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On 11th September 2017 I set off on my first Camino, from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, via the Portuguese Coastal Route to Caminha, then inland to Valenca and the Central Way from Tui to Santiago; 240 kms along one of the most amazing journeys of my life.

Portugal was fantastic and I enjoyed the most wonderful weather and scenery along the whole route. My favourite towns were Vila do Conde, Caminha and Valenca, then the delightful Padron in Spain and of course the 2 cities: Porto and Santiago (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites).

I was very lucky to witness the swinging of the botafumeiro at the Santiago de Compostela cathedral on the night after I arrived. It was a phenomenal sight with hundreds of pilgrims gathered in the cathedral to give thanks for a safe journey and to witness this amazing event.

Apparently the botafumeiro is swung every Friday evening at mass and at other times/days if someone pays to have it swung. It’s not a given at every service. I can however recommend attending the pilgrim service even if, like me, you are not religious. It’s a beautiful building that resonates with the history of the aeons, of the prayers of the thousands if not millions of pilgrims who have humbly knelt there for religious reasons, and filled with the gratitude of pilgrims who are quite simply happy to have arrived safe and in one piece…and even some who have not….blisters being the most common ailment.

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2017.09.16 Day 10 – an evening in Valença.

Walked 4.5 kms / 8563 steps

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

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Valença station and the apartment block I stayed

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

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

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

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

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Porta do Sol, Valença Portugal

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

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descendants of those Roman horses?

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

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Entering the Fortress of Valença, Portugal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Porta do Sol; entrance to the walled city of Valença, Portugal

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Paths of the Sacred Way of Valença.

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

1. Capela Militar do Bom Jesus and São Teotónio the first Portuguese saint was born in Ganfei near Valença, and was the confessor of King Afonso Henriques. The statue of S. Teotónio is a sculpture from the 20th century and evokes the figure of the 1st Holy Saint – the inspirer and protector of nationality.

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Capela Militar do Bom Jesus and statue of São Teotónio, Valença Portugal

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Capela Militar do Bom Jesus

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

2. The church of Santa Maria dos Anjos is the parish church of Valença built inside the medieval fortress.

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Santa Maria dos Anjos, Valenca, Portugal

This is where I bumped into Mel.

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

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

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Capela da Misericordia Valenca, Portugal

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

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

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Church of Santo Estevao a 13th century temple
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Capela de São Sebastião – The chapel of San Sebastián represented the last of the four stages of Via Sacra de Valença.

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

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

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

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

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ancient cobbled lanes and houses.

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

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

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

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

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

But first the sunset…..

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

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sunset over Spain viewed from the Fortress in Valença. Isn’t life just amazing.

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

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

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

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time for a bit of shopping

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

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

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

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

 

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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…

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

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.

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

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)

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

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!!

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 😦

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

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.

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

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.

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

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’ 🙂

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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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2017.09.14 Day 8 – Viana do Castelo

The bus ride to Viana do Castelo was wonderful. Besides the fact that I wasn’t walking (LOL), the scenery was amazing. So many stunning little villages and places I would have loved to stop off for and explore…but time was hastening on.

Even though I didn’t walk the actual route today, I still did just on 11 kms between exploring Esposende and exploring Viana do Castelo. The origins of Viana do Castelo date back to before the Christian era. It received its first foral from King Afonso III of Portugal in 1258, as well as the name Viana da Foz do Lima, because of its geographical location. In 1848, by a decree of Maria II of Portugal, it received the name of Viana do Castelo and became a city.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Fountain at Praça da República, at the Praça da República (Republic Square) – This granite fountain, richly adorned with carved figures, was built by João Lopes in the 16th century.

