April 2016
  • Day12

    Day 8 Finish the Camino Portuguese

    April 22, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Day 8 Padron to Santiago de Compostela
    25km (15.5 miles)
    242 km Camino Portuguese......and don't my feet know it!
    I set off from the Albergue in Padron at 6.30am and was one on the Camino. I only crossed the nearby bridge and stopped for cafe con leche and toast in a small bar. I promised the owner the previous night that I would. He looked like he needed the business. He was delighted to see me....obviously hadn't smelt my rucksack.
    As I came to leave, he gave me a big hug and wished me ' Buen Camino'. I was really touched. It felt like my dad was cheering me on. The Camino catches you at these unexpected moments.
    I walked through the narrow lanes of Padron out into the countryside. It was still dark and difficult to follow the yellow arrows that mark the way. The main thing was to keep away from a busy trunk road. Unfortunately, I had to walk sections of it throughout the day.
    The rural villages were quaint. Instead of the flipping dogs this morning, it was the cockerels marking the start of a new day.
    The trail wound it's way through narrow lanes. So narrow, that you could almost span the walls with your arms. Goodness knows how they drive around there. In a number of the villages, it was interesting to see the numerous small vans delivering fresh bread send fish to the villagers.
    I yomped my merry way towards Santiago.
    I lost theCamino a few times but found my way back by asking for directions in my poor Spanish.
    I eventually arrived in Santiago around midday. It was packed with tourists from cruises and all over the world. In the midst of this, pilgrims were arriving from all different Caminos. I arrived in the main square absolutely delighted to be here again. The Portuguese Camino enters the square from the other side from the Parador.
    I felt that my 2015 peregrinos were with me......
    I just sat down and watched the world go past for 30 minutes. Other peregrinos did much the same as me. As they walked past, we caught each other's eye and wished each other Buen Camino. Each of us knowing that we had completed an amazing journey.
    I collected my Compostela from the new office near the Parador and wound my weary way to my accommodation for the night. I have booked an one bedroom apartment for the night to save the innocent from my snore fest.
    Tomorrow, Al Cox and I will begin the Camino Finnisterr 115.4km
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  • Day11

    Day 7 Rotanda to Padron

    April 21, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Day 7 Rotanda - Padron
    24km (14miles)
    A great night in an Albergue that seemed exclusively our little group. Five of the others were German and a Brazilian lad. She was a judge in her home country. A couple of the German guys were in their 70's but had walked a number of the Caminos including the Via de La Plata. Very impressive. We passed the evening speaking in a mixture of English, German and Spanish. The hospiladro eventually turned up to register us and collect the 6 euros from each of us. The evenings in the albergues are special places. All peregrinos share the love of walking in solitude or with others. There is an unique bond on the Camino. We understand the pain, reflection and just putting one foot in front of the other.
    After a great night's sleep, I was back on the Camino at 7.30am. There was no rain but it felt cool. I quickly walked 5km into a town called Caldas de Reis. A cafe con leche and a croissant for breakfast and off again. There were around 10 other peregrinos on the Camino.
    The morning was beautiful. I took my shoes off and walked in my sandals. That was a bit of a mistake as I developed some small blisters. The Camino took me through some lush forests. These protected me from the sun and sudden downpours.
    I eventually arrived in Padron at 1pm and waited for the Alburgue to open. I was the first to arrive. I have just gone into the town for a bite to eat and guess what I found.....a bar that does GUINNESS. Now that is one way to make an Irishman happy 😊
    I have 25km (16 miles) to do tomorrow to Santiago De Compostela. I should be there by lunchtime. I will book and hotel room and wait for my fellow peregrino Al Cox to join me on Saturday. We will then begin the Camino Finnistre (to the end of the medieval world). The cape's Camino marker indicates 0.00km.
    Another adventure awaits but this one has one more day to go.
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  • Day11

    Day 6 Redondela to Rotonda

    April 21, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Day 6 Redondela -Rotanda near Caldas de Reis
    38km (23 miles)
    I set off from the hostel at 7.15am. It was a very warm night particularly with fourteen of us in one dormitory. Some kind soul actually left a door to lower the temperature.
    It was still dark as I set off. It was the usual fun of trying to find the way out of the town.
    There was a big climb out of the town. Not a good start first thing in the morning but the reward was a fantastic view of the sea inlet called Ria de Vigo and a small quaint seaside town called Arcade. The route zigzagged through narrow lanes. They sometimes seemed pointless as I ended up a little further north of a main road.
    The weather was warm and DRY. It was very pleasant. The Camino followed a beautiful route through forests and vineyards.
    I took my walking shoes off to cool my feet in a stream. I decided to walk the rest of the day in my sandals. It felt fantastic. As the day warmed up, I soaked them in serveral streams. The water was ice cold and felt wonderful.
    After 19.7 k(12.2 miles), I arrived in a large town called Pontevedra. It had a very pleasant feel to it. A lot of locals wished me ' Buen Camino'.
    I decided to stop for a coffee and cake.i picked the BIGGEST cream cake you ever saw. Sorry no picture of it because it vanished in seconds.
    I left the town crossing the Rio Lerez and back into stunning countryside. The sugar rush really helped. I quickly passed the next 19km listening to Van Morrison. My feet were holding up well. I stopped briefly for a beer and some lunch in a small rural village. I got to the point at 38km where I had an option to stay in a small Albergue. I thought that I might continue to a large town called Caldas de Reis. It was a further 5 km. My feet decided to give a twinge. Based on that, I stopped at a small Albergue. There are only seven peregrinos here. The facilities are fantastic. There is nowhere to buy food so it will be a tin of sardines from the bottom of my rucksack.
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  • Day9

