We were ahead of schedule. Alarm at 6 a.m. Check. Throw on the clothes we laid out the night before, call the bellman to bring down the luggage. Check. He arrived at 6:30 a.m. and asked if we needed a taxi. Yes, please.
We checked out 6:40 a.m. and were in the cab with time to spare for the 8 a.m. train departing Madrid’s Chamartin station.
At 7:10 a.m. we hop out of the cab, open the hatch, and I gasp. “Donde esta nuestra equipaje?” [Where is our luggage?]
“What luggage?” he said in Spanish. “Soloa mano.” [Only by hand, referring to our large purses.]
I managed to explain in Spanish that we needed to return to the hotel for our luggage, and did he think we would still have time to return and catch the 8 a.m. train. This was not the context in which I wanted to practice my Spanish, but I was grateful for every Pimsler lesson I listened to at that moment.
We landed in Madrid Saturday night, dropped our luggage off at the hotel and started walking through City Centre. We were on a mission for tapas and sangria.
The San Miguel Market, located behind Plaza Mayor, was the perfect spot. Something for everyone, including Padron peppers, which Donna and I discovered in Galicia on our previous Camino via the Portuguese coastal route.
One full day is not enough
Sunday morning we wanted to cover as much of the city as possible, given we only had this one full day to do so. (We leave Monday, Sept. 9 for Burgos at 8 a.m. via train.)
In May of 2017, my friend Donna Halker and I walked about 180 miles of the Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal Route. We had planned on walking the Camino Francigena from Luca to Rome, Italy, in 2018, but my breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, chemo and reconstruction surgeries got in the way. As in no way.
CaminoWays.com was understanding and generous. They applied our deposit to a 2019 trip, which we decided would be the “real” Camino, aka The French Way. Except for the Pyrenees. We’re going to skip that part and start our 300-mile trek across Northern Spain in Burgos, aka the beginning of the Meseta. I know. A lot of people hate the Meseta for a boatload of reasons that include it’s hot, boring and flat. I’ve heard that some Pilgrims actually bike the section between Burgos and Leon.
Nope. Not Donna and I. Meseta means plateau in Spanish, and we think that’s a peachy way to kick off 22 days of walking. We’ll each be carrying a daypack that weighs about 10 pounds or so, or at least they did in “rehearsal.” Daypack is the operative word in the preceding sentence. Camino Ways has made arrangements to move a suitcase from lodging to lodging. They also have made room reservations for us each and every night.
You two are just too much!!! I love you both and will be waiting each day for some communication from you. Terri, I promise to to keep up my little life history while you are gone and I think you will be able to get them as you continue your current adventure.
I see that my last post was Day 7. Egad. A week has gone by? I’ve been posting on Facebook…snippets and photos that help me remember what happened when. Today is Day 14, Sunday, June 4.
Here comes the ramble.
Day 7 we walked into Baiona and wondered if we had made a mistake in designating our day off in the next city, Vigo. The blessing of Baiona was that the hotel had a jacuzzi, and gluten-free muffins in the morning.
Vigo is a huge city. Reminded us of Paris, New York, but on the sea. We hiked and climbed (yes, on our day off) to the top of a park that gave us an amazing view of the islands off Vigo (and visible from Baiona) and up the river that empties into the bay.
Leaving Vigo, Day 10, we were also leaving the Coastal Route. We were headed to Redondella, inland, where intersect the main Portuguese Route to Santiago (Central route).
Wifi is fading, and photo loading is frustrating, so I will have to say adios for now.
Tomorrow morning, Monday, June 5, we will walk a short 12K into Santiago. There is anticipated joy, and a sadness at the same time. Each day has had its physical and mental challenges. Yet the simplicity of waking each morning know that the only thing on your To Do list is to walk–well, there is peace in that alone.
When we booked our Camino we had the option of splitting up a long day into two segments. Day 6 and 7 were such days. Instead of walking from Aguarda to Baiona, we stopped in Oia. This means that our Day 7 to Baiona was a reasonable 13 miles instead of a very long 20+ mile day the day before.
Thank goodness we did. We followed the coast for some time, but then it was mountain crossing again, and I would have not liked to be doing those crossings at the end of a day instead of in the middle of one.
As we left the coast to cross a major highway, up into the hills, we noticed a lone young man hanging out by the crosswalk. He said Hello and then walked the rest of the way into Baiona with us.
His name is Ho, from China, and he was finishing his Master’s degree in Management at a University in Lisbon. He decided to come up to Porto and spend a week on the Camino before returning to China.
His English was excellent, and we had wonderful conversations about the U.S. and his world in China.
My favorite moment: As Donna and I were resting a bit before a steep climb, we took swigs of water from our respective Camelback water bladders inside our backpacks.
“Is that oxygen you’re taking!?” Ho asked, obviously worried.
We laughed and told him it was water. He must have thought we were little old ladies.
We arrived in Baiona before the pouring rain and said our farewells to Ho. He wanted to walk an hour more. We were too embarrassed to tell him that our hotel (not hostel) was off the route and waiting for us.
Here are some pix.
Thank you for your patience. I write this on Day 10, but will catch up when I can. I am already excited about writing more when I get home and can share more thoughts and insights.
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.
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. (more…)
One response to “Day 6: Easy Peasey 17K Camino de Santiago Portuguese Coastal Route”
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.
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. (more…)
One response to “Day 4 Camino Portuguese Coastal Route: Rain, Rain and Still a Great Day”
You go girls! Certainly glad you took he “spamino” version (although it’s not sounding all that “spa-ish”, now that I think about it!) Congrats on tackling what sounds like quite the adventure (and you haven’t scared us away yet from trying it some day-great recounts!). Can’t wait to hear ALL about it “in person” upon your return…xox Marde
P.S. I think you both represent the HEIGHT of fashion…great pics!
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
One response to “Can we really call this a Camino?”
Wow, Terri such a wonderful voyage. Can’t wait to receive your updates. Please leave a scallop for my family and me along the way. Such a grand way to celebrate your 64th! Happy, happy birthday dear one. Xoxo Janet