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It’s exactly 2 months ago today since I arrived in Porto and although it’s taken a lot longer than I expected, I’ve now written about my fantastic stay in Porto, a wonderful day visit to Coimbra (recommended) and the first 6 days of my Camino 2017 from Porto to Valenca. Before I continue writing about the final 5 days walking in Spain, I thought I’d pause for reflection and consider what I learned and discovered along The Way on the Portuguese Coastal Route and The Portuguese Central Way (via Tui) from Porto to Santiago.

portuguese coastal route mapacoastal

The Portuguese Coastal and Central routes; Porto to Santiago de Compostela

Firstly I must just clarify that I didn’t walk the Camino for religious reasons, but rather to learn more about myself, and for the sheer adventure. I love walking and I love travelling, so the Camino was the perfect opportunity for me to combine the two. I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for ever such a long time and Porto was my desired destination, as well as which I love the ocean, so it made sense to start there and walk the Portuguese Coastal Route. But because I wanted to visit the walled town of Valenca and of course cross the famous bridge that I’d seen in photos and to also visit Tui, I decided to start off on the coastal route to Caminha and then head inland to Valenca and finish off along the Central Portuguese route to Santiago.

inspirational quotes

I just wanna go on more adventures….

My goal was all about discovery. I wanted to see if this was something I could actually do. I’m a creature of habit and I love my home comforts. I get really grumpy when I have to get up early and/or go without my first cup of tea (usually preferred while relaxing in bed – with a couple of biscuits).

 

So it was going to be interesting to see how I would respond to both rising early and forgoing my cup of tea. I did take a packet of teabags with me….but in all the 21 days I was in Portugal and Spain I only used 6 teabags, and 4 of those were in Barcelona AFTER I finished the Camino 😉 So teabags won’t be on my packing list for 2018 then!

So although I didn’t walk for ‘religious’ reasons, I walked in the ‘spirit of learning’; about adventure and discovery, about what I can or cannot cope with, about the countries I walked through, and about their history. I walked with the aim of finding out how walking long distance, under sometimes challenging circumstances would affect me relating to my human spirit/spirituality or soul as opposed to relying on the usual material or physical things and my comfort zones. I could have planned a similar long walk in the UK but that would have fit in with my comfort zone….so Camino it had to be.

inspirational quotes

When it feel scary to jump….

I knew of and had read about the Camino in the past. My father had cycled various routes in his 70’s and 80’s and in 2005 we had toyed with the idea of doing a Camino together – except he wanted to cycle and I wanted to walk. So that never got off the ground. He died a couple of years ago, so that’s that in that area. In retrospect though, I doubt we would have made a success of it, we never really got on very well most of my life and being together day after day would not have been a picnic. However, my younger brother and one of my many younger sisters have cycled The Camino with my father, which is good. I have of course watched the 2010 film, The Way, with Martin Sheen and loved the idea of, but had no desire to walk the Camino Frances (then). Besides all that, I had been inspired to walk the Camino by someone I knew from 2009/2010; a lady in her mid 60’s who had walked the Camino Frances a few years before and loved it.

But because I planned on walking a different route, I didn’t have any preconceptions of how or what the route would be like beyond the fantastic photos I had seen on facebook and the many blogs I read before my September trip. I had read about how some people have major insights, or epiphanies, or religious experiences that changed their lives in a big way, but I wasn’t anticipating any of those and as it turns out, I didn’t have any.

But what I did have, was the joy of walking and being alone. I am a loner, I don’t have a large circle of friends and I am most certainly not a social butterfly; preferring my own company, social events are anathema to me. Even a tea-party or dinner out with a crowd gets me hot under the collar and I’d rather be ill in bed than have to attend a party. LOL

I had read that at certain points you encounter large crowds of people and apparently at the 100km mark (minimum distance required for the Compostela), the route is inundated with other walkers, but I didn’t find that at all, except for one day in Spain when I encountered a group of oldies on the way to Mos. But we soon parted company and in fact at many times I walked for up to 3-4 hours without seeing a soul except the odd local as I meandered by, or the occasional walker who whizzed on by at speed. So in all, the hours that I walked completely on my own suited me perfectly.

However, I did meet some wonderful people along the route in Portugal and spent an hour or so walking with a lovely couple from Poland; Jakob and Agata between Vila do Conde and Esposende. I was really sorry to lose touch with them after we parted ways for breakfast. But as mentioned in the blog, they were a lot younger than me, walked faster and were with a group of friends, and I dawdled a lot taking photos.

It was also going to be really interesting to find out how I felt about not having much by way of home comforts, about wearing the same clothes, not having the convenience of a washing machine, and carrying my belongings on my back day after day. My day job takes me all over the UK and I often get fed up with living out of a suitcase, so living out the backpack for 11 days was going to be a challenge…could I cope? How would I feel about not eating a proper breakfast? (you know what us English folks are like!! Full English and all that, or scrambled egg on marmite toast, but if not possible then oats and fruit, or granola and yoghurt with banana etc etc LOL). And I am not usually a coffee drinker…although the thought of pastries for breakfast every day filled me with joy!! 🙂 🙂 How would I manage? Weirdly it was these type of thoughts that I fretted about most prior to my Camino. Not would I be safe, not would I get blisters, not would I mind a mix-sex bathroom. No. My biggest worry was food!!

I am a magpie and a hoarder. I collect stuff all the time. I love books and am continually buying them (or should I say used to). Apparently my wealth profile is: ‘Accumulator’ – just a shame that didn’t apply to money!! If you saw my house in South Africa in 2001 pre UK, you’d know for sure that I collected ‘stuff’ – a lot of stuff. Since living in the UK the last 16 years, things carried on much the same…even though I arrived with very little, before long I was accumulating stuff; mementos, household items, linen, clothes and books; home comforts. But since I arrived back from my Camino, that has changed substantially. I had already started a few years ago cutting back on ‘buying’ and rather spent my money on travel and experiences like zip-lining. 🙂 which is quite simply awesome, and a must do again.

zip lining with zip world in london

zip lining with zip world in London. My daughter and I had so much fun

Cutting back on spending last year is the reason I had money for my Camino Journey, but now I’ve become quite militant about it. My daughter had already been discouraged from buying me things and has now been seriously encouraged/reminded to not buy me anything that I can’t eat, wear or experience.

inspirational quotes

Take a walk, not a pill….

So what did I learn along The Way?

  1. I can get up early and manage to not die without my first cup of tea…or any tea AT ALL for that matter. For someone who usually drinks 5-6 mugs full a day…
  2. I am fitter than I thought and certainly more agile.
  3. I can climb a mountain and survive.
  4. I can walk in the rain and survive, and I still loathe temperatures above 20 degrees centigrade.
  5. I really do love just being on my own and never once did I get lonely.
  6. I am not afraid.
  7. The scenery and the history of the places I walked through was more amazing than I imagined.
  8. I didn’t have any major epiphanies or insights or spiritual experiences.
  9. I’m still not religious.
  10. Although….I do and did love visiting the many churches along the two routes – so peaceful, real repositories of history, with a strong sense of spirituality.
  11. I can manage to live with only a bare minimum of life’s ‘necessities’.
  12. I loved calling out ‘Bom Caminho’ in Portugal and ‘Buen Camino’ in Spain, and getting a response in return…usually with a smile, especially from the locals.
  13. I enjoyed the brief connections I made with fellow pilgrims and locals; just enough to be fun, but not that long it got tedious.
  14. I can, if I make the effort, learn more of the native languages and managed to pick up quite a lot of extra words enroute. I’m currently learning more Spanish and my daughter is going to teach me to speak and listen comfortably before I go next year.
  15. I’m still an accumulator…..over 5,500 photos between 7-28th September bears witness to that LOL At least they’re light, albeit filling up my Dropbox.
  16. I really don’t want all the stuff I still have in my storage – in fact I nearly had a nervous breakdown when I returned home and saw all the boxes waiting. urgh.
  17. Food wise, I still stuck to what I know – like eating ‘tosta misto’ just about every day because I knew what was in it. And because I’m a ‘food coward’ I didn’t try the local ‘pulpo’ or anything too adventurous. LOL
  18. I left the maps behind, found my ‘Camino eyes’ on day 3 and never looked back.
  19. Despite my initial dislike of them, my walking poles became my best friend and my #1 item for future walks.
  20. After I reached Santiago, I could quite literally have just carried on walking…a bit like Forrest Gump, except I had a ticket to Barcelona booked for the 24th 😦
  21. Although it was tough at times, I loved every minute of the journey and even though I had NO PLANS AT ALL to walk a 2nd Camino before I started, I’m already planning for 2018, 2019 and 2020 – Camino Ingles, Camino Norte and Camino Frances respectively. Oh and not forgetting The Portuguese Central Route…I’m guessing that will have to be in 2021 hahahaha. Then there’s the Primitivo Route to think about…..hmmmm. The Camino bug has bitten.

So, having walked 240 kms through Portugal and Spain, would I recommend walking the Camino? Oh absolutely YES!!!! Is it for the faint-hearted? It can be if you allow yourself to open up and experience all it has to offer. It’s not a ‘walk in the park’, it’s tiring, and tiresome, it’s exhausting (especially if you mistakenly plan for long days e.g. 32 kms), but it’s interesting – the history is phenomenal and I really wish I’d had time to explore some of the towns more thoroughly. I’m planning shorter days for 2018. I have read about two nonagenarians (91 and 93 respectively) who have recently walked the Camino Frances, so pretty much anyone can walk it if they are of a mind to.

inspirational quotes

You are not too old and it is not too late

I would recommend packing light – somehow I managed to pack 11kgs which increased to 13kgs with my water-bladder filled. I don’t know how this came about as I weighed everything so carefully and totted it all up. But somehow I think in the final packing frenzy I bunged in a whole lot of stuff I really didn’t need. I won’t make the same mistake again and next Camino I will be militant about packing a maximum of 8kgs. In fact Pepe (my backpack) is already packed and ready for 2018. This is still to be reviewed.

I would recommend training first before setting off. You may think you’re fit. You may think it’s adventurous and fun to set off impulsively without proper preparation, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’ve read of walkers getting severe blisters, straining their knees or ligaments, damaging their feet or backs and one gentleman I met in Portugal actually had his stomach lining suddenly tear a few days into his walk which landed him in hospital for 6 weeks. It’s not just the distance you walk, it’s also the weight of the backpack that can cause injury.

Personally, I think the reason my walk went so well is because I spent 18 months in training prior to setting off and walked a total of over 800 miles in the 8 months preceding my Camino. Besides my almost daily 5 mile walks, I did two long walks; 1 of 60 miles and 1 of 19 miles in July before I left, and those gave me a really good insight into what I could cope with, how much I could comfortably carry and taught me to 90% read a map. The other 10% I made my own route when I got lost LOL. I also learned that it’s not a good idea to walk in wet socks!!!

I would recommend buying good equipment; a light-weight backpack – I bought the Osprey Tempest 30 L that weighs only 1.01kgs, the right shoes (I tested 3 pairs over the 18 months before leaving), 3 or 4 pairs of really good socks and 2 pairs of inner socks, and my absolute Number 1 essential – a good pair of light-weight walking poles. I absolutely would not have had as good a walk as I did or been able to negotiate those cobbled streets, sandy roads, steep inclines and declines without my walking poles. I most certainly would not have been able to climb those mountains in Spain.

