A 610 kilometer walk from Lisbon to Santiago de Campostela along the Portuguese coast
  • Day34

    Camino reflexions

    June 3 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    "We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey."

    I started my Camino journey from Lisbon with "Ernita" (Ernie and Anita) on May 4th. We travelled for 30 days, approximately 640 kms, taking only 2 rest days along the way.

    The leg from Lisbon to Porto felt distinctly different from the leg from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. We didn't meet very many other pilgrims in the first leg of our journey, but those we did meet felt like kindred spirits. We were always happy to greet these members of our Camino family each time we crossed paths with them as we all headed northward.

    The first leg to Porto was quieter and more contemplative. The locals we met were very generous with their heart felt wishes for a "Bom Caminho". We were offered oranges picked straight from one woman's tree. We were given mandarin oranges from another woman's basket. One kind man stopped us as he was driving by to give us cold bottles of water and apples. We experienced repeatedly the kindness of strangers.

    Most pilgrims who walk the Camino Portugues start their journey from Porto so we saw a lot more pilgrims in the 2nd leg of our journey, particularly after O Porriño since a pilgrim really only needs to walk 100 kms to get a Compostela certificate. As Ernie observed, it's the exact opposite of running a marathon. Instead of the number of participants getting less and less the closer we got to the finish line, we entered Santiago amongst a stream of pilgrims.

    My 22 litre Deuter backpack became my home for 30 days. My total possessions consisted of 2 dryfit t-shirts, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 pair of hiking pants, 1 pair of leggings, 1 pair of shorts, a lightweight fleece, a rain jacket, 2 sets of socks and underclothing, a visor, a small toiletry bag, essential supplements, cables for my watch and phone, an ultra lightweight umbrella, a 67 gm travel towel, a 10-litre packable daypack, a pair of sandals and a pair of Altra trail runners. The only addition to my pack was a rain poncho which I purchased towards the end when heavy rainfall was forecasted for the last 3 days of our Camino. In the end, I only used the poncho once.

    Overall, I felt we were blessed weather-wise, even on the days that peaked 35 degrees. We all agreed that the heat was preferable to rain, especially in light of the trails that would have turned into steep muddy slides which I have no idea how we would have scaled or descended.

    I learned to appreciate the seemingly insignificant gifts the Camino offered: a bit of shade when it was blistering hot, a gentle breeze at our back, birdsongs to accompany us, the beauty of wild flowers, early check-in at hotels, and the availability of a hairdryer in days when our socks didn't dry overnight.

    I learned how little I needed to experience happiness. My most joyful moments rarely involved "things".

    I am grateful to and, dare I say, a little in awe of my body, this "earth suit" which proved itself to be strong and resilient, walking up each morning with nary a complaint and transporting me step-by-step, day-by-day closer to my destination.

    I am grateful to my ever reliable Altra Lone Peak trail runners and Injinji toe socks which carried me the whole distance without giving me a single blister.

    Most of all, I give thanks to my amazing travel companions who shared this voyage with me: Ernie, Anita, and Roch. Together, we became the "Core Four", a.k.a. B.E.A.R. Thank you for your friendship, your support, the witty conversations, the laughter. It's been a privilege to share the road with you and I look forward to sharing many more miles of life's journey with you.

    The official Camino certificate states that the journey from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela is 634 kms. However, according to my Garmin watch, I have taken 1,058,231 steps or the equivalent of 777.6 kilometers over the past 30 days.

    We are now on board a bus that will take us from Santiago de Compostela to Porto in 5.5 hours. From there, Roch and I will catch a high speed train that takes 2 hours and 50 minutes to get into Lisbon. You have to admire modern travel. It'll take 8 hours and 20 minutes to journey by bus and train what took us 28 days to walk.
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    Traveler

    This is a beautiful summary of what was an amazing journey. Thank you and Roch for sharing it 😎❤️❤️

    6/4/22Reply

    It truly is amazing and a wonderful write-up of you spiritual journal, Brenda. So happy for you all and so proud of your accomplishments. We can't wait till you all are back in Vancouver where we can meet for our OMG picnic on the beach. Love and hugs xoxo F&I [Francie]

    6/6/22Reply
     
  • Day33

    Day 30/19 A Escrevitude to Santiago

    June 2 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    When you embark on the Camino you buy a passport in which you collect stamps from businesses and landmarks you visit along the way. The last stamp you receive is at the cathedral in Santiago, which also grants you a certificate of achievement. Since as many as 2500 pilgrims arrive in Santiago daily, we thought it would be wise to arrive as early as possible to beat the crowds.

    And so, today we were up at 5:15 and on the road at 6:30 under partially cloudy skies and a temperature of 15 C. We were out so early, the lights on the side of the path were still lit.

