North America, Europe · 20 Days · 52 Moments · May 2017

The Camino - Portuguese, May 2017


29 May 2017

We are so pleased to have made the distance required for these documents. You must have at least 100 continuous kilometers (we had 124); and you prove this by getting your credential stamped along the way (at least 2 per day). The distance certification is in Spanish and the Compostela is in Latin. If our first names had any Latin underpinning they would have been written that way... apparently Becki and Heather don't qualify. 😉 Hundreds of years ago when pilgrims made this journey they were given a shell at the end - this was their 'proof' that they made it to Santiago. The story goes that they used the shell to drink from on the return trip. We did cross paths with a few pilgrims making their way back on foot to Fatima, after having walked to Santiago! Now the shell is a common marker (in tile) along they way to guide pilgrims, along with yellow arrows, and many pilgrims wear them on their person or pack to identify themselves as on the journey to Santiago. Buen Camino ❤️

28 May 2017

Random Lisbon shots. Our last morning, the little cars that take you around, the famous #28 trolley (which we didn't do as our 'we hate tours' tour guide advised against it for a number of reasons... plus we had no extra time..), and the view of Figueira Square from our room. At the airport you could stock up on ciggies and sardines (we passed on both - but love the truth in advertising on the cig packaging... took other pics along the way - some are pictures of stomas and dead people).

27 May 2017

The last 'official' tour stop was in Cascais - a beach resort area (cascais means 'shell' in Portuguese). We had amazing gelato and explored some shops. The final stop was a surprise - close to the center of Lisbon in a non-tourist area. Our guide brought out some homemade sherry (it has a Portuguese name I can't recall) and some pastries and we took in the view. Lovely to see the jacaranda tree in bloom - just like home (which we are happy to be retuning to tomorrow).
We also stopped at the most western point in continental Europe (Spain claims this spot as well!). Beautiful coastline.
Our guides took us to a local outdoor market (they don't call them farmer's markets here)... and we had a picnic lunch of fresh selections along with amazing chorizo sandwiches prepared at a food truck. Lunch was paired with 'green wine'- unique to Portugal and quite tasty. Not too sweet.
More from Monserrate.
Also on the tour was a stop at the Park and Palace of Monserrate - beautiful grounds!

26 May 2017

Friday night at Lisboa Square and we discovered a local IPA. It was tasty. Today most of the day was spent with a small group on a 'We Hate Tours' tour... a couple from Australia and 3 other Americans along with 2 local guides. It was a fun day. We started by being taken up to the village of Sintra.
We left behind rainy Santiago and have arrived in Lisbon. It is properly called Lisboa... not sure why we feel the need to rename things in 'English.' Just acclimating and beginning to explore.

25 May 2017

More in and around the Cathedral and Santiago. The first pic is the botafumiero - waiting to be dropped and lit.
The Cathedral is quite impressive inside. Several smaller chapels line the sides where separate masses are held during the day. It is cavernous and filled with an overwhelming amount of history. Just walking on the stone floors and steps that have been worn down from centuries of use was exciting to be a part of. The Pilgrims Mass was packed with people - many of whom were pilgrims, many not... but everyone hoping to see the botafumiero swing at the end of mass. No one was disappointed. It is massive and takes a bit to get going - and when it does... wow! A spectacular sight and unexpectedly emotional as we all watched with shared amazement.

24 May 2017

We made it. We actually made it. It was almost 90 degrees today and yesterday - and that has been brutal. Our feet were done early on this morning, but we kept going. A fabulous group of people, terrific motivation from our guides, and at our own pace we walked in - all meeting up for lunch, then on to the cathedral. Tonight we receive our distance certificates (in Spanish) and our Composetelas (in Latin). Tomorrow we get to tour the cathedral and attend the pilgrim's mass.
Up early after a fitful night of sleep. Partly due to excitement for the final 8 miles today.. but also because of the rock hard bed. 😜We should be in Santiago by 1pm!

23 May 2017

Our last 11+ mile day. We started strong and encouraged, but developed new pains to manage. Our post lunch picnic walking found us in direct sun with the temperature in the high 80's. We were thrilled to finish out the last couple of KMs. Tomorrow we walk into Santiago - we are excited - but can't believe it's about to end!

22 May 2017

Lots of animals along the way today... and rewards at the end (ice cream, beer, and a dip in the refreshingly freezing cold pool)
An 11+ mile day with many climbs and drops - although nothing too dramatic. As always, the Camino traverses through beautiful country side. Today was a hard one to get psyched up about for whatever reason - but we shook off the bad attitude early and dug in. We walked through Caldas de Reis where their is a natural hot spring, and also happened upon a market on a tiny, ancient stretch of road. I decided not to buy the salted cod. 😜 One more lengthy day tomorrow... then we walk into Santiago on Wednesday!!

21 May 2017

In and around the lovely property we are staying at for the next two nights.
More from today's trek. Everything is beautiful to our eyes - and helps us ignore when our feet are aching!
Along the way out of Pontevedra today. It was about 10 miles and extremely humid by the end of the day.

20 May 2017

Along the trail today - from just outside of Arcade and down into Pontevedra. A 12 miler, and the weather is warming up. We were fortunate to walk along a creek much of our time after the picnic lunch. So many grapevines at every turn.; and we walked a small portion of an ancient roman road (the path with the large stones). Seeing many more pilgrims the last couple of days - primarily from Germany.

