Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 10

Day 10! A Picaraña to Santiago de Compostela!!

Of course we set out in the dark. The race was on! Santiago de Compostela or bust!

The first thing to peek up out of the darkness at us was a little…bizarre to say the least.

But we soon had daylight…just in time to see our first milemarker that broke the 10km mark!

It felt like it took us no time at all to get to the city limits.

Again, a glorious day filled with sunshine!

The LAST DAY feels were hitting hard!

Making our way into the city was a little misleading. We kept thinking we were going to turn a corner and be there…only to find one neighbourhood after another…staying forever on the outskirts.

But we were definitely getting there.

Less than 5km to go, and it still felt like we were so far away…

Then we hit this little earworm and I knew exactly what song I’d be humming for the rest of the morning. Thank you, Freddie Mercury!

How about one more gorgeously picturesque bridge to walk over before reaching the cathedral? Don’t mind if we do!

One quick stop as we reach the town proper…to get our first stamp of our day!

One last piece of street art before we finish our last day…

One last moment of confusion…

One last hórreo…

I had the great idea of walking AROUND the cathedral so we could come in at the same place as the Camino Frances and see the pipers in action before taking in the cathedral’s facade.

For the first time, we walked into this little covered part not to the sound of a piper, but to a guitar.

WE MADE IT!

Three very tired but accomplished pilgrims! Senda Litoral Route – Portugues Caminho – 280km in 10 days!

We quickly made our way to the pilgrim’s office to queue up for our compostelas (the certificates of completion)!

Compostelas in hand, we made our way to the very first cafe we came to and rewarded ourselves with a full breakfast each! One of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten!
We were fortunate enough to get to see the Botafumeiro swing during mass that afternoon! It doesn’t always happen, so we were thrilled to witness it!

So ends another Camino! There was more, of course…but the finish line was crossed! The next day we even took the rooftop tour of the cathedral. If you ever do the Camino, make sure to look into taking the rooftop tour! The views are amazing. Just being on the roof of the cathedral is quite spectacular in itself!
Thinking of doing the Camino? Do it! You’ll love it, even if it nearly kills you or your feet. It’s an experience of a lifetime!

You might even go back for more. This was my 3rd Camino. Loved every minute of it, even when I wanted to cry over the absolute PAIN my feet experienced. When it’s all over, the foot pain becomes a distant memory. You remember the moments and the beauty.

Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022- 280km in 10 days! PORTO, PORTUGAL to SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, SPAIN.

 

 

Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 7

Day 7! Vigo to Ponte Sampaio!

Milestone day! This was the day we crossed the 100km mile marker. We began our day in Vigo at just over 100km from our goal of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela!

One of the very first mile markers of our day 7!
After walking through the city proper, we arrived at its outskirts where we were to begin an ascent…

When you take a photo to show the depth and steepness of a hill, it almost never turns out. Trust me on this, when we got out of the city it was quite a brutal uphill climb to a ridge above it.

A brutal climb, but well worth it once we were able to take in the views the ridge afforded us.

It was actually quite breathtaking…and once we were up there, it was relatively flat for a while.

We kept coming across new vistas that felt like the perfect place to take the day’s selfie…again and again…

There was no end to the beauty below us. A look to the left, throughout this entire Camino, was bound to offer beauty…

Soon after breaking the 100km mark, we were gently being eased back into nature…

The hills of Spain! They’re everywhere!
THIS is what the Camino is all about. Being at one with the nature around you.

Leave it to the Camino to have the most interesting and gorgeous artwork appear out of nowhere along the path. Some call this graffiti or vandalizing, but whatever. I love the art we find along the way. I always appreciate it! I don’t give a rat’s ass what the naysayers say.

Like a fish out of water…

Mid-day we had to climb DOWN into a town. At this point, my toes had had enough! It was one of the most painful descents of our entire Camino. I did find this interesting doll on the porch of one of the houses on our way down, though. Turns out it has its own Instagram and they change the clothes and theme periodically…

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I always love the way some locals just get all in when it comes to the Camino. Whether it’s little things like the Meryitsme_ doll, or big elaborate yard decorations. Love!