As mentioned, some days were exceptionally long, and by the end of those days I was practically using my poles like crutches. Of all the equipment and gear I had, those would be the one thing I would recommend most highly.

portuguese coastal route from porto to santiago

a tad overloaded would you say? Laundry drying, my food bag…I looked like a bag lady!! LOL

I would even recommend walking The Camino to people who are afraid of being alone, of walking in a foreign country, or just fearful of travelling beyond the borders of their own country. The whole experience was wonderful. I was exceptionally lucky in that I didn’t have any unpleasant experiences, no illness, no tummy bugs, no bed bugs, no bites (despite an encounter with a very small snake in a Spanish vineyard), no theft of personal belongings, no dehydration (although I did get very thirsty on one day after running out of water), no sunburn, and only one small issue with my right ankle, a contracted muscle acquired while climbing those mountains in Spain, that soon righted itself after being massaged and strapped up. One thing I did suffer with, was swollen ankles. This unfortunately was not a new issue as I generally get swollen ankles when I’m at home too, but it was exacerbated by the heat and being on my feet the whole day, so by the time I reached my accommodation each night, they didn’t look good – however, I survived!! A hot bath/shower and a good sleep does wonders.

How did I feel when returning to ‘civilisation’? Overwhelmed!! I recall with clarity the shock and horror I felt as I entered the old city of Santiago.

I arrived at the old town via the Parque de Alameda and approached the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela and the Praza do Obradoiro via Rúa do Franco. The sea of pedestrians walking towards me, the crowds bumping against me, the beggars shoving cardboard in my face asking for money, and the sheer volume of noise was overwhelming. I was already exhausted, extremely emotional at having finally arrived, struggling to hold back my tears, and the noise and sounds were too just too much. I nearly turned and ran.

arriving in santiago, santiago de compostela, walking to camino, porto to santiago

arriving in Santiago old town

I stayed in bed, in my hotel room the next day until I was starving and had to get out for something to eat. It took a lot of energy just to face the crowds of people again. If you’re expecting peace and tranquillity when you reach Santiago…dispel the thought. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like at the height of summer.

When I got to Barcelona 3 days later, once again I was overwhelmed at the crowds and the traffic noise of the big city. It nearly spoiled my visit on the first day, fortunately I immersed myself slowly and with 4 days to explore I didn’t rush about too much, sticking to quieter roads and areas where possible.

Arriving back in the UK was also overwhelming. The rush and the crush of commuters at the airport, on the trains; being on the tube between stations was a living nightmare. Oh where was the wonderful peace and tranquillity of walking through forests and along deserted roads, the sounds of the ocean as I strolled along the boardwalks, sorely missed.

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a good ocean breeze and a tumble down fort…what more could I ask for?

Thankfully my base is in a fairly quiet seaside town and the house in a cul-de-sac.

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a winter’s sunrise – Viking Bay, Isle of Thanet

Even so, being back in civilisation was a shock to the system. And as for my store-room; I took one look at all my possessions and nearly had a nervous-breakdown. Time to downsize once again.

The most important lesson of all that I learned on the Camino? I didn’t need 99.9% of the possessions I own in order to survive and be contented and happy.

Bring on Camino 2018.

To read more about my #Camino2017 adventures, my journey started here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 13 Tuesday 2017.09.19 Arcade to Caldas de Reis

I must give Miguel of Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino a shout out. Such an amazing host. If you walk from Tui, then I can recommend a lovely albergue on the stage between O Porrino and Arcade. Just a few kilometres after Redondela and just 1 km before Arcade. The place is spotless and bed comfy. €10 per person per night. Breakfast is €2.50. Laundry €3 to wash. €3 to dry. (these were the rates at the time of my stay). Excellent value. Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino, Estrada de Soutoxuste, 45, 36810 Redondela, Pontevedra 617 29 25 98

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a band of pilgrims at breakfast and our lovely host, Miguel

A band of pilgrims at the fantastic Albergue O Recuncho Do Peregrino. I had planned on getting up at 6.30 for breakfast and an early start, but I decided to hold off till the more reasonable hour of 7.30 and so I got to join a lively lovely band of Spanish pilgrims. Even though I could barely speak their language, one of the group Antonio, who was a delight, translated for me and them. We had a lively breakfast. Then it was time to go.
Just said goodbye to Miguel and the band of pilgrims. I was to see them on and off over the rest of the day and one last time in Santiago…but more about that later. Aww I’m going to miss Miguel, he was genuinely lovely person. What a great host.

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buying a cup of coffee and getting your passport stamped along the way. 77.870 kms to Santiago

By 08:30 I was on my way and at Miguel’s suggestion I stopped at the roadside café; Conchas del Camino, just 250 meters up the road from the albergue, and had my passport stamped, a cup of coffee and a chat then started my walk into Arcade – Destination today is Caldas de Reis. 35 kms or so. 😱😱😱 I’m feeling very emotional today. I cried a lot today. I’ve only got 3 days left till I reach Santiago. It’s too soon. I’m loving this journey.

Crossing back over the N550 ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ I set off somewhat lighter than the last few days…Pepe had been left behind at the albergue for transport with Tuitrans to my motel in Caldas de Reis. I’m missing him already 😉 No not really.

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Taking care on the Camino and following the signs along The Way

Today was tough. I was looking forward to reaching Arcade. After leaving the N550, pretty soon we were onto the Rua de Portas, another decline. I saw so many wonderful quirky features; scallop shells strung across the wall and gate of a house, beautiful tiled pictures on walls, a delicate shrine, the Fonte da Lavandeira, along the Rua das Lameirinas, and into the Concello de Soutomaior. A tiny church (just begging to be explored – but no time), suburban streets, an hórreo (I just love them)

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walking through Spain on the Camino de Santiago Portuguese Route

camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese central way

I loved these ‘lavandarias’

camino de santiago, porto to santiago, portuguese central way

Concello do Soutmaior

At some point I decided to phone ahead to the Motel to let them know that I was sending my backpack with Tuitrans and my eta.

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wonderful Spain. The landscape and terrain changed dramatically once I left Portugal

But the lass who answered the phone had no English and I had my minimal Spanish. So I hurried into an hotel nearby; Hotel Duarte on the Rua das Lameiriñas, and asked if anyone could speak Spanish…no!! Panic. I had asked the lady in my best mix of Italian and Spanish “excusi Senora una momento grazie”, so the poor girl was still holding on. Then in my best South African voice I yelled “does anyone here speak Spanish?” to which a young man in the garden in front of me replied, “I don’t, but you see that lady walking there (in the distance), she does”. He yelled after her, she stopped, he explained, I ran, she indicated ‘slow down’, so in my best hobble I caught up with her, explained the situation, handed her the phone and she spoke to the ever patient lady at the motel and explained what I had wanted to tell them. Whew. Panic over LOL Lesson #1 – learn the language. Tut tut. I had been lazy.

Not too long after that, I reached Pontesampaio, already in the municipality of Pontevedra. Its Roman bridge used to have 10 arches, although the current bridge dates from medieval times. It crosses the River Verdugo and played a key role in the battles that ended the French occupation in the 19th century. Nearby, you can find the river beach and several miradors over the Ría de Vigo. Oh I wish I had time to explore!

Tah dah!! Puente Sampaio Bridge the 10-arch Roman bridge (what you see today is the medieval structure), crossing the river Verdugo. Finally!

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reaching Arcade and the Ponte Sampaio. marvellous

This was one of my ‘must see’ points along the Camino and I was delighted to finally be there. It is stunning. I diverted off the road and onto the wooden platform that runs alongside the river and approached the bridge from that angle. Apparently Arcade was the setting for an important battle during the Napoleonic Wars. Between June 7 and June 9 in 1809, The Battle of Puente Sampaio was fought at the mouth of the Verdugo River. Wow, talk about walking in the footsteps of history.

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the fabulous Ponte Sampaio, Arcade

Arcade is a pretty little town with houses scattered across the hill tops and along the slopes down into the town. Walking across the bridge was exhilarating and we’re still on the Via Romano XIX. Just mind-blowing to think that this was once a Roman route.

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walking in history

Needless to say I took lots of photos.

And then, once over the bridge we were suddenly in the Concello de Pontevedra.

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crossing metaphorical boundaries

After Arcade the route once again had us climbing a mountain. Camino Xacobeo Portugues.

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Camino Xacobeo Portugues.

From here we went up and up and up and up and then down and down and down, along narrow lanes between gorgeous houses, a number of hórreo – practically every house had one. Along gravel paths amongst fields of bamboo, shady trees, and vineyards. We passed another scallop shell installation and climbed some hellish boulder-strewn paths.

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following the Portuguese Camino through Spain

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me. a scallop shell installation. resting on my walking poles…exhausted. 73.813 kms to Santiago

See this path with the large rocks, well just behind me was a lady on a mobility scooter. Two gentlemen were carrying her and all their equipment up the mountain and over all that. I can’t comprehend that. I just complemented them and said “bravo”, buen camino.

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climbing this path was tough going…it’s here that I did some real damage to my right ankle

On top of this hill (mountain) at the 72.020 kms to Santiago marker, there was a table set out with some gentlemen giving information and selling trinkets and fruit. I bought an apple and they reliably informed me that it’s all downhill from here and 7 kms to Pontevedra. Hurrah. Lunch. They also told me about a tiny church at the bottom of the route where I should stop to stamp my passport.

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71.687 kms to Santiago. Maybe like Dick Whittington I could persuade the cat to go with me 😉

And it’s now 71.687 kms to Santiago and we’re on the flat again. Thank the lord, those hills were a killer. I saw a beautiful black cat sitting on the path, but it didn’t cross my path so I should be okay LOL

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70.955 kms a-sing-a-long in progress and then just 70.273 kms to Santiago

Despite my aching ankle, I was eating up the k’s. 70.955kms to Santiago. At a bend in the road a group of Irish pilgrims with whom I had walked, chatted, shared stories and crossed paths with all morning had stopped for a rest and a spontaneous sing-song. As I walked past they were singing ‘Molly Malone’ so I picked up on the chorus and sang along as I walked past. Too much fun. 70.273 kms to Santiago. 🙂

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69.971 kms to Santiago

Finally, now we’re below 70kms; just 69.971 kms to Santiago. I was getting really excited now. The k’s were flying by and I eagerly awaited each marker along the way.

And there it was; Capela de Santa Marta c1617, just like he said it would be. A number of pilgrims were standing in a queue waiting to enter and stamp their passports, so I joined the back and eventually made my way in. It was simply beautiful. I did feel for the local lady sitting at the front, clearly in quiet contemplative prayer, her peace disturbed by all these noisy pilgrims in and out. I made a point of leaving a donation at every church where I got my passport stamped and always bought coffee or food of some sort at any café where I got my passport stamped.

11:49 Now we’re in the Concello de Vilaboa. Walked 3 hours and 20 minutes

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17th century chapel; Capela da Santa Maria

Not long after leaving the church there was a diversion that would take the route along the Rio Tomeza, a tiny stream that meandered beneath cool green shady trees…yes 🙂

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Rio Tomeza

I crossed paths with a group of pilgrims from the UK and struck up a conversation with a gentleman; Gregory. We enjoyed a most interesting conversation right along the diversion chatting about Geoffrey Chaucer, the Canterbury Tales, the Camino and walks in the UK. It seems his mother named him Gregory after Pope Gregory. How cool. The time passed quickly and my mind was diverted from the pain in my ankle.

