My brother Charles and I are walking from Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain.
  • Day14

    Traveling home

    July 9 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 77 °F

    The trip home began with a quick, easy flight out of Porto to London Heathrow. While standing in an endless security line, British Airways changed our NYC flight to the next day! Very long story short, we went standby and made it to NYC the same day, though our luggage (backpacks and gifts!) is still in London. My brother Jerry, his wife Ana, their daughter Jerianne, and other NYC family members threw us a “congratulations peregrines” party. What a way to return!

    The travel day tested my patience with myself and with others. But little moments of joy pushed through the obstacles-we got our “premium economy” seats with extra leg room; we saw other travelers happy to have made the flight; the airline food was not bad at all; I slept on the plane. Small things that add up to many blessings.

    Though this Camino with Charles is over, I think it will impact my life for some time. We have stories to share and foot doctor appointments to schedule. Thanks to everyone for sharing our journey. Who will be next to go on this pilgrimage? Buen Camino!
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    Barbara Stephens

    Wonderful post! You both loved & took care of each other. What a journey. I love you both so much! ❤️❤️

    Kathie Lassos the Moon

    Love your tees!!

  • Day13

    Friday in Santiago

    July 8 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 59 °F

    We slept in air conditioning and cozy beds at the lovely Airas Nunes by Pousadas de Compostela. Our tiny street balcony had a view of the cathedral spire, but with the doors closed, it was very quiet. They were very helpful. We had dropped off our backpacks before check-in the day before. They had a locker for us to store them after check-out on Friday. We had a lovely breakfast right next door.

    We sauntered over to buy tickets to go up the cathedral tower and visit the cathedral museums. Note: if you purchase the tickets online the day before, you avoid long lines. (How many times do we need to learn that lesson?) Nonetheless our tour (Spanish only) began at 11:30 am.

    To hear about the tour, I suggest you read my brother’s post! After climbing many stairs, Our tour group jauntily walked out into the sunshine on the roof of the cathedral! I tried, really tried, to follow, but I could not. I get panicky right now just writing about it! I’ve had issues with height before, but I always try to go forward. This time, no. I abandoned the tour and waited for Charles downstairs. (See photo of me clinging to the wall!) I was able to enjoy the (indoor) permanent exhibit.

    We had a divine lunch and then went shopping. I don’t usually have someone to shop with as I make decisions about gifts-this was fun. Charles surprised me with a lovely pair of shell earrings in thanksgiving for joining him on the trip. He made us both cry. I’m not sure I can ever take them off.

    After grabbing our backpacks from the locker we headed by taxi to the Porto bus station. I had a miserable 3 hour ride. I slept, but the seats were uncomfortable and my feet began to swell. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it did get us to Porto on time.

    We decided last week to book Feel Porto Codeçal for our last night in Portugal. It was the same room we stayed in our first night in Portugal. There was something lovely about returning to the same apartment where we began. Two weeks ago, we walked up the stairs toward the cathedral, got our stamp, and began our Camino. This time, we walked down the stairs and waited under the bridge for our taxi to the airport. Familiarity? Closure? Satisfaction of a a job well done? I’m not sure just now. But it felt right.
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    Kathie Lassos the Moon

    Wow! Magnificent view!

    Kathie Lassos the Moon

    Pretty lady inside and out!!

    Kathie Lassos the Moon

    Humbling and holy!

  • Day12

    Santiago to Finesterre

    July 7 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 82 °F

    After the Spanish mass, we had a lovely lunch with John and Brenda from Ireland. Spanish wine, Johnnie Black scotch, pimientos pradones, lobster paella, and chocolate cheesecake. What a celebration!

    We rented a car at 4:30 and Charles drove us to Finesterre, the end of the world. By continuing to buy food and beer, we had front row seats on a cafe balcony for sunset over the Atlantic. Everyone applauded when the last bit of sun melted into the water. Nature as live theatre, it was stunning. We managed to get back to Santiago, drop off the car and fell into comfy beds with air conditioning at 19 centigrade.

    I felt euphoric all day. I couldn’t quite believe the joy we felt and what we accomplished, yet here we are. I feel truly blessed.
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    Kathie Lassos the Moon

    Can’t wait to hear more about your trip! You have been inspiring and God-filled — it has been so touching reading your gratitude!

    Kathie Lassos the Moon

    Okay, I need to make sure I go too Finesterre!

    Barbara Stephens

    Sounds just magnificent

    Anne Gorman

    This made me weepy!

  • Day12

    We made it!