Once we climbed down into the little town, we found a place to have lunch. The food on the Camino–always simple and fortifying–is ALWAYS just so GOOD! It probably has something to do with the level of exhaustion you’re feeling, with your absolute need to have calories! At any rate, even your run of the mill everyday sandwich tastes like manna from heaven! Especially when paired with a cold beer!

Simple but delectable!

After lunch, we left the little town and found ourselves back in nature. And back to yet another makeshift Camino altar…

Spontaneous ‘altars’ like this one pop up all along the Camino. Little places where pilgrims leave offerings to lost loved ones…

Just prior to reaching our day’s end goal of Ponte Sampaio, we reached a rather iconic Instagram famous landmark. The two shoes!

Follow the YELLOW shoe to Santiago de Compostela…

After crossing a short bridge (a bit of a theme on the Portugues Caminho, as we came to realize), we were in Ponte Sampaio…and just a few hundred feet from our albergue. A few almost impossible hundred feet. The last km is always the worst, I swear!

But we soon discovered we had scored again in the accommodation department. Our lodgings for the night were just shy of perfect! And complete with laundry facilities and a church outside our bathroom window!

The restuarant a couple of doors down was affiliated with the albergue and offered some great fare! We were just happy we wouldn’t have to walk too far to fuel up!

If you’re stopping in Ponte Sampaio, you won’t go wrong staying in El Hostel Albergue O MESÓN de Ponte Sampaio. The link is to their website, but we booked through Booking dot com.

That’s day seven over! 3 days to go…how fast the Caminos go! Day 8? Caldas de Reis or bust!

 

 

 

Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 6

Day 6! Baiona to Vigo!

Day 6 began with passing a church. Surprise. There are more churches in Spain than people…

It was one of those Big Sky days, where the clouds and the sun were both endless, fighting each other for power. My favourite kind of day.

A Big Sky kind of day!
Some nice vistas as we walked out of Baiona! So pretty.
There was a bit of nature on today’s walk, but mostly it was city walking. This path was a gorgeous momentary respite…

Quite a few churches this day. We were definitely in Spain…

We were getting farther away from the shoreline, but it was still within our sights…for now.

So many different terrains this day. We even walked beneath a rather major highway…

This actually felt like the easiest day yet. We had found our stride, I think.

We arrived in Vigo in no time! It was a fairly big city in comparison to some of the others we had passed through. It was lovely walking through the streets of Vigo, big Europe energy! And the food was great, too!

Vigo, where, aching feet aside, we may have finally found our groove!

 

Senda Litoral Route – Caminho Português – September 2022 – Day 5

Day 5! Caminha to Baiona!

Day five would begin in Portugal, but we wouldn’t be there for long! With a two minute walk to the boat-launch, we were so close to Spain, we could practically swim there! But we had help. We were able to secure our passage from Portugal to Spain with XACOBEO TRANSFER. A quick two minutes on their website the night before, and I was able to get our 3 tickets without issue. All we had to do was show up at the boat launch the next morning.

Prebook your passage with ease with Xacobeo Transfer…

We were able to take the first boat of the day! Didn’t even need to show our tickets, as the driver had a manifest of passengers printed out…
A quick boat-ride of maybe five minutes and we were there!

When we stepped off the boat, less than five minutes later, we were in a different country. AND a different timezone. Spain is one hour ahead of Portugal. Suddenly the five minute boat ride ate up an hour and five minutes of our time. But we were in Spain!

And the walking, at least for a little while, was easy. We walked alongside a highway, with a nice footpath that was gentle on our blistered feet.

And the coast was still just a hair’s breath away…always there.

We were closing in on the halfway point of our journey.

Although the skies grew threatening at times, it was a great day with no rain. And many different terrains to walk.

It was easier to appreciate the proximity of the shoreline, knowing full well it would soon be gone for good. Some gorgeous vistas on this day!

Breathtaking views of the ocean gave us a sort of regret, knowing we would soon be leaving it behind…

At this point, what we didn’t realize is that we would soon be climbing a bit of a mountain. Just like that, we were stepping back into some treacherous and exhausting terrain.

TFW you climb forever and suddenly find yourself directly opposite (and at the same height as) the mountain you were afraid you would have to climb.