    Anita took the lead today and set a blistering pace for the last leg of our Caminho. Despite some steep and difficult hills, we covered our first 5 kms in only 55 minutes! We stopped for coffee at 8:15 and had already almost reached the 10 km mark.

    The skies opened while we were on our coffee break, but by the time we were finished, the rain was barely more than a mist. It continued on and off like that most of the way into Santiago.

    During the last 100 kms, the signposts began showing the distance remaining to Santiago. We were all very excited when the distance fell below 10 kms. We all counted down each and every kilometer until we arrived in Santiago proper with about 2 kms left to go. That's when the signposts all disappeared. There were still the yellow arrows pointing us in the right direction, but we had no indication of the distance we still had to travel. And then, as we rounded a corner, we caught our first glimpse of one of the cathedral's spires.

    Our already fast pace quickened and, just as the bells rang 10:30, we were standing in front of the awe-inspiring cathedral.

    It was a moment of great joy and a sense of accomplishment mingled with a feeling of melancholy that the trek had come to an end. Clearly, many of the other pilgrims in the plaza shared similar emotions. Tears, laughter, hugs, handshakes, high-fives and wide smiles of joy were everywhere.

    From the plaza we went to get the ultimate stamp on our passports and our certificate of achievement before returning to the plaza for another look at the amazing scene there.

    We all then purchased matching souvenir t-shirts that we'd later wear to pose for our fab four photo.

    The rest of the day was spent wandering the labyrinth of streets of Santiago, drinking and eating to celebrate our accomplishment and reminiscing on the wonderful journey we just completed.

    The day was topped of by an array of very creative and tasty pinxos and a couple of glasses of wine before we turned in for the evening.

    Tomorrow Brenda and I travel to Lisbon to spend some time with our friend Marie from Calgary while Anita and Ernie go to Porto for a couple of days before flying home.

    We all leave Santiago with many fond memories that we'll cherish for as long as we live.
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    What a momentous day. You have accomplished your dream! So proud of you ❣️ [Betty]

    6/3/22Reply

    Spectacular, emotional, happy-happy, AND so proud of you 4 BEARS accomplishing an important spiritual self-journey. PROVO xoxo [Francie & Ian]

    6/6/22Reply
     
  • Day32

    Day29/18 Caldas de Reis to A Escravitude

    June 1 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

    Our walk today started at 7:30 a.m. with a very humid temperature of 18 degrees under cloudy skies with some clear blue breaks. We managed to avoid any rain until the skies opened at 8:45. However, even before I could get on my rain poncho, the rain stopped.

    It rained on and off all morning, but by the time we stopped for our first break at the 12 kms mark, the skies had cleared and we were treated to some warm sunshine the rest of the way into A Escravitude.

    The walk today was much more interesting than yesterday's and it took us along some Roman roads, through a well preserved ancient village and through lots of forested areas. There were many barnyard animals along the way, a house clad with scallop shells, the symbol of the Camino, and several magnificent churches.

    We stopped for lunch in Padron and had to order a dish of Pimientos Padron in the town where they originated. As expected, they were the best we've had so far.

    Six kilometers later we arrived at our accomodations and after showering, enjoyed a bottle of Rioja in the living room while we waited for a restaurant to open for dinner at 7:00 pm.

    As it turned out, when we arrived at the restaurant, we were told dinner wasn't until 8:00 pm! But the waiter called in the chef (his wife) and we enjoyed an excellent meal at 7:00 while watching an old Lee Van Cleef Western that was dubbed into Spanish.

    Overall a great day on the Camino with only one more to go before we're done.

    It's going to be an extra early start tomorrow, so it's time for me to say buenas noche.
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  • Day31

    Day 28/17 Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

    May 31 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

    When we set out this morning at 7:30, the temperature was a very humid 18 C and there were a few sunny breaks in the cloud cover.

    We didn't have much of a chance to explore Pontevedra yesterday, but on our way out of town we discovered what a pretty and interesting city it is. The old town is really well preserved and maintained and there are lovely buildings everywhere. We even came across an archeological dig with some newly uncovered Roman ruins. Too bad we didn't have an extra day here.

    Our destination today was Caldas de Reis, about 21 kilometers from Pontevedra. There are very few photos of today's journey for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there really wasn't much to see. The majority of the first part of the trek was through woodlands or along paved roads. Not too exciting.

    At our rest stop 9.7 kilometers out, the forecasted rains finally materialized...and with a vengeance. Fortunately, we were able to take cover in the cafe's garage where we finished our refreshments and prepared ourselves for our first real wet-weather walk. Our €22.00 ponchos finally got to see the light of day and we couldn't have been happier with our purchases. The rain continued all the way into Caldas de Reis but, other than our feet, we all managed to stay dry and comfortable.