Once we reached the edge of Pontevedra I decided to stop for a rest at Taperia Casa Pepe, something to drink and a pee. Not in that order. LOL The best part of the day. Super Bock. I’m having the Negra today. It’s delicious. Quite strong and should go some way to numbing the pain. My poor poor feet. 22 kms to go to Caldas de Reis 😱😱😱 Sending Pepe (my backpack) ahead with Tuitrans, although really hard to let it go, was the best decision I’ve made so far.

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you have no idea how delicious this beer tasted after hours on the route

Not long after that, and there were a lot of pilgrims. The route got really busy from here onwards and I was seldom alone for long. I also bumped into the band of pilgrims from breakfast 🙂 Awesome.

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O Camino Portugues a Santiago – Tui (Tuy) to Santiago de Compostela – can you see how far I walked!!! Insane

Then finally the city of Pontevedra. With the River Lérez at its feet, Pontevedra has been given many international awards for urban planning due to revitalisation in recent years and the prioritisation of pedestrians over cars. The old town is considered the second most important old town in Galicia after Compostela where you will find the church of the Virxe da Peregrina, and many small and lively squares: Praza da Ferrería, Praza da Leña and Praza da Verdura. I spent about an hour in this lovely city.

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A fantastic fountain in Pontevedra, Spain

I stopped at the chapel of the Virgen Peregrina; Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra, circa 1753, an absolutely beautiful church with many reference to Saint James; scallop shells; symbol of the pilgrims adorned just about everything. I spent quite some time here, had my passport stamped and bought a memento. Afterwards I sat outside on a stone bench just resting and looking – it’s so beautiful. As was the day.

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Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra

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Capilla de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra

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architecture of Pontevedra, Spain

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scenes of Pontevedra; loved the pedestrianised streets

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I loved the ancient architecture of Pontevedra.

Soon it was time to push on. I will however definitely plan this as one of my sleep overs when I walk the Camino Portugues again in 2021.

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decisions! which way to go to Santiago…..

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Ponte de Burgo, Pontevedra, Spain – originally it had 15 arches

The first references for this bridge date from 1165 , when the kings Fernando II of León and Galiza and Afonso de Portugal signed a peace accord. Ponte de Burgo crosses the river Lérez near the estuary, a 60 km river born in Serra do Candán. What a thrill to finally see this bridge. I had seen so many images on Facebook, and now I was here!!

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Ponte de Burgo, Pontevedra on the Camino de Portuguese. what a thrill to see this 🙂 Note the scallop shell reliefs carved on the bridge

Crossing this bridge was really exciting. I was nearly half way to Caldas de Reis and just 63.183 kms to Santiago. By now I had walked 14.69 kms over 6 hours including rest stops.

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Camino Portuguese a Santiago

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still on the Via Romana XIX 🙂 amazing. 62.086 kms to Santiago

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follow the signs along the way

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Santiago that way

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after walking for quite some time I came across this lovely little statue and church. Igrexa da Santa Maria del Alba

Located in the parish of Alba, an area through which the Camino Portuguese passes, the place is known as Guxilde. In days gone by it housed a large number of pilgrims, one of whom was the Queen of Portugal, Doña Isabel, who in the year 1325, made a pilgrimage to Santiago to pray for her late husband. The little statue is D. Juan Lopez Souto, a parish priest. I sat for a while and kept him company, wondering what he saw with his stare.

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a ramshackle house along the way; I wonder how many pilgrims it has seen over the years

One thing for sure, the ever changing terrain kept you on your toes….

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cobbles, stone slabs, muddy paths, rock strewn and gravel

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Supper time. It was just on 5pm when I stumbled into Barros. I spotted a cafe and stopped for something to drink and eat. Got my passport stamped too. The orange juice is like nectar

I was shattered by this stage and still had quite a way to go. I could quite easily have just curled up in a ball and slept….. 54.786 kms to Santiago. Whew.

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slowly slowly the km’s went down down down….

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Hoorah!!!! 49.995 kms to Santiago

OMG finally. I’m at the 48.995 kms to Santiago marker. Hallelujah. Thus means I’m very close to my destination for tonight. I hope 🙏🙏🙏 I’ve been walking since 8.30am except for a few rest stops. I’m so looking forward to my bed 😂😂😂💞💞

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49.121 ms to Santiago and the shadows are drawing in

The sun was beginning to sink towards the horizon, the shadows were lengthening and I was beginning to get a bit panicky. I still had some way to go to Caldas de Reis but I simply couldn’t walk any faster. And then whoopee

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oh my gosh….the very first roadway sign for Santiago that I saw 🙂

My excitement levels escalated exponentially and suddenly I was infused with a renewed energy; Santiago 🙂 I cheered.

After safely negotiating this horrible road, the N550, the path steered into a vineyard. As I walked along the dusty path between rows of vines hung with thick juicy red grapes that smelled like thick syrupy juice, I saw what I though looked like a small snake on the path ahead of me. As the thought went through my head that it looked like a snake, it moved. IT WAS A SNAKE. I ran. I was exhausted. But I ran. I didn’t even stop to take a photo for proof, I just ran LOL Up until that very second it hadn’t entered my head that there were snakes in Spain!! I mean seriously?? Why wouldn’t there be? It’s a hot sunny country. After I recovered my equilibrium I continued on my way, somewhat more alert now. Just beyond that I happened upon an elderly couple snipping bunches of grapes off their vines. I greet them “ola, buenas dias” and was rewarded with a reply in English 🙂 Seems their daughter lived in London and the lady had been over to England for 6 years…hence her English. We exchanged stories and they offered me a bunch of those heavenly grapes. Oh yes please, gracias. 🙂 They tasted as amazing as what they smelled.

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my heavenly bunch of sweet, juicy grapes.

After my brief encounter with the snake I decided that there would be no more visits to the bushes LOL. My bladder would have to wait.!!

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46.787 kms to Santiago. Concello de Caldas de Reis. Capela de Santa Lucia

46.787 kms to Santiago – As I approached Caldas de Reis I started to see more and more suburban habitation. I passed a tiny little church; Capela de Santa Lucia and a farmer on his tractor. There were more and more scallop shells to be seen.

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Igrexia de Santa Maria de Caldas de Reis

Days end. Time 20:20 and after a very very long day of approx 32 kms I literally staggered into Caldas de Reis as the sun set. Not a recommended distance if you want to be able to walk the next day.

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Finally: Caldas de Reis. Crossing the Rio Umia at sunset and the town centre is in sight

When I arrived in Caldas de Reis, I discovered the Motel I had booked to stay in was another 1.6 kms outside of town. I simply couldn’t walk another step, so hailed the very first taxi I saw. Because my Spanish was so bloody bad, he couldn’t understand me. Finally I showed him my calendar with the details noted. Thankfully I had had the foresight to do that. When we arrived at the massive, unwelcoming red metal gates of the motel I put my phone down on the seat while I paid the driver…..and forgot said phone in his car. I only discovered this disastrous mishap after I had located the reception, been shown to my room, had Pepe delivered, had a drink and something to eat and lay down on the bed to send a message to my daughter to say I had arrived. MAJOR PANIC ensued. All my photos and phone numbers were on that phone. Thankfully I had my 2nd phone with me and had obtained a receipt from the taxi driver, so I phoned him and he agreed to bring it back… I had to pay another €7 to get it delivered. Expensive end to the day 😱😱😱

Panic over, I settled down. I had a lovely room, a huge bath (bliss) and Pepe had arrived safely via TuiTrans. Hoorah. I’m sending it on again tomorrow for the leg to Padron. I may just smuggle myself in the bag too 😢

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Despite being really really long and very tough with lots of hills to ascend and descend, it was a most enjoyable day, lots of pilgrims to chat to – the groups ebbed and flowed, ever changing scenery, beautiful buildings, churches, towns and villages, a few animals, a tiny capella for a pilgrim’s stamp, a few rivers and thousands of steps. And not forgetting I crossed paths with that snake; and despite being exhausted and barely walking I jumped and ran… I also used a lot of South African swear words. White girls can run!!! LOL It never entered my head there would be snakes, but of course there are. I just hadn’t yet seen any 😂😂😂😂😂

Thankfully I only have 19 kms to Padron tomorrow.

In case you wondered where Ponte Sampiao was…. https://mapcarta.com/18571126

 

 

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Day 12 Monday 2017.09.18 and Day 2 of 5 of my Spanish pilgrimage – O Porriño to nearby the small fishing village of the San Simon Inlet (just beyond Soutoxuste and 1 km before Arcade).
The only way to climb a mountain is to put one foot in front of the other….

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“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb”. Nelson Mandela

Time left O Porriño 08:30. Time arrived at San Simon 17:30. 9 hours including stops for meals and rests. Walked 21.87 kms. 48437 steps. Elevation 287 metres. Felt like Mount Everest.

Today was the first time I experienced rain on the Camino.
After a really good night’s sleep despite there being 6 people in the room, I left the hostel at just on 8.30am. I had planned to leave at 7.30am but my body was still tired and I’m trying to be sensible and listen.

About 5 minutes after I left the hostel as I was walking towards the Camino route I had a dizzy spell so immediately went into the first cafe I saw; Cafe Zentral and ordered café con leche and a croissant, delicious. By 9am, I was on my way. I mosied on thru O Porriño following the tiled scallop shells and ubiquitous yellow arrows; on the road, sidewalk, walls…ever so handy.

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Breakfast in O Porrino at Cafe Zentral

O Porriño was one of my planned cash withdrawal points so I stopped at one of the ATMs…have you ever tried to withdraw money in a foreign language? I remember the first time I needed to withdraw money in Portugal….The instructions were in Portuguese and initially I tried to guess which buttons to press based on the configuration I was used to in the UK. Uhmm, yes rather LOL. Eventually, I realised there were a number of icons; flags of various countries on the machine. Press the Union Jack…voila English. What an adventure. Admittedly though, I was terrified the machine would swallow my card if I made too many mistakes.

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learning the language is a good idea LOL

After withdrawing my cash I set off with determination; destination Arcade. This end of O Porriño was very industrial and not as pretty as the side I entered and as I rounded a corner, I saw there was a Lidl supermarket!! What?? Lidls in Spain? Bizarre. LOL

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leaving O Porrino via an indusrial estate

Shortly after that I had to negotiate a nasty round-about that was exceedingly busy but I finally got a gap and zapped across. In front of me lay a long stretch on the motorway; Estrada Porrino Redondela aka N550. Horrible.

It was thereabouts that I encountered my very first large group of Pilgrims. It was weird to see so many people occupying this space and I felt affronted by the noise of everyone chattering away and grateful that I was on my own and didn’t have to participate. I know it was really unfriendly of me, but I tried my very best to lose them…eventually after realising that they were walking faster than me – they had daypacks, I was carrying Pepe – I fell back and finally they disappeared into the future. The next time I saw them was at Mos, they were leaving as I arrived. Perfect.

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finding the way and encountering the N550 and large groups

I had noticed a metal plaque attached to a rock wall with famous mountain peak elevation comparisons and thought “oh please let us not be climbing mountains today!!!” Well, ultimately my prayer was not answered. OMG 😱😱😱😱 it’s hard going and it’s raining, a fine soft rain that soaks through everything.

