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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

31 Days of Gratitude and today I’m grateful for reading; the ability to read.

Being able to read is a huge privilege and an incredible practical ability. Although it’s something we tend to take for granted, millions of people are unable to read.

Besides the lack of opportunity to learn how to read, physical disabilities can affect our ability eg dyslexia. “Britain has up to eight million adults who are functionally illiterate. The World Literacy Foundation said one in five of the UK population are so poor at reading and writing they struggle to read a medicine label or use a chequebook”.

Can you imagine that? Reading is such a fundamental function that we use every day. We grow up learning to read and it opens up opportunities we tend to take for granted without a second thought. What if we never had the privilege or ability to learn to read.

Could we apply for a job? Would we be able to write a job application? Would we be able to function in a work place where reading is fundamental to the job?

I was lucky enough to learn to read and write from a very young age. I’ve always loved books; a real bookworm growing up I spent every spare minute with my nose buried in a book….transported to different worlds. A voracious reader I went through school books like water through a sieve. My teachers had a hard time keeping me supplied and I went through the curriculum selection in no time at all.

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Going to The Chapel, and we’re…… having hot chocolate with oodles of cream. 🙂 The Chapel is a quirky bar/coffee/book shop. It’s actually a bar with hundreds of books that line the walls, from floor to ceiling in some places, where you can relax with a drink and read a book…you can also buy the books which is super cool.

Fundamental to reading is a good cup of tea and a packet of biscuits….my ideal day.

As a child my absolute favourite books were the Secret Seven or Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. Anne of Green Gables was a huge favourite and so many others. My Mother used to buy me comics every week when I was about 5 years old…I waited with anticipation for the latest to fall through the letter box. I loved all the fairy stories and the Brothers Grimm stories were read again and again. I remember in my teens and 20’s literally reading through the night and finishing a book a night. I used to read at least 2 – 3 books a week; spy thrillers, WW2 stories, conspiracy theory stories, love stories, historical novels, the list of my likes went on and on.

These are some of my latest reads as well as my fantastic collection of books about London. I adore London and love to read about her secrets and history.

 

book review

These days I don’t read hardcover books so much since most of my time is now spent writing, but I still read a lot via the internet – articles on travel – namely walks around the UK and the various Caminos in Spain. I read a lot about health and finance, as well as the occasional gossip column LOL Ergo, most of my day is spent in reading or writing.

Besides loving books, I love the English language; it’s such a rich repository of wonderful words that we’re able to play around with creating pictures using descriptive words to create an image or a story.

Alongside of reading comes writing. To be able to write is as much a privilege as reading. I can’t imagine not being able to read and write; it’s fundamental to my day to day life. My whole working life has involved reading and writing and even today in my current career reading and writing is a necessary ability. I’ve written poems, a short story and 3 London books, one of which is a travel guide.

I had a blind friend once who lost his sight when he was a young boy. He had to learn braille and over the years he managed to obtain a computer on which he could write using braille. He worked in the office of the Courier company I was working for and held down a most fundamental role in the company. But it was always a challenge for him.

If I was unable to read and write I wouldn’t have been able to take up most of the opportunities I’ve had in the past and certainly currently. My blog is a vip part of my day and besides sharing my stories, I’m able to follow the stories of those that I identify with. I’ve been able to follow walkers on the Camino, learn about health benefits and latest research. I’m able to follow articles on finance and learn about trends like Bitcoin and Litecoin…which I might add are bloody exciting.

I taught my daughter to read at a very early age and one of my most endearing and enduring memories of her childhood are the nights when I would read her bedtime stories. One of our favourite books (I still have the relevant book) was The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. An absolute favourite I would read two or three chapters, following the faerie characters on their many adventures. I would also invariably fall asleep…something that happens a lot these days too when I read a book LOL 2 -3 pages and I’m asleep.  Another favourite book was The Neverending Story….still a favourite and I hope to read these two books to my grandchildren one day.

One of the hardest of my possessions to give up when I packed up in South Africa was my books. I had to leave hundreds behind. But sadly I don’t have the space for them. I did keep many of the favourites though. One book I have is The Water Babies. An old book that belonged to my father as a boy….it’s a treasured item.

So today I am grateful for reading and alongside of that I’m grateful I can write. There are millions who cannot and I can’t imagine how debilitating and hindering that must be.

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 11 

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Today I’m grateful for my laptop. It seems like a fairly trivial thing to be grateful for, and yes I realise it’s not only a non-essential for life, but it’s also a staple of a consumer society.

However, my laptop has been invaluable to me. I remember when I got my very first one…about 14 years ago. I was living in London, working as a Carer then as now, and between my sister and I we decided I needed a laptop rather than going into internet cafes all the time.