VdC is a very big city with what looks like the most beautiful replica, albeit a lot smaller, of the Sacré Coeur in Montmarte, Paris, on the hill above the city. The Basilica of Santa Luzia, on Mt. St. Luzia is exquisite. Perched on top of a hill behind the city and reached by funicular or car. I guess you could probably walk….I didn’t 😉

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Riding the funicular to visit Santa Luze. Basilica of Santa Luzia, on Mt. St. Luzia Viana do Castelo

I hopped off the bus at the depot just behind the train station and after crossing via a pedestrianised walkway I followed an intriguing passageway and straight onto a wonderful pedestrianised area lined with fabulous architecture, restaurants and bakeries.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Viana do Castelo Train station. Casa de Carreira on Avenida Conde da Carreira

This manor house was founded by Fernão Botelho, a nobleman who settled in Viana do Castelo in the year 1519, when he was distinguished by D. Manuel I with the commendation of S. João de Cabanas, due to services rendered in the North of Africa. Following this wide avenue I made my way to the riverside and from there headed upstream back towards the bridge we had just crossed on the bus; Eiffel Bridge.

2 bridge

Eiffel Bridge (designed by Gustav Eiffel)

The HI Hotel (? a misnomer if ever there was one), was situated a short distance beyond. Gosh, I came down to earth with a bump. This venue was not at all what I had expected. In fact it is last on my list of places to stay. It was an unpleasant concrete edifice with no attractive features at all.

camino de santiago, viana do castelo

HI Hostel, Viana do castelo

But there it was, I had already paid for it and anyway it was very cheap. Although to be fair, the other places I stayed were equally as cheap, however, they were of a much BETTER quality than this place. I disliked it intensely. Cest la vie eh! All part of the experience. If I wasn’t so impatient to get out and explore I may well have just written the money off and gone on to find something else more suitable.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

HI Hostel, Viana do Castelo – not my favourite place to stay

As soon as I had been allocated my bed, I stuffed Pepe into the locker that didn’t lock and sending up a wee request to the Universe to keep an eye on the contents, I set off. Wow. I have to say this right now…. Portugal on the whole literally blew me away. It has been high on my list of places I really wanted to visit and it did not disappoint. As I was climbing towards the funicular station I passed a wee bakery and bought myself a couple of the traditional Portuguese pastries that are so famous; Pastel de Nata (Custard Tarts). Oh my word. They are delicioso.

On my way I passed this beautiful church; Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo,

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Viana do Castelo

so popped in for a look…absolutely stunning. The interiors are all so incredible.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

interior Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Viana do Castelo

Riding in funiculars are a particular favourite of mine and if there’s one in town, I always endeavour to have a ride. For this ride I paid 3 euro return. Absolute bargain. Up, up and up we went. And oh joys, the cathedral was open.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Riding the funicular to visit Santuário de Santa Luzia, Viana do Castelo

One word.  13 letters. – Extraordinary!! Wow, even now as I look back at the photos, I’m blown away once again. The exterior is stunning, the interior is breath-taking. Santuário de Santa Luziaalso referred to as the Santa Luzia Temple-Monument or the Sacred Heart of Jesus Temple in Santa Luzia , is located on the top of Santa Luzia mountain, in the district of Viana do Castelo in Portugal.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Santuário de Santa Luzia, Viana do Castelo. Constructed in 1903, it was inspired by the Sacré Coeur de Montmartre in Paris.

Construction started in 1903/4 and the Shrine of Saint Luzia is widely considered to be inspired by the Basilica of Sacré Cœur in Paris, but this idea has been disputed, since, at the height of the project of Ventura Terra (1899), the Parisian church was still under construction with no visible configuration. However, it looks like a mini replica of the Sacré Coeur in Montmatre, and absolutely exquisite. It has to be seen to be believed. The pure white exterior is dazzling and looked astounding against the blue of the sky. Free to visit, enter via the front steps and as you step into the round interior, prepare to be astounded. Tried to think of another word, but what best describes it; magnificent!!