Still following the tiled scallop shells and yellow arrows, on walls, stones and trees the route took us away from the highway and on a scenic tour through the suburbs. I saw a cute little doggie face peeking over the top of a wall from a distance and stopped to chat. He was sitting with his paws resting on his chin just watching all the pilgrims walking by. 😊😊😍

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how much is that doggie on the fence there…keeping an eye on the pilgrims

After crossing beneath the A52; Autovia das Rias Baixas, soon I was out of the city precincts. The route took me onto a fairly rural stretch where I started to see more and more pilgrims. The weather was inclement with spurts of soft rain and bursts of sunshine.

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a scenic route through Galicia and yes, those grapes were very tempting, and no I didn’t 😉

After a short while once again across the Estrada Porriño Redondela, and onto a more pleasant road; Camino das Lagoas. Except for the odd stretch of motorway, or crossing said motorway (N550), this was a pleasant route that zigged and zagged, this way and that, and stretched pretty much all the way to Redondela.

I eventually caved in and stopped at one point to put on my poncho and the backpack cover on. I got myself into an awful tangle with trying to straighten the poncho out after I got Pepe back on, so a tiny little Spanish lady assisted with straightening me out. She rattled away in Spanish but I had absolutely noooo idea what she was saying. I just kissed her cheek and said “Grazias Senora” and chau as I waved goodbye, ever so grateful for the assistance. It’s been hard work trudging up hills but I’m getting there…. wherever there might be 😂😂

I loved walking through the fields and vineyards, admiring the Spaniards creative recycling; using plastic bottles to make scarecrows, of which there were many and they were inventive and adorable. There were a number of the hórreo; Spanish granaries on the route, as well as some really beautiful shrines, some of which were works of art.

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a stroll through the Galician countryside on a cloudy day, lots of hórreos scattered about and beautiful shrines

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a beautiful shrine and creative scarecrows

It rained on and off the whole morning. Well done to my Mountain Warehouse backpack cover, absolutely brilliant. Kept everything dry. My Mickey Mouse poncho, bought in Florida in 2003 and never yet worn, was put to the test. It passed.

Finally I reached Mos, not that far from O Porriño as the crow flies, but bleeding hell going up those steadily increasing inclines. Murder. I hadn’t ever considered there might actually be mountains on the Way to Santiago LOL.

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Mos was such a pretty little hamlet.

Mos was a delight!! Beautifully paved road, a few houses and a scattering of restaurants, a Pilgrim’s gift shop and a quaint little church; the church of Santa Eulalia. I decided right there and then to stop for another café con leche and a rest. But first I had to investigate the gift shop; Bo Camino, and have my passport stamped.
Stamp. Carimbo. Sello. Timbre – catering for many languages!

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Bo Camino, Mos. Get your passport stamped here. I loved the way they used the scallop shell to register different languages

93.194kms to Santiago.
I tried to find out more about Mos but there is very little by way of information on Wikipedia and don’t even bother to look at TripAdvisor: Type in keyword Mos and you’ll get dozens of responses, none of which are actually in Mos, but mostly miles away. Urgh. All I got was “There is no significant urban nucleus and most of the population live scattered across the municipality. Family-owned farms and vineyards are very common.” And that was that then.

By 11:15 I was on my way – 92.936kms to Santiago; barely 200 yards LOL

I was amazed to discover I was still on the Roman route: Vias Romanas A Tianticas!! Part of the 19th Roman road on the Antonine Itinerary. Whoa, okay! Awesome. I did some research while writing this blog and found an absolutely fascinating website (you’ll need to translate it) that lists a number of routes and places. Awesome http://www.viasromanas.pt/

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the route out of Mos and onto the ancient Roman roads; Camino da Ponte da Roma and “Cruceiro dos Cabaleiros”

Leaving the Pazo dos Marqueses behind, you start climbing the Rúa dos Cabaleiros up to the cross of “Cruceiro dos Cabaleiros”, a polychrome 18th century cross, on one side the image of the Virgin and on the other of Jesus Christ, named for the horse fair that is held here. Also called “Cruceiro da Vitoria” to signal the victory over Napoleon’s troops, the milestone not only worked as a boundary marker, but it’s also believed to have fertility powers for women who want to have children. After opposition from the locals it was left insitu and not moved to the Museum of Pontevedra.

After leaving Mos the route takes you along Camino da Rua onto the Estrada Alto de Barreiros Santiaguno and eventually onto Camino Cerdeirinas and back onto the Estrada Alto de Barreiros Santiaguno. It’s not a straight road to Arcade!! You have to wonder about the all the mead those Romans drank. The route switched back and forth between Via and Estrada to Camino and Egrexa (?) and a sign saying Camino de Santiago. At that moment I kinda wished that I was in Santiago, I was that tired. But….not to be wishing the days away, I was loving my Camino.

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following the yellow arrows and scallop shells; the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago. I loved the sculptures

A Roman marker; fascinating discovery

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a Roman marker indicating the remaining miles, much like the markers we have today

Time 12:43 Walked 11.80 kms. Approx 10 kms to go to Arcade. Thankfully it’s mostly downhill now. About 5 minutes ago I missed the turn off from the asphalt and walking determinedly head down ‘in the zone’, when I heard people shouting “Hello, Hello. Hello Senora!!” I looked back and a group of pilgrims I’d seen a few times were shouting for me to indicate I’d missed the turn LOL Who knows where I’d gotten to… probably not Santiago.

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Camino de Santiago…but if you’re walking with your head down, you won’t see it!!!

It’s been really challenging all this climbing, but according to a couple I met yesterday, I’m walking strong and that’s encouraging to hear. I truly could not have done it without my walking poles; Gemini. I stopped in a forest glade to recuperate. The pilgrims are all whizzing by me now as I sit relaxing and finally eating the trail mix I’ve carried around for the last 12 days hahaha. 300 grams off the load soon. It’s been raining on and off most of the morning and Mickey Mouse has given me a free sauna. Jeez it’s hot under that poncho. I’m hoping to reach Arcade today… Hold thumbs 😉
Galicia is poetically known as the “country of the thousand rivers” (“o país dos mil ríos”) and although I don’t recall crossing many rivers today, I did see and pass a number of streams. I guess the rain helps to keep them filled.

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Estrada de Padrón and those downward inclinations that I was not inclined to walk down. Level ground was gratefully received. My walking poles a life-saver

Enroute I walked along the Estrada de Padron!! But not the Padron I was aiming for located just before Santiago, although it was marvellous – lots of trees and greenery. And now we were into the serious inclines….up and up. It seemed never ending. The views, albeit misty were amazing. I got all excited when I spotted some boots on a wall, being used a flower pots. I remembered seeing this on Facebook!! My spirits lifted and I grinned from ear to ear. I so loved discovering these little scenes.

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One of my delightful discoveries. Just before Bar Corisco

8 kms to go to Arcade. I’ve stopped again 😉 Barely made 1 km progress in 1 hour but OMG that was the worst incline I’ve experienced so far. What goes up, must assuredly go down again. If I’d known what was waiting for me, I’d have stayed in that forest glade. Blimey. The downhill gradient was so steep that I couldn’t actually go down straight. I took it in a zig-zag fashion and hopped sideways. My right ankle is unhappy and my left knee even more unhappy. I wish I had a sled.

Meanwhile it seems I’ve walked 5 kms since I saw the sign for the Bar Corisco on the Camino Romano. When I saw that I had arrived at the place I decided to stop for lunch. Many other pilgrims had the same idea and the place was full. Incredibly, with all those patrons, there was just the one Senora rushing about taking orders and serving food. Poor woman. I felt like I should help her. The soup was just amazing and I ordered a 2nd bowl. Food for the soul and spirits. For someone who doesn’t normally touch Coke, I sure drank a lot on the Camino. Gave me energy.

estrada de padron, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Lunch at Bar Corisco. Best vegetable soup ever

I left her a whopping big tip. I know you’re not meant to, but by golly she was working hard. They also have an albergue here. Camiño Romano, 47 – SAXAMONDE – 36816 – Redondela (Pontevedra) If you’re interested in finding out more about Bar Corisco https://www.paxinasgalegas.es/corisco-194770em.html

After leaving Bar Corisco I continued walking downhill on the Camino Romano. Just after the bend I saw a tractor chugging up what is a very narrow road and steep incline so crossed to the other side and stopped to wait for it to go past. As soon as it was far enough past me, I turned to my left to look for traffic and a car raced past so close I’m sure my pants cleaned the side of his car!!! I shudder to think of how close he went by. If perchance I had stepped forward just one step first and then turned to look he would have knocked me down. If I’d been unfocused before that moment, I was hyper alert after!!!

Hint: Just after Bar Corisco the road narrows substantially and is very steep going downhill (Camino Romano).

The route from here was horrid….exceptionally steep declines. What goes up, must I guess, eventually go down. Very uncomfortable to walk along. I can’t remember much of the walk after that, except that there were uphill and downhill challenges to get through. I do remember a group of about 13 cyclists whizzing by at one stage, most of them calling out “Buen Camino” I shouted back “grazie, Bom Camino” and tried to not feel envious at how quickly they flew by. I did call them bastards in my head. Petty jealousy LOL

Continuing along the Camino Romano which blended into Camino dos Frades and then after about an hour or so I was back on the N550; Rua do Muro/Estrada Porrino Redondela…..blah blah blah. I was too exhausted to care about much except a bed.

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Reaching Redondela.

And then I was in Concella de Redondela, passing along a stretch of the N550 which was exceptionally busy and quite horrible. Mostly industrial. I finally entered the town proper and was so glad I’d decided to go to Arcade instead of stopping there. I passed a handsome church as I entered the town; Convento de Vilavella, aka Vilavella Ensemble – a combination of convent, church and monuments. Construction started in 1501 and completed by 1554. After various changes, it now functions as a restaurant and wedding hall. I wished I had the time to visit….

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

Convento de Vilavella, Redondella. circa 1501

I passed some fountains and a few interesting features but there was nothing to get excited about until the route took me through the old town which was just charming. Since I stuck religiously to the Camino route, following the arrows and tiled scallop shells, I didn’t venture off course and thereby I suspect I may have missed the more picturesque areas of the town. When I look at my route on mapmywalk I can see there is a large park-like area alongside the canal/river.

concello de redondela, redondella, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

passing through Redondela on the Portugues Camino de Santiago

I passed the house, built in the classic Galician style, where Casto Sampedro y Folgar lived; lawyer, archaeologist and folklorist, he was apparently one of the most emblematic characters of Galician culture. The streets along this section were absolutely fascinating and I briefly wished I wasn’t just passing through. A priest asked me, in Spanish, if I was looking for a place to stay or passing thru. I had no idea what he actually said, but with my few snippets of Spanish and some sign language I got the gist of it. I’m passing thru grazie. We waved goodbye. A few paces on and some random gentleman walking past wished me Buen Camino. Even after all these days, it still catches my heart and I just wanted to kiss him. Instead I shook his hand and thanked him with a big smile.

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passing through Redondela on the Camino Portugues

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Right in the centre of town; An hórreo is a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula built in wood or stone.

hórreo galician granary, concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

passing through Redondela. Wish I’d had more time to explore

Apparently Redondela is where the Portuguese Way of St James becomes one; coastal via Vigo, and central via Tui.

