2 buns. I’m hungry. It’s been a wonderful walk along the ocean, sometimes gravel, sometimes cobbled paving (hell on the ankles) and sometimes boardwalks which are my favourite. This place was like an oasis in the desert. I need caffeine and sugar. 😂😂💕 According to the map I’m doing okay. Slow but steady with an ankle that keeps shouting rude words at me and a hip that’s not happy.

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an oasis…Tea and buns never tasted so good. I was sorry I didn’t have my metal mug that I’d bought especially for the Camino. Left at home due to weight

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back to the boardwalks….bliss to walk along

The scenery now was just majestic! I relished in the discoveries I made along the way; quirky round stone buildings, old windmills, tumble-down stone houses, ancient forts and scarcely a place to stop for refreshments. Hah! I wish I had known how scarce the cafes would be! I’d have stocked up on goodies to eat and drink. Although I did have my water…a life-saver!

4) Walked 14.58 kms. After leaving my oasis, I headed back on to the boardwalks. That didn’t last long and I soon found myself following some seriously challenging pathways. It’s just after 1pm, I left my hostel 6 hours ago, and I’m taking a rest stop in Afife which is almost halfway 😀😀😀👏👏👏. The heat is horrible, the path is tough and I’ve done rock climbing, traipsed along boardwalks and dragged myself along the beach and along winding, rocky, ankle wrenching sandy paths. I’ve no idea if I’m following the correct route most of the time unless I see a marker, which I haven’t for quite some time now, but when I do, it appears I’m following the coastal and Littoral route; a bit of both. After stumbling out the trees I saw red tarpaulins in the far distance, and diverted my course in that direction. It turned out to be a garage which is what I suspected and I’m currently sitting in the blissful cool air of a roadside garage cafe drinking a Liptons iced tea and eating what is a delicious pineapple tart which was a gift of the proprietess after we chatted about the Camino. 😊😊😊💕 She also stamped my pilgrim’s passport. I may just reach Caminha this century 😂😂#bomcaminho

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tumble down fishermen’s cottages

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follow the signs…..from and to….keep your bearings; Littoral and Coastal

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I stopped off to admire this rock…it has a story but I forgot what it is LOL sorry. something to do with stone-age peoples

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finding the signs along The Way

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spotted….when I saw this I got serious travel envy. I mean look at all those places visited.

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absolutely NO fun at all to walk along these sections, but I was on the right path…

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never boring….this way and that way, along The Way, the signs are there

The path was a bit like a switch-back route along this section. At one stage I passed an open-air shower stop…probably for beach goers, and the temptation to just strip off to my undies and stand under cold water was overwhelming…but I desisted. I had places to go. I also didn’t want to get arrested for indecency!! hahaha.

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Praia de Paco, the showers, fab boardwalk, Forte de Paco, information board

First gravel, then suddenly boardwalk, then ankle-tugging sand, surprises round the corner (another fort!), in the space of 6 minutes you could go from rocky, sandy terrain and gravels paths to walking on the beach to striding along boardwalks (Oh how much I loved those boardwalks)

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a visit to the beach along The Way. Just beyond this point I was plunged into brush again

Then deep groves of trees that looked shady but weren’t, and hot, hot, hot hot…….I have to admit that although I was really loving the blue skies, the heat was horrendous for me. I cannot tell you how stressful it was walking through ankle-tugging sand, dust puffing up with every footstep, the heat and flies sapping your energy and totally deserted. The only way I could keep my spirits up was by observing the footprints in the sand… grateful in the knowledge that other people had been this way. Again I locked onto a particular set of tread-marks and followed them. There were no desiccated bodies or skeletons lying about, dried up from heat and lack of water, forever turned to dust, lost, unidentified, unknown,eaten by coyotes or vermin….hahaha, you get picture. That was my state of mind. Sometimes, walking through this terrain, was just.hard.as.you.know.what!!

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not fun…it was hot and dusty with lots of flies but no dead bodies. LOL Follow those footprints?

And flies!!! OMG!! flies in my hair, up my nose, around my mouth, sitting like suction caps on my arms…fcking gross. I did have an insect repellent spray called incognito, which is a natural product with no chemicals, in my bag, but I simply didn’t have the energy to stop, take Pepe off (heavy old sod), undo all the 10million ties and clips, dig through my bag….and blah blah blah, then go through the reverse before carrying on. So instead I just stomped along swatting and cursing and suffered on. blergh. horrible. LOL

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civilisation in the distance, a rest stop at Afife (I stayed here for about 30 minutes)

After my brief respite at the garage cafe, I walked along a busy tarmac road. As I crossed a small stream I saw my first memorial; a sobering reminder that people die on the Caminho, and to be vigilant despite being really tired. I had noticed on mapmywalk that there was a turn-off further along that would take me back to the ocean side, so that’s what I did. I had no desire to be dodging traffic. And tarmac is hell on the heels.

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the varied terrain was unreal. You just never knew what to expect round the next corner

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I loved walking alongside the ocean. I stopped off in this area to rest and just enjoy the scenery

I didn’t stop for resting as often yesterday as I did the day before but I certainly did stop to explore this fort. It was so intriguing… People used to live there. It’s obviously very ramshackle and tumbled down now, but so fascinating. I think I saw 4 in all enroute.

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5) Walked 18.5 kms and now just 8 km to Caminha. Look how far I’ve travelled : 95kms from Porto!! Brilliant. It’s been a challenging day but a good day. I’m so glad I made yesterday a rest day. My mindset is good and I feel strong albeit tired. I’ve loved the challenges that have come my way, and it seems that I have chosen to not do this the easy way 😂😂😂 if there was a difficult route to follow, I found it. #Camino2017

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Look how far I’ve come!! 95 kms from Porto and 8 km to Caminha. What I didn’t realise is that 8kms was till the outskirts of Caminha urgh.  We won’t even mention how many kms to Santiago!

I loved seeing all the little hamlets, windmills and forts along the way, and much of the route was easy walking, but there were sections where I just wanted to sit down and cry or have a tantrum. Surprisingly I hardly saw anyone for ages along this stretch

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in the distance I could see buildings – it wasn’t Caminha LOL I still had another 8 kms AFTER that. The sands are reclaiming the boardwalks here

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I loathe railway crossings. Literally 2 minutes after crossing here a train came racing through. Horrors.