    July 7 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 61 °F

    We left O Melladoiro at 6:00 am to walk the last 7.7 kilometers into Santiago. I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and hope for the last leg of our journey. The pain in our bodies and feet was negligible compared with the anticipation of arriving. Our walking pace was 2.9 mph!

    It was as a beautiful walk into Santiago and the Obradoiro plaza. The city was barely awake and the roads were empty. The facade of the cathedral had been cleaned since my first camino in 2016. It glowed as the sun rose over the city. We cried, hugged, and took photos.

    We lined up at the pilgrim office to get our Compostela. Charles was #8, I was #7 and we were in and out in no time! I had a lovely visit with the UK volunteer who certified my trip (from Rates, since I left my first pilgrim passport with stamps from Porto in an albergue!).

    We saw and hugged pilgrims in the square and the streets that we met along the way. The sense of community is powerful. Sean hollered “Texas!” From across the square! I feel a part of God’s everlasting kingdom by walking with pilgrims past and present.

    We attended the Spanish mass at noon and saw the botofumerio swing. I prayed along with the liturgy to myself in English, thanking God for this opportunity. Lunch with John and Brenda from Ireland is next!
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    Jerry Stephens

    Wow wonderful!

    Joel Hatfield

    Congratulations and blessings to you and Charles!

    Barbara Stephens

    Congratulations!! Wonderful!

  • Day11

    Iria Flavia to O Melladoiro

    July 6 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    6:00 am, out the door after a vending machine coffee. Neither of us studied the route, we just started walking. It was a slow, constant, uphill slog for 6 hours! I was wiped out!

    Our pilgrim passport is full of stamps that remind us of churches, restaurants, and albergues along our way. Tomorrow when we arrive in Santiago we’ll get our final stamp at the cathedral (or tourist office?). I can’t believe we are nearly there.

    I had a lot of time to reflect today. I feel honored that my brother would do this journey with me. I feel blessed to have the wherewithal to be here. I have enjoyed getting to know new pilgrims. I have been challenged to think and talk about my faith. It has been a good trip.

    I napped this afternoon in a glorious, private bunk bed in a clean, expansive albergue. Sheets, pillow, towel, laundry. Helpful staff and pilgrims.I feel welcomed, respected, and cared for.

    Santiago, here we come!
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    Anne Gorman

    I'm so impressed and proud!

    Jerry Stephens


    Jerry Stephens


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  • Day10

    Caldas de Reis to Iria Flavia

    July 5 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    After taping our feet, we were on the Camino by 6:00 am. It was a cool and breezy 63 degrees. We were never cold in short sleeve shirts and shorts. It only takes 15 minutes of brisk walking to get warmed up. Again, we encountered beautiful vistas, woodland paths, and familiar faces.

    We took photos with the Portugues Scouts. Over lunch, we engaged in a refreshing discussion of Catholic and Protestant perspectives with John and Brenda from Ireland. We visited another Farmacia and got sunscreen, antibiotics, and more Aleve. All in all, a good day of walking!

    Iria Flavia has a remarkable history. Legend has it that this is where St. James’ body arrived in a boat. His bones were discovered before being moved to Santiago. There is evidence that St. James preached here (conversion of Queen Lupe) as well as evidence that the two churches were established in 6th century (but maybe 1st century). Our host gave us a speedy history lesson and sent us off to get a certificate in Padron. Lots of pride in this town of the part they play in the Way of St. James. Plus, the churches were open and we could get stamps for our pilgrim credential. (Most churches so far have been closed)

    Such a satisfying day physically and spiritually. An excellent precursor to arriving in Santiago on Thursday.
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  • Day9

    Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

    July 4 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

    After a restful sleep at Casa Sara, we were up early and walking by 6:00 am. At 63 degrees and breezy, the weather was lovely for our brisk pace. I think we made 21 kilometers in 6 hours. We finished walking just as the temperature reached 70. Perfect day, perfect walk.
    The entire day was pine forest paths and gravel or dirt roads with beautiful eucalyptus trees. We had very few encounters with auto traffic. We saw lots of pilgrims, again some we have already met. Our last 2 kilometers was with John and Brenda from Ireland. He started walking in sandals like Charles is now wearing. I am starting to doubt the necessity of close-toed shoes!
    We soaked our feet in the hot waters that make Caldas de Reis famous. There was a free pool for pilgrims.
    We had dinner tonight with the nurse, her sisters, partner, and friends. It was lovely to know more about them. French, English, and Spanish languages all represented. Our waiter was continually confused!
    Three more days to Santiago!
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  • Day8

    Saxamonde to Pontevedre

    July 3 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 63 °F

    Today was a beautiful day of walking. Forest paths, small villages, and a lovely chapel. The expected rain turned into a drizzle. We spent more time taking off our raincoats than wearing them!

