Path Less Travelled

Experiencing the Portugal Camino


August 2015

And Then We Rested

When we rolled into Tui we were exhausted. As we discussed our progress and plan for the next day, we realized just how tired, sore, and worn out we were. I wanted to visit the Cathedral de Santa Maria. 


It was magnificent!

There is a chapel dedicated to Saint James and a statue of the first black Saint. Saint Ypiigenia (Iphigenia)

While I was in the cathedral, the priest asked me, “What are you?” I was a bit confused. I wasn’t sure if he was asking what my religious practices were or my nationality. It turned out to be my nationality. There was a younger Priest training under him who needed to practice his English. Rachel and I chatted with them for a few minutes and proceeded with the rest of our day. 

We explored the rest of the “old” city and strolled by the river. It was a very relaxing day.

We head out bright and early tomorrow. Next stop, Porrino.


The Long and Winding Road

  As we headed down the mountain and into Rubiaes, we started hearing music. At first it sounded like the Vienna Boys Choir. It only added to the beauty of the Forest. As we got closer to town it sounded more like a Polka. It eventually turned into the Macarena. Fortunately, that was after we had found a place to rest and get something cool to drink. We made our way to the Albergue we were staying that evening and went to dinner with some of our fellow pilgrims.   

 While we enjoyed ourselves throughly, it did make for a late night. This, in turn, made for a late start. But we were well fed and rested. 

The walk out of Rubias was beautiful.  


We passed waterfalls.

Walked on the roads the Romans built.


Found a house to buy

And did our best to find a place to rest, refuel, and cool down. Just when we were getting to the point of exhaustion, we came to Quinta Estrada, an Albergue run by two former pilgrims. It was a life saver!

After about an hour, we headed out. Making our way down country roads 

and city streets 

With Rachel carrying Helga and Richard on her back. (No wonder we were tired! : ) 

We eventually made it to Valenca and into the fortress Fortaleza.


 Where we made our way to the dungeon, making sure to have a little fun along the way.  


We entered the dungeon


And successful emerged on the other side. 


The dungeon offered relief from heat and a spectacular view once we emerged.  


While the fortress was interesting, we knew our day’s journey was not complete. We still had to make it into Spain. By this time the heat had, once again, overtaken us. So we said goodbye to Portugal and hello to Spain.  


We made our way to the 1st of 2 Paradores we want to stay at, checked into our room, admired the view 


and collapsed in exhaustion. 

The day was good, but long. 

72.2 miles down with only 78 more to go!

She’ll be Comin down the Mountain

 Today’s trek included a 405 meter (1,328.4 foot) climb.  

 The climb was arduous, but beautiful. 

One of the things I like the best about the Camino is the comradery. Pilgrims tend to run into each other over and over again. This familiarity combined with a shared experience, builds a special kind of bond. We watch out for each other. A 1,300 plus climb is not easy. As is the pattern of the walk, someone would pass us, then later we would catch-up and pass them (usually when they had stopped to rest; we’re the tortoises on the trail) Each time one of us passes the other there is a brief exchange to check-up on how things are going. Four other pilgrims actually waited a bit longer at the top of the mountain to ensure Rachel and I made it to the top. (We had stopped about a 1/4 of a mile from the top to rest and refuel.) We all ended up staying at the same Albergue and having dinner together. 

By the way, the view from the top of the mountain was magnificent. 

 But I must say the moments that will stay with me are the ones we have shared with the individuals we have met. 

61 miles down down 89 more to go. We’ll be leaving Portugal and entering Spain tomorrow!

Sometimes You Get What You Need

Walking, even with someone else, give you time to reflect. As I looked back on the events from the last few days, I thought of the following Rolling Stones’ lyrics “You can’t always get what you want, But if try sometimes, you get what you need.” The yellow and blue arrows that point the way on the Caminos are a purfect example of that.  
 Whenever two or more paths merge, these arrow point the way. They aren’t always easy to see; some are hidden in plane sight, but they are there. It might not be what you want, like pointing you in the direction of a steep hill, but it does tell you what it is you need to know.  

 As I walk the Portugese Camino, I have been given gifts that I have needed over and over again. A perfect example is today’s journey. If you read the entry titled, “Lost in Translation” you know Rachel and I got lost and were generously rescued by the proprietor of, for lack of a better discription, the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at last night. His staff also did our laundry at no extra cost. While we absolutely needed and appreciated it, the draw back was that we were unable to head out at 6 am the way we like because we had not gotten our clothes back. This meant we had to stay until atleast 8, at which point we knew we would be hungry. In the end, we had much needed prep and rest time and were able to begin our trek fully hydrated, well fed, and with an energy level we would not have otherwise had. 

It also meant that we missed the early morning rain. Unfortunately, we did have both humidity and a 170/180 meter climb. Luckily, the climb was gradual with a lot of areas that flattened out giving us time to recoup before the next climb. It also gave us time to really enjoy the scenery.  