If I had but known, the trail actually continued along the beach. But I didn’t, so ended up adding 2kms to my journey going through the above section 😦

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Praia de Vila Praia de Ancora – not Caminha LOL urgh.

I was so disappointed when I realised that the town I had seen in the distance an hour earlier was not my destination but the fishing town of Praia de Vila / Praia de Ancora. The bridge you can see in the distance (bottom left image above), was where I would have crossed if I had but known the trail continued along the beach.

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Forte de Lagarteira, Ancora, Caminha, Portugal –  a Small fortified naval fortification covering mouth of the Ancora river; attributed to the reign of Pedro II of Portugal (1667-1705)

Discovering this fabulous fort cheered me up no end. I spent some time exploring.

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and then it was back to the Camino; a pedestrian path alongside a side road, then past a tiny chapel; Capela Santo Isidoro and then left back to the beach ‘Bom Caminho’ 🙂

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você está aqui – it was terrific to see my progress. these maps along The Way were brilliant.

I really enjoyed finding these maps along The Way. As you can see the trail, a mix of boardwalks and gravel paths, is being developed right along the seaboard from Esposende to Caminha. Magic. Green = completed sections. Black = under construction

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Before too long I was back on cobbled roads and walking through fields.

If you look at the top middle image above you will notice a yellow X painted on the pole. These were so helpful. If you felt tempted to walk that way because it looked like you should, these tell you ‘NO’ this is not The Way. Although you can’t see it, at my feet was a painted arrow on the edge of the sidewalk indicating the direction…..Follow the Yellow Arrows 🙂 which is what I did, through the tunnel beneath the railway line, past a small holding where a couple were digging up crops from a small garden, then after passing some empty fields the arrows directed me onto a road, Avenida Santana leading through the town of Moledo.

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following the signs – the outskirts of Caminha

Urgh, Once again I had to cross the railway line. One of my worst nightmares. Gives me the heebie jeebies. The trail now took me through industrialised areas. I think I may have seen about 3 people in 30 minutes. Lots of ramshackle buildings and the much loathed tarmac. You’d think because its flat and smooth its easy to walk on, but the impact is hard on the feet. I was ever so grateful for the arrows. I was so very tired by this stage that I really couldn’t even think anymore. Suddenly I was onto the Avenida Dr. Dantas Carneiro aka N13 which is a very busy road that runs from Viana do Castelo to Valenca. Fortunately I didn’t cross paths with this monster too often.

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and then finally… Caminha

I found a sudden burst of energy when I realised I was on the edge of Caminha; the town proper. The river Minho estuary is exceptionally beautiful and I was keen to find my lodgings and then head back to watch the sunset. The town of Caminha is marvellous. I cut away from the N13 at the first opportunity and by following my nose and mapmywalk, now I was passing real houses with people going about their business. I walked right through the old town centre, left and then right and left again and then suddenly there it was Residencial Anosa Casa 🙂 Hoorah!!

6) Well Pepe and I finally reached Caminha and the hotel after 30.28 kms : 12 hours 3 minutes and 14 seconds door to door via a few diversions 😊😉🙃 Absolutely shattered. After quickly checking in I raced back to the sea front to watch the sunset… (I know, insane. I could barely walk, never mind race anywhere). But it’s my last coastal route sunset. Tomorrow I will be inland at Valenca. By an amazing coincidence I popped in at a crepe restaurant for supper and there was my lovely Russian room-mate from the last 2 nights; Lina. I was delighted as I wanted a photo of the two of us and had been sending the universe some messages to say I wanted to see her again. It turned out she was staying at a horrible albergue, so I invited her to share the twin room at my hotel ☺️☺️☺️ So for one last night we’ll be room mates

37 sunset 19.34 caminha

19:34 and sunset in Caminha 🙂 12 hours and 30 minutes and across the estuary; Spain!!

As soon as I had checked in and settled Pepe, I grabbed Gemini and made my way through the town to the river front, just in time for the sunset 🙂 It was sooo beautiful and I felt truly blessed to bear witness to such an amazing sight. I had been blessed with amazing, albeit very hot weather the whole day and to witness both a sunrise and a sunset was extraordinary.

I had arrived in Caminha, my last Portugese coastal town. I had indeed taken that young man’s words to heart; keep the ocean on your left and head north. What an absolutely fantastic journey. I find it hard to find the words to express how I was feeling at that moment. Exceptionally tired, but amazingly blessed 🙂

camino 2017, santiago de compostela, portuguese coastal route, porto to santiago, caminha portugal, visit portugal

The wonderful walled town of Caminha. So happy to be able to add this to my Project 101

After watching the sunset I made my way back into the town centre to explore and find something to eat. The fantastic clock tower was once the main tower in the medieval castle incorporated into the city walls and sat atop the main entrance to the citadel and the Rua Direita (Straight Road) that sliced through the centre of the citadel (top left image). During the 17th century a timepiece was installed and it came to be known as the Torre do Relógio (Clock Tower). To the right is the Igreja da Misericórdia.

Caminha has a history that dates back to Roman and possible even Phoenician times.

I was seriously hungry by now and decided to treat myself to a really special meal. I noticed a creperie and decided that would be perfect. .noterreiro was the perfect place to eat. As I sat down, to my absolute delight and surprise I saw Lina. We had been room-mates the previous two nights and I was thrilled to see her. We chatted for a bit and she mentioned that she was staying at a horrible albergue so I invited her to share my room at the hotel. She hurried off to fetch her backpack and belongings and I ordered a cheese omelette which was very different to the omelettes in the UK. Still hungry I then ordered a banana and nutella crepe…delicioso 🙂 They soon disappeared into my tummy. I had thought of having a Super Bock, but truthfully they taste so much better when you’re hot and bothered. So instead I settled for a coke. Sugar rush needed.

camino 2017, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, porto santiago

.noterreiro, Praca Conselheiro Silva Torres, Caminha 4910-122, Portugal +351 258 728 017

And then it was time for bed. Lina and I meandered through the town chatting away. She was crossing into Spain on the ferry in the morning to follow the route to Santiago via Vigo. It was so lovely meeting her; a Russian lady from New York!! Awesome. Camino 🙂

Exploring Caminha 2.10 kms / 5364 steps

Tomorrow morning I would explore Caminha thoroughly and then take the train to Valenca for my final night in Portugal before crossing into Spain. I was well excited!!