I’d started blogging by then and it was a pain having to download my blog to an external hard-drive, then walk to the internet cafe during my break, then login and download over an insecure connection and finalise the blog. Time consuming and not very secure.

So the decision was made to buy a laptop. My sister suggested a Dell and since I had nothing to compare it to, and had no knowledge of laptops and how they worked, I said go ahead. In due course they delivered the laptop, and boy was it heavy….it still is.

And then the fun began…..first I had to learn ‘how to do set up’ ergo charging the battery, setting up the account, and going through the set up process….this I had to be talked through by my brother-in-law from Ireland. That is how much of a novice I was. I used it for 3 years till it began to go so slowly it may as well have gone backwards. Since then I’ve come leaps and bounds.  Once I decided to get a new computer I took out a contract with my network provider and I’ve upgraded my computer contract twice in the intervening 10 years. I try to make them last till they collapse (which is what happened to the last one 3 years ago). My current model has lasted well over 3 years……touch wood.

The reason I’m grateful for my laptop is that it has allowed me to reach into the wonderful and sometimes scary world of the internet. I’ve since learned to build a website, download, edit and upload photos and videos, create videos from images and progress to the various photo-sharing apps. I’ve learned how to use Google to find out just about anything I set my mind to, even sometimes incredibly obscure questions…I use my laptop to plan my Caminos by using Google Maps and accessing relevant websites.

My laptop has allowed me to create a 2nd website (which is where you are reading this article) and yesterday I managed to ‘crack a code’. If you look at the top right hand side you’ll see a button for the SA Blog Awards…well, when I tried to paste their code into the wordpress ‘widget’ it kept telling me that there were 6 errors I had to fix first before it could save. I was like ‘wtf’ ..seriously!!!

Anyway after about 15 minutes of stress, I hopped onto google and within 30 minutes I had fixed the errors and voila the badge was up.  I was well pleased 🙂

I have learned so much since those early days when I lifted the lid on my Dell in 2003, I have travelled vicariously through reading other peoples blogs, created relationships on Facebook, Tweet for China, loaded images via instagram, flickr and pinterest and as a result of this one of my images was chosen to feature in a book about the Queens of England. 🙂

I’ve learned how to create spreadsheets (I’m the spreadsheet queen) LOL, how to edit images in powerpoint, how to create videos using movie maker, I’ve written and created 3 books on Bookwright and so much else it’s staggering.

Having my laptop has stopped me from going crazy when I’m in a stressful position at work by allowing me to be creative, to write and to communicate. I am able to keep up with world affairs, with latest trends in politics and travel and investments. It’s allowed me to share my stories and photos of far-flung places and taken me on the road to Project 101.

I am grateful for my laptop. It is my most ‘prized possession’

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 1

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 2

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 3

 

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About 6 months ago I decided to go ‘great’ free. I was having one of my ‘ffs I hate D. Trump’ days after one of his latest vicious bigoted narcissistic misogynistic rants on a video I saw on Facebook (why do I EVEN watch them???) One of his favourite words is ‘great’. So I decided there and then to never again use the word ‘great’ in any written articles, replies or responses to anything anywhere. Since I am a bit of a ‘linguaphile’ anyway, it suits me to try my darndest to find alternative words.

 

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English is such a magical language, it’s expressive, descriptive and manipulative, and by using certain words you can change the whole meaning of something e.g. I will toast my bread. If you do that you are toast! I particularly love/enjoy/like words that have the same spelling but have different meanings – consider the word ‘bow’ – depending on how you use it, it’s spelt the same, but has a different meaning in context of the action, and even the pronunciation changes accordingly:

Can you make a ‘bow’ out of this ribbon?

When you meet the Queen you must ‘bow’.

The front of the boat is the ‘bow’.

An archer shoots an arrow from his ‘bow’.

A whole sentence: When we loosen the bow, the Queen will smash the bottle against the bow of the ship, but remember to bow when she arrives or her archer will shoot you with their bow. hahahaha. I just made that up. I love it. 🙂

We have become incredible lazy when responding to a situation by using the word ‘great’ for just about anything…that’s a great hairdo. Your hair looks great. What a great party. I had a great walk. That was great fun. She’s such a great person. The sea looks great today….etc etc You get the picture. Urgh. Why do we use that simplistic word when we have so many interesting, splendiferous, expressive, descriptive words to use in the English language.

So here’s how we can change that:

That’s a great hairdo. = That’s a really stunning hair style, it suits you.

Your hair looks great. = Your hair is looking lovely today.

What a great party. = What a fantastic party. What an enjoyable party.

I had a great walk. = I had an enjoyable walk. I had an exhilarating walk.