Of course we had to climb a mountain before the end of our first day in Spain. And of course we had to climb back down it! One thing I remember from the Camino Frances is the amount of times we had to walk down into our final resting place town. The end of the day always seemed to end with steep downhill walks. This first day in Spain was no different.

Our apartment for the night was really nice, though…made it worth the struggle at the end of our day. We were in Baiona! And our lucky streak with Booking dot com was continuing!

What’s a first day in Spain without the delectable Padrón pepper!

The Padrón pepper is a must eat dish on the Camino de Santiago. One of my favourite Camino treats!

This was yet another super long day. We definitely had too many of them. Again, I suggest you spreading this walk out over more than our 10 days. You’ll thank me…

Day 6 would have us walking into VIGO, SPAIN. Barely started, and we were already aware of the closeness of the finish line! These 10 days were going by super fast!

See You in September…

I think we’ve established that I write about my September every year. For some reason, it seems to be my busiest and/or most exciting month. Thinking about this, I just realized how many songs there are about September. Like, A LOT of them! It’s even possible it’s the most sung about month of the year.

See you in September. Do you remember the 21st night of September? You were my September song, tell me where have you gone? Come September, everything wrong gonna be alright.  Oh, I watch myself depending on September when it comes. Ring out the bells again like we did when spring began, wake me up when September ends. It’s going to be September now, for many years to come, every heart adjusting to the strict September drum.

Perhaps, as Leonard Cohen sang, my heart is adjusted to the beat of September’s drum.

At any rate, here’s my annual September post! It’s a busy one this year!

⊗September 13th, I complete another trip around the sun. Hard to believe I will be turning 56 this time. I guess this puts me somewhere into the September of my life. The weather is still beautiful, but you begin to get the hints of the passing of the season. It’s the crispness in the morning, the tang of leaves realizing it is soon time for them to let go, the burning sun lighting up the sky with a special brightness even though its heat is not quite as severe as it once was. There are a million signs that appear in September, warning us that the calendar is slowing drawing its curtains on another year. Even the official end of summer lands in this month. Not to mention, it’s the first BER month.

Like the year on a calendar, we all wind down. I think 56 in human years is a good estimation of the September of one’s life. Right? Things are still good–still great–but you’re getting hints of the impending changes.

Even though it goes against everything that would make sense, September might in fact be my favourite month. SUMMER is my season. Hot, hot, hot…that’s my favourite temperature. And September comes in with the knowing and dreaded whisper, “Summer is dying. The halcyon days will soon be over.” September prepares me, against my wishes (and better judgement), for the coming ugliness of winter. And yet, it’s still the most magical of months.

⊗SEPTEMBER 7th. Let’s rewind a few days! The 7th is the beginning of this year’s magic! That’s the day we board a plane for Portugal. We fly into Lisbon and then take a second flight to Porto, where we will begin a truncated version of the Senda Litoral Route of the Caminho Português (Portuguese Camino, The Portuguese Way, Camino Portugués)! Due to time constraints, we cannot start at the customary beginning point in Lisbon. Here’s our itinerary, which begins on September 10th after a couple of days in Porto:

We will be travelling with John Brierley once again. I think a LOT of pilgrims travel with Brierley’s guides. It almost feels de rigueur at this point.
Porto – Vila Do Conde – 33.9km
Vila Do Conde – Esposende – 26.4km
Esposende – Viana do Castelo – 27.3km
Viana do Castelo – Caminha – 27.1km
Caminha – Baiona – 31.2km
Baiona – Vigo – 26.8km
Vigo – Ponte Samaio – 24.5km
Ponte Sampaio – Caldas de Reis – 33.3km
Caldas de Reis – A Picarana – 28.4km
A Picarana – Santiago de Compostela – 16km
Santiago de Compostela back to Porto by bus.

I’ll wake up in Viana do Castelo on my birthday, and make my way to Caminha. As we walk this leg of the Camino, something else will take place. The release of my 8th novel!

Book of Dreams drops on the 13th of September as we’re walking somewhere along the coast of Portugal having, hopefully, the time of our lives!

The Book.