 

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2017.09.13 Day 7 – Vila do Conde to Esposende – expected distance: 22kms (not!!)

Walked 27.71kms. 65029+ steps

The road to Esposende is not paved with gold.

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

time to go – Vila do Conde to Esposende

My post on instagram: It’s 7:07 on 13th September and I’m on my way. This is my 2nd day of walking on the Portuguese Coastal Route. Sad to be leaving leaving Vila do Conde but I’m excited to be heading to Esposende, which is apparently 22kms away (as it turned out, it was substantially further, but that may be because I kept going ‘off-piste’ to explore LOL).

It was a stunning day on the coast of Portugal. I left the guest house in Vila do Conde at 07:07 and got my wish for the day; I watched the sun rise.

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sunrise in Vila do Conde looking upriver towards the Santa Clara Convent

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

sunrise in Vila do Conde looking downriver towards the sea

Fabulous. I stopped here for a while and ate some of the breakfast the Erva Doce Guest House had prepared for me. Watching the sunrise is such a privilege.

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

watching the sunrise in Vila do Conde

I eventually left VdC at just after 8am after faffing around taking photos of the various sculptures, my shadow (?) and then re-visiting the chapel on the seafront.2 vdc day 64 the chapel I particularly loved this sculpture….she looks stoic, resigned, and sad…waiting for a boat that never returned?

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

waiting…..

This section of the route was so beautiful and I was hard-put to not stop every 5 seconds to take photos. I spotted a most gorgeous church with a beautiful memorial in tiles.

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

Povoa de Varzim

Along the way I met a delightful couple from Poland; Jakob and Agata. We chatted all the way to Povoa de Varzim and I barely noticed Pepe weighing me down. We stopped to admire a fabulous tiled wall. I love that there are so many of these fabulous tiles right across Portugal; azulejo with Povoan boats and siglas poveiras marks; a form of ‘proto-writing system’ thought to derive from the Viking writing system known as bomärken from Scandinavia.  Archaeological finds in the area, including stone tools, suggest that the Póvoa de Varzim area may have been inhabited as far back as 200,000 years ago. 

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

Me, Agata and Jakob in front of the Muro de Azulejos in Povoa de Varzim

Once we reached Pavoa de Varzim I sadly parted company with Jakob and Agata who rejoined their group to go find breakfast whilst I went in search of coffee. I spotted a little wooden shack on the beach, one of many, and stopping at the 3rd one along I ordered my ‘cafe com leite grande y croissant por favor’. Yummy; I really got into the strong coffee and pastry for breakfast thing. My language skills had by now gone from ‘hola, camino?’ and ‘gracias’ to a whole sentence hahaha. I was ever so pleased with myself.

camino de santiago portuguese coastal route port to santiago

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

Just on 11:22 after my coffee at Teresa’s shack I set off and soon saw my first Camino markers; now that’s more what I was expecting. 😉😉😉

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Finding the signs along The Way 🙂

I met some really lovely people on the route and it was most enjoyable just chatting away as we walked. The disadvantage of course was that I missed quite a few photo opportunities that I wanted to capture, but felt like I didn’t want to hold them up. Which is one of the reasons I prefer to walk on my own…even though it’s really lovely to meet folk from all over the world.

I’ve got 25.1 kms to Esposende and done 7.98 so far. Bom Caminho I’m loving my #Camino2017

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

I had such a fantastic day. On the route I met two ladies from Ireland with whom I chatted for a while. When I commented on how little luggage they had, they laughed and told me about Tuitrans, they had sent their backpacks ahead. Hmmm…food for thought.

Waving goodbye I set off jauntily, waving at everyone and wishing them Bom diaz or Bom Caminho depending on how they were dressed; no backpack and boots = local – a backpack, boots and waking poles = pilgrim ;).

A young lady sitting on a wall chatting on her phone wished me Bom Caminho as I whizzed by which nearly made me cry. It was so unexpected and so wonderful. 💞💞🙃🙃🙃 I stopped in my tracks and with tears in my eyes; “gracias Senorita”. If she hadn’t been on the phone I would have hugged her!! I’m loving my #Camino2017

Getting back onto the boardwalks was fantastic. They were so easy to walk along and allowed you the freedom to enjoy the scenery while walking without having to worry about which way to go.

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such a gorgeous day and the boardwalks are fantastic

There were so many wonderful sights long the route; chapels, windmills, memorials….

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

chapels, windmills, memorials

I loved these little structures….haven’t been able to find out what they were.

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loved this little building.

I really got into the spirit of the camino and wished just about every soul I passed ‘bom caminho’ Mostly they responded, sometimes not. In truth, the locals were lovely. Mostly pilgrims responded in kind, but the people I found the least friendly (sorry guys) were the German men. The German ladies on the whole were friendly enough, but the most friendly were the Irish, Portuguese, Eastern Europeans pilgrims and occasionally the Americans, who tended to be very focussed. I didn’t meet anyone from France.

Just after 11am I reached QuiAo; walked 9.73 kms. The weather was stunning, and I was blessed with a beautiful day, albeit already hot….which I did not enjoy.

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I was blessed with some wonderful days

11:15 and time for my first Super Bock of the day. Okayyy, I know, I know we hadn’t crossed the yardarm yet, but it was hot 😂😂😂

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QuiAo and my first Super Bock of the day

By this stage I was beginning to struggle with my backpack, but motoring on. I tell you what, my walking poles were a blessing. I was able to set an easy flowing pace and with the momentum I whizzed along the boardwalks…which btw are bloody marvellous. The poles will be my #1 essential item for any future walks, whether in the UK or EU.