That was great fun. = That was so much fun. That was terrific fun.

She’s such a great person. = She’s an admirable person. She’s so personable.

The sea looks great today = The sea looks beautiful/gorgeous/amazing today.

What a great day. = What a terrific/brilliant/superb day.

And so it goes. Since I made the decision to dispel that awful word from my vocabulary, when I’m replying to something on facebook or making a comment I try to find suitable words that are more descriptive, more expressive.Funny-Quotes-English-Language-1 - Mr Tumblr

When I write my blogs, I avoid the word great altogether. While writing this blog I did a google search ‘words to use rather than great’ and look at this ‘fun’ ‘funky’ ‘useful’ ‘brilliant’ ‘clever’ ‘interesting’ website I found 😉

111 words to use instead of great’ https://www.grammarcheck.net/synonyms-great/

I have managed very successfully to avoid using the word except now and then when I accidentally vocalise the word without thinking. Down with great I say….

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The signs along The Way are many. When I first started planning my Camino I joined a number of Facebook pages and groups and started reading blogs. And, although I saw a few photos of the Camino waymarkers and some of the yellow arrows, I didn’t realise how plentiful they would be.

camino portuguese coastal route

Bom Caminho Buen Camino Good Journey

My initial impression was that you would HAVE to follow the guide books and to that end I bought one about the Portuguese Coastal Route, which I studied intently, meaning to take copies with on the journey, but forgot. So, while in Porto, in a panic and before I started, I had my daughter photograph each relevant page and whatsapp them to me. For no reason. As it turned out, the signs were virtually every 500 meters.

The Way is incredibly well marked with arrows, the Camino scallop shell signs and waymarkers showing the distance in kms, until they didn’t – weirdly they came to an abrupt end just as I reached Santiago.

Update: 24/11/2017 – I just found out who paints all those arrows and maintains the various markers along the routes. They’re on Facebook as: Asociación Galega de Amigos do Camino de Santiago. A big shout out to them for all the hard work they do to keep us pointed in the right direction.

Leaving from the Sé Catedral in the old town of Porto, a remarkably historic building in it’s own right, it made a fitting location to start my journey. It was also recommended in the book. Now I didn’t go in ‘blind’, I sussed out the route a few days before – didn’t want to get lost on my first day on the Camino LOL. So, on the day I left, at approximately 07:30, it was easy to follow the downward spiral of steps to the riverfront.

camino portuguese coastal route porto

Sé Catedral, Porto, Portugal, view of the river and of the route, San Tiago, a pilgrims shell and hat, my passport with stamps from the 8th

1. ancient route

The route down from Sé Catedral to the riverside

Although I didn’t see any arrows or markers at that juncture, and since I took the bus to Foz do Duoro, having already walked that section beforehand, the first time I saw anything resembling a ‘sign’, that I recall anyway, was well after I had left Matasinhos at about 14:13 – a yellow arrow painted on a lamp-post. Now, I’m almost certain that there were many others before then, but either I didn’t see them, or was so intent on walking that I didn’t stop to photograph them…that aspect changed further along on my journey.

camino portuguese coastal route

The first arrow that I noticed on the Portuguese Coastal Route

Truthfully, what I did was ‘follow that pilgrim’. For most of my journey and where applicable, I followed the pilgrims up ahead.

camino portuguese coastal route

Follow that pilgrim

There was one place where I came unstuck, on the road to Esposende, and I’m still not at all sure how, but I just trudged along following the footsteps in the sand. There was one set of shoe tracks that I could recognise, so I followed those all the way through along winding sandy paths, and shrubby land till suddenly I could see, in the distance, a road and some buildings…at last civilisation. I was beginning to think I’d be wandering around there forever!! And at some stage along the route I ended up walking through thick brush and undergrowth with zip, zero, nothing and nada around me except for undergrowth, thick brush, trees and deep sandy paths. I did see a few diggers and excavation equipment but no people. It was weird and a little unsettling.

But to get back to The Way and the arrows. They are plentiful. In some areas there are 3 or 4 and in other areas you have to have faith and search.

camino portuguese coastal route

Tilting at Windmills – spot the arrow! If you’re not concentrating…

Most of the time I walked I was enjoying the scenery or in a day-dream, so occassionally I ended up suddenly stopping and realising I hadn’t seen any arrows or scallop shells or waymarkers for quite some time. This usually brought me to a standstill and a panicked look around! Did I miss the arrows?

camino portuguese coastal route

How could you possibly miss this!!

