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Path Less Travelled

Experiencing the Portugal Camino

Month

September 2015

There’s No Place Like Home

If you read my last blog, you know yesterday was a travel day. That meant getting up at 4 am. The cab our landlord set us up with was there exactly at 4:30 and we were to the airport by 5 am. It was a day of hurry-up and wait. Once we got in to the airport, we stood in line for 45 min. to check the bag that carried our walking sticks. By the time we got through the the check-in line and made it through security, our plane was boarding and we walked right on. We got into Frankfurt 15 min. early. This gave us a bit more time to wait. I had a 4-hour layover and an 11-hour flight home. 

I was asked to switch seats with a man so he could sit by his wife. What they didn’t tell me was that he was sitting in the baby isle. 9 adults  counting me and 3, under 1 and 1/2. Luckily for the crew, I was in my element. Unfortunately for the parents, my being there might have made it a bit difficult for the kids to go to sleep. (Not one of those baby’s slept the entire 11 hours.) 

When I got to LAX, a saw a driver holding up a card with my name on it. My sweetie had arranged for a town car to pick me up. It was wonderful!

While I enjoyed the ride home, the best part was walking through my front door and into my sweeties arms. It’s his constant love and support that gives me the courage to pursue my dreams.

  

(This particular pic is from our trip to Alaska a few years ago.)

While this latest adventure has come to an end, I’m sure there will be more. Thank you all for coming on this adventure with me. It wouldn’t have been the same without the love and support you all provided.
I am truly blessed to have each and everyone of you in my life. Thank you!

Me

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E-Ticket Ride

Our final day in Porto was spent with good friends, tasting port and on an E-Ticket ride with Ricardo.

   

Ricardo drives a 3-wheeled cab (for lack of a better word). I’ve never had so many individuals staring at me. I couldn’t tell if it was because they thought we were crazy for getting into the vehicle or because we were having so much fun. As we went up the various hills, Ricardo would tells us to help him get up the hill by sticking our hand out what would have been a window and paddling the air, which Rachel and I were only too happy to do. 

When we weren’t helping Ricardo transport us up the hills, we were learning how Port wine was made and which ones we preferred.

   
 
We both really liked the white;as for the others, I preferred the tawneys while Rachel was partial to the Reds.

After we were done learning about port, we met Klamon and Semone for a bit of coffee and shopping.

  
The final goodbye was hard. We will definitely miss their company. Still, it was wonderful spending time with them on our final day.

It’s been a wonderful trip. One that will continue to impact my life for years to come. Still, I’m looking forward to going home. It’s time; I’ve been away from my sweetie for too long.

Tourist Mode

Today I was in tourist mode and it was so nice. I walked all day, but the pace was different. While the pilgrimage wasn’t so much about the destination, the mindset was different. As a pilgrim, it was about experiencing the walk. But, as a tourist, the walk is secondary; it’s much more about the sights.

  
Porto is a beautiful city! 

There are so many sights to behold. We started our day by visiting, the Palacio de Cristal. It host music and sports events , but it’s the grounds that truly inspire.

   

    
 
But my favorite, thing about the crystal palace was the Merry-Go-Round.

   
 
Of course a visit to the port was a must! However, Porto is much more then just the Port. In addition to visiting the port, we toured an old monastery and took a harbor sight-seeing cruise.

   
    
 
After viewing the many sights Porto has to offer, we headed back to the apartment to relax.

It was a very good day!

Cab Driver to the Rescue!

As I write this, I’m sitting in the 1-bedroom apartment Rachel and I have rented for the last few days we are in Porto.

  
  
While we had planned a relatively lazy travel day, it definitely didn’t start out that way! However, thank’s to a knight in shining armor disguised as a cab driver, we eventually were able to relax.

We were up at 5:00 so we could catch the 6:19 train to Porto. The hotel we were at was supposed to have made arrangements for a cab to pick us up, they hadn’t. Luckily, we discovered this in enough time to ensure we made it to the train station on time. However, once we were at the station we discovered we had left some of our documents at the hotel! Fortunately, our cab driver was still outside. In our rush to get back to the hotel and return in time to catch the train, we ran into a few problems: First, the toll rail when leaving the train station wouldn’t work. The cab driver had me get out of the car to raise the rail. I had difficulty, so Rachel got out and helped. The driver went around the barrier and Rachel and I got back in the cab. He drove us to the hotel in record time. Unfortunately, the hotel door was locked and the desk clerk couldn’t hear Rachel knock. The cab driver came to the