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my wonderful walking poles….they were a life-saver

Suddenly to my delight I came across the Caminho Beach Bar!!! I had seen photos of this place on facebook and instagram and was hoping I’d see it too 🙂 And there is was!! I stopped and bought a shell on which I wrote my name and hung it on the board. I wonder if they take some down each night, wash them and sell them again LOL I also bought the first ice-cream of the day!! Magnum Double Framboesa. Delicioso 😉

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The Caminho Beach Bar 🙂

Whizzing along, in the distance I spotted the spire of a church. Never one to miss the opportunity to visit another church, I diverted from the track and made my way along a narrow winding road. I didn’t see many people except for the occasional car going by…usually at speed!! Hello!! narrow roads? Slow down buddy. The houses were painted a delightful array of pastel colours, and some a brilliant white that hurt the eyes. The area is very dry and the fields don’t look as if they could support any sort of vegetation, never mind anything useful. I found a whole new appreciation for England’s green fields, trees, bushes…you get it 😉 Mind you the blue skies….heavenly!!

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Aguacadoura, Portugal; blazing hot and very dry. I think the idea of siesta is very sensible.

The church was beautiful, albeit closed. Darn!! Opposite were the ruins of a beautiful chapel. Aguçadoura is a Portuguese freguesia (“civil parish”) and former civil parish located in Póvoa de Varzim. I spent an hour here, resting in the shade. If I saw 3 people, it was a lot. Siesta, maybe. Good idea 😉

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

Igreja de Aguçadoura, in the parish of Povoa de Varzim, Portugal

Setting off just before 2pm, I found the boardwalks once again…they stretched into the distance. Betwixt and between, I was wishing by this stage that I had planned a shorter day, but I was still loving the walking and the boardwalks which went on and on and on.

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the boardwalks were marvellous, made following the route so easy

Just after 2pm the boardwalks ended and the track changed to road and paths, I didn’t like them at all!! The markers were still prominent and I had no difficulty finding them. I had stopped off at a roadside cafe for a drink and nibble, and another Magnum Double Framboesa, shortly before the boardwalks ended…thankfully. What lay ahead was not fun at all.

Still following the markers which were a welcome sign. It got hotter by the second and within no time at all I’d emptied my 2ltr water bladder and my 750ml water bottle was being used sparingly. There were no cafes, restaurants, hotels or lodgings to speak of and I didn’t want to divert in case I got lost trying to find a non-existent mirage.  But I carried on; staggered on more like – exhausted and overheating, I was soaked with perspiration. And sun-burned. 😦 Hot. Hot. Hot.

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I did not like this new terrain. I had been perfectly happy with the boardwalks…thank you!!

After an exceedingly long, tiring and energy draining stretch I back-tracked slightly and turned off along a side road, that I’d passed earlier, which lead to a caravan park hoping they’d be able to give me water. I was desperate by then. Thankfully they were open and bliss of bliss had a cool, shady cafe where I holed up for an hour downing a couple of delicious, ice-cold Coke-Cola (horrors! I usually avoid coke, but omw it does the trick when you’re dehydrated and exhausted). I removed my shoes and socks and rested my legs which were horribly swollen by then, the cool air on my feet was blissful. I topped up my water bladder and had something to eat.

An instagram post: “Apparently it’s another 9.8 kms to Esposende, so all told I’m doing okay. If I didn’t stop to take photos every 5 seconds I could be there by now 😉😉😉”

The Orbitur camp site was a blessing, albeit 1.6 kms off the route, I’m so glad I back-tracked and made the effort. As I arrived at the camp I met a lovely young man from Cyprus with perfect English who had the same idea as me, get out the sun…except he checked in to the camp and stayed overnight. Clever lad. Unfortunately I had booked accommodation in Esposende so had to crack on.

Setting off again just after 4pm, and an hour later, just before Apulia I saw a sign that made my heart go cold. A diversion!!! What to do? Oh lord. I had read on the facebook camino pages how some albergues change signs to divert you to their premises, or weirdos change signs around for nefarious reasons. So when I saw that sign I literally stopped in my tracks. I decided right there and then (excuse the french) “fck that, I’m carrying on in the direction I was going! No desvio gracias”, and anyway I could still see signs showing the way – not the diversion. And then a short distance later, the reason for the diversion became apparent LOL They were digging up the road. Bless them, the workers, they stopped everything and let me squeeze through.

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Diversion?! No thanks!!!

And then to my delight I spotted a church! Bonus. 🙂 If I’d followed the diversion I wouldn’t have seen it. But, if I’d followed the diversion, apparently, as I found out later, I could have not only found a cafe to buy water, but I would have walked back to the beach and avoided what came next!! I wish that I had thought to get some more water at that stage, even knocking on someone’s door would have been sensible!!

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

Caminhos De Santiago – Apulia – Esposende

It was now just on 5pm and I had left Vila do Conde at 7am…I was tired, and hot and thirsty. What to do? Nothing except keep walking. I located the markers and carried on.

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

not a happy bunny, but still taking photos LOL

The road to Esposende was NOT paved with gold. In fact it was, at some points, just bloody awful. But hey, I’m here writing to you so I must have made it through LOL. Still following the markers which were scarce and not always easy to see, the path went off into brush and trees with only a very narrow sandy road to follow; it was horrible. The profusion of footprints was encouraging. Pilgrims came this way…..

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

seeing the signs, albeit scare was very encouraging.

It really was blazing hot and I could not bear the sun any more. It was also terribly dry and arid on this section and there had been no sign of habitation for about 6 kms and the worst was still to come. When I hit the next section I was about ready to give up and this was the first time on the Camino that I felt uncomfortable. I remember stopping briefly and looking around thinking that if I disappeared here, I’d never be found.

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

this was not a happy place to be on your own

Thank goodness the signs were still there or I’d have thought for sure I was lost.

The distances were really confusing. Depending on which guide you read, or which site you visit, the distances to towns along the way were different. It would help if you knew from which point they take their measurements. And don’t even mention Google maps!!!

Then finally, just as I was getting really desperate….signs of civilisation! Hoorah!!