We don’t come back to Canada until September 25th. The better part of my September this year will unfold in Europe, as we walk the Portuguese coast up into Spain and into the city of Santiago de Compostela. I’ll be arriving at the Cathedral for the 3rd time (previously, I arrived there from the Camino Frances in 2014 & 2019). From there, we will spend some time in Santiago before returning to Porto for a few days. Much is planned, from a Douro Valley Port wine tour, to gastronomical adventures in and around the city.

My September stops quietly back in Toronto, where I will be preparing for my October 1st BOOK OF DREAMS book signing event at the Oshawa Centre Chapters-Indigo bookstore(click this link to learn all about the details of the event)!

If you haven’t yet read the book I wrote after my first experience on the Camino de Santiago, you can read more about THE CAMINO CLUB here(it’s the first book on the Books page of this website).

2 books, 2 years apart!

Now we just have to wait for the calendar to flip over another page!

Come September, everything wrong gonna be alright.  Oh, I watch myself depending on September when it comes...

 

From Darkness and into the Light – Santiago de Compostela at the End of the Yellow Brick Road…

Day 12 – AKA We’re off to see the Wizard! This was the day we woke up in O Pedrouzo with our eye on Santiago de Compostela!

For the first 3 or more hours of the walk, we were in darkness. And it rained most of the time. It was, for me, an incredibly hard walk filled with anxious moments in black forests hoping we didn’t get too lost on the path.

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Just prior to daybreak, we hit the marker that announces the jurisdiction of Santiago! We were almost to the city of Santiago de Compostela and the darkness was about to brighten!

Soon after daybreak, we arrived at Monte de Gozo! The HILL OF JOY! This is the place where many pilgrims get their first glimpse of the spires in Santiago. It’s the ONE-HOUR mark, too. Soon, we would arrive!

ALL the familiar signs came into view, building on the excitement of our eventual arrival. Like the dancing star on the outskirts!

…and the Santiago de Compostela sign, which is so covered now with mementos you can just make it out…

SO close!!

Feelings of saudade! Longing, desire, sadness, joy, angst…everything wrapped up together. And excitement for Michael, who had not yet experienced his first arrival into the plaza in front of the cathedral!

THE FIRST GLIMPSES OF THE SPIRES…

That walk into the little archway just prior to walking out the other side into Praza de Obradoiro, the plaza in front of the CATHEDRAL. In the archway, the pipes…the pipes they play!

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Then, what the whole thing is for…the arrival at the Cathedral!

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And that, my friends, was OUR Camino de Santiago!

Keep your ears–and your hearts–open for the CALL. The Camino begins with a whisper. When it finds you, the whisper grows until the day you step off that plane and make your way to the path. When your feet touch down on the Camino de Santiago, your life begins…

You
Touch me
I hear the sound
Of mandolins
You
Kiss me
With your kiss
My life begins
You’re spring to me
All things
To me
Don’t you know you’re
Life itself

Three More! From Portomarin to O Pedrouzo!

I last left you in Portomarin and gave you a taste of Arzua after we discovered a great restaurant run by lovely people. But before Arzua, we had one previous stop. Palas de Rei!

As we CLIMBED out of Portomarin, after getting a shuttle car from our hostel back to the point in Portomarin we had walked to the afternoon before, we came to one of my most memorable Camino places. After leaving Portomarin, there’s a steady climb that eventually leads up an endless orange-sand hill. On my first Camino in 2014, I walked with 7 or 8 other pilgrims. We all picked up some picnic food at a supermercado prior to leaving Portomarin. Then we stopped and had a picnic at the top of that large orange hill. It was such a lovely experience…one I still cherish today.

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Connie and I at the picnic at the top of the world just outside Portomarin (May, 2014). Connie passed away not quite a year after our pilgrimage. Such a lovely person. I was so fortunate to walk with her and our wonderful group of pilgrims.

The rest of the journey to Palas de Rei was uneventful. There was an awful lot of hills this day, though. More than I remembered. It was also the first day we had a little rain. Just a little, though…nothing too unbearable.

Day 10 of walking took us from Palas de Rei to Arzua. My previous post here is about the place we found for dinner in Arzua. It was superb.