At that point I’d stand still, take a deep breath and having faith that I was still on the correct route, I’d walk on and sure enough there it was; whether a small arrow painted on a rock, or a faint outline on the road, maybe even, as in one spot, painted on an ivy covered wall…..the ivy carefully cut away around it like a frame! The Signs were there. Marvellous.

camino portuguese coastal route

Learning where to look and eventually knowing where to look

There was one day however that I did seriously go way off and as I was swinging along, I heard distant shouts “Senora!! Hello. Hello. Hello.” Eventually I stopped to look around and see what all the fuss was about, and about 500 yards away, distant figures were shouting and gesticulating wildly in my direction then pointing along a path that was not where I was on? LOL Initially a tad confused, I suddenly realised that I had been so deep in thought that I’d not kept my eye on the route. I scurried back laughing and we all agreed I could have ended up who knows where, but it wouldn’t have been Santiago. I still wonder that if they hadn’t drawn my attention, where on earth I’d have gone to?

camino portuguese coastal route

In case you were not aware…this is the Camino de Santiago..weirdly these signs were all in Spain

But on the whole, the route was amazingly well marked. People have been really inventive in where they painted the arrows and or made the markings to show which route you’re on.

8. fields and houses

Camino de Santiago – signs along The Way

10. I spy with my little eye

Camino de Santiago – signs along The Way

11. blink and you'll miss it

Camino de Santiago – signs along The Way

In fact I often wondered about the person/people who painted the arrows and made those markings, or put up the scallop shells and installed the waymarkers. All I can say is ‘thank you’. Whoever you may be, you were in many instances blessed by me. 😉 I got really excited when I came across the Caminho Beach Bar. I’d seen photos of this on the Fcabeook page and the board of shells (behind me), so I stopped, bought a shell, put my name on it and hung it up…@notjustagranny was here 🙂

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Caminho Beach Bar – Santiago de Compostela 265 kms!!

As I said, most of The Way was very clearly marked and I seldom had any problems, especially after 3 or 4 days, in locating them up ahead…although some were far between, if you just keep walking you will eventually discover them. One of the things that I enjoyed was discovering the yellow X! Sometimes you’d be walking and what looked like the logical route, is not. Then you’d see a big, or as in many cases, small yellow X – this not The Way. So you’d look around till you found what you were looking for…a Yellow marker…this is The Way. My favourite markers were the brown metal plates with yellow arrows.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

X says “no, this is not the way” – even though you may be tempted, but no…this is not The Way

As you wind your way along the Potuguese Coastal Route the signs are varied. Once you get into the forests and hills, you have to be a little more inventive in where you look.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

keeping your eye on the route, sometimes you had to just be a little more aware, they were not always pretty

A tiny yellow arrow pinned to a tree trunk, a scallop shell attached to a wall,

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

show me The Way to go home…oh wait, this is my home!! I loved these ceramic wall plaques

and frequently just two little lines, one yellow, one white to say ‘don’t worry, you’re going the right way’.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Crossing Paths – the Portuguese Coastal Route blends with the Littoral Route

I loved seeing the different signs, some were freshly painted, others a very faint outline that if you were not looking you could miss it altogether, and others were right across a busy road that needed to be traversed.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

sometimes it was right in front of you, and others …..well suffice to say, you kept your eyes peeled

The waymarkers were the best, I loved seeing the kilometers measured out, and note my progress… my steps eating up the miles.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Santiago 165kms – my 4th day of walking and I still had 165 kms to go. Ouch

I think I photographed about 95% of them all the way from Valenca in Portugal to the last one at Santiago. Weirdly though, the very first concrete waymarker I saw showing the distance, was in Valenca; 117,624 kms to Santiago. I saw countless after that. Perhaps they only have them from that point.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Following an ancient route in modern shoes – leaving Valenca, last town in Portugal before crossing to Tui in Spain – 117.624 kms to Santiago

I loved the many many scallop shells that decorated O Porrino, one of my favourite overnight stops.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

The scallop shells of O Porrino, Spain

And I really loved the signs that showed there was a rest stop nearby!!

Camino de Santiago - portuguese route

Refreshments along the way…

One of my favourite places (of which there are quite a few) along The Way was Mos.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese route

Mos. Oh what a delightful stop this was. A small but pretty little town with a church, restaurant and shops.

Admittedly though I was very disappointed coming into Santiago from Padron. All along the route I had seen yellow arrows, scallop shells and waymarkers, and then suddenly I didn’t.

camino portuguese coastal route

the signs along the way. I found these to be most helpful. It was also fun to see how the kms were going down. down. down 🙂

I was expecting the countdown to continue right up until you reached the 000.000 kms to Santiago and frequent arrows or scallop shells….but no….the last one was the last one and it wasn’t 000.000 kms. The last waymarker I saw on the perimeter of the city said 2,329 kms. After that, the scarcity of arrows and scallop shells was very disappointing. I think perhaps they feel that once you reach the outskirts of the city, you can jolly well find your own way LOL.

camino portuguese coastal route

I saw very few signs after this. They seemed to get scarcer the closer we got to Santiago

But a few pilgrims felt the same way I did…or did I just walk the wrong way? I don’t know.