Redondela is apparently most famous for its viaducts. Two viaducts built in the 19th century meet here; the viaduct of Madrid and the viaduct of Pontevedra. I think I shall have to walk this route again….I didn’t get to see the viaduct properly this time around 😉 There is also the church of Iglesia de Santiago de Redondela dating from the 16th century that I didn’t get to see.

viaduct in redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

the viaduct of Madrid and the viaduct of Pontevedra meet in Redondela

It took 45 minutes to pass from one end of Redondela to the other!! I was in quite a lot of pain and hobbling more than walking. That right ankle was a bitch, but I didn’t want to stop. It felt like if I stopped, I’d not get going again.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

following the blue tiled scallop shells and the yellow arrows

And then I was into rural countryside and from 4pm onwards I barely saw a human being, till I reached the albergue.

concello de redondela, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

leaving Redondela and this chap was pretty much the last person I saw till Arcade.                     Rua Torre de Calle 81.775 kms to Santiago

The Rua Torre de Calle. 81.775 kms to Santiago.

The route took me past some beautiful areas, forests and farms. The only sign of life; a few sheep and birds. My right ankle was hurting terribly by then and I hobbled along like a decrepit hobbit. Hahaha. Oh I’d have paid a king’s ransom for any form of transport at that stage.

Every now and then I encountered the dreaded N550 again!! ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ – Cesantes 0.5kms. I passed loads of sign boards advertising the names of various albergues, but I wasn’t quite ready to stop just yet…I had planned on reaching Arcade before nightfall with the hopes of finding somewhere to sleep there.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

shady glade, inclines, declines, and the dreaded N550 ‘Precaucion Interseccion’ – asphalt and gravel were my constant companion LOL

Traversing the slopes of A Peneda, a mountain with an elevation of 329 meters, was a real challenge. Dragging myself up inclines and zig-zagging down the declines, I walked through lovely, green forested areas, so quiet and peaceful. Thankfully the route didn’t take me all the way over the crest of the mountain, but rather along the sides…still, it was high enough!!

I passed an installation near Cesantes covered with dozens of scallop shells, all with dates and names written on. If I’d had a marker handy I could have left a message.  I hadn’t seen anyone since I left Redondella and was entirely on my own.

camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

the scallop shell installation near Cesantes and O Recuncho Do Peregrino 🙂 and the sun was now behind me

I noticed a sign-board with details for an albergue that I’d seen at least 3 times before now; O Recuncho Do Peregrino (raven of the pilgrim), and suddenly I just made up my mind; this was the right place and exactly at that minute I phoned and asked if they had a room available for the night? Yes, a double room. I don’t care that I’m paying double I just want a bed and my own space. I booked it. Arcade can wait till tomorrow!

79.122kms to Santiago. I could scarcely believe that it was now less than 80kms to go.

It was completely wild here, lots of trees. Galicia is one of the more forested areas of Spain, mostly eucalyptus and pine and shrubbery growing with wild abandon. The route is incredibly variable; asphalt, gravel, sandy and cobbled and as I hobbled along I suddenly noticed glimpses of what I thought was the sea through the trees!! It was in fact the Ria de Vigo lagoon.

o recuncho do peregrino, camino de santiago, o porrino to arcade, walking the camino, portuguese coastal and central route,

The Ria de Vigo Lagoon, and my journey’s end O Recuncho Do Peregrino and my bed!! Hoorah 🙂

And then finally, O Recuncho do Peregrino; 250 meters. I had arrived at my destination. The albergue is just 250m from the Pilgrim’s Way and despite being right on the verge of the N550, it wasn’t noisy. As it turns out, Arcade was only another 1 km further, but I was in no mood for walking…I wanted a shower, food and a bed. Pronto!!!

This albergue is excellent, very simply furnished, and very clean and Miguel, the proprietor is wonderful. So welcoming, friendly and helpful. I had a fantastic hot shower, which was blissful. In O Porriño the water was cold by the time I got to shower so this was sheer heaven. Miguel organised my laundry for me; washed and dried for €6. Brilliant. He also organised to have my backpack transported with Tuitrans to the motel in Caldas de Reis. I quite simply cannot carry it again through the mountains and tomorrow is a 32/35 km day. For €7 it’s well worth the cost and will take the pressure of my ankle. I hope I can actually walk tomorrow.

Not so much a #buencamino at this stage than a mere #camino. If I wasn’t in polite company I’d use that word that Helen Mirren advocates, I was that tired LOL I would have loved to take a walk down to the beach, but just the thought of walking even 10 feet, never mind 30 meters was too much for me. I repacked my bag and went to bed, too tired to even be hungry.

So wow my Camino 2017 set about throwing up some interesting challenges. Never once in all the planning and researching I had done prior to walking the Camino had I registered/realised that I would have to climb ‘mountains’. I couldn’t believe how many inclines there were. Okay it wasn’t really proper high mountains, but I can assure you, that with Pepe on my back and my ankle playing up, it felt like Everest.

Places I walked through today: O Porriño, Ameirolongo, Veiga Dana, Mos, Santiaguino das Antas, Saxamonde, Redondela and stopped just 1 km short of Arcade near the fishing village of San Simon Inlet. I could see the shimmer of blue of the lagoon from my bedroom window. I’d forgotten there was the island nearby, but truly, I was too tired to care. Even if Queen Elizabeth had come to visit, I woulda said – terrific, I’m glad for her. And still gone to bed!! LOL

FYI the albergue; O Recuncho do Peregrino, is closed during 2017 for the months of November, December, and January and February 2018. This albergue is listed as #1 on my Places I Stayed on the Camino If you’d like to know more for 2018; his website is http://orecunchodoperegrino.com/

If you’re interested in learning more about the Roman routes, I found this website linked to the Portuguese aspect of the Roman roads. http://www.viasromanas.pt/vrinfo.html

Tomorrow: Arcade and the marathon to Caldas dei Reis.

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O Porriño was an absolute delight. I meandered aimlessly here and there, down this alley, through that square, along this lane admiring the older and characterful buildings and houses, a small church; Capela San Benito tucked away behind some trees, some fountains, the regal castle-like council building and just rejoicing in the wonder of being in this amazing place. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I was able to walk the Camino, to experience all the trials, tribulations, surprises, hamlets and towns and breath-taking scenery it has to offer. There is nothing quite like travelling and exploring a new country.

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O Porriño – The Spanish sure took The Camino in their stride…every where you looked there were Camino shells or references to Pilgrims. I loved it all.

Being Sunday there were, much like I found in Italy, families walking through the streets; different generations arms linked and chatting away, children running about shrieking in play; dashing around on scooters and bicycles, the air filled with laughter. That is one of the aspects of Mediterranean life that I absolutely love…..it’s such a joy to see family groups out and about enjoying the mild evenings, church bells ringing in the background, calling the faithful to pray. Along the pedestrianised part of the town, Plaza del Generalísimo and in the squares, cafés and restaurants had their tables spread out in the mild autumn evening, peopled by residents, tourists and pilgrims alike, waiters scurried back and forth trying to cope with the ever increasing demands. A cacophony of sound; people enjoying life.

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evocative churches, pedestrianised streets, care-worn buildings

I noticed that much like towns in Portugal, there were a number of ramshackle buildings interspersed amongst others in better repair, albeit very old.

O Porriño it turns out was in the province of Pontevedra. It seems that we cross over into the different districts without much notice and you think you’re in one place, but are in quite another, the route a mix of hamlets, nature reserve, rivers, forests, towns and industrial parks. The area around O Porriño is a fairly industrialised due to the proximity of Vigo’s sea port. Most of the buildings and churches in the town and surrounding areas were built using granite, and apparently O Porriño’s granite is known worldwide as Rosa Porriño (Pink Porriño), and exported via the Port of Vigo mainly to countries like China, Italy and Japan.

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the castle like council building, children playing, pretty fountains and quaint houses; O Porrino was a delight

Eventually, I reached Plaza de San Benito where I turned around to make my way back… by now with my tummy grumbling, I walked back through the centre of town towards the albergue. None of the cafés or restaurants on the way appealed and after looking at various menus I decided to chance my luck and eat at the lively Restaurant; Paso A Nivel I had seen just before the railway line near to the albergue.

There I was to not only meet up with the fellow who was occupying the bunk above mine at the albergue, but a lovely English gentleman who saw me sitting on my own and came over to offer me a place at their table. Although I declined the offer, we did strike up a conversation and he went on to say that his group had had a torrid few days; it seems they lost their Priest in Valença 😦 This shook me up somewhat because I knew that Mel, whom I had met just outside of Porto on the 11th was also travelling in a group led by their Parish priest. I sincerely hoped it was not the same person.

I ordered a substantial meal (the menu was thankfully also in English) and sat down at the back of the room. Suddenly, to my delight, there was my Dutch room-mate. He came over and I invited him to join me. We had a wonderful evening, chatting about the Camino, the experiences we had had, the places we had seen and the people we had met. He was intrigued to realise that I was travelling solo. Not the first time people had expressed surprise at this. I wondered why, since I had read about so many women my age who travelled solo. Perhaps it was more common on the Camino Francés.

Finally after gabbing back and forth for over an hour, we walked back to the albergue which was in the same street, albeit further along and quietly crept into the room.hostel

With 6 occupants and a tiny room it was difficult to move about and not disturb anyone, but I think I managed fairly well and all too soon, with a bonne nuit (French LOL) I, with ear-plugs firmly installed, slipped into the heavenly land of slumber. It was just after 10.30pm and I didn’t stir till morning. Bliss.

Read more about Part 1 of my journey: Valença to Tui
Read more about Part 2 of my journey: Tui to O Porriño

addendum: Sadly, as I was to discover just a few days later (22nd) after I arrived in Santiago, the Priest who died was indeed Mel’s priest and friend, and to my horror, it seems that on the evening I bumped into Mel in Valença, was the night he died. Of which at the time I met Mel, she was as yet unaware. I felt sick to my stomach.

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Day 11 Sunday 2017.09.17 – Tui to O Porriño Day 1/5 Camino 2017 part 2 (read part 1 here)

After leaving the city of Tui behind me I was mostly on my own walking through fields and wooded areas, sometimes on asphalt, or along sandy lanes, setting a good pace, all the while looking for the arrows. Sometimes they are elaborate and sometimes quite faint and obscure. But I know now what to look out for; my ‘Camino eyes’ are open.

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and suddenly I was in the countryside…..the Ponte Romano in the distance

As I reached woodland and found the Ponte Romano along which the Via Romana XIX route continues crossing over the River Louro, I noticed a stunning rock sculpture; a cut out pilgrim and a delightful water fountain where some pilgrims were filling their water bottles. “Ola! Buenas dias” …. I walked to the middle of the bridge, just because 🙂 and then continued on my way into cool green refreshing forests.

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a stunning sculpture on the Via Romana XIX near the Ponte Romana, a place for pilgrims to fill their water bottles and the Ponte Romana over the Louro

Walking through the beautiful landscape of the River Louro valley in Galicia, a 700 ha nature reserve, I noticed that the weather was a lot cooler, the landscape was greener and not as arid as Portugal. I felt absolutely joyful. The day was cool with a faint breeze and as usual I shouted a greeting ‘Ola’ or ‘Buen Camino’ as I went. I saw quite a few pilgrims today, but was never in a crowd.

Once again the terrain was variable; all change please…asphalt, gravel, cobbles, paving, mud…repeat…

10:50 Passing beneath a substantial bridge I saw this writing on the wall (I only photographed one side of the message)….

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whizzing through the Galician countryside, the route was variable

Peregrino: que véxalo ceo na terra cando teus ollos divisen as torres de Compostela.