    Day 5 Tui to Redondela

    April 19, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Day 5 Tui to Redondela
    32.4 km 20.1 miles
    Today was not a repeat of yesterday of terms of someone looking for their torch. I was up and out of the Albergue for 6.30am in total darkness.
    I would like to paint a picture of warmth and a pleasant start but I would be lying. It was lashing rain. Waterproofs on and trying to negotiate a maze of streets out of the town. I knew that I was onto a good thing when I followed two Italian pilgrims who were also setting off. They looked exhausted and they were just starting.
    I realise why the Spanish side of the Camino is great. They take it seriously. The way is well marked and gravelled. No flipping cobble stones and muddy sections.
    The rain continued most of the day but I enjoyed it. I stopped for a great breakfast at 8.30am. I ordered coffee,juice and a bacon sandwich. My Spanish teacher and Estelle won't believe me that it was all in Spanish.
    I reached a point where there was an alternative route through countryside or a kilometre shorter route through an industrial estate. It was still lashing. I had already taken my shoes and socks off twice this morning to get across streams. I decided to walk the industrial route for 5 km. no pictures because you can all picture it. A straight road, lashing rain and that chemical smell that grips the back of your throat. For some reason, I kept humming ELO ' I wish I was a Wild West hero'. Must have been the chemicals.
    I stopped briefly in an industrial town called Porrino for some fruit and a drink. There was nothing else remarkable about the place. The rain never helps.
    I continued a slog up a flipping long hill and the downhill to A place called Redondela, which next to the sea. The Albergue was originally a 16th century manor tower house. It has excellent facilities. I have managed to wash and dry all my kit and get a bottom bunk. A very important point. So, it is a couple of drinks, a bite to eat and I feel a snore fest coming on. Buen Camino mis amigos.
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  • Day9

    Day 4 Ponte De Lima to Tui

    April 19, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Day 4 Ponte De Lima to Tui (Spain)
    37.5km 23.2miles
    The benefit of staying in an Albergue is that everyone gets up early even if you don't want to.the lights on the dormitory came on twice at 6am because someone couldn't find their head torch. Never mind the other 15 people trying to sleep.
    As a result, I was packed and on the Camino for 6.30am. Feet felt good. I was aiming for Valenca on the Portuguese/Spanish border.
    I watched a beautiful sunrise and walked along very muddy tracks.
    A lot of hills today but no main roads. It culminated in a slog to Portela Grande at 435m and down Rubales. At least one or twice, I had to take my shoes off to cross swollen rivers. The reward was cool feet.
    I passed through a lot of villages. These were usually marked by chained dogs going mad as you walked past. You usually knew how far a peregrino was ahead or behind you as the dogs barking echoed up and down the valleys.
    I didn't see that many peregrinos. I did walk with a German guy called Phillip from Near Stuttgart. He had recently finished his studies and decided to walk the Caminho.
    The heavens opened mid afternoon for about a hour. It was a case of head down, iPod on and stretch the miles out to ACDC.
    I made the conscious decision to walk through Valenca. The town was located on an elevated fortified position overlooking the Rio Mino and Tui in Spain.
    I crossed the bridge and entered Spain. At least now, my evening class in Spanish might come in useful.
    I stayed in the main Albergue. Just 36 beds in 2 dorms. I was first in the second room and had a great spot. No internet last night, hence the post now.
    I was exhausted but delighted to be in Spain. 37.5 km ticked off. I showered and washed my clothes at the same time. Al Cox and other peregrinos understand this. I then did a tour of Tui Cathedral. It dates from 1584. The cathedral is dedicated to St. James 'The Moor Slayer'. Of course, everyone loves the Irish so I was safe.
    I went out to a local restaurant ordered my food in Spanish. Felt very smug. My Spanish teacher would have been impressed. Fell into my bed at 8.30pm.
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  • Day7