But what I do know, is that they were a life-saver. There was something incredibly reassuring about finding/seeing the signs. I’m on The Way to Santiago de Compostela.

Camino de Santiago -portuguese coastal route

Camino de Santiago – I’m on The Way

Trust, that was one lesson I learned on the Camino, to trust in the signs, to trust in the route, to trust in myself. And I made it. 🙂

 

 

 

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Hola dear reader. It’s been 4 days since I returned from my first Camino in Europe. What an extraordinary experience. It was so amazing, if I’d had sufficient funds I would have cancelled my flight home and set off to walk another route….that time will come. I did try to post articles about my journey while I was there, but after starting my walk, within a couple of days, by the time I got to the albergue after an 8-12 hour walk, all I wanted was something to eat, a shower and bed. Not necessarily in that order. LOL

My first Camino was along the Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Caminha. From Caminha I took the train to Valenca and then followed the Central Way from Tui to Santiago. I loved every step of The Way.

The road to Santiago do Compostela

The road to Santiago do Compostela; my Pilgrim’s Passport, the Compostela and my Certificate of Completion

Seriously though, the days were exhausting and one of the things I was grateful for at the end of a long day was not having to search for accommodation. I pre-booked all but 2 nights of the 11 days of my journey, and in retrospect, I’m really glad I did. I was brave though and left 2 nights to chance. Both of which I’m glad to say were easy enough to find a place to sleep.

Since I have a back-log of about 8 days of walking adventures to update, I thought I’d start with the places I stayed at while on my journey….since sleep is definitely a pilgrim’s best friend.

The accommodations were varied and depended entirely on whether or not I was planning on just passing through or staying for a few days and wanted a bit of luxury and very definitely based on spoiling myself after a long day 😉 I seemed to have hit the nail on the head in most places.

I will list them, not in order of when I stayed there, but rather based on which I thought was the best.

1) O Recuncho do Peregrino – Estrada de Soutoxuste 45, 36810 Redondela, Pontevedra, Spain.
Tel: +34 617292598. Proprietor: Miguel.
I have listed this venue first because this was for me one of the nicest places I stayed. This was one of the nights where I had not booked ahead, but relied on the Camino to provide the best place. I spotted Miguel’s advertisements a few times on that day, but it was only at the very end of the day with just on 1.5 km to go till I reached Arcade that I finally stopped and phoned the number. He had a room available. Hoorah!! The accommodation itself is unfortunately right on the main road, but was easy to access without having to search along tiny, confusing lanes and almost immediately after you exit the route from the mountain. The albergue is simply furnished but very comfortable. Cleanliness was of the highest standard. I booked a double room which was furnished with 2 single beds each with a side cabinet, and the communal bathroom, also very clean, was just down the hall. It was one of the few places I stayed where I felt I could actually walk barefoot and not get my feet dirty. There is free wi-fi and a garden leading to the seashore (10 minute walk). Miguel provided a beautifully set out and substantial continental breakfast for 2.50euro at a time that suits the pilgrim from 6am onwards. He provided a same day wash&dry laundry service for 8 euro. What impressed me the most about this accommodation was the host; Miguel, the personification of the perfect host; kind, gentle, helpful, accommodating and a really humble person who was keen to ensure that his guests were comfortable and had all they required. I give this venue a 5 * rating based on how lovely the host was, cleanliness and comfort. For me it’s not always about luxury and facilities, but very much on how I felt at the time. And this certainly fit the bill. Miguel is a superb host and has also done the Camino, albeit on a bike.
I phoned ahead on the day to book and was very lucky there was place available. I notice that they are on booking.com
The website: http://orecunchodoperegrino.com/