Onde vai aquil peregrino (?), meu peregrino onde irá(?)
Camiño de Compostela. Eu sei que alí chegará.
Bo Camiño e un desexo CONCELLO DE TUI

Which roughly translated means:

We hope you see heaven on earth when your eyes spot the towers of Compostela.

Where is THAT peregrino going ? Where is MY peregrino going?
He is going to Compostela. I know that he will arrive there.
Buen Camino and a wish TUI MUNICIPALITY

Just on 11am I took a small diversion I stopped at a cafe; Bar Muniz just off the N550 for a visit to the loo (by now I learned how to use the loo with my backpack on!! 😂😂), then ordered a café con leche (no longer café com leite) and cheese on a very big roll; which was never what I was expecting.  Soon satiated, with Pepe on my back, I set off once again. Along the way I visited a tiny chapel; Capela da Virxe do Camino, an 18th century basilica building built on the remains of a previous church, which had a simply beautiful interior. The polychrome image in the sacristy depicts a seated Virgin with a baby boy at her breast.

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11am café con leche and the Galician version of toasted cheese LOL Still on the Via Romana XIX, and the delightful Capela Virxen do Camino

Not long after that I encountered one of those places where I stopped with a wtf exclamation… where to now? It happened from time to time…. I was on the verge of a very busy road with a 70 kms per hour speed limit 😲😧 and it appeared as if I was meant to cross over the bridge in front of me (in my mind I was thinking ‘seriously’ are you F@%$ kidding?)

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….seriously??? I missed that marker altogether

…after walking a few yards towards the crest of the bridge I soon realised that no! this was definitely NOT the Way, so I retraced my steps and lo and behold there across the road was a Camino marker…hallelujah! I had missed it altogether. I scurried across, and carried on. As I walked it felt like I was taking strain on my left shoulder and right hip, which was weird as I had been very careful to balance out my packing, but realised, from a similar experience a few days before, that a strap had loosened. I stopped and removed Pepe to tighten the straps up and suddenly heard a cry of “hello Cindy!! ” To my surprise and delight it was my group of 5 that I’d crossed paths with a few times since Porto. Coincidentally they had stayed at the same hotel in Valença as me last night and we had bumped into each other in the reception. I thought for sure they’d be well ahead by now, but no, it seems I was ahead 🙂 So for the next few kms right through to O Porriño I walked with them. It was lovely and lively as the conversations ebbed and flowed. As we traipsed along through the gorgeous woodlands and wetlands of the national park, Gándara de Budiño, we came across a small granite cross and shrine; this marks the spot where San Telmo, the Bishop of Tui, died of a fever 750 years ago on his return from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The inscription reads as follows: ” Caminante, here he was sick of death in Telmo in April 1251. Ask him to speak with God in your favor .” It’s a beautiful place so we, like many pilgrims before and I’m sure also since, stopped for a rest by the stream. You will notice the granite blocks used to pave the path. Not easy to walk on.

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A small cross and shrine marks the spot where San Telmo, the Bishop of Tui, died of a fever on his return from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela 750 years ago. The horseman riding by was surreal to say the least

Enroute at about 12:20 we stopped at a marvellous little roadside cafe; O Chiriringo in Ribedelouro, where we had café con leche, a sugary bun and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice; nectar of the gods. They also stamped our passports 🙂 I love all the little pilgrim reliefs and sculptures on the walls; pilgrims, a pilgrims staff and the ever present scallop shells.

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the wonderful garden cafe of O Chiriringo Ribedelouro, my group of 5 from AUS, and the best orange juice on the planet

After a lovely relax and a chat with a delightful Scottish couple who had also stopped (I met them again a couple of times along the route) we set off again. It was here that I saw my first hórreo; a Galician granary, built up off the ground to discourage rats and mice. The first of many I was to see eroute to Santiago. The oldest document containing an image of an hórreo is the Cantigas de Santa Maria by Alfonso X “El Sabio”. The oldest of these date from the 15th century, are listed structures and therefore protected under law. I just loved the direction board in their garden – O Porriño 9.5kms and Santiago 107kms.

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An hórreo; a Galician granary, a fabulous sign board; O Porrino 9.5kms and scallop shells decorate a wall at the garden cafe of O Chiriringo Ribedelouro

At 13:16 in the neighbourhood of Orbenlle, where the Camino Portugues leaves the municipality of Tui and enters the one of Porriño, at a bend in the route of the Camino de Santiago, we came face to face with a magnificent reproduction of the (The Portal of Glory) ‘Portico de la Gloria’ of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral made by the painter Xai Óscar. The ‘Portico de la Gloria’ is the Romanesque portico, the cathedral’s main gate, created by Maestro Mateo in 1188.  Xai Óscar, invested four months of ‘nights’ to capture this in the mural. Next to that ‘The Old Pilgrim’ by the same artist; Xai Óscar. Stunning!!

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the fabulous mural, a reproduction of ‘Portico de la Gloria’ painted by Xia Óscar at a junction on the Way to Santiago and the Old Pilgrim

Continuing on our way, by 13:52 we left the quirky houses, rural lanes and sleepy villages

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walking through the Galician countryside, nearly there….just over 6kms to O Porrinó and 105.519 kms to Santiago

and the route took us through the horrible industrial area of Las Gándaras, along Polígono das Gándaras a 3.5-4 km straight stretch of road of dull, harsh tarmac and pollution. Yuck. Glad it was Sunday or it would have been very busy. (you can take the alternative Camino through As Gándaras and the River Louro valley to avoid crossing the industrial park.) It was terribly hot by now and humid. I longed for the cool forests.

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3.5-4 km without any shade and along an asphalt road through a horrible industrial area.

While walking along this stretch, I suddenly found myself in ‘the zone’, and head down, my walking poles rhythmically swinging I just walked and walked, looking neither left nor right I was soon through the industrial park and as I neared the end I found one of the group at my side and steaming ahead – Joan was on a roll (pun intended LOL) – she knew of a cafe nearby; Café Adele. Hurrah, a place to stop. It was hot and I needed an icy cold drink….I knew just what would fit the bill 🙂 Unfortunately the cafe was closed 😦 Onwards……

Then, just when you feel like you want to lie down and die, the route takes you over a steep bridge LOL. It took 30 minutes to get from one end of the industrial park to the other. But the reward was just on the other side in the form of Café Neuvo.

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just when you need it least…a bridge. …and now it’s 101.379 kms to Santiago

And finally at 14:20 Hurrah!! Café Nuevo Eidos Bar; not exactly The Ritz, but it offered a place to sit down, as well as food and drinks. We hurried inside, nature calling loud and clear, and then it was time for ‘Super Bock’. Damn that beer tasted good. The break offered some respite and we all removed shoes and socks and compared/massaged our achy feet. My Aloe Vera Heat Lotion was, as ever, my salvation. So far I have no blisters, but 2 of the ladies from the group of 5 had nasty blisters. Ewww, painful.

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and finally Café Neuvo Eidos – time to rest, drink a Super Bock and compare injuries LOL

After a brief respite, with just 4 kms left to go we set off at a good pace, and with my head down, walking poles swinging, for the next hour and 50 minutes I didn’t stop for photos or anything else except to capture the Capela de Angustias (the chapel of Sorrows) on the edge of O Porriño

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The chapel of Angustias (the chapel of Sorrows) on the Camino through O Porriño

…and then suddenly there we were, in O Porriño. It was now 99.408 kms to Santiago!! Hoorah, less than 100kms to go. Although exhausted, my spirits soared.

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tah dah!! O Porrino and now it’s less than 100 kms to Santiago de Compostela – 99.408 kms

I was caught by surprise that we reached O Porriño so quickly and sad to say goodbye to my group of 5. They were staying at a pre-arranged hotel and I still had to find my albergue. We made a loose agreement to meet up on the road to Arcade in the morning and said goodbye. As it turned out this was the last time I saw them. With no idea where my hostel was I sat down on a nearby bench and gathered myself… Where to next? I had no idea. But with occasional help from the locals, Google maps, and the Camino signs, I was guided to my destination.

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following the signs through O Porrino and finding my bed for the night; Albergue Alojamiento on the Camino Portugués

I didn’t make a pre-booked reservation for the night, but instead I’d taken note of an alburgue; Albergue Alojamiento recommended by someone on Facebook, and phoned ahead earlier in the morning. Yes, they could accommodate me. Awesome. What time will you arrive? Oh about 6pm maybe 7pm. Okay, we’ll wait for you.

As it turned out, I arrived at 4.25pm. I’d wanted to experience the Camino way of not having accommodation sorted months ahead but just phoning ahead on the day and hoping to get a place for the night. I was very happy they had a place at the inn for me 😉

Soon I was checked in and reclining on a very comfy bed in a mixed dorm close to a very busy noisy highway. Thank goodness for my foam earplugs.

Alojamiento Camino Portugues,

Alojamiento Camino Portugués

What a marvellous day. I’ve seen so many wondrous places, enjoyed amazing scenery and all the place names that I’d seen on the maps, researched and wondered about, are now coming alive.

End of Day 1 of my Spanish #Camino2017, and day 11 since I arrived in Porto. So far I have walked/travelled 140kms or so and I am astounded to realise that by Thursday night, all being well, I’ll be in Santiago. Buen Camino.

Walked 18.39 kms. 8 hours 47 minutes and 2 seconds door to door (of which at least an hour was spent in the walled city of Valença and on the bridge over the River Miño on the border between the two countries). Steps taken: 45,382.

After making the acquaintance of my room-mates; an elderly gentleman from Spain, 2 young Korean girls, a young man from the Netherlands and a young woman from I don’t know where, I made my bed and a had brief rest – socks airing above me, then a quick shower, and after repacking my bag and getting my clothes ready for the morning, I grabbed my phone and set off to explore…….

Day 11 exploring O Porriño

Read part 1 of my journey from Valença to O Porriño.

Exploring O Porriño

 

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Day 11 Sunday 2017.09.17 – Valença to Tui and onto O Porriño (part 1)

A Sámi proverb states, “How it goes with the first day’s travelling, so it will be with the rest of the journey.” – and in this instance that proved true; I had an awe-inspiring journey, an mix of early mornings, beautiful albeit tough terrain, cool air, peaceful forests and joyful greetings. I was on my Way.

This was day 1 of 5 walking from Tui to Santiago de Compostela; no rest days inbetween. With my alarm set for 6am, I woke with an overwhelming sense of anticipation, finally the day had arrived for the push through to Santiago de Compostela and excited beyond belief, I felt like I wanted to run every mile and jump with joy. I didn’t of course 🙂

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117.624 kms to Santiago – this was the first of many such route markers I saw along The Way.

I set off really early at 06:43 while it was still dark, and made my way to the walled city. Thank goodness I had found the route last night. Thanks to Mel for the heads up!

Although still quite dark I could see the sky lightening in the east. The streets were eerily quiet and while navigating the city I saw only 3 people the whole time I was walking through. The air was fresh and cool with the wonderful stillness of pre-dawn. I faffed around taking photos of each section of the route, recorded the church bells (because I am like that!) and took a few selfies while keeping an eye on the time. I was keen to watch the sunrise from the bridge into Spain.

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Fortaleza de Valença do Minho (Valença do Minho Fortress) boasts over 800 years history.

The city felt timeless as I made my way along the quiet streets, stopping briefly at the Roman milestone and Santa Maria dos Anjos church. If you walk this way look out for the Roman milestone dating from the 1st century AD. It marks 42 Roman miles (62 kms) on the road from Braga to Tui, and has the following inscription:

TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS CAESER AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS. IMPERATOR V CONSUL III, TRIBUNICIA POTESTATE III. PATER PATRIAE BRACARA XLII.