    Day 3 Barcelos to Ponte DeLima 33.6 km

    April 17, 2016 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Day 3 Barcelos to Ponte De Lima 33.6km (20.9 miles)
    I left Barcelos at 7.30am. It was very overcast and cool. There were a few other pilgrims on the Caminho. Unfortunately, the way was along cobbled street and roadways. This type of route really destroys your feet.
    It warmed up to about 16 degrees. I even managed to put my sunglasses on. I walked a time with my Dutch friend. I met him yesterday. He told an amazing story how he nursed his wife through two years of cancer before she passed away. Since then, he has walked all over the whole the world and completed most of the Caminos. He even lent his home to a lady and her children who were victims of an abusive relationship.
    We parted company after late morning. I carried on.
    I knew that I was too hopeful when I came around a corner to find the path under two foot of water. The nearby river had burst it's banks. There was no other choice but to take my shoes off and wade through it to a 12th century bridge over the Rio Neiva. I stopped to dry my feet and put my shoes back on. Too soon, as I walked around the corner, another 300m stretch was under water. Back to shoes off.
    Early afternoon brought a thunder storm. It was back on with waterproofs and poncho. At these times, I usually put my head down and carry on. It is very much a time of reflection. As it was Sunday, I listened to a few Christian albums which continued with a time of prayer.
    I did have a chuckle as I passed through some small villages. The church bells definitely ensured that no one was going to get a lie in.
    I arrived at Ponte De Lima at 3pm. 7.5 hours to do 21 miles. I had to wait an hour with peregrinos from all over the world for the auberge to open. 5 euros for a bed for the night.
    Showered, clothes washed, bed made and a little rest before I find something to eat.
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  • Day6

    Day 2 Vila do Conde to Barcelos 30km

    April 16, 2016 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Day 2 Vila do Conde to Barcelos 30km with a detour
    I set off at 7am just after a thunder storm had passed. It didn't bode well. The directions out of the town were poor and I got lost after an hour. By now, I can only describe the rain as monsoon season. I had my poncho on which is a bit like a walking tent. I finally found someone to put me back on the right track. I had already walked an additional 3km.
    I can best describe most of the day as wet. In fact, I thought at one stage that it would be easier to swim.
    I walked alone most of the day. I did walk with a Dutch man who was three weeks into his walk from Lisbon to Santiago. He set a fast pace. We didn't walk for long as another storm blew in. As we reached for his jacket, he found that he had dropped it somewhere in the previous hour. He turned around to locate it.
    I arrived in Barcelos in the middle of another storm. I was drenched to the skin. Instead of staying in an auberge, I booked into a hotel for a hot bath....brill 😊
    The town was in a party mood. There was a huge funfair gong on and a dance/rap competition with companies and schools competing before a panel of judges....very entertaining. The weather turned dry and a pleasant evening was spent by all. I visited a few churches today to give thanks for my beloved 15 year old niece Anna. She flew into a diabetic coma unexpectedly last week. Specialists indicated that it was the worse case they had seen in years. Anna woke up after a few days. This was a miracle and shows the power of prayer. Her recovery has been fantastic. However, there is concern whether there is any kidney damage. We continue to pray for her full recovery.
    Tomorrow is another big day to Ponte DeLima 37km away over some big hills. An early night.
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  • Day5

    Vila do Conde - Start of Caminho Portugu

    April 15, 2016 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    On the Caminho Portuguese.
    I have arrived at Vila De Conde after travelling from Porto. I saw Estelle off to the airport. We had a great time in Porto. The finale was a fantastic meal in the smallest restaurant you've ever seen. An awful day in Porto but we did manage to do a tour of the Croft Port house. Very tasty.Today, it rained constantly.
    Thankfully when I arrived at Vila De Conde, it has finally stopped raining.
    This afternoon, I have carried out my peregrino admin. Washing my kit and planning my route tomorrow. I am glad I packed my waterproofs as it looks like I am going to need them.
    Early start tomorrow, I am aiming for Barcelos 27.3 km (17 miles). Depending on how I feel I may go further. This time, I am not under any pressure.
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  • Day4

    Day 2-4 Exploring Porto.

    April 14, 2016 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    What a beautiful city. I can see why my fellow 2015 peregrinos visited here last year. Estelle and I have loved visiting the city's fantastic sights and tasting local foods. We did a food tour on Tuesday and since then retrace our steps back to some of the restaurants and markets we visited. Yesterday morning was greeted by heavy thunder storms which thankfully passed. We got a local bus out of the city to Maatosinhos. John Brierley recommends this location as the ideal place to begin the Camino Portuguese. Estelle and I walked 5 miles back along the shoreline towards Porto. Although it was cold, the weather was sunny. We had a short break before a tour of Porto Cathedral. I collected my first Camino stamp there. We crossed the iconic Ponte d D.Luis bridge over the Rio Douro to visit the Port area. One more day before Estelle flies home and I begin my Camino to Santiago de Compostela.Read more

  • Day1

    ... in Porto

    April 11, 2016 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Estelle and I arrived this afternoon. We are staying in a small apartment in the old town. It is fantastic. This will be our base for the next five days before I set off on the Caminho Portuguese to Santiago.
    We did a short walk around Porto. It is a lovely place. We stopped in a few bars before ending up in a small bar around the corner from our apartment. We met two German guys from near Stuttgard who are beginning their Camino tomorrow. Their map was something printed off Google earth. We really enjoyed their company and sharing stories. An excellent day.
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