Yes, this may look like something you thought you saw in a Harry Potter movie but author J.K. Rowling says, “No way.” It is the interior of the Lello & Irmão bookstore in Porto, Portugal, which has its own Harry Potter Room in which Rowling neither wrote nor slept while creating the popular series.
By my unofficial and completely speculative count, J.K. Rowling launched the “Harry Potter” series in upwards from 234 bistros, flats, castles, coffee shops, libraries, phone booths, buses, trains, caves, back alleys, and pawn shops spread over 27 countries and a few former colonies.
I swear, for example, that she got the original idea while living in a flat just above mine in a funky old apartment building in Point Loma, a once-funky waterfront corner of San Diego, California. Continue reading →
Of all the incredible, awe-inspiring art and architecture in Santiago, this sculpture spoke loudest to me. It is a powerful reflection of how our soggy feet felt at this moment. The translation is something like “Walk straight, walk upright,” as if we need that advice now.
A Coruña to Santiago de Compostela (7 km — felt wet and like it would take forever but, suddenly, it is over)
We have reached the end of our journey. We have arrived in Santiago de Compostela after walking more than 150 miles over 13 days through Portugal and Spain.
Have you ever seen a more beautiful Roman path? Grape arbors on your left, stream on your right, ancient paving stones beneath your feet. And rain coming down on all. Enjoy, because I took very few pictures this day. A wet iPhone takes lousy pictures — when it works at all.
Tui to O Porriño (18.5 kilometers — feels like swimming 15 kilometers)
Did you ever want to reach back into the past and grab your younger self by the shirt collar and smack yourself up the side of the head for something really stupid that you said?
Yeah. Me, too.
The Me from September 21, 2019 — a few weeks back.
We were walking from Tui, just across the border in Spain, to O Porriño, about 18.5 kilometers away.
Ponte 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 →
It was a chilly morning in Porto when we stepped out of our flat on Rue das Flores and headed for the Rio Douro. Thirteen days later, in pouring rain, we would walk tentatively but proudly into the expansive Obradorio Square, the end-goal of thousands of Camino pilgrims each year, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
The batteries in my Kindle and iPhone are dead. The list of in-flight movies sucks. And this is a very long flight, from Madrid to Cancun. Dinner, such as it was, is over. Blessedly. The duty-free trolley has passed by. I gave away my only two New Yorkers to friends in Porto.
The only thing left to do is write.
And the only thing to write about is the Camino walk we just finished between Porto and Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We finished several days ago but in my dreams, I am still walking: The landscapes are more surreal and with an unlikely set of companions. Most ridiculous of all, I am involved in adventures more fit for blockbuster action movies than a pilgrimage.