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A Roman milestone dating from the 1st century and Igreja de Santa Maria dos Anjos; the mother church of Valença do Minho consecrated in 1276

Finally I set my compass for Spain, my ‘Camino eyes’ carefully scanning for the yellow arrows as I trod gingerly along the cobbled lanes, down numerous stairs, through tunnels and beneath the fortified walls; muralha primitiva. It felt primitive.

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along the narrow lanes of Fortaleza Valença – a fortress started at the beginning of the 13th century and relating to the reign of King Sancho I

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Fortaleza Valença – a fortress started at the beginning of the 13th century

It was thrilling thinking about all the thousands of pilgrims who, through the aeons, have walked that route before me. The history of this awesome place is mind-blowing.

Then suddenly I was on the bridge and standing on the border, with one foot in Portugal and the other in Spain. My excitement knew no bounds. 🚶‍♀️👣🚶‍♀️👣🚶‍♀️👣👏👏👏

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Tui International Bridge (known in Portugal as Valença International Bridge), completed in 1878 is on the Portuguese Way to Santiago de Compostela

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Tui International Bridge leading to Spain (known in Portugal as Valença International Bridge)

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Tui International Bridge leading to Spain crosses the River Miño from Valença in Portugal. In the distance to the right you can see the cathedral of Tui on the hilltop

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In the past, pilgrims coming from Portugal had to reach Galicia, Spain by crossing the river Miño on a boat, but lucky me I could walk across via the bridge 🙂 These shoes are made for walking…

Tip: when you walk across the International Bridge from Portugal into Spain, be sure to walk on the right-hand side looking upstream, for the markings on the walkway. A footnote (pun-sorry LOL): I was so impressed with my walking shoes; a last minute buy a couple of weeks before I left, these shoes have done me proud: 123 kms so far…good support and no blisters!! The socks; brilliant combination of IsoCool liner socks and double layer anti-bacterial socks worked really well for me. But back to the sunrise…..

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The river Miño flows between Portugal and Spain.

Tui International Bridge leading to Spain crosses the River Miño from Valença in Portugal. I watched a magnificent pink-hued sunrise, took dozens of photos and finally once the sun peeked above the horizon in Portugal, I walked the final yards into Spain…. Hurrah, now I was on the Camino Portuguese Central Way to Santiago de Compostela. (Compostela (comes from the Latin “Campus Stellae” (i.e. Stars Field) – love that!!! ❤ 

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España 🙂 finally I was in Spain for real and on my way to Santiago de Compostela – Camino Portugues – Camiño de Santiago

Unbeknownst to me at that point, I was also going to be walking along sections of the old Roman Road ‘Via Romana XIX’ – see pic in top right hand corner. I just liked the design without realising the connotations 🙂

Tui, one of the seven capitals of the ancient Kingdom of Galicia, is the first town in Spain on the Camino Portugués Central Way and has an awesome cathedral just waiting to be explored. I met two ladies who told me the hotel; Parador Nacional San Telmo, would stamp my passport so I popped in and got my first Spanish pilgrim’s stamp. There was no way I was going to leave without visiting and getting a stamp. Hint: It’s advised that you get your credential (pilgrim’s passport) stamped at least twice a day between Tui and Santiago de Compostela to qualify for your certificate. This is not too difficult as there are so many churches and restaurants etc enroute where you can get a stamp (sello).

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Tui was the capital of a province in the Old Kingdom of Galicia, Spain.

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Parador Nacional San Telmo where I got my pilgrim’s passport stamped, the view across the River Miño and a final photo of me before setting off

Then it was a strenuous but picturesque climb up steep winding streets to the cathedral.

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Benvidos a Tui – Welcome to Tui on the Camiño de Santiago Camiño Portugués : 115.454 kms

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Tui, Galicia in Spain – 1st town on the Portugués Central Way to Santiago de Compostela

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the medieval narrow cobbled streets and lanes of Tui. I loved it 🙂

Tui has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Evidence of this are the sites found during construction of the highway Vigo-Tui, on the border with Porriño. The medieval city was composed of three elements; the cathedral, its hamlet of dwellings, and its city walls. After a very steep climb I finally reached the cathedral.

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Catedral de Santa Maria, Tui. On the top of the hill, the cathedral, begun in the 12th century, preserves Romanesque elements and has a Gothic façade.

Wowwww what an awesome church. Begun in the 12th century, during the Romanesque period, it has a Gothic façade, one of the first in this style in the Iberian Peninsula. The interior is, like most of the churches I had seen so far in Portugal, very elaborate with a number of chapels, altars and shrines to various saints. There’s a fantastic scallop shell as you enter the church and a number of references to St James and decorative scallop shells. In a corner near the front of the cathedral interior is a statue of King Alphonso.

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I explored every corer of the church and the museum. It’s absolutely beautiful

The cloister is also of Gothic style; the oldest in any Galician cathedral. Along the walls and over the archway of the 12th century Chapter Room are a number of intriguing Roman numerals.

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The Cloisters and Romanesque Chapter Room of the 12th century, the primitive meeting room of the canons of the first temple of the city. Just mind-blowing.

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The Cloisters of Catedral de Santa Maria, Tui

I had my pilgrim’s passport stamped at the Tourist Information Centre next to the church, my 2nd of the day in Spain…too exciting. I paid the €4 entrance fee at the cathedral which gave me access to the church, museum, cloisters and battlements, and spent a good 45 minutes exploring and, despite saying no more climbing towers, I climbed the tower battlements for some amazing views. The steps were so high you almost needed a step ladder to get up them!!! Going down was tricky. 

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climbing the church tower of the Cathedral of Tui

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the view across Tui, the river Mino and in the distance the International Bridge and on the hilltop, the walled city of Valenca, Portugal

I was, at about 9:20am, startled to discover the time!!! Wow, I figured that I had been exploring the church for 2 hours, but in fact I had forgotten that the clocks went forward by 1 hour between Portugal and Spain LOL. Whew. Nonetheless, it was time to get going. As I was leaving I stopped to photograph the elaborately carved doors and noticed the cross pattée (?) carved into the walls on both sides of the entrance…intriguing.

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A cross pattée carved into the walls and the elaborate doors

As the bells chimed 10, I reluctantly left the cathedral area and made my way along steep winding picturesque streets, only this time downhill. I looked out for the Camino markers, which were plentiful and believe it or not, I photographed every one of them all the way through Tui and just about the whole 18.39 kms to O Porrino…just because. 😉

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looking back at the cathedral, charming little pilgrim sculptures, streets of Tui

I just loved the little pilgrim sculptures on the walls.

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a little pilgrim sculpture shows the way. if you look above his head you can see a faint yellow arrow

I passed the Hospital for the Poor and the Pilgrim’s, past the Convent of Las Clarisas where I saw my first rather large groups of pilgrims,convent of saint domingo tui, church of saint bartolome tui, Camino Portugues, Camino de Santiago, tui, spain, camino de santiago, portuguese coastal route, portuguese central route to santiago, walking the camino, porto to santiago, walk 1000 miles, over the hill and still travelling, baby boomers, silver surfers, the boomer generation, things to do in your 60s, bucket list for the older generation, walked down stairs, through tunnels and along deserted downward sloping streets and lanes. It seemed spookily deserted!

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Tunel das Monxas and following the Way through the streets of Tui in Galicia

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the route is so well marked with yellow arrows, scallop shells, shell tiles and various other markings, you can’t fail to find your way. I walked completely sans maps or guide books.

I saw only a few of the locals along the route, and occasionally a few pilgrims, certainly not in the large numbers I was expecting.

There was one sculpture and cross that absolutely intrigued me; located on the wall of the bridge that crosses over Rúa Canónigo Valiño, it looks like a sculpture with religious connotations; souls burning in the fires of hell?? Intriguing.

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an intriguing sculpture

I have not been able to find out more information about this despite extensive google searches.

(2017.11.13 – addendum with huge thanks to Maria of  ‘Spanish Tuition Services‘ “I can help you with the “intriguing sculpture”. This type of construction is called “peto de ánimas” (roughly translates as souls’ money box) and they are quite common in Galicia. They represent souls in the fire of purgatory, with some figure watching over them (in this case, the dove/Holy Spirit). They also have a “peto” or money box for passers-by to leave an offering for the salvation of those souls. When a soul is saved and goes to Heaven thanks to your offering, they will later intercede on your behalf, so you can go into Heaven too”. – so there you have it; I’m so delighted to finally know what it signified)

Passing a number of fascinating historical buildings and churches I was longing to tarry awhile and explore further, but O Porriño waits and I can tarry no more.

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The Judaic Tower, the Convent of Saint Domingo (built 1330),  Praza San Bartolomé bandstand, the Church of St Bartolomé and an ancient communal washing area.

I was absolutely amazed to discover that I was also walking along the Via Romana XIX!!

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walking along a section of the Via Romana XIX

It always gives me a thrill, no matter where I am walking, when I discover links to Roman times…the thought of those Roman soldiers marching along the roads…I can almost hear the tramp tramp tramp of their sandalled boots on the cobbles….ahead of me was the tramp, tramp, tramp of the modern day pilgrim in their special super duper gortex, arch-supporting inners and uppers, special lace-up, isogrip boots in leather, fabric and waterproof, with  performance soles and protective toe bumpers!! I wonder what the Romans would make of today’s hiking footwear. – according to wikipedia:  Caligae (heavy-soled hobnailed military boots) were constructed from three leather layers: an outsole, the middle openwork layer which formed the boot’s upper, and an insole. They were laced up the centre of the foot and onto the top of the ankle. Additionally iron hobnails were hammered into the soles to provide the caligae with reinforcement and traction – okayyyyy, not quite what we wear today then. 

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a few pilgrims on the way; Bom Caminho – 114km to Santiago de Compostela

Suddenly I was out of urban Tui and into fields and the rural landscape of Galicia.

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and suddenly I was in the countryside…..

I was seeing more pilgrims now as well as locals. I called out “ola, bom dias” or “ola, Buen Camino” to everyone I saw and got many a cheery wave and “Buen Camino” in return. I’m on the Camiño de Santiago 😁😍🚶‍♀️

Continued….Part 2 Tui to O Porriño.

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St Augustine’s Way from Ramsgate to Canterbury.

The Way of St Augustine aka St Augustine’s Way – I first learned about this particular walk on one of my many Camino 2017 practice walks between Broadstairs and Cliffsend last year. Frankly I’d never heard of St Augustine before then but by all accounts he was quite an adventurous fella. I did some research and decided to do the walk.

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St Augustine

I’d made a list of walks I wanted to do in the UK so added this as it was quite short at 19 miles from Ramsgate to Canterbury and seemed eminently achievable.

As it turned out I actually walked 28 miles (?) and the hours are only my walking hours, not rest periods during the day. I was able to tag the walk on after my Southwark to Canterbury finale that ended on 29th July.

Day 1 : Walked 24.03 kms (15.02 miles) – 8 hours and 24 minutes
Day 2 : Walked 20.93 kms (13.08 miles) – 8 hours and 04 minutes

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Broadstairs to Ramsgate

 

The Way of St Augustine; my journey from Ramsgate to Canterbury started really from Broadstairs, at which time I walked from Viking Bay to St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate.  I’d had some really amazing help from Hunter and John of Friends of St Augustine, who prepared maps for me and answered my questions about the route and where to stay etc.

