Day 6: Easy Peasey 17K Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal Route

From a converted convent in Aguarda, Spain we walked along the coast for most of the day–cutting a long segment of 31 kilometers in half. Yes, it rained, but after what we are now calling Hell Day of 92 degrees, we welcome the rain and clouds over extreme heat and heights.

From our “balcony” at the convent hotel, we aired our shoes and socks. The scallop shell on my pack is the symbol that we are “peregrines” (pilgrims) on the way to Santiago. The silver chain you see was hand made by Donna as our version of a rosary to remind us to pray for friends and family along the way.

The coastal route is special because we get to be on rugged coastline, quaint hillside villages (cobblestones, ugh), and forest, usually in one day.  We do have to spend time along the roads now and then–our least favorite environment. Loud, a bit more nerve racking and despite the smooth walking surface, it definitely changes the mood. Continue reading “Day 6: Easy Peasey 17K Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal Route”

Day 4 Camino Portuguese Coastal Route: Rain, Rain and Still a Great Day

We started Day 4 right on the coast in Viana de Costello, Portugal. Unlike the other mornings, our lodging was right on the Camino. That means you don’t spend X amount of time or–more importantly–mucho kilometers getting to the day’s starting point. Our walking notes start with 0 (zero) K, which today meant, right out the front door.

Within 20 minutes we were giddy. THUNDER. Then lightening. We’d been carrying our rain gear the last 3 days, and when we could see and hear the splats of the raindrops, we huddled next to a high stone wall and under some vines to don our rain gear.

Sooo much better than yesterday’s 92 degree steep accents and decent…on cobblestones.

In our matching Olivia Pope rain gear we, too, can laugh at the rain.

We hiked through neighborhoods cut into the mountain, narrow paths framed by high stone walls covered in moss, and dense wet forest. Because the cobblestones engage muscles I never knew I had, I found immense joy when even the shortest section of the path involved a semi-consistent surface. Like asphalt. Continue reading “Day 4 Camino Portuguese Coastal Route: Rain, Rain and Still a Great Day”

Yes, it is a Camino! Days 1-3 Summary in Pictures

After three days of walking the Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal Route (32, 28 and 28K) I must default to letting pictures be worth more words than I have the energy to write. (Donna’s FitBit records flights of stairs and today we climbed 92 flights.)

It. Is. Hard.

It. Is. Demanding.

It. Is. Beautiful.

Our walking notes for today used the word “steep” way too many times. I thought  I had mentally prepared, and, in fact, Donna and I both enjoyed the trek over two mountains, through villages, in forests, along a gorge and roaring river. Continue reading “Yes, it is a Camino! Days 1-3 Summary in Pictures”

Can we really call this a Camino?

I first heard about the Camino de Santiago de Compostela from my friend Mark LeBlanc. He took about 30 days to walk the 500-mile trek across northern Spain in 2008, and I helped him write a book about the experience, ​Never Be the Same. My daughter Kelsey read the book, and in 2014, she walked the same 500-mile path known as The French Way in about a month. Mark walked it a second time that same year, missing Kelsey on the steps of the St. James Cathedral only by a few weeks.

On May 21, 2017, I will be walking the Camino with my friend Donna Halker. We’re taking the Portuguese coastal route, starting in Porto, Portugal ending in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, about 200 miles. We will miss seeing Mark complete his third Camino by two days. (He flies out June 3. We arrive June 5.) My husband and his friend Don McMillin will meet Donna and I on the steps, after having explored other parts of Spain on a Tauck guided tour. The next day all four of us fly to Budapest for a Tauck river cruise down the Danube, returning to the U.S. via Prague on June 19. Continue reading “Can we really call this a Camino?”