We took the bus back to Lisbon on Saturday October 27. Yesterday we took a trolley to Belem, from where vasco de gama and other early explorers embarked. We went to the maritime museum and age of discovery monument and Belem tower, which is the first site explorers saw on their return. A pretty waterfront but so cold and windy. Hard to believe we were complaining about the heat here a month ago.
today we plan a train ride along the coast to cascais. And tonight we head to airport for 5 am flight home.
on Thursday October 25 we took an 8 hour bus ride to Fatima. This always was on our minds as a stop but made more compelling after encountering all the pilgrims walking south as we walked north toward Santiago. The 8 hour bus ride did not seem so long when you consider that it had taken us weeks on foot to cover the same Territory. We arrived to a very nice hotel with very nice off season prices and terrace views of the basilica cross lit up in the night sky.
today Friday October 26 (happy birthday Jody ❤️) we visited the basilica esplanade, which now includes not only the old church but a new church authorized by John Paul II and chapel of apparition. Pilgrims kneeling across the esplanade in penance. Masses, rosaries and confessions throughout the day. Very spiritual on the esplanade but garish souvenir sales right outside. In the afternoon we tried to follow the Camino into the city but it was on a trafficked road. Instead the tourist office directed us to a walk to the nearby village where there are the homes of the shepherd children who saw the apparitions. Stations of the cross along the way. So glad we chose this stop. Tomorrow back to Lisbon ❤️
sunday October 21 through Tuesday October 23. Today Tuesday we are in Santiago after staying Sunday in Caldas de Reis and Monday after staying a bit north of padron to cut the distance today to Santiago. So much to say about those days, including a flagging of enthusiasm, but today’s walk and arrival into Santiago was unexpectedly exhilarating. Why when we are here for the second time? Maybe because of what we have achieved? Maybe because the sun is shining? Maybe because the scaffolding is gone from the main facade of the cathedral? I think it is because we feel we have walked “home.” We are on familiar ground for the first time in more than a month. Thank you all for following along. You are always in my thoughts.
tomorrow Wednesday we will revisit Santiago, connect with our kiwi friends, attend an English mass and figure out how to make our way back to Lisbon for our October 30 flight.
Thursday October 18 through Saturday October 20: so lucky to have sunny and cool days and pleasant walks through woods and small towns. To Porriño on Thursday, to Redondela on Friday, to pontevedre today Saturday. While Redondela seemed a waterfront city past its prime, pontevedre is well kept,beautiful and vibrant. Siesta time is so confounding. Friday afternoon on Redondela was dead, even the grocery stores were closed. But by evening, families were out enjoying Friday night. Saturday today in pontevedre is also alive with families out, people crowding cafes etc. we have a private room tonight. Sometimes it’s good to get away from the Camino socializing. Particularly some people.
Monday October 15 through Wednesday October 17: have had no WiFi access but to continue:
among our dinner companions on Sunday were a young Swiss couple. He had been in Swiss army and served two years in Swiss guard at Vatican first under Benedict then Francis. Francis lived nearby and greeted them every day and sometimes gave them cookies that had been given to him.
on Monday we walked in light rain along the river to Ponte de Lima a pretty city. Our new rain ponchos protected us and our packs.
on Tuesday we climbed a steep hill of about 480 meters — the highest on the Camino— and into ribaeis.
pn Wednesday today we walked through the castle city of Valenca and across the river into tui— and Spain! Feels like a landmark but still at least 6 days to Santiago.
a parade of people now on Camino. Have talked to a fun Australian, A gay couple from Florida who are staying out of the USA as much as possible until the next election, a pair of Irish sisters.
sunday October 14: we are about 12 miles north of barcelos in a lovely albergue described in our guidebook as renovated stables. That might only sound appealing to Fran but it means we have lots of space for everything— sleeping, washing and drying clothes, eating, hanging out. Outside are vineyards over which we can watch the sun set. The owner is fixing a pasta dinner for the five people here so far.
We have avoided both forest fires and so called hurricane Leslie. Some people had to walk an extra 10 k to stay out of the fire zone but we were already beyond. And the hurricane blew through overnight so all it meant for us was a strong cool wind to blow us onward.
friday October 12 and Saturday October 13: we are in the Porto to Santiago phase of our walk, which is said to be more beautiful and well traveled. So far that seems true. We walked on Friday to sao Pedro da rates. The streets were quieter and more like the Galician area around Santiago — the steepled grain cribs, the high stone walls along the road — and the smell of cow manure. Our albergue that night was the most crowded yet and a Babel of tongues— the Norwegians and also Portuguese, at least six Czechs, Australian, German, italian. And a sweet kid/navy vet from Las Vegas. Today we had a shorter walk into barcelos and had time to catch up on laundry. We are two thirds of the way and have 11, maybe 10, more days of walking.
Monday October 8 through Thursday October 11 (I am writing this Wednesday morning): we arrived in Porto Tuesday, a night ahead of schedule . We saw no reason to prolong the walk through mostly urbanized areas. Monday night we stayed in sao joao de Madeira (John the Baptist), then about 20 miles into Porto on Tuesday. We psyched ourselves up for the long walk by making a hotel reservation and telling ourselves we could take as long as needed to arrive. But we arrived in good time by walking purposefully, much faster than our usual 2 mph. A highlight was seeing the Atlantic from various high points and feeling ocean breezes. The high temperatures are now a comfortable mid-70s. Wednesday and Thursday we will explore Porto and say farewell to our Brit friends who end their trip here.
Another fantastic cool breezy walking day. We are in albergaria a nova— halfway to Santiago. We currently are in sync walking with a Norwegian couple and guys from Germany Ireland and Portugal. Jane the German has fond memories of velden!
dianne tells me more than $5000 in pledges have been raised for Daniel. That will get him through his spring semester. Thank you to everyone for your generous support.
friday October 5 and Saturday October 6: today Saturday was our most pleasant walking day yet weatherwise and we are staying at our most pleasant albergue yet. When we left our albergue in mealhada this morning the temperature was in the 50s. We had on long sleeves and I had on gloves to carry my walking sticks. The temperature went up into the high 80s but a breeze kept the day pleasant well into the afternoon. Now I have even sought out the sun on the patio of our albergue. Bill is looking forward to making dinner in the albergue kitchen thanks to a super Mercado only 300 meters away. Yesterday Friday we encountered many groups of people headed in the opposite direction. They are going to Fatima. The Camino de Santiago followed the route to Fatima up until Santarém and now follows the same path but in opposite directions. At this point I think we have seen more people going to Fatima than to Santiago. October 13 is one of several Fatima pilgrimage days on the 13th of various months. We will try to go there on our way back to Lisbon.