    The number of pilgrims increased. Some we have met before, many were new to us. We also got stamps in our pilgrim passport from roadside vendors. They gave us helpful info about the trail ahead.

    Once we had determined to go all the way to Pontevedra (24+ kilometers), Charles selected Casa Sara for our stay tonight. It turned out to be a perfect choice! We are in the old city, we easily walked to dinner and the cathedral, and tomorrow’s path out of town is minutes away. (I have a private room tonight. Can’t say I’m not happy about that!)

    We have a solid routine now. Charles’ alarm goes off around 6:00 and we pack up and go, with or without breakfast, depending on what’s available. We stop for coffee at 9:00 or 10:00, lunch at 11:30 or later, and arrive at our albergue by 4:30. Shower, beer, nap. Then dinner at 8:30 (Spain!). Rest and repeat. We stop to stretch and adjust our foot dressings multiple times during the day.

    1. Love the Camino Ninja app! It’s a bit clunky, especially the map section, but very reliable.
    2. Do not rely on google maps! Timings are way inaccurate and routes don’t consider pilgrims. It’s helpful the last kilometer in a city to get to your albergue, but that’s about it.
    3. Farmacias are not open on Sunday.
    4. I love my sleep mask.
    5. They really do close every afternoon then reopen around 5:00 pm for business. Dinner is not served until after 8:00 pm. Don’t even ask!
    6. Walking along a babbling brook/river reminds us that “All will be well. All manner of things will be well.” Trust in God to guide you, it’s a magnificent way to live.
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  • Day7

    Casa Alternativo to O Corisco

    July 2 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 66 °F

    After a good night’s sleep, we had toast, jam, orange juice, and coffee at 7:30 am. We hit the road, following the yellow arrows through an industrial area. Many advised a detour through an unmarked woodland. We chose instead the traditional way with flat pavement and a steady pace to test our stamina. It was a good decision. We made it past our daily goal! 12.1 miles at a pace of 2.5. Our feet and bodies are healing and not too achy.
    We stopped for a 1 1/2 hour lunch with Sean from Montreal. He has done 4 caminos, so I asked him to tell us a bit about each one. From a youthful excursion to mourning the death of his mother, we got to know this joyful young man. He was I inspiring. Since his pace was vigorous, we bid him buen csmino, see you in Santiago!
    Now we are in Saxamonde, Spain. We paid $15 Euros each for a bunk bed and a fantastic hot shower; we may be the only ones in this 15 bed establishment! Our host is doing our laundry (8 Euros) and we have had two beers each (2 Euros each?) It seems our host owns the albergue, the cafe/bar and a laundromat.! What a great way to live in a beautiful small town in Spain!
    I am hoping for a church service tomorrow, Sunday, July 3, if we can organize our walking to arrive in a town at noon.
    We have settled into a routine. Charles sets the pace; we stop regularly to check our feet or stretch. We have again replanned our next few days. Santiago is within reach!
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    Jerry Stephens

    It’s flying by now it seems already July 2

    Jerry Stephens


  • Day6

    Valença, Portugal to Os Eidos, Spain

    July 1 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 52 °F

    We left Forteleza, the old part of Valença, and crossed over the Rio Minho (on a big scary bridge) into Tui, Spain. We then climbed up a lot of stone steps to the Cathedral de Santa Maria, a 12th century church with a Gothic entrance. We couldn’t go inside; 8:00 am is too early for the church to be open.
    After cafe au lait and chocolate pastry at “Ideas Peregrines,” we enjoyed a beautiful walk through eucalyptus forests and small villages. We met many new pilgrims while taking photos or stopping for a rest.
    Tonight we are at Casa Alternativo in Os Eidos. The host made dinner for 7. It was lovely to share food and wine with pilgrims from Brazil, France/Gabon, California, and Spain.
    Our host, Dries, made Charles apply loads of fresh aloe vera to his feet. It seems to have helped. Despite Dries insisting he take another day off, we are pushing forward tomorrow with another short day. I am watching Charles carefully for any signs of infection and encouraging him to stop and rest.

    Lessons for today-
    1. Walking slowly side by side reminds me to live in the present.
    2. Walking in nature on wooded paths reminds me of the glory of God’s creation.
    3. Spending time sitting on the porch waiting for the sun to set is an opportunity to get to know people.
    4. No internet can be a blessing.

    Pray for healing and openness to the spirit for both of us.
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