I Really Wish…

Day 4 Carvalhal – Ponte de Lima

Last night’s s alburgue was a little diamond in the rough.  We never planned to stop there but we’re both now very glad that we did.  Thereza and her family moved from Brazil to open an Albergue.

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I Wish

I Wish.  Pam Ayres started a lot of her poems with those words… Oh I wish I’d looked after my teeth… And so on.  We’ll today I found myself thinking I Wish a lot too… Although not about my teeth!

Last night we stayed in the monesterio and even though our host was the kindest sweetest jolliest man you could wish to meet, his enthusiasm for the building didn’t compensate for the lack of heat… It didn’t do much either for the beds that were actually made from wooden pallets and crikey they were hard. Antonia was from Brazil and was wonderful.  He even got us clapping to his breakfast blessing in the style of We Will Rock you by Queen but no matter how kind he was there was a part of me that wished we walked on in the rain yesterday and found a warmer bed.

When we left this morning I was wearing two coats, my hat, scarf and gloves and was shocked to realise it was warmer outside and quickly pulled off some layers.

It was dry and there was blue sky so that was a blessing.  And we were soon walking off cobbles and onto a softer path through a forest.  That also made me happy.  But all too soon the rain started and not for the first time this trip I questioned the wisdom of a November/December camino.


On we walked back on to cobbles and beside the main road.  Crikey I wished that the Portuguese didn’t drive so fast.  I was mighty glad when the arrows took us off the road and onto a trail and then back to quiet country lanes.

We crossed a bridge with its origins in the 11th century.  This felt more like the camino I imagined.  Suburbs gave way to rurality.  The walls remained but at a more polite height which allowed views of the hills beyond us.  We spotted typical white square Portuguese houses and magnificent old churches still adorned in blue and white tiles. We walked by farmers in tractors and the odd old lady with a smile that revealed a toothy grin as she called Bom Camino.  I keep replying Gracias and wish I could remember to say Obrigada instead! 


After two hours of good walking we stopped for a drink.  We guessed we’d walked a good 9 kilometers but the book said 4?  This wasn’t possible!  But then we looked at the detour routes that we’d taken (optional camino trails that took us off the highway) and we guessed these options had added extra miles.  We shrugged.  It couldn’t be changed but it meant a long day was in store.

On we walked through beautiful countryside.  It wasn’t sunny but it was dry and the odd patch of blue and I was still happy for that.  There is water everywhere.  So far in November it has rained every day here.  The ground is wet and the rivers are swollen and water is laying on the fields.  The locals all say this year is wet and cold and there is more to come.  So we walked under a dry sky and that was good.

We stopped for lunch in San Pedro de Rates.  It was a little early but we decided it was better than waiting too long.  I went with chicken and rice and Sheila opted for a vegetarian curry.  Whilst we ate we pondered our options.  We can walk another 7km or another 14km.  We’d already walked around 19km but decided to wait and see but we suspected 7km would be about right.  I’m still walking on my Primitivo legs but this is Sheila’s first camino!

Happy with that choice we took our chances back on the road and again I wished that Portuguese drivers were a tad slower and that there was a pavement for pilgrims.

Thankfully before long we were back on sandy trails.  A few flooded muddy sections slowed us down but we made good time and arrived at the 7km alburgue around 14:30.

I arrived first and was greeted by Miles Davis drifting out of the speakers and an array of photos and musical memorabilia.  My mind went back to a bar in Galicia where me and Gerry were greeted with the Blues… Just thinking about the Primitivo made me incredibly homesick for Gerry.

I ordered a coke and listened to Miles and checked my toes.  My new Hoka’s aren’t right and I switched back to my old Altra Lone Peaks.  I had a tiny blister but my feet were coping well.

Sheila arrived, ordered a coke and felt on balance she’d rather stay.  So she asked if we could get a bed.

No… Sorry… We don’t open the alburgue on Monday.  Gulp.  We both started to wish that maybe we’d stopped at the last alburgue.

There was nothing for it.  Barcelos it was.  But the owner told us that there was a new alburgue 5km further on.  He called and she was open.

Back on the road, literally.  Hugging the shoulder (or lack of one) we left the village.  Soon a pavement appeared and shortly after this we were taken back to the forest and quieter trails.

On and on we walked and the sky darkened and rain started.  Only 2km to go.  I felt surprisingly OK but poor Sheila was ready to stop.

Finally we arrived.  My fitbit says we walked 33km.  I’m not sure I believe that but it was certainly over 30km.  The alburgue is small but the owner is kind and generous and I’m pretty sure after we’ve eaten we’ll sleep well.

I’m laying on my bed now listening to Prometo and thinking back to my last walk with Gerry and really really wishing he was here or we were there.


Cold and Walls

Day 2 Porto to Vairão

Last nights alburgue was really lovely and I was surprised by how many pilgrims… 8 or 9 I think?  It was a little chilly but I slept very well.

