This is pilgrim life. Right now, this feels like the best meal I’ve ever eaten. I didn’t even heat it up.
This is what you might see in an albergue after a 22 mile day. Not wanting to move but still you walk a mile more round trip for a cold thing of spaghetti that makes you so very happy.
Today we left the municipal albergue in Tui around 6:40am. Because we are now in Spain, we are an hour ahead of Portugal and that means it was nearly still dark as we left town. This meant we started bout last epically long day with a nice sunrise.
To be honest, that sunrise feels like two days ago now. I also can’t remember half of what I saw today…so I’m glad I took plenty of pictures. On the Camino, days just fuzz together sometimes. You get into a zone of get up, start walking, take breaks, complain about the pain, find an albergue, shower, find dinner and sleep. Rinse and repeat.
Today as it was starting to feel like we weren’t going to find one albergue to all stay together in, we finally found a parroquial albergue where we were greeted by a very sweet nun. She had beds, showers, laundry and WiFi for us. Everything a pilgrim could want. The only downside is our room is up two flights of stairs. Just what we needed after such a long day.
The scenery today was mostly beautiful. We opted for the longer scenic route which took us through a nice forest with streams and old Roman paths and bridges. We climbed a hill and and came down to an amazing viewpoint looking down on Redondela.
Our feet are too tired to do much exploring around Redondela this evening so cold beers and dinner will likely be it tonight. Earlier in the day we had grand ideas of going to the beach nearby and swimming. But at the end of the day Justine made the comment “Normally I love my crocs but today they feel like a feet prison.” If I had crocs, that’s how I’d feel.
Since I’m too tired to remember much of the day and I’m sitting and having a pint with John from Ireland, I’ll leave you with some photos…
My body feels like it could have kept walking after the 18 miles we walked today. My mind was done though. The midnight fireworks show with festival music and a hot hostel room last night didn’t provide a good night’s sleep. Between the one hour of sleep I got the night before we left Porto and the maybe 5 hours I got last night, my brain and my body are tired.
We left Vila do Conde around 7am in the mist, which was the perfect weather to walk in. The first third of today was pretty lackluster scenery wise. John asked me if we would ever get to some “Camino trails.” I knew what he meant by that. Yesterday we walked the coastal route which doesn’t have the Camino infrastructure or amount of pilgrims that you’re used to on the French Way. It’s a beautiful route but it doesn’t feel like you’re walking the Camino. The first third of today wasn’t that pretty and also didn’t have the feel of the Camino. It was just walking with the purpose to meet up with the central route. The moment we got to the central route it was the Camino that John and I are used to. This made me happy inside knowing that I’ve finally reached that familiar Way.
It’s the path that leads you past churches, through the cute villages, cafes that don’t seem like they charge you enough for your beer, soda, coffee or food, endless yellow arrows or shell symbols to signify the way. It was so great to be back in a place that fills my heart – between walking in beautiful countryside and saying Bom Caminho to other pilgrims.
Justine got to learn the reality of “the Camino provides” today. Her blisters from yesterday were killing her and her shoes weren’t helping them. She looked like she could barely go on. Our new friend Nina asked if she wanted to borrow her Crocs. This kind gesture was a life saver for her. Even though she was tired, the Crocs helped ease the pain of the blisters so she could go on. Since we’ve arrived in Barcelinhos, Laurel helped her acquire her own pair of Crocs. The Camino will provide what you need. You may not always know when or how, but it will.
57,000 steps and 24.3 miles after leaving Porto I’m finding myself sitting at a cafe with Laurel and Craig drinking a refreshing Super Bock and waiting for the rest of our Camino family to head to dinner. Today was a the longest day of walking I’ve ever done. I’ve run a marathon before but never walked that many miles. My longest training day before this was 14 miles. Honestly even though I’m tired and my feet are sore, I feel good for putting in a 24 mile day.
It was foggy as we left Porto this morning, so much so that we couldn’t see the other side of the river as we left town. It was foggy through half the walk today so the views were limited. In the afternoon the fog lifted and we had some great views of the ocean. We passed beach after beach and several beach villages.
During our walk we met three other pilgrims all from Germany, but each walking alone. By lunch they had all joined us. Two of them were headed to our same village today and ended up booking our same hostel.
As we arrived in Vila do Conde the locals had arranged a parade for us. Well, I guess they may have had their parade with or without us, but it was nice to arrive into town with a marching band playing for us.
Tomorrow is another long day so we will be headed to bed early. First up is looking for dinner.
Normally I’d want to explore a town more but I think after today’s distance I’ll stick close to our hostel.
It’s late and I have to get up early tomorrow to walk day one of the Camino. I have fallen in love with Porto over the past two days. Fitbit tells me I’ve put in two full Camino days of steps while exploring this beautiful city. It’s rich with so much culture, amazing sites and sounds, great food and wine and filled with some of the nicest people you’ll meet.
I’ll keep this short for now but check back as I hopefully add more later. Tomorrow we get up at 6am and start walking our 21 miles to Vila do Conde. We get one last chance to see this beautiful city as we walk to the cathedral to start our pilgrimage.
Today has been a long day. And it’s still going. Our plane was a bit late leaving Seattle and finally took off at 8:30pm. We arrived at Heathrow where we met Justine and Maurice. I can imagine it’s not the easiest for a 16 year old to walk up to someone who is nearly a random stranger in an airport and hang out with them for 5 hours before her cousin shows up. But Justine rolls with the punches and it seemed like her and Maurice were already getting along.
The moms as I’m referring to them (mine and Justine’s) insisted on photo proof that we all successfully met up. So there it is.
We knew our flight on TAP airlines from London to Lisbon has a reputation of being late so we knew there was a possibility that we wouldn’t make our train connection. Well that happened. So we are now sitting on one of the last trains to Porto tonight that feels like it’s moving at a glacial pace.
The silver lining of us missing our intended train was that we got to spend more time chatting with my friend Bruno. He’s been so incredibly helpful in the planning of our journey and was kind enough to give us a ride to the train station today and help us get our new train tickets sorted out. We do wish he was joining us on our walk. Another time.
We’ll be getting into Porto around 1am and meeting up with Laurel and Craig at our apartment. After catching up on sleep some of us plan to head to the cathedral in Porto to get our credentials stamped and meet up with our friend John. Tomorrow is a day to explore Porto and late in the afternoon I’ll be hosting a geocaching event. I’m hoping to see some friends from the geocaching world that I haven’t seen in a while. Really looking forward to seeing what Porto has in store for us!
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often though, they hurt.” – Anthony Bourdain
Today is the day. Today I will go to work, probably be stressing all day about my flight later this evening but will do so with a big smile on the inside knowing that I am headed back to the Camino. Months of preparation, saving money, travel planning and training have brought me to this point. I am ready to start walking. As with my last Camino, I’m a bit nervous but even more I’m excited about the adventure that awaits me and my fellow pilgrims.