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

Hoorah! Signs of civilisation – Portugal I ❤ you too

As I reached Fão, I got a phone call. It was the young man from Hostel Eleven who was calling to ensure I was okay and hadn’t had any mishaps – it was that late in the day. I assured him I was just a short distance away. The last 15 kms were sheer hell. Hot!! Dry! Dusty! So many times I was sure I was going the wrong way and then I’d see a Camino marker… And so it went, through very rural Portugal along deserted, cobbled streets, sandy lanes, thick dry brush, scrub and scrappy trees and sometimes a mix of both. It all started so well 😉

portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, camino de santiago

Hostel Eleven. Fao. Esposende 2kms 🙂

I remember how excited I got when I saw the Hostel Eleven van…I thought I was near… I wasn’t. 😦 When I reached Fão I noticed the Camino signs taking the route across the road, past a church and presumably along the riverside. But I didn’t have the energy to cross the road so just carried on. Not my brightest idea as the pavements were scarce and I was battling a tide of vehicles coming from behind…some of which passed within a whisker….probably cursing this stupid woman walking along the road. I cannot tell you my overwhelming relief when I arrived at the bridge….nearly there. I was shattered.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

Ponte metálica de Fão – the bridge between Fão and Esposende – Cávado River

But the Camino wasn’t finished with me yet!! Just after I crossed the bridge I missed the turn, the safer route….and as a result I had to contend with traffic at a round-about, walk along a road with a 50 miles p.h. speed-limit and cross a very busy, narrow bridge. At times I had to step down into the water channel alongside the tarmac and squeeze myself into the bushes lining the road to avoid the traffic going by. Urgh. Horrible.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

despite the signs, this was not the best way to go….But I was in Esposende 🙂

I staggered into town stopping the first 2 people I saw and in my broken Portuguese (read: non existent Portuguese) I asked if they knew where the hostel was? Hah! Imagine my surprise when they replied in English with a very British accent; sorry but no. LOL. I finally arrived at the hostel in Esposende after wandering about a bit trying to find the place and finally resorting to mapmywalk. Hostel Eleven #4 on my list of places I stayed on the Camino. A nice little hostel, very clean. He welcomed me in and immediately gave me something to drink, saying that most pilgrims get in mid-day or early afternoon. Hmmm, yes, well not every pilgrim is daft enough to keep stopping to take photos…of everything they see; 100’s of photos. hahahaha.

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Hostel Eleven, Esposende. The 2nd place I stayed on my Camino

Time of arrival: 19:07 – Bless him, he had been really concerned about me. He showed me around and to my quarters for the night. Bright, colourful, breezy and clean!!! I was suitably impressed and rather glad I could use the kitchen to prepare a meal…finally the packet of 2-minute curry noodles I had been carrying around were put to good use. LOL

I made a very welcome cup of tea, ate my noodles, had a shower and went to bed and sleep. 😕😴😴😴😴 I didn’t even have the energy to go out and buy a proper meal or explore. The day had started so well.

27.71 kms Vila do Conde to Esposende. 12 hours 21 minutes and 15 seconds from the times I started walking. 😢😢😢😢

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago

the road to Esposende is not paved in gold

I’d made it, albeit very very tired. But today’s walk caused me to change my plans for the next two days. I had planned on walking to Viana do Castelo on 14th and bus to Caminha the 15th, but I swapped that around. Took the bus to Viana do Castelo and walked to Caminha. Good plan. It also gave me the opportunity to explore Esposende for a few hours in the morning. And a much needed rest day. The bus ride to Viana do Castelo was terrific and I saw more of the area than I would have walking along the beach.

My favourite people of the day were Jakob and Agata from Poland. I was so sorry to lose touch with them at Povoa de Varzim when I went off for coffee and they went to get breakfast, but I suspected that they would walk a lot faster than me, and they were with a group of friends, so I didn’t want to hold them up. Besides the fantastic conversation we had while walking, Jakob was wearing a pair of pants that I greatly admired…which he loved hahaha. I hope someone knows them and I can connect with them again.

Since I started my Camino on Monday in Porto (seemed much longer than that already) I’d met a couple from South Africa, and then in order of appearance I met people from UK, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Poland (the lovely Agata & Jakob), Ireland, Spain (Barcelona), a lovely Portuguese gentleman who lived locally in Povoa de Varzim with whom I had a most marvellous 10 minute conversation, and the young man from Cyprus. I had conversations, some just briefly, with all the people I met, mostly because I said “hello”. Wonderful!!

Today was a very tough walking day and except for the Camino markers I would have thought I was lost. At one stage there was quite literally nothing I could see in front, back, to the left or right except trees and dusty road…. I was grateful for the footprints in the sand; there was one set of prints I locked onto and followed, they were like a beacon in the night…I was going in the same direction. I’m mentioning this again because it was a very isolated section, between Apulia and Fão. and if you’re on your own like I was….so just a heads up. I felt really uncomfortable and remember thinking that if anyone with ill intent came along at that point, not only would I have not had the energy to scream or run, but there was no-one to hear. I could have disappeared and no-one would have known where I was. It was one of two days of the whole walk that I felt really isolated; perhaps I was picking up on some vibes. Who knows. The only other time I felt the same was between Viana do Castelo and Caminha where I encountered a similar environment.

I spent some time thinking about the pilgrims who had gone before me. We are like seeds, all in one place for a brief moment in time, then scattered to the winds. As hard as the afternoon was, I’m still loving this experience. My #Camino2017 ❤ 

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St Augustine’s Way from Ramsgate to Canterbury.

The Way of St Augustine aka St Augustine’s Way – I first learned about this particular walk on one of my many Camino 2017 practice walks between Broadstairs and Cliffsend last year. Frankly I’d never heard of St Augustine before then but by all accounts he was quite an adventurous fella. I did some research and decided to do the walk.

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St Augustine

I’d made a list of walks I wanted to do in the UK so added this as it was quite short at 19 miles from Ramsgate to Canterbury and seemed eminently achievable.

As it turned out I actually walked 28 miles (?) and the hours are only my walking hours, not rest periods during the day. I was able to tag the walk on after my Southwark to Canterbury finale that ended on 29th July.