    Lunch and dinner were good, especially the grilled vegetables at lunch, but at €11.00 a plate, we expected more than a few slices of zucchini and eggplants and a handful of carrots and broccoli. The most remarkable thing about eating out is the shear number of pilgrims crowding every restaurant. And, of course, we're the only ones dining at 6:00 p.m. in a country where the dinner hour typically is just getting started at 9:00.

    We're now well under fifty kilometers to our destination and, by the end of the day tomorrow we'll be under twenty to go.

    Rain is in the forecast for both days but it's in no way dimming the light at the end of the tunnel.
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    Traveler

    Wow! Can’t believe your almost there. Feel like we’re there with you 4! 🚶🏻‍♀️ 🙏🏽, for the updates!

    6/1/22Reply
     
  • Day30

    Day 27/16 Redondela to Pontevedra

    May 30 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Overcast skies, a threat of rain and a temperature of 15 C awaited us as we set out on today's walk.

    It was another relatively short walk, (I now consider walks under 20 kms to be short) but it had two very long, and often steep, ascents and descents. For the most part we were in forested areas, which were unspectacular, although there were a few extraordinary vistas from atop the hills.

    The other day we were serenaded by a bagpipe duo and today, on a couple of occasions, we were treated to a chorus of bullfrogs singing very loudly.

    Our first coffee stop was about 7.5 kms up the road and the second was as at around 15 kms which left only 4 kms over flat ground to bring us to our hotel.

    With a little less than an hour to go, the rain finally started to fall, but only enough for us to pop open our umbrellas. A few days ago torrential rains were forecast for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but that has been constantly changing. With a little luck and the Caminho on our side, we may dodge the bullet tomorrow. Time will tell.

    The highlight of the day was dinner at Bodegon Arca, a little Mom and Pop shop run by a larger than life Spaniard and his wife. So enjoyable was his banter we had to take a photo with him.

    Our calculations tell us we now have only 66 kms to cover over the next three days to reach Santiago. It's almost inconceivable to think that this journey is rapidly coming to an end.

    What can we do for an encore?
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    Traveler

    This is so exciting!!!😎😎love these posts

    5/31/22Reply
    Roch Pelletier

    Thanks. We have fun doing them and find they provide us great memories to look back on.

    5/31/22Reply
     
  • Day29

    Day 26/15 O Porriño to Redondela

    May 29 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Another short day on the Caminho with only 17.21 kms to cover on mostly paved roads. There were a couple of fairly long, steep climbs and short, VERY steep descents, but, overall, it was an easy day on the trail.

    Our 7:30 a.m. start was under clear blue skies and a cool 15 degrees. The route was quite uneventful, except for the fact that there now remain less than 100 kms to walk to Santiago.

    A brief coffee stop at Rua at about the 7km mark was the only break we took today before pushing straight through to our hotel in Redondela.

    Unfortunately, we arrived in the lovely little town of Redondela on Sunday, which means that most businesses are closed and the town appears to be extremely sleepy. We nonetheless found a couple of very nice restaurants for lunch and dinner, as well as a 24 hour grocery store where we bought a couple of bottles of Cava to enjoy on the rooftop deck of our hotel.

    We now have only about 84 kms to travel to our destination and the number of pilgrims we encounter on the trail, and in the cities are growing exponentially. It's hard to imagine how many of us will be in Santiago when we get there.

    I guess we'll soon find out!
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  • Day28

    Day 25/14 Tui to O Porriño

    May 28 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    A short and relatively flat walk today started out at 7:30 a.m. and covered just 15.74 kms.

    The temperature was about 15 C when we started out and felt quite cool as we walked through the early forested parts of the trail. But by the time we arrived at our destination at noon, the sun was blazing and we were glad to be done for the day.

    The walk itself was uneventful, except for when we wandered across a duo of pipers in the middle of a wooded section, happily playing for the pilgrims that passed them by.

    Even though we arrived just around noon, we were able to check in and shower right away and then took advantage of our early arrival to enjoy a very good paella in a pastry shop.

    In Spain, pretty much everything shuts down between 1:30 and 4:30, so after lunch we went back to our rooms for a little siesta.

    Because the forecast is for heavy rain for most of next week, as soon as the stores reopened, we went shopping for rain ponchos. The Caminho looked after us once again as we snatched up the last three available.

    The rest of the afternoon was spent sipping sangria and beer on a patio while we people watched.

    Ernie and I later caught the first half of the Real Madrid vs Liverpool football game before calling it a night. We would have loved to watch the whole game, but the Caminho calls early every morning.