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The St Augustine Trail

I’d decided to attend the Sunday morning service at the shrine and so at 07:11 on July 30th I set off with Pepe; my fully loaded backpack, heading for Ramsgate. The service started at 08:30 and I figured I had loads of time since it usually took me just on 45 minutes to walk the distance…Hah!! I hadn’t factored in the weight of the backpack slowing me down and forgot that I still had to climb the hill on the opposite side of Ramsgate Harbour and walk to the shrine…as a result I slipped into the church with 2 minutes to spare and sweating profusely from rushing to get there on time.

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St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate

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Shrine of St Augustine

After the service I took some photos (of course) and then joined the parishioners for tea and biscuits and a wee chat, and at 09:44, following the map that John had kindly printed for me I set off from The Shrine heading for the 2nd of what was to be many stops; St Augustine’s Cross.

I passed through familiar territory walking along the clifftops at Ramsgate and stopped for a swing in the park…how can I not? It’s my favourite 😉

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stopping for a swing 🙂

From there it’s a short walk to Pegwell Bay

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Pegwell Bay – I wonder how it looked in AD 597

and taking the clifftop walk I soon passed the Viking Ship and Cliffs End village signboard,

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Viking Ship at Cliffsend

then a right turn and within no time at all I found the cross….I can’t believe I didn’t know it was there!! Managed by English Heritage, it’s free to visit.

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St Augustine’s Cross

After taking some photos and getting my bearings on the map, I found myself walking along secluded lanes and farmlands. One field in particular was really amazing…sunflowers as far as the eye could see.

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sunflowers; a touch of sunshine on a cloudy day

I had got a wee bit lost just before this as the map didn’t show the massive arterial roadway that crossed over the railway and so I missed the turn under the bridge…but thankfully some fella was walking towards me so I didn’t go too far off course. He directed me back to the bridge and mentioned that he had done this many times before!! hmmm. I also missed the crossing of the railway line, but after finding myself in a cul-de-sac of trees, I again retraced my steps and hopped across quick as a flash…I loathe railway crossings.

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the railway crossing I missed…

I got to chat to a lovely elderly gentleman at this point and he was quite impressed at my endeavour. Actually most people looked at me like I was quite insane when I told them what I was doing. LOL Nonetheless I was on the right track and soon I could see the spire of St Mary’s in Minster. I found the abbey quite easily. Oh my word. What a delightful surprise.

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Minster Abbey

Quite different to what I was expecting, but just amazing. I summonsed one of the Nuns who live and work there, and she kindly stamped my Pilgrim’s Passport for me 🙂 Of course I took loads of photos and then visited St. Mary The Virgin Church.

St. Mary’s Church, founded in 670AD is known as the ‘Cathedral on the marshes’ and is the mother-church of western Thanet. Fantastic place with oodles of history. Sadly there was no stamp for my passport.

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St Mary’s – cathedral on the marshes

Quite hungry by then I stopped off at The Bell Inn for Sunday Roast 🙂 A hearty meal very much appreciated.

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The Bell Inn, Minster

The Bell Inn was built during the reign of Elizabeth I in the year 1576 and is apparently a pub with ghosts……The earliest recorded occupant of the property is one Thomas Calfe who is mentioned in a sale document of 1611. In 1715 the rector of the parish held the first tithe supper at The Bell and in 1718 with his help and persuasion a 7 day licence was granted on condition that no liquor be administered between the hours of divine service. The penalty for doing so was a day in the stocks, a heavy fine or in some cases a flogging. In 1864, The Bell was lit by gaslight for the first time.

After a rest (I took my shoes and socks off and revelled in the cool wet grass) and the delicious meal, I hoiked Pepe onto my back and made my way back to the abbey. While at the shrine in Ramsgate earlier I had noticed that there was a Gregorian chant event at the abbey in the afternoon, so I decided to pop in. Getting there a tad late (45 minutes) I slipped quietly through the door…LOL – I only entered right next to the speaker and with a huge backpack…quietly I was not!! However, it seems I had stumbled into what was a semi-private event and there was a fee to be paid?? eeee. Oh well… But the organiser chap kindly let me off since I had got there very late and wasn’t staying for the 6:30 event at the church…which was the chanting part of the event. Duhhhh. So I just stayed as long as it was polite to do so, had a cup of tea and a delicious slice of chocolate cake baked by the nuns, left a hefty donation in lieu of my entrance fee and at 5:30 I set off once again. Destination Plucks Gutter. Seriously? Plucks Gutter??  I thought I’d have a quick squizz at wikipedia and here is their description: “The hamlet is named after a Dutch Drainage Engineer called Ploeg, whose grave is in All Saints Church, West Stourmouth. Ploeg, being the Dutch for a plough, the hamlet takes its origins from the Dutch Protestant tradition of draining marshland by creating a ploughed ditch”. I’m really not sure how that converts to Plucks Gutter…but there it is!! Although just a hamlet it has an interesting history with links to King Alfred and the Vikings, smugglers and of course was part of what was then the Isle of Thanet on the Wantsum Channel (now built over).

Most of the Way of St Augustine walk was through farmland and along streams and what was once Saxon Shore, although I warrant that Augustine would find things very different to his time!

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channels of water and fields of crops

Whenever the going got tough, I reminded myself that they didn’t have it any easier…I think! The land has been pushed back so far since then that you can’t even see the shoreline from that point, so maybe they walked along the beach whilst I was dragging myself through a jungle LOL

Traipsing across farmlands and recently cut fields that left horrible spiky stalks that crunched underfoot I was in danger of being pierced at the ankles!!

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spiky stalks…horrible to walk in this

Barring my first misdirection, I had so far managed to follow the map quite easily with the help of some signs attached to either gate posts or barriers etc…but somewhere, in the middle of nowhere I lost the trail.

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signs…..here there and everywhere…and anywhere

The map indicated to head inland at one point which I did and followed a narrow channel (there were a LOT of channels and streams in this area; salt-marsh works and farmland as far as the eye could see) but the crops were so high and so thick that I simply could not find ‘The Way’. I tried walking along a particular pathway, but that was making me double back and there was no way to cross the channel which appeared to go on for miles…that I could see anyway. Eventually after walking back and forth a few times and carefully looking for the pathway, I gave up and walked back to the river. I could see from the map that it lead towards Plucks Gutter so figured I would walk along the riverbank till I reached the bridge. Hah!!Great plan….or so it seemed.

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sigh

Firstly the riverbank was exceptionally narrow and I walked (dragged myself) along long grass with just a few inches between me and the river. Mindful of the weight of the backpack, I was having nightmare visions of falling in and not being able to surface due to the weight of the pack…but thankfully I had my walking poles. They really came into their own at this point and saved me from many a stumble on uneven ground and a possible tumble into the river. Eventually my luck ran out and the grassy riverbank ran into thickets of weeds and nettles as tall as me!! I was confounded as to what I should do. It was getting later and the sun was setting. Fortunately said sun was ahead of me so pulling on my ‘big girl panties’ I plunged into the fields of corn! Never mind ‘Children of the Corn’ – I am ‘Woman of the Corn’ hahahaha

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Woman of the Corn…no snakes!!

The stalks were taller than me and for at least 30 minutes of plunging and shoving my way through, I could not see anything other than green corn stalks and a faint glimmer of the sun. Walking through these stalks was eerie and a tad unnerving. I was reminded of when I was about 7 or 8 following my grandfather through a small field of corn that he had grown on their property in South Africa. I was casually strolling along behind him when I looked up and right there before me, with head poised to strike was a thin green snake! Fuck! I can tell you that never have I been so terrified. I screamed, the snake snaked and my grandfather came up with a stick and whacked it into kingdom come…or gone! As the case may be. So yeah, walking through this particular field was rather unpleasant. Fortunately I didn’t see any snakes…but perhaps they saw me and scarpered. I was kinda hoping that like Ireland, this particular field didn’t have snakes!

After what seemed like forever, with all sorts of greenery tangled in my hair and poking through my clothes, I stumbled out of the field and voila the bridge was ahead of me 🙂 Hurrah!! Only problem was that I ended up in a boatyard of some sort so had to find my way through a maze and then do some serious climbing of fences and gates. Forget the signs that say ‘Keep Out’ …mate, I’m leaving, no worries.

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Plucks Gutter and the River Stour

I have also learned that I can climb a gate with a fully loaded backpack in situ!! Something I had to do quite frequently on this walk. LOL

Once I reached the bridge over the River Stour it was so much easier; tarmac! Yayyy. I was in Plucks Gutter…but thankfully not in a gutter. I stopped to read the history board outside the Dog and Duck Inn; fascinating stuff!! Then my feet hit the mac and I was off…only a few more minutes of walking to be done and I would be able to have a cuppa and put my feet up, but first I had to navigate this road. It was however quite scary since the road, if you can call it that, was narrow and had no sidewalk or place for pedestrians. Once again I sucked in my breath and set off….The Sun Inn according to the map at the pub was within a 25 minute walk.

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You are here….Plucks Gutter and Stourmouth

And what a treat Stourmouth proved to be, lots of lovely quaint houses greeted me…although frankly I was too tired right then to be more than a little impressed. Suddenly as I rounded a corner there it was….. The Rising Sun Inn – my accommodation for the night. And once again, exhausted and dusty, but not wet (thankfully), I stumbled across the portal and traipsed across the reception area. A lovely young lass showed me to my room, and brought me a much needed cup of tea. The landlady soon came by to say hello whereupon I ordered a platter of sandwiches and crisps – delicious. The room at the Inn was absolutely fantastic. A gorgeous big bed and an ensuite shower.

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The Rising Sun, Stourmouth

Within no time at all I had my shoes off, my very dirty hiking pants hanging up to air, and with my feet up on the comfy couch I settled in for a bit of telly. 🙂 Exploring would have to wait for the morrow…for now, I wasn’t going anywhere except into the shower and then bed!! It seemed perfectly apt for me to be staying at The Rising Sun since one of my ultimate favourite songs is ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (The Animals). I still have the 7-single 😉

A spot of history: “Originally a bakery owned and worked by the Monks of the Diocese of Canterbury, the first part of the building was erected in 1372 during the reign of Edward III. Continuing as a bakery and passing through a number of different owners, the building eventually came into the hands of Edgar Rake; baker and brewer in 1682!! Said gentleman applied for an ale and cider licence that was granted on April 4th, 1695. He carried out some building work in 1708 & 1709 but died before this more modern structure was completed. One Jeremiah Bedley; baker and beer seller took over the premises in 1709 and granted a licence to sell liquor and named the premises “The Rising Sun”….probably coz his patrons saw the sun rising after a heavy night!! LOL From 1709 onwards till 1865 all the Inn Keepers of The Rising Sun were bakers, working the old bakery and running the Inn, except for Thomas Lucke who in 1776 was described as a ‘beer seller, baker and ferryman’. The inn was for many years also known as the Ferryman’s Inn as the men who worked the ferries across the mile-wide estuary to the “Crown” (Cherry Brandy House) at Sarre, met here.”

I was hoping to see the rising of the sun on the Way of St Augustine walk and so to spend the night at a 14th century inn called The Rising Sun is superbly brilliant.

And so to bed…perchance to dream. I slept really well that night….the bed was amazing.

Day 2 The Way of St Augustine

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