O Recuncho do Peregrino Albergue

O Recuncho do Peregrino Albergue – Miguel our host; the best

2) Erva Doce Guest House – R. do Cais das Lavandeiras 39, 4480-478 Vila do Conde, Portugal
Tel: +351 919 058 715 Reception: Susana.
This was without doubt my 2nd favourite place to stay. Located right on the marina within easy access from the pilgrim’s route into Vila do Conde, I received such a lovely welcome from Susana, so I simply have to list this as my 2nd favourite place to stay. The guest house is a delightful, tiny abode over 3 floors with an outside and inside eating area/café, it is very clean and comfortable and the beds were made up on arrival. I went for a bit of luxury here and had a private bathroom which was wonderful. The room I booked, CINNAMON BELICHE caters for 3 people which made the beds very close together, so expect to have very little privacy if you are sharing a room. But it was only 15euro with breakfast included. I stayed here 2 nights and shared with 2 different but lovely ladies. My bed was very comfortable, albeit a single. I shared supper with 2 of the people I had met along the route the first day, both of whom were also staying at the guest house. The café serves pastries and small meals and offers a quiet, friendly location for breakfast, lunch or supper. Vila do Conde is lovely town on the Portuguese Coastal Route and offers much to see by way of history. I’m happy to give this venue a 4.5 * rating as it fit the bill in terms of friendliness, cleanliness, location and facilities.
The website: http://www.ervadocehouse.pt/

Erva Doce Guest House, Vila do Conde

Erva Doce Guest House, Vila do Conde – my first night on the Camino

3) Albergue Corredoiras, Corredoira da Barca, 10 baixo 15900 Padron (A Coruna), Spain
Tel: +34 981817266
I stayed here on my last night on the Camino before reaching Santiago. Without doubt, this was the most well-organised and efficient venue I stayed at. You are welcomed at the reception by an extremely organised gentleman (I missed his name unfortunately) and given a complete run-down of the small and compact albergue. The beds are all located in one large communal room and accommodates 26 pilgrims. Each berth is big enough to sit upright in, is solidly built so no disturbances from a restless sleeper above, has its own locker, fresh clean linen, a spare blanket and an extremely comfortable mattress (which I wish I could have taken home with me), and has a small light and a curtain for privacy. You do however have to make your own bed. The locker has a socket for secure phone charging. There are communal bathrooms and a small kitchenette with all mod-cons a pilgrim would need. You are welcome to make yourself a hot refreshment on arrival with one free serving of milk. This albergue was super clean and you are required to remove your outdoor shoes before going into the communal sleeping area. A cabinet in the hall caters for shoes. There are 2 communal computers if needed, free wi-fi, a library and a small reception area with chairs and loads of informational pamphlets and they provide a laundry service for a minimal fee. I had sent my backpack ahead on this day and it was safely packed away in my dedicated locker. There is a lights-out and a ‘be quiet’ deadline of 11pm for which I suspect most pilgrims were grateful. The albergue is easily found just a few yards from the church and river, and virtually right in town for exploring. An exceptionally clean and pleasant venue in a good location just a few yards from the start of the pilgrim’s route to Santiago. I can easily give this venue a 4.5* rating for price (16 euro), cleanliness, general organisation, location and convenience.
Website: http://www.alberguecorredoiras.es/index.php

 

Albergue Corredoiras, Padron

Albergue Corredoiras, Padron

4) Hostel Eleven, Rua Narcisco Ferreira 57, 4740-281, Esposende, Portugal
Tel: +351 253039303
Towards the end of a very long day, I received a phone call just as I reached Fao, which was the last town before Esposende; it was the host of the hostel enquiring as to whether I was okay and if I needed any help. It had taken me that long to get there, he was beginning to think I wasn’t going to show up. LOL Hostel Eleven was a very fresh, clean and hospitable venue with super clean facilities, a welcoming reception area and free wi-fi. The rooms catered for 4 occupants but I didn’t find this an issue as I was lucky enough to share with only 1 person. Each bed had its own locker with a key which is very useful and I found the bed linen to be clean and fresh and the bed was made up and comfortable. Hoorah. The kitchen and bathroom facilities are well organised and very clean and you are able to prepare a simple meal for yourself with your own provisions and make a hot drink with the hostel’s provisions; milk and tea/coffee ingredients available. I found the bed to be extremely comfortable and it was a pleasure to not have to make my own bed. Located along a side road just off the pilgrim’s route, I did find it quite difficult to locate, but I suspect that was because I was extremely tired and unable to read my map properly. But a quick phone call and I was soon there. The area was very quiet and also within easy reach of the town centre. I am happy to give this venue also a 4.5* rating based on hospitality, cleanliness, facilities, and location. I paid 16 euro and this included a very good continental breakfast.
The website: http://www.hosteleleven.pt/

