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.
Wednesday October 3 and Thursday October 4: we covered 18 miles on Wednesday— our greatest distance so far and probably will be our longest day of the Camino. Bill’s feet managed thanks to gentler surfaces under foot and nicer places to stop and rest. We walked through zambujal where there was a traffic jam of tractors heading to the fields, women sitting beside their men at the wheel. Then fonte coberta, where tiles told the story of st James in Portuguese French and English. Before noon we reached cernache, our last possible place to find a hostel before Coimbra, and decided to walk on after a picnic lunch and rest in a churchyard. Up a hill with great views of Coimbra, down the hill, past a Roman aqueduct now cut in two by a highway, through a tangle of cobblestone streets, across rio Santa Clara to a hotel on a pretty but noisy square and we have settled in for two nights. Ahhhh! Today we will explore Coimbra. It is Portugal’s university town and third largest city after Lisbon and Porto.
tuesday October 2: we are in Rabaçal, where we arrived about 1 pm after 11 miles of walking. We had planned to walk another 6 miles but it is hot, bill’s feet are killing him and mine are tired. So we have had a quiet afternoon and are enjoying some wine and the local cheese that is a mix of sheep and goat cheese delicious. Tonight bill will make his Camino soup for dinner with the help of knorr’s