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We left Palas de Rei in the dark, but soon stopped for breakfast. Those breakfast stops may just be the ones I looked forward to the most. Zumo de naranja, cafe con leche and cruc de chocolate. Fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee with milk and a chocolate croissant! Mmmmmmmm!

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Such a great part of every morning on the Camino! The Breakfast Stop!

As the morning came into its own that day, it glowed beautiful. We soon found ourselves in Nirvana, quietly taking in its soul-healing rays…

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This was the day we broke the 50km mark, the day of Melide, and the day of walking through the vast and fragrant eucalyptus forests. It was a peaceful day filled with grace and awe. And I remember it as being much easier…or maybe we had just found a stride that day. (-:

Arzua at the end of the day was lovely. I was a little bitter, however, about the shower at our hostel. The showers in Spain were incredibly amazing. Until Arzua. The shower had no faucet, just a button you would push and the water would come out for about 30 seconds and shut off. Annoying. Like a pool shower from 1979. I was not impressed…but it was what it was. Every other shower on the Camino was spectacular.

Day 11 found us making our way to O Pedrouzo AND the very last albergue prior to arriving in Santiago!

Again, we left in the dark and again we found a lovely little cafe in which to enjoy our yummy Camino breakfast.

And we soon came across the beer bottle cafe too. I don’t recall it from my 2014 pilgrimage, but I’ve seen it all over Instagram lately…

We broke the 20km mark this day, and stayed at 23 on the 23rd! (-:

And then, just like that, we were only ONE DAY AWAY FROM SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA. The cathedral at the end of the yellow brick road. We would have one more albergue sleep in O Pedrouzo prior to waking up, dusting off and setting out on our final walk…

Food – Ultreia Café in Arzua is a MUST on the Camino de Santiago!

Ultreia was a surprise delight in Arzua on the Camino de Santiago! Don’t miss it!

We walked today from Palas de Rei to Arzua. A long exhausting uphill hike.

After showers, we walked back to the restaurants we passed on the way into town. The one we chose was absolutely incredible!

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As with many Pilgrim Meal combos, Ultreia had the 10€ offering where you get to choose a starter, a main, and a dessert… With a drink. I chose cod/pepper croquettes for my starter, meat lasagna for my main and mousse with blueberry coulis for dessert. Ultreia is fine dining. Every dish was impeccable and incredible! It’s obvious they take pride in their work. The whole combo menu looked appetizing. It was so difficult narrowing down our decisions. But I’m guessing every dish is a winner! And they gave us a bottle of wine to share between the two of us.

Michael had a mushroom ravioli dish for his starter and it was the best ravioli I’ve ever tasted. So good.

If you’re on the Camino de Santiago going through ARZUA… make sure to stop for food at ULTREIA CAFÉ! You won’t be sorry.

We did not stay at the albergue, but there is an albergue attached to the Café… It would be worth checking out! If the accomodations are half as amazing as the 10€ meal, they’ll be excellent. ❤

For those looking for more typical Galician dishes, they can also be found on the menu. (-:

Here’s their website:

http://www.albergueultreia.com

Buen Camino, peregrinos!!

The Next Three! Onward to Santiago de Compostela!

We last left you in Ponferrada! Here we go!

Walking Day 3 – Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo – It was a hard day but such a beautiful one. Vineyards everywhere (-: Lovely!

Walking Day 4 – Villafranca del Bierzo to Las Herrerias – Obviously another beautiful day. They all are. The last hour of every day is the hardest.

Day 5 Las Herrerias to Fonfria!

Fonfria, Fonfria, Fonfria! I love the albergue there! Second visit! This was the day of climbing mountains! To O Cebreiro and beyond to Fonfria. The hardest day, but the others prepared us well! Plus, WE MADE IT TO GALICIA!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Marker for GALICIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First 3 Days of the Camino de Santiago – We Are in Love with Spain!

Just pictures. We are on the Camino de Santiago, loving every minute! Began in Astorga this time. Mini Camino. (These next few days will be my September update…because we’re out here living!)

Astorga, before the walk!

Walking Day 1 – Astorga to Foncebadon

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Day 2 – Foncebadon to Ponferrada

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Cruz de Ferro!
Such an epic milestone on the Camino de Santiago! Cruz de Ferro…

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