Hotel Eleven, Esposende

Hotel Eleven, Esposende – I loved this venue. Bright and airy

5) Hostal Anosa Casa, Entremurallas, 9, 15702 Santiago, Spain.
Tel: +34 981585926
I found this hostal to be very comfortable and I had a super room. Very conveniently located just a 5-8 minute walk to the cathedral, the hostal is located down a side alley and fairly quiet albeit near to a main thoroughfare and close to the traditional pilgrim’s route into the city of Santiago. The lobby is quite dark and small and there are no remarkable features, but the room I was in was pleasant and I had a lovely double bed that was extremely comfortable with lovely fresh linen. The luxury at this venue was having a private shower/toilet area, although it was very tiny it came with lovely fluffy towels, shampoo and conditioner and shower gel and a shower cap. I had a table, wardrobe, bedside tables, a T.V. and free wi-fi. The walls were quite thin and I could hear the occupant of the next room moving about but since they were relatively quiet it wasn’t really an issue. The staff were friendly and they offer a same day laundry service of 8 euro for 4 kgs. The area is close to shops and restaurants and cafes with many small squares and much to see and a very short walk to the Alameda Park. I paid 55 euro per night with no breakfast. I can comfortably give this venue a 4* rating for location, comfort, cleanliness and facilities.
The website: http://anosacasa.com/?lang=en

Hostal Anosa Casa, Santiago

Hostal Anosa Casa, Santiago

6) Residential Arca Nova, Largo Sidonio Pais, 4910-120, Caminha, Portugal
Tel: +351 935390402
Again I had booked a room for myself and found the venue to be perfectly adequate for my needs. The room was large and clean with a very comfortable bed, fresh linen and a private bathroom with towels. The brightly decorated dining area had a cosy snug off the area and a large verandah. The hotel was close to the station and a very easy walk into the centre of the town and not too far from the river. The venue was clean and the staff very friendly. I paid 40 euro for this room and a very substantial breakfast was included. I rate this venue at 4* for cleanliness, location and the facilities. They don’t appear to have a website but they are on booking.com

Residencial Arca Nova, Caminha

Residencial Arca Nova, Caminha

7) Alojamiento Camino Portugues, Av. Buenos Aires, 40, 36410 O Porriño, Pontevedra, Spain
Tel: +34 886 13 32 52
This was the second hostel that I phoned ahead for on the day and was fortunate enough to get a bed. I had seen it recommended on a facebook page and decided to wing it on the day 🙂 The young lady who welcomed us (a group arrived at the sane time) was lovely and very helpful and had us all marching in time; very efficient. LOL I really enjoyed my stay here and although the rooms were of the mixed dormitory type and we were 6 in the dorm, they were clean and comfortable with comfy mattresses and clean fresh linen. We were also required to leave our outdoor shoes in the entrance hall on each floor, so the floors were clean. The bathrooms were of course communal and there were no lockers, so it was a case of leaving your bag next to your bed but not your valuables. The venue was close to restaurants and an easy walk into town and not far from the pilgrim’s route. I was quite happy with my stay here and happily rate it a 3.5* for location, comfort, cleanliness and friendliness. I paid Euro 12.00, no breakfast.
The website: http://www.alojamientocaminoportugues.com/

Alojamiento Camino Portugues,

Alojamiento Camino Portugues,

8) Hotel Poveira, Rua da Estacao, 56, Campanha, Porto, Portugal 4300-171
Tel: +351 22537 9844
This was the first venue I stayed at in Portugal. A very short walk from the Campanha Station the hotel is large and the gentleman who welcomed me was very friendly albeit with limited English, but even so, with my very limited Portuguese we managed to communicate quite well 😉 I had a private room and bathroom with a bath and shower and clean towels with little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. Although I’m not a fan of plastic and would prefer if hotels did away with them, they were useful. There was a t.v. in the room with a BBC news channel and free wi-fi. The room was large with a small balcony and the bed, a double was fairly comfortable. They did a good continental breakfast at an extra charge of 2.50 euro and offered a next day laundry service for a very good rate. The venue was clean albeit quite noisy and close to shops, restaurants, café and a local transport. I walk a lot so of course I walked into town whenever I went out to explore, but it is quite far from the town centre. The area is pleasant, albeit not scenic. I rate this venue at 3.5* for access to transport, cleanliness and good facilities. I paid 45 euro per night with no breakfast which I thought after seeing the venue, was quite high after all.
The website: http://www.hotelpoveira.com/ Please note that their website has a slide show of images of Porto, they are not near the centre of the city even though the images give that impression.