There are a couple of ways out of Porto… Along the river to the coast or follow the central route from the cathedral.  We choose the latter and walked yesterday from the cathedral to the alburgue and then planned to continue today but… Storm Cecilia was due to arrive here at around midday so we decided to take the metro to the edge of the city which saved us we thought about 10 kilometres.  (we misjudged that though and didn’t save as much as we hoped)

We stopped for coffee and Sheila sampled a Pastel de Nata before heading off onto the camino and the yellow arrows. Rain threatened all morning but apart from the odd shower it really wasn’t so bad.  The sky wasn’t as blue as when we arrived yesterday but it wasn’t raining so I was counting my blessings.

The walking however was a bit dull.  We seemed to follow the same road that just meandered on and on edged by the rather magnificent wall.  Old stone walls flanked both sides of the cobbled road and as cars zoomed by there really wasn’t much room to manoeuvre out of the way.  I’m grateful that it was Sunday morning as I guess the roads were more quiet than a weekday.


Every now and then we could smell cows or hear sheep but we never saw them from behind our wall.

On we walked stopping for more coffee and dodging showers.  From our road we could see distant fields and forests and church spires but we never seemed to leave that road.  I have to say it really was a tad dull.  But the rain held off.

We’d planned to go to Vilarinho but about 2km before we arrived the heavens opened.  We saw a sign for the albergue in the old monestary at Viarao and decided that was a better option.

It’s a beautiful old building with a 1000 years of history but what it doesn’t have is heating.  We were welcomed by a wonderful man from Brazil… Wearing his coat, gloves and a woollen hat… This should have given us a few clues.  However he is a wonderful host and he gave us a tour and a history lesson and directed us to a cafe for a late lunch.  When we returned he made us tea and chatted with us for an hour.

We returned to our beds and showered and sorted our things for the morning.  I’m currently wearing all of my clean clothes and I’m in bed with three blankets and I still can’t feel my toes. It’s going to be a long cold night… Such is life on the camino! I Hope you’re all feeling warmer than we are!

Ps my fitbit says 29km which I think is more than we walked but it’s usually quite accurate… I’m left wondering if we took the metro the wrong way!



It Seemed Like A Good Idea…

Day 1 – Bordeaux to Porto

A few weeks ago when we finished walking The Primitivo and the sun was shining and all was great in our world, I returned home from Santiago and pondered… where next?  And when?  I had this mad idea.  Well, not mad exactly.  Let’s call it more impromptu.  There were cheap flights to Porto.  Porto is meant to be nice later in the year isn’t it?  I was free from the 22nd November?  25€ return for a flight!  It would be mad not to consider it right?

It seemed like a really good idea a few weeks ago.  And so I’m in Porto and the weather forecast for the next two weeks is wall to wall rain.  I’m travelling with a friend from home in France; and rain or no rain Sheila is really excited!  Well ok… To be honest so am I!  I’d rather not have the rain but heyho.  I’m in Porto.  I’m in the pilgrim albergue and I have two weeks.  I’m hoping to walk the Central Route to Santiago and maybe, if the weather is kind, we’ll walk the Variente as well.

We got a taxi from the airport to the cathedral.  We got our credentials stamped, paid three euros to visit inside and as the sun was dropping in the sky we wandered back through town in search of a Decathlon and then the albergue.  We found both eventually!

The rain held off and we even had blue sky.   The albergue is surprisingly busy and we’re ready to start… Although my fitbit it says I’ve walked 15.3km since I left home!

So welcome to my impromptu camino… I hope you enjoy the journey!


Another End

Day 17 O Pedrouzo – Santiago de Compostela

So we arrived.  We had an early breakfast and started walking at 6:50. We knew about the new ticket system in Santiago and I wanted to be sure we arrived in time and I also just wanted a little more time in Santiago… So we set off.

We don’t rush but it’s fair to say our stride and pace has improved over the last few weeks.  The kilometers just fell away and we reached Santiago Airport in no time. Onwards past familiar landmarks we walked.  I’m always surprised by how few pilgrims take the slight detour to visit the pilgrim statues at Mont Gozo.  Why walk so far and not? We wandered down, gazed across the city at those famous spires before continuing on. 


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Neil Sedaka

Day 14 Lugo – Ferreira

Last night we had a lovely dinner in Lugo with our Swedish chums.  It was Kjell’s birthday on the 7th and Ger’s today so it felt appropriate.  We found a restaurant in the old town near the cathedral and tucked into enormous steaks washed down with a fine rioja… A fine time indeed!  After this feast we wandered back to the albergue listening to a band playing behind the cathedral; Lugo was in party mode but we were off to bed!

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Day 13 O Cadavo – Lugo

So our albergue last night was really lovely.  The shower was great and the lady so helpful but… Maybe it was because the bed was small… Or because the mattress was hard… Or the pillow not right… Or the room too stuffy… Or perhaps the noise from the albergue loo above us was a tad noisy… Or perhaps  the emergency exit light above our door was too bright… But for some reason we just never slept very well.

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