19 May 2017

Street art on the trail and in Pontevedra.
Pictures from around the square in Pontevedra on Friday, just around the corner from our hotel. Many children out playing in the late afternoon and evening... and an accidental shot of my foot out of a hiking boot (so happy to get them off at the end of each day).
A beautiful day that covered almost 10 up and down miles. We had an interesting mix of countryside and towns, and crossed a couple of crazy uncontrolled intersections. The pedestrian does not have the right of way. 😉A beautiful picnic lunch was our reward - and now a glorious siesta before dinner.

18 May 2017

After our 10mile trek and yummy lunch, we were taken up to an ancient Celtic ruin - high above the Atlantic coast looking west, and back across the river you can see Portugal.
A 10mile walk though the countryside (for the most part) all before lunch today. We travelled by foot from from Orbenlle to Mos. Everyone finished strong - happy to be met with delicious Spanish cuisine and cerveza.

17 May 2017

Signs that let us know we are on the Camino. We came upon a little road side stand that gave us a 'sello' for our pilgrim passport and sold us a cerveza for 1.5euro (sold!). Oh, and we think Heather broke her baby left toe at the manor home last night... gnarly bed posts (and she sat in an ant hill along the way today)... it has got to go better tomorrow). 😳 She still has a terrific attitude!
The cathedral in Tui was as lovely as we have seen. Interesting combination of 12th century stone work and more 'modern' baroque carving. A lovely cloister and rooftop walkway. Amazing.
We started our day in the walled city of Valenca Portugal, and quickly crossed over into Spain - total miles for the day was 8, and we stopped walking in Orbenlle.

16 May 2017

The Count was a magnificent host. His home is stunning and he enjoyed telling us about the family history and legacy as much as we were thrilled to listen. We managed another dinner that included cod... we are become brace seafood eaters. 😊
We stayed on the ground floor of the tower. An adorable little room with an upstairs bathroom. We fell asleep to the song of the bullfrogs.
Our abode tonight is a manor house... Paco de Calheiros... run by an actual Count. There may be a couple of other guests - but primarily our group. We have uncorked the 2 euros wine and it is decent!
The destination today was Ponte de Lima - a cute little town that seems reliant on pilgrims and tourists for survival. The pedestrian bridge over the river dates back to the Romans. We lunched and had a bit of time to wander. We bought a bottle of red wine for 2euros (hope it's drinkable - it was the most expensive in the shop). Lunch was prepared by one of our guides - Irene - she lives in Seville, Spain. A bit warm today - humid and into the low 80's, hoping for cooler weather ahead.
And so we begin... Today was mostly a warm-up at only 4mi; but the countryside was lovely and fun to follow the yellow arrows. Our group naturally separated into fast and not so fast walkers. We believe our oldest member turns 80 this year... and he was in the fast group. 😉We had one walker hit by a bicycle from behind - he scraped a knee but seems okay. The kid that ran into him just wasn't looking - but what a freaky thing to have happen.

15 May 2017

The yellow arrows will help guide us as we walk; and we had our first dinner with our fellow pilgrims. Itsgonnabegreat.
More views of Porto. We wandered on our own this morning, and had a guided tour this evening with our Camino group. We have loved our time in this gorgeous place.
A McDonald's that boasts chandeliers. We did not eat here - but wandered through because it is an historic space and former imperial cafe. They retained the interior beauty. Still smells like a Mickey D's though 😝
The infamous Porto bookstore that allegedly inspired J.K. Rowling as she began the Harry Potter series. You now need a ticket just to get in. The stained glass ceiling and the turning staircase were worth the visit - and I bought a sweet small edition of The Little Prince 😍
More art about town...

14 May 2017

Some of today's treats. We had a mad craving for pizza at lunchtime - it was delicious but got no photo. We loved it so much we packed the remainder to go. While we were having our gelato a hungry man kindly asked for our leftovers - and was thrilled when we handed over the box. It made us happy too.
We walked across the bridge from Porto to Gaia today. Our food guide yesterday (the delightful Sergio) said that the joke goes that the best thing about Gaia is the view of Porto ❤️ He might not be wrong. It was a lovely walk and a sweet waterfront. Many people out on bikes, on the water, wandering about, and enjoying the fabulous sunshine.
Walking along the waterfront.
More street art around Porto.
We spent this Sunday morning wandering through the Church of Sao Francisco. It was established about 1223, and eventually was made over with an ornate gothic design. No photos are allowed in the actual church and I don't even know how to describe the ornate carvings on every surface. The catacombs were fascinating... and a clear reminder that we are only here a moment or two. Best to make the most of it.

13 May 2017

More from around Porto.
The food tour was delicious, informative and fun! Folks joined from Germany, UK, Denmark and USA. We loved Sergio our guide. #TastePorto
Around Porto today.
Street art in Porto.

12 May 2017

The view from our hotel room! It'll do ❤️
Wandering about Porto in search of dinner. We ended up at Cantena 32 and it was fabulous. We are excited to explore more tomorrow after a good night's sleep.
Landing in Lisbon and taking the train from Lisbon to Porto. Beautiful countryside. We loved our treat at the Lisbon train station.

10 May 2017

We did our last little 'shake out' walk... 4mi. We traveled our favorite loop that passes by my childhood neighborhood and the cemetery that holds both of my folks. We generally say 'hey' as we pass by Dearborn, but we don't typically go in. Today was an exception... 9 years ago today my mom transitioned... more than 15 for dad. We felt their encouragement as we left the cemetery and continued putting one foot in front of the other. Tomorrow our journey begins in earnest...

9 May 2017

We head out on Thursday 5/11/17, and arrive in Lisbon, Portugal on 5/12/17... then taking the train to Porto, Portugal. The adventure begins soon... watch this space.