Hotel Poveira, Campangha, Porto

Hotel Poveira, Campangha, Porto

9) Residencial S. Giao, Avenida S.Teotónio 17, Bl. 2 1ºandar -594 Portugal, 4930 Valença, Portugal
Tel: +351 251030040
This location is hard to rate. It is located fairly close to the main station hub, an easy walk, and is located right on the doorstep of the walled city. The apartment was part of a high-rise building with no lift to the 1st floor, although obviously this wasn’t an issue for me, it could be for someone less able. The ‘apartment’ was made up of a number of rooms on the same floor. There was nothing at all interesting about the reception and I only saw the proprietor for the few minutes it took to check in and pay and show me my room. The room was pleasant with a lovely comfortable double bed, clean linen and fresh towels and a private shower room with toilet etc. Facing onto the street it was unfortunately very noisy and I had street lights shining through the blinds all night. There was a wardrobe and dressing table and bedside cabinets and free wi-fi. I think, but am not sure if they offered breakfast so can’t comment on that. I paid 30 euro and feel that was a fair price considering the size of the city and its location. The walled city was a 5-8 minute walk and provided all that I needed in terms of shopping, restaurants and sight-seeing (in fact it was brilliant and one of the most exciting discoveries of the whole journey). The venue is located very close to the pilgrim’s route and is about a 10-12 minute walk to the bridge that crosses into Spain. I will rate this a 3* since the apartment itself was very utilitarian, but the location, cleanliness and room were good.
The website: http://www.residencialsgiao.com/

Residencial S. Giao, Valenca

Residencial S. Giao, Valenca

10) Motel Caldas, Follente Bemil, s/n, 36659 Caldas de Reis, Pontevedra, Spain
Tel: +34 986 53 00 11
This venue caught me out; it was 1.6 kms outside of Caldas de Reis and I had to take a cab to get there. It is in every sense of the word a motel. There was a heavy metal gate across the entrance with a speaker phone which was not very welcoming. Initially I thought I had stumbled into a private gated community of apartments. Each apartment has its own garage and separate staircase leading to the room. I eventually located the proprietor, who was very friendly and kindly brought me a free coke when he saw how exhausted I was. But the room was amazing; a very large room with a fantastic double bed, a marvellous mattress, lovely pillows and fresh crispy linen and fluffy towels and a private bathroom with the most divine bath and shower.  This was a real luxury after what had been a 32km day. There was a small dining table with bench seats, a wardrobe, bedside cabinets, a t.v. and free wi-fi. However it felt the way it looked; like a motel. But the staff were friendly and helpful even though we had to resort to google translate to be understood. I had a very good night’s sleep and for the 22.50 euro I paid which included a basic breakfast of coffee and croissant, I felt it was satisfactory. I’ll rate this 3* as well since the room was wonderful. But it was far from the town centre, I couldn’t see any restaurants close by so didn’t get to eat much that night, although the proprietor kindly made me a sandwich and a drink. Not quite what this pilgrim was looking for after a 12 hour and 32 km walk, but the bath and bed were marvellous. They don’t have a website but are on Facebook.

Motel Caldas, Caldas de Reis

Motel Caldas, Caldas de Reis

 

11) HI Hostel Viana do Costelo. Okay, so I’ve left this one till absolute last. The only positive aspect of this hostel was the location; just off the bridge over the river and to the right as you cross into Viana do Costelo. I found this place to be quite unsuitable and unpleasant and even though I only paid 12.00 euro, it was the same price as a couple of other venues that were of a much higher quality and a more friendly environment. The reception staff were very nice and helpful but the venue itself only had one thing to offer…location. The building is a bland, blank 60’s concrete edifice. The reception area is okay but the rooms were utilitarian, cold, blank and very unwelcoming. Although we did each have a locker the lock was broken. There was only one electrical socket to service all the occupants, and the facilities, both bathrooms and kitchens were not of a very good standard, and I had to try 3 different showers before I got one that worked; the water was tepid and only came out the pipe in short bursts. If I had to rate this place I’d say 1.5* rating and that would be for location and that the linen was clean, although you have to make the bed up yourself. The room had a small verandah which was nice and had lovely views over the harbour, if you can overlook the massive car-park right in front. I cannot under any pretence recommend this location except if you’re looking for cheap and can’t find anything else. Viana do Costelo is however an amazing city with so much to see and do that I was quite worn out by the time I eventually went to bed, which fortunately was clean. I have not put address or telephone details since this venue was such a huge disappointment. They are listed on Booking.com

HI Hostel, Viana do Castelo

HI Hostel, Viana do Castelo

And that concludes my article on places I stayed on the Camino. It was as I expected; some were very good, a couple were wonderful and one or two not so good. One of the main issues was cleanliness and on the whole that was not a problem. I had heard some real horror stories of bed bugs and dirty linen and took along a travel pouch for sleeping in which I never used. The albergues I did stay at were very very good.

I’m planning on walking another route in 2018 and hoping to walk either the English Way or the Frances route so I’m sure my experiences will be very different.

I hope you find this list useful. If you have any good locations from the Portuguese Coastal Route or The Central Way from Tui, please do leave a comment and let me know. Thank you and Bom Caminho and Buen Camino 🙂

The Camino Provides - 2017

The Camino Provides – 2017

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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

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

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 🙂

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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.

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.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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