Day 1 : Walked 24.03 kms (15.02 miles) – 8 hours and 24 minutes
Day 2 : Walked 20.93 kms (13.08 miles) – 8 hours and 04 minutes

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Broadstairs to Ramsgate

 

The Way of St Augustine; my journey from Ramsgate to Canterbury started really from Broadstairs, at which time I walked from Viking Bay to St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate.  I’d had some really amazing help from Hunter and John of Friends of St Augustine, who prepared maps for me and answered my questions about the route and where to stay etc.

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The St Augustine Trail

I’d decided to attend the Sunday morning service at the shrine and so at 07:11 on July 30th I set off with Pepe; my fully loaded backpack, heading for Ramsgate. The service started at 08:30 and I figured I had loads of time since it usually took me just on 45 minutes to walk the distance…Hah!! I hadn’t factored in the weight of the backpack slowing me down and forgot that I still had to climb the hill on the opposite side of Ramsgate Harbour and walk to the shrine…as a result I slipped into the church with 2 minutes to spare and sweating profusely from rushing to get there on time.

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St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate

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Shrine of St Augustine

After the service I took some photos (of course) and then joined the parishioners for tea and biscuits and a wee chat, and at 09:44, following the map that John had kindly printed for me I set off from The Shrine heading for the 2nd of what was to be many stops; St Augustine’s Cross.

I passed through familiar territory walking along the clifftops at Ramsgate and stopped for a swing in the park…how can I not? It’s my favourite 😉

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stopping for a swing 🙂

From there it’s a short walk to Pegwell Bay

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Pegwell Bay – I wonder how it looked in AD 597

and taking the clifftop walk I soon passed the Viking Ship and Cliffs End village signboard,

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Viking Ship at Cliffsend

then a right turn and within no time at all I found the cross….I can’t believe I didn’t know it was there!! Managed by English Heritage, it’s free to visit.

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St Augustine’s Cross

After taking some photos and getting my bearings on the map, I found myself walking along secluded lanes and farmlands. One field in particular was really amazing…sunflowers as far as the eye could see.

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sunflowers; a touch of sunshine on a cloudy day

I had got a wee bit lost just before this as the map didn’t show the massive arterial roadway that crossed over the railway and so I missed the turn under the bridge…but thankfully some fella was walking towards me so I didn’t go too far off course. He directed me back to the bridge and mentioned that he had done this many times before!! hmmm. I also missed the crossing of the railway line, but after finding myself in a cul-de-sac of trees, I again retraced my steps and hopped across quick as a flash…I loathe railway crossings.

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the railway crossing I missed…

I got to chat to a lovely elderly gentleman at this point and he was quite impressed at my endeavour. Actually most people looked at me like I was quite insane when I told them what I was doing. LOL Nonetheless I was on the right track and soon I could see the spire of St Mary’s in Minster. I found the abbey quite easily. Oh my word. What a delightful surprise.

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Minster Abbey

Quite different to what I was expecting, but just amazing. I summonsed one of the Nuns who live and work there, and she kindly stamped my Pilgrim’s Passport for me 🙂 Of course I took loads of photos and then visited St. Mary The Virgin Church.

St. Mary’s Church, founded in 670AD is known as the ‘Cathedral on the marshes’ and is the mother-church of western Thanet. Fantastic place with oodles of history. Sadly there was no stamp for my passport.

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St Mary’s – cathedral on the marshes

Quite hungry by then I stopped off at The Bell Inn for Sunday Roast 🙂 A hearty meal very much appreciated.

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The Bell Inn, Minster

The Bell Inn was built during the reign of Elizabeth I in the year 1576 and is apparently a pub with ghosts……The earliest recorded occupant of the property is one Thomas Calfe who is mentioned in a sale document of 1611. In 1715 the rector of the parish held the first tithe supper at The Bell and in 1718 with his help and persuasion a 7 day licence was granted on condition that no liquor be administered between the hours of divine service. The penalty for doing so was a day in the stocks, a heavy fine or in some cases a flogging. In 1864, The Bell was lit by gaslight for the first time.

After a rest (I took my shoes and socks off and revelled in the cool wet grass) and the delicious meal, I hoiked Pepe onto my back and made my way back to the abbey. While at the shrine in Ramsgate earlier I had noticed that there was a Gregorian chant event at the abbey in the afternoon, so I decided to pop in. Getting there a tad late (45 minutes) I slipped quietly through the door…LOL – I only entered right next to the speaker and with a huge backpack…quietly I was not!! However, it seems I had stumbled into what was a semi-private event and there was a fee to be paid?? eeee. Oh well… But the organiser chap kindly let me off since I had got there very late and wasn’t staying for the 6:30 event at the church…which was the chanting part of the event. Duhhhh. So I just stayed as long as it was polite to do so, had a cup of tea and a delicious slice of chocolate cake baked by the nuns, left a hefty donation in lieu of my entrance fee and at 5:30 I set off once again. Destination Plucks Gutter. Seriously? Plucks Gutter??  I thought I’d have a quick squizz at wikipedia and here is their description: “The hamlet is named after a Dutch Drainage Engineer called Ploeg, whose grave is in All Saints Church, West Stourmouth. Ploeg, being the Dutch for a plough, the hamlet takes its origins from the Dutch Protestant tradition of draining marshland by creating a ploughed ditch”. I’m really not sure how that converts to Plucks Gutter…but there it is!! Although just a hamlet it has an interesting history with links to King Alfred and the Vikings, smugglers and of course was part of what was then the Isle of Thanet on the Wantsum Channel (now built over).

Most of the Way of St Augustine walk was through farmland and along streams and what was once Saxon Shore, although I warrant that Augustine would find things very different to his time!

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channels of water and fields of crops

Whenever the going got tough, I reminded myself that they didn’t have it any easier…I think! The land has been pushed back so far since then that you can’t even see the shoreline from that point, so maybe they walked along the beach whilst I was dragging myself through a jungle LOL

Traipsing across farmlands and recently cut fields that left horrible spiky stalks that crunched underfoot I was in danger of being pierced at the ankles!!