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Santuário de Santa Luzia, Viana do Castelo

The ceiling is absolutely exquisite. I’d be hard put to find words that would sufficiently describe how beautiful the interior and exterior of this church. I’ll let the photos do the talking. All I will say is that if you’re in Viana do Castelo, do make a plan to visit this church. It is so well worth the effort. The funicular is only 3 euro return and they stamp your pilgrim’s passport too. You can also climb to the dome for 1 euro (at the time I was there). I didn’t because after climbing a multitude of towers and domes and hills I’d had enough and said no more. Hah. What was that I said about no more hills? Still had Spain ahead of me LOLcamino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelocamino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelocamino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelocamino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Back to VdC. The panoramic views from the church were stunning and you could see for miles and miles. I was blessed with a beautiful clear day.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

view of Viana do Castelo from the Basilica of Santa Luzia

From there I made my way back down into the city to explore. I spent a few hours meandering the streets, finding fascinating buildings of all shapes and sizes. I was wishing I had another day to spend in this fascinating place.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Antigos Paços do Concelho (Town Hall), Viana do Castelo – located in the Praça da República

This intriguing fortress like building; Antigos Paços do Concelho is the old 16th century town hall. In the facade you can see the coat of arms of the city: a boat and an an armillary sphere.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

scenes of Viana do Castelo – Porta de Santiago

I visited the cathedral;  Sé Catedral de Santa Maria Maior, also called Viana do Castelo Cathedral is a Catholic church and fortress built in the 15th century. A Romanesque church with a Latin cross, the facade is flanked by two large towers topped by battlements, and highlights its beautiful Gothic portal with archivolts with sculpted scenes from the Passion of Christ and sculptures of the Apostles.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Sé Catedral de Santa Maria Maior also called Viana do Castelo Cathedral

Inside, are the chapels of St. Bernard (by Fernão Brandão) and the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, attributed to stonemason, João Lopes the “old”.

The interior was so beautiful I could have stayed for hours, so peaceful and ethereal.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

interior of the Sé Catedral de Santa Maria Maior also called Viana do Castelo Cathedral

 

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

The Cathedral of St. Mary the Great (Portuguese: Sé Catedral de Santa Maria Maior

One of the things that amazed me was that people hung their laundry up to dry on lines in front of their homes….clearly theft of laundry is not an issue in VdC.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

streets of Viana do Castelo

There was a lot of interesting graffiti that I wish I knew more about.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Graffiti or Street Art? – Viana do Castelo

One of the streets had colourful umbrellas hanging overhead.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

colourful umbrellas

I visited the harbour where I saw a ship built the same year I was born. Hello Gil Eannes, you’re looking mighty fine for an old lady…much like me I guess LOL

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Gil Eannes, Viana do Costelo Harbour, Portugal

The view of the church on the hill from this perspective was wonderful, and the setting sun bathed the walls in a soft pink. I walked all the way to the edge of the harbour, a beautiful evening. Sadly I just couldn’t find a way to the sea for the sunset.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

sunset in Viana do Castelo, Portugal Torre de Vigia – This is the old pilot station of the port of Viana do Castelo.

Fountains, churches, memorials, a fort, a lighthouse, ancient fishermen’s houses, beautiful tiled ceramics; a heady mix of old and ancient history, the streets of Viana do Castelo were just amazing.

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

sculptures and monuments

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

fishermen’s cottages

 

camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route porto to santiago, viana do castelo

Fort of Santiago da Barra, on Campo do Castelo. Consisting of an quadrangular outer wall with the Roqueta tower in the center, this fort was constructed during the reign of Dom Manuel I.

As I was walking back to the hostel I stopped off at a small local restaurant for supper. I chose the soup which was so delicious I had a 2nd bowl. Freshly made vegetable and lentils with fresh crusty bread. Yummy. And then it was time to head back for bed.

Altogether an amazing day. Tomorrow it’s the coastal walk to Caminha where I’ll spend the night before heading inland to Valenca and my last night in Portugal before heading over the border into Spain. I can’t quite believe it. I’m almost halfway thru my #Camino2017 I’ll be really sad to say goodbye to Portugal.

If you missed my earlier post; a morning in Esposende

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