50 miles down and 100 to go.

 Lost in Translation

Do to what we referred to as a rain delay, we bid goodbye to Pedra Furada about an hour later then we had planned.  

 It was pouring when we woke up and we wanted to wait in the hopes that it would clear up. That didn’t happen so we put on our rain gear and headed out. 

Our pace was extremely slow due to the fact that the cobblestones were quite slippery. Still, that didn’t stop us from enjoying the views.   

We spent atleast an hour trying to get American currency exchanged for Euros. The bank told us we needed to go a Travel Agent, the travel agent told us we needed to go to a bank, there was a tourist center involved who told us to go to a specific bank, who told us to go to a travel agent, and repeat. It was quite humorous in retrospect. In the end we decided it wasn’t going to happen and continued our journey. 

Four hours later, we literally came to a fork in the road and could not figure out which way we should go. After attempting to get directions from several different individuals, we called the proprietor of the establishment we were staying at to get directions. In the end, he came and picked us up. We were feeling a bit let down until we ran into a few other individuals who got lost and were picked up as well. All-in-all it was a relatively good day. 

36 miles down and 114 to go.

Over the River and Through the Woods

While we weren’t headed to Grandma’s, we were going to Pedra Ferada’s. My grandmother would have loved him (Antonio, the proprietor). He welcomes Pilgrim from all over the world with open arms. No sooner had we walked in the door then we found ourselves in the middle of a group picture. With 8 other individual (2 Sweden  1 Austria 2 Germany and 3 others who were from – Oh, don’t remember.)  it was a great way to end our walk for the day. 

We definitely saw it all today. 

As we looked back over the square toward the hostel we stayed at the night before, we wondered what the day would bring. 

   Little did we know we would be scared to death on a couple of the roads. We knew there would be some busy roads, but we weren’t prepared for what we encountered. Some of the roads were so narrow that we hardly had room to walk.  

 It kept us alert and made us greatful for the cobble stone roads we were complaining about only 10 minutes before.     But, as the title notes, there was a lot more to our journey then scary narrow roads, we walked over a river  

 and along forest roads where we met Oswald who is from Austria.  

 We walked together for a couple miles, sharing stories and telling each other about our lives. We also ran into Josie.  The four of us are staying at Pedra Ferada’s Albergue tonight. I’m looking forward to spending more time with them. 

That being said, the highlight of my day was visiting the Megalithic Mounds that are in a forested area next to one of the highways we walked on.  

The Anthropologist in both Rachel and I came out. We knew this because we both felt it was worth backtracking to see. 

Tomorrow we head to Quintiaes. 26 miles down with only 124 to go.

The Road to Villa do Conde

We caught the sunrise as we crossed the bridge that took us out of town.  


We passed the old fort and made our way to the beach 

 The weather was perfect, even during the hottest part of the day, the ocean breeze kept us cool.  

 We saw an old church on the bluffs. 

 I learned to say good morning (bom dia) and we ran into a number of very nice people who wished well (Bom Caminho). One gentleman I passed, insisted that I take the ad he was carrying. It’s tradition for individuals to help pilgrims by providing them with items that will help sustain them on their journey. I’m not quite sure how the furniture ad will assist me, but I didn’t feel right turning it down. Another gentleman invited us into his automotive repair shop to refill our bottles with some cold water. We also met a few other pilgrims. Josie was carrying her grandchildren with her. Their pictures were attached to the back of her backpack. She said they helped make her load lighter. Then there was Beatrice. We met her when we stopped for lunch and ended up with ice cream. While she wasn’t walking the Camino, she had done it in the past a few times and plans on doing it again. She was a joy to talk to and we are now carrying a message from her to the owner of the Albuergue we’ll be staying at tomorrow night. Our first Albuergue! A popular one in Pedra Furada. Tonight it’s dinner in the square behind the hostel.  

 All-in-all, it was a great first day! 13 miles down and 137 to go.

Feet on the ground

As you can imagine, after 20 plus hours of non-stop airports and airplanes, we were thrilled to see Porto. The view from the air was amazing. I was not expecting the amount of open space I saw. Farms and green lands interspersed with city.  

Approaching Porto

 Descending into Porto

We decided to spend the night about 15 km outside of Porto, in a city called Matasinhos, in order to avoid walking out of the city during the morning rush hour.  After checking into the hotel, we decided to explore a bit.  This is what we saw.

 This street is reserved for walking and the metro

We are less then a block away from the bridge that will lead us out of town and to the alternate beach route that will take us past a prehistoric archeological site. We’re not sure what to expect, but the Archeologist in me (that was my undergraduate major) is looking forward to it.

Head in the clouds

It’s 6am Cali time as I write this. We’re scheduled to land in Porto in about an hour and 20 min. which means I’ve been up for 22 hours and traveling for 18. While I love being up in the clouds, I think I’m ready to land.   

Blog at

Up ↑