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spiky stalks…horrible to walk in this

Barring my first misdirection, I had so far managed to follow the map quite easily with the help of some signs attached to either gate posts or barriers etc…but somewhere, in the middle of nowhere I lost the trail.

way of st augustine

signs…..here there and everywhere…and anywhere

The map indicated to head inland at one point which I did and followed a narrow channel (there were a LOT of channels and streams in this area; salt-marsh works and farmland as far as the eye could see) but the crops were so high and so thick that I simply could not find ‘The Way’. I tried walking along a particular pathway, but that was making me double back and there was no way to cross the channel which appeared to go on for miles…that I could see anyway. Eventually after walking back and forth a few times and carefully looking for the pathway, I gave up and walked back to the river. I could see from the map that it lead towards Plucks Gutter so figured I would walk along the riverbank till I reached the bridge. Hah!!Great plan….or so it seemed.

way of st augustine

sigh

Firstly the riverbank was exceptionally narrow and I walked (dragged myself) along long grass with just a few inches between me and the river. Mindful of the weight of the backpack, I was having nightmare visions of falling in and not being able to surface due to the weight of the pack…but thankfully I had my walking poles. They really came into their own at this point and saved me from many a stumble on uneven ground and a possible tumble into the river. Eventually my luck ran out and the grassy riverbank ran into thickets of weeds and nettles as tall as me!! I was confounded as to what I should do. It was getting later and the sun was setting. Fortunately said sun was ahead of me so pulling on my ‘big girl panties’ I plunged into the fields of corn! Never mind ‘Children of the Corn’ – I am ‘Woman of the Corn’ hahahaha

way of st augustine

Woman of the Corn…no snakes!!

The stalks were taller than me and for at least 30 minutes of plunging and shoving my way through, I could not see anything other than green corn stalks and a faint glimmer of the sun. Walking through these stalks was eerie and a tad unnerving. I was reminded of when I was about 7 or 8 following my grandfather through a small field of corn that he had grown on their property in South Africa. I was casually strolling along behind him when I looked up and right there before me, with head poised to strike was a thin green snake! Fuck! I can tell you that never have I been so terrified. I screamed, the snake snaked and my grandfather came up with a stick and whacked it into kingdom come…or gone! As the case may be. So yeah, walking through this particular field was rather unpleasant. Fortunately I didn’t see any snakes…but perhaps they saw me and scarpered. I was kinda hoping that like Ireland, this particular field didn’t have snakes!

After what seemed like forever, with all sorts of greenery tangled in my hair and poking through my clothes, I stumbled out of the field and voila the bridge was ahead of me 🙂 Hurrah!! Only problem was that I ended up in a boatyard of some sort so had to find my way through a maze and then do some serious climbing of fences and gates. Forget the signs that say ‘Keep Out’ …mate, I’m leaving, no worries.

way of st augustine

Plucks Gutter and the River Stour

I have also learned that I can climb a gate with a fully loaded backpack in situ!! Something I had to do quite frequently on this walk. LOL

Once I reached the bridge over the River Stour it was so much easier; tarmac! Yayyy. I was in Plucks Gutter…but thankfully not in a gutter. I stopped to read the history board outside the Dog and Duck Inn; fascinating stuff!! Then my feet hit the mac and I was off…only a few more minutes of walking to be done and I would be able to have a cuppa and put my feet up, but first I had to navigate this road. It was however quite scary since the road, if you can call it that, was narrow and had no sidewalk or place for pedestrians. Once again I sucked in my breath and set off….The Sun Inn according to the map at the pub was within a 25 minute walk.

way of st augustine

You are here….Plucks Gutter and Stourmouth

And what a treat Stourmouth proved to be, lots of lovely quaint houses greeted me…although frankly I was too tired right then to be more than a little impressed. Suddenly as I rounded a corner there it was….. The Rising Sun Inn – my accommodation for the night. And once again, exhausted and dusty, but not wet (thankfully), I stumbled across the portal and traipsed across the reception area. A lovely young lass showed me to my room, and brought me a much needed cup of tea. The landlady soon came by to say hello whereupon I ordered a platter of sandwiches and crisps – delicious. The room at the Inn was absolutely fantastic. A gorgeous big bed and an ensuite shower.

way of st augustine

The Rising Sun, Stourmouth

Within no time at all I had my shoes off, my very dirty hiking pants hanging up to air, and with my feet up on the comfy couch I settled in for a bit of telly. 🙂 Exploring would have to wait for the morrow…for now, I wasn’t going anywhere except into the shower and then bed!! It seemed perfectly apt for me to be staying at The Rising Sun since one of my ultimate favourite songs is ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (The Animals). I still have the 7-single 😉

A spot of history: “Originally a bakery owned and worked by the Monks of the Diocese of Canterbury, the first part of the building was erected in 1372 during the reign of Edward III. Continuing as a bakery and passing through a number of different owners, the building eventually came into the hands of Edgar Rake; baker and brewer in 1682!! Said gentleman applied for an ale and cider licence that was granted on April 4th, 1695. He carried out some building work in 1708 & 1709 but died before this more modern structure was completed. One Jeremiah Bedley; baker and beer seller took over the premises in 1709 and granted a licence to sell liquor and named the premises “The Rising Sun”….probably coz his patrons saw the sun rising after a heavy night!! LOL From 1709 onwards till 1865 all the Inn Keepers of The Rising Sun were bakers, working the old bakery and running the Inn, except for Thomas Lucke who in 1776 was described as a ‘beer seller, baker and ferryman’. The inn was for many years also known as the Ferryman’s Inn as the men who worked the ferries across the mile-wide estuary to the “Crown” (Cherry Brandy House) at Sarre, met here.”

I was hoping to see the rising of the sun on the Way of St Augustine walk and so to spend the night at a 14th century inn called The Rising Sun is superbly brilliant.

And so to bed…perchance to dream. I slept really well that night….the bed was amazing.

Day 2 The Way of St Augustine

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One of the most exciting aspects of my Southwark to Canterbury pilgrimage was arriving in Rochester. According to the Canterbury Tales Chaucer and his pilgrims stopped in Rochester to visit the Cathedral, a site of pilgrimage in it’s own right, comparable to Canterbury.

