Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Best way to return to Porto after walking for two weeks? With a bag over your head

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Overlooking some of the beach that extends west from the village of Finisterre.

Santiago de Compostela to Porto (160 km – felt like being in a sci-fi movie and life is playing out in reverse. Not recommended!)

There are so many ways to return to Porto at the end of your Camino walk. You can fly, take a train, take a bus, car pool (there’s an app for that) …

My advice is, whichever way you choose, put a bag over your head.

Sensory deprivation will be your friend.

Here’s why. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

A giddy collision of excesses, Santiago is no haven for reflection — that’s what the Camino was about

 

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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.

Words fail me.

No they don’t. Just kidding.  Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Nothing to do for two hours except lie in the grass and let the mind drift with the clouds

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This is me, as we wait for our auberge to open at the end of a lovely day hiking from Padron. Two hours of absolutely nothing. I kept track of the cloud formations and listened to my clothes dry in the warm sun.

img_7090Padron to A Coruña (20 km, felt like a constant climb)

I’m flat on my back. I can’t move.

Or, maybe I don’t want to move.

My boots are off. Yes, my boots are off. I can see the tips of my socks. I can smell them. So, I must have taken my boots off. Yes? That is a specific act. Not an accident.

My backpack is not where it is most often during the day: on my back. So, that too, is a clue. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Slow down, walk in mindfulness, and the Camino’s hidden beauty is revealed

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An element of a plaza water fountain in Pontevedra, in which the shape of the spouting water is constantly changing to some hidden rhythm. The statue of the little boy always seems to get his mouthful, however.

Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (22.2 kilometers, felt like 22.2 except for a very flat stretch of open and empty road after the sun came out)

We awake to a different Pontevedra this morning. Last night, we walked through gray granite and stone canyons, brightened only by the logos and signage of commerce and colorful storefront pitches for their wares, and the occasional art installation. And graffiti, ambitious graffiti murals in fluorescent colors.

But otherwise, a gray city fostering teeming waves of pedestrian life along traffic-free streets. 

Now, in the morning gloom, the rain and the streetlamps have washed everything with a shimmering amber sheen. A neon art project sings like an aria to the skies above. The pulsing cherry-sherbert lighting on a plaza fountain vibrates with a force unfelt in daytime. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Sometimes, the best moments on the Camino are not the views but the stories people tell

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This is Ponte Sampaio over the River Verdugo. This is yet another spot where Galacian fighters kicked the ass of Napoleon’s soldiers. This isn’t the first site we’ve encountered marked by the defeat of Napoleon’s army.

Redondela to Pontevedra (23 kilometers, felt just right)

Sometimes the best part of your day on the Camino isn’t the glorious autumn weather, or the cathedral-like walk through an ancient forest, or the breathtaking vistas that greet you at the crest of a difficult climb, or the journey back in time as you pass through a Medieval village along narrow cobblestone paths.

No, sometimes it is a simple story told by another pilgrim.

This happened on our walk between the mellifluously named cities of Redondela and Pontevedra. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Trying something new: Booking ahead for a place to sleep

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A lovely spring up near the peak of our highest climb for the day. The design invites you to linger, unstrap the boots, and dangle your feet in the icy mountain water.

O Porriño to Redondela (16 kilometers, feels like that)

After a day walking in the rain, you couldn’t help but admire the optimism that filled the auberge in O Porriño. Wet clothing was hanging everywhere. A carpet of wet shoes was laid out before the one window that offered sunlight after the clouds broke.

Just the same, everyone left the next morning with damp clothing and damp shoes. We all smelled like wet dogs. Continue reading

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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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