Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Tui or not Tui, that is the question

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This image was taken somewhere between Rubiaes and Tui, so it must have been a very pleasant walk.

Rubiaes to Tui (20.3 kilometers, felt like: Meh.)

Odd. I have almost no recollection of this segment of the Portuguese Camino. Except that it crosses the river Minho into Spain and you must remember to set your watch an hour forward.

Or was it backward?

Well, as my Grandmother Agnes Reuter used to say when she was well into her 90s, “Bobby, I have my good days and I have my bad days.”

I guess this was just one of those days. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Alpine trails, mountain streams, fresh coffee, and Portela Grande — could there be a better day?

IMG_6205Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes, (18.6 km — feels like 18.6, except on Alto de Portela Grande)

There is a different mood in the air this morning as the clank, and flap, and zip of early risers assembling their backpacks awakened everybody else in the dormitory.

It started at 4 a.m. with the two guys sleeping in the beds next to me. I understand starting early to beat the afternoon heat, but walking three hours on mountain trails in the dark of night with, probably, only a headlamp to guide you?

By 6 a.m. the predawn dorm was an undulating shadow-sea of pilgrims rising up, gathering their scattered clothing, running off to the loo, bundling up their backpacks, and strapping on their boots. Occasionally the door would open and the motion-activated light in the hall would stream in, trapping shadows in the glare, momentarily freezing all like it was some big jailbreak. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Finished walking by noon? I think we’re getting the hang of this Camino thing

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I was so taken with this stand of trees and the way the rising sunlight played through them, that I walked right past the arrow indicating our turn.

Day 4: Lugar do Coro to Ponte de Lima (11 km, feels like 10)

I awoke this morning without a trace of a hangover. Talk about small and unexpected miracles on the Camino.

Dinner at Fernanda’s table last night was an incredibly joyous gathering, fueled in no small part by bottomless bottles of wine, generous bottles of Tawney Port, and a clear liquid we named “Death In A Bottle.”

And singing. So much singing. And camaraderie. Lots of camaraderie. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Feeling like hell, ending up in heaven: Casa Fernanda

IMG_6044Day 3: Barcelinhos to Lugar do Coro (22 km, feels like 22 until the last 5 km …)

According to the Camino guidebook, the next destination is supposed to be Ponte de Lima, about 22 miles from Barcelhinos.

After two grueling days, my first thought was “No way in hell.”

There were plenty of smaller towns between Barcelos and Ponte de Lima.  “Less walking, more enjoying,” was to be our new mantra. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

At last, the Camino begins to move back in time, as we move forward

img_5739Day 2: Vila do Conde to Barcelinhos (30 km, feels like: 45 km)

It is hard to look at the remnants of the 999 stone arches that comprised the base of the Aqueduto de Santa Clara in Vila do Conde, Portugal,  and accept that at one time it was a colossal failure.

An aqueduct has one job, right? To convey water from one point to another with an MVP assist from gravity. I’m no engineer but it seems to me that, in building an aqueduct, slope is everything.

All about the slope, it’s all about the slope. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Uncategorized

Leaving Porto is so hard … twice

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The Atlantic Ocean stretches before us  at the mouth of the Rio Douro, as the moon begins its descent. We are about to make a sharp right and finally head north toward Santiago.

Day 1: Porto to Vila do Conde (35 km)

Twice on this journey, we have left Porto and twice a voice in my head is saying “Your work is not done here.”

I think it may be the voice of the good people who bottle 10-year-old Tawny Port. 

More likely, it is just the soul of this venerable old city’s siren song, calling me back to discover more of its hidden pleasures.  Continue reading

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