Rochester Cathedral; 2nd oldest cathedral in England

Rochester Cathedral; 2nd oldest cathedral in England

I’d visited Rochester twice already in the past 2 years and although I did visit the castle, I wanted to save the cathedral for when I did this particular journey; Southwark to Canterbury in the footsteps of Chaucer, and suddenly here I was….just across the river. I could see the tower and the turrets and my heart quickened…at last I would step through those hallowed doors!

entering Rochester Cathedral - pilgrims shell

entering Rochester Cathedral – pilgrims shell

Rochester is famous not only for it’s cathedral, the 2nd oldest in England, but also for the fantastically well-preserved Norman castle (well worth a visit any day). Charles Dickens, as mentioned in a previous post had many associations with Rochester and a number of places feature in his stories.

During the 13th century, Rochester Cathedral became an important place of pilgrimage for those wishing to venerate William of Perth, a Scottish baker who was murdered nearby and enshrined in the cathedral. Although no trace remains of the shrine today the well-worn Pilgrim’s Steps can still be seen; now protected by a series of wooden steps.

Rochester Cathedral; the Pilgrim's steps - worn away by centuries of footsteps

Rochester Cathedral; the Pilgrim’s steps – worn away by centuries of footsteps

Although the well-known Pilgrim’s Way, a series of track-ways used since neolithic times, has been used across the centuries as pilgrim’s made their way to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Archbishop Becket, Chaucer’s pilgrims did not use that route from Southwark.  It’s quite difficult trying to tie down the exact route Chaucer and his fictitious pilgrims followed, since not only are the tales fictitious but so is the apparent route. There is also quite a LOT of dissension from various experts, each of whom regard their information as being correct….a moot point really since it’s a work of fiction.

Stepping through the doors after my journey that day was quite surreal. I had waited for this moment for many years and now finally I was here. The cathedral is beautiful. Not as ostentatious as many of the other cathedrals I have visited, but has a simple beauty that enchants. I spent quite some time just looking and absorbing the atmosphere and marvelling at the fact that I was finally there.

Rochester Cathedral; the interior of the cathedrals are designed to inspire and awe

Rochester Cathedral; the interior of the cathedrals are designed to inspire and awe

The next step was to find someone to stamp my passport……I saw a man in a long black cloak waft down the stairs and along a short corridor, turn through a doorway and disappear. I therefore made my way in that direction figuring if he went in, he must surely come back out….and so he eventually did. (it’s weird how their cossacks make it appear as if they’re floating across the floor). Anyway, I digress. I went to the doorway with the intention of following him, instead my way was barred by a sign: ‘staff only’. Hmmm. So instead I called out ‘hellooooo’…..I got no reply. In a bit of a quandry now, I wasn’t sure what to do, so banged on the door rather loudly. Still nothing. I could hear voices echoing from somewhere in the corridor, but got no answering reply. So I figured I would just sit there till someone came back out again…..which our gentleman in the black cloak eventually did. In no time at all he had hailed a lady from the depths of the cathedral and she came armed with the relevant stamp 🙂 🙂 Hoorah!

Getting my Pilgrim's passport stamped at Rochester Cathedral

Getting my Pilgrim’s passport stamped at Rochester Cathedral

I meandered about the cathedral enjoying the tranquillity and peace. I managed to track down the name of the Bishop of the time; one Thomas Trilleck who was nominated Bishop of Rochester on 6 March 1364 and consecrated on 26 May 1364. He died between 12 December and 25 December 1372 so would have been bishop at the time of the pilgrim’s journey. I found his name inscribed on the wall above the quire. Some of those dates are seriously astounding.

So there I was, finally at Rochester Cathedral. The lady who had stamped my passport managed to track me down and invited me to attend a service of thanksgiving at 5:30pm, which I duly did after a quick shower and change of clothes at the B&B.

Rochester Cathedral organ...appears to soar.

Rochester Cathedral organ…appears to soar.

Rochester is one of those cities that really captured my imagination. I had seen the cathedral and castle so many times from the train between London and Broadstairs, so when we finally visited I was enthralled. It’s certainly not the prettiest city I’ve visited, but there is so much atmosphere and character with the ancient buildings and alleyways, cobbled streets and phenomenal history, it’s quite impossible to not be charmed. There are numerous places that feature in Dickens’ books (as mentioned previously),

Charles Dickens and Rochester

Charles Dickens and Rochester

there’s the Restoration House that is an absolute must visit; phenomenal, two of the city Gates still stand. The castle moats are till visible, and many of the streets bear the names of ancient history.

Rochester Castle and remnants of the moat, two city gates

Rochester Castle and remnants of the moat, two city gates

Rochester has also been an important centre for many a royal visit and a number of kings passed that way between landing at Dover and travelling to London.

Rochester History; oldest pub in Kent, Restoration house, ancient streets, significant people

Rochester History; oldest pub in Kent, Restoration house, ancient streets, significant people

Rochester, we may have only spent a brief time together this time around, but I shall be seeing you again……

Further information via The British Library

What is ‘The Canterbury Tales’ about?

Chaucer’s long poem follows the journey of a group of pilgrims, 31 including Chaucer himself, from the Tabard Inn in Southwark to St Thomas à Becket’s shrine at Canterbury Cathedral. The host at the inn suggests each pilgrim tell two tales on the way out and two on the way home to help while away their time on the road. The best storyteller is to be rewarded with a free supper on their return.

This literary device gives Chaucer the opportunity to paint a series of vivid word portraits of a cross-section of his society, from a knight and prioress, to a carpenter and cook; a much-married wife of Bath, to a bawdy miller – an occupation regarded in Chaucer’s day as shifty and dishonest.

Chaucer mixes satire and realism in lively characterisations of his pilgrims. The tone of their tales ranges from pious to comic, with humour veering between erudite wit and good honest vulgarity. Taken together, the tales offer a fascinating insight into English life during the late 14th century.

Chaucer’s original plan was for over 100 stories, but only 24 were completed, some of which had already been written for earlier works. Their order varies in different surviving copies, the Hengwrt manuscript being valued most for its accuracy.

More about the journey:

Prelude – Day 1 Southwark

Prelude – Day 2 Southwark and the City of London

Day 1 – Southwark to Gravesend

Day 2 – Gravesend to Rochester

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