    Tomorrow we'll finish our walk well within 100 kms of our destunation in Santiago. We're all going to be a little sad to see the journey come to an end.
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  • Day27

    Day 24/13 Vila Nova de Cerveira to Tui

    May 27 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    Since leaving Lisbon, not once have we pilgrims left for our day's travels wearing less than two layers of clothing on our upper bodies. Until today.

    As we departed Vila Nova de Cerveira at 8:30 a.m. the temperature was already 19 degrees with a forecast high of 32 by early afternoon. Definitely t-shirt weather.

    Fortunately, the path today took us only 19.45 kms into our first stop in Spain, Tui.

    There was very little of interest on the path that runs alongside the Minho river, the border between Spain and Portugal. But as we arrived in Sao Pedro da Torre at the 9.9 km mark for our morning coffee break, that all changed. Approaching the town we were greeted by ancient fortifications and, in fact, the entire town was filled with ancient, well-preserved buildings.

    Since the cafe in Sao Pedro had no Pastels de Nata, we decided on a second stop in Valença for our last ones before crossing into Spain. As it turns out, Valença is contained within an extensive ancient fortified wall complete with battlements. We could have easily spent the rest of the day exploring this fascinating town, but with our destination for the day less than three kms away, we decided to push on.

    It was a good decision as the temperature was rapidly rising and the sun was beating down relentlessly. We crossed the bridge into Spain and immediately lost an hour of our day. We not only crossed an international border, we also entered a new time zone.

    Tui turned out to be equally as fascinating a city as Valença with a spectacular cathedral, well preserved historic buildings and a lively and thriving main drag.

    We had our first glasses of Cava in the main town square and had a dinner of tapas in a restaurant recommended by one of the locals.

    We wrapped up this Friday evening seated among the locals and enjoying some cool libations.

    Life is truly grand.
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    how many days will you be in spain? [Betty]

    5/28/22Reply
    Roch Pelletier

    we'll be here until June 2 and then head down to Lisbon to meet up with Marie.

    5/28/22Reply
     
  • Day26

    Day 23/12 V.P.Ancora to V.N.Cerveira

    May 26 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Well I'm a walking down down the road
    Tryna lighten my load
    I got seven kilos on my spine
    Four are clothes for wearing
    Two is food for sharing
    One I should have left behind.

    (Sorry Eagles fans, but sometimes the caminho gives you far too much time to kill.)

    Today we set out at 6:50 a.m. under sunny skies with a cool temperature of 12 degrees C. Initially, our goal was to reach Vila Nova de Cerveira after walking 24.9 kms and climbing 523 meters.

    Happily, we discovered an alternate route that runs right along the coast, which allowed us to arrive in Vila Nova de Cerveira in only 22.2 kms with only 73 meters climbed.

    The shortcut was especially appreciated after the difficult and steep climbs we undertook yesterday.

    Amazingly, the majority of today's walk was on a soft bike/jogging track that ran for at least fifteen kms alongside the river that serves as the border between Spain and Portugal. So close were we to Spain, at times my phone was showing the time for the Spanish time zone.

    We stopped for coffee at the 8.9 km mark in Camhina in a town square more reminiscent of Italy than Portugal.

    Our next stop was a very short bathroom break at 16 kms. The path was so smooth and we all felt so energetic, we powered straight through to lunch at our destination in Vila Nova de Cerveira.

    After a shower, we sat down for a round of pre-dinner Port and tonic before heading out for a very delicious dinner of various tapas.

    Oh yeah, Spain is just around the corner.

    Distance walked since Lisbon: approx. 500 kms.
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  • Day25

    Day 22/11 Viana do Castelo to Vila Praia

    May 25 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    After a very cool, windy night, we embarked on our walk to Vila Praia de Ancora at 7:30 this morning under blues skies with a temperature of just 12 degrees. My companions have begun looking at me menacingly for having brought the miserable weather with me from Vancouver.

    Fortunately, after a steep uphill climb minutes into our walk, we all warmed up pretty quickly and began shedding layers of clothing. Soon into the hike we were out of the city and walking Roman roads through some lovely forested areas. Parts of the path were a little rugged, wet or muddy, but overall the morning went by very quickly.

    We made a stop for coffee at about 10 kms into the hike and didn't stop again until we reached our seaside destination.

    The rest of the day was spent eating and drinking. The highlight was our delving into the hot cocktail here: Porto and tonic. The girls had white port and tonic last night and we decided we had to try it with a Tawny. We bought a bottle of Tawny at a local market for €4.70 and killed it with a bottle of tonic water as pre-dinner cocktails. I think we need to bottle it and sell it at home.

    It's an early night tonight as we're all a little tired from today's climbs and the prospect of another 25km day tomorrow, which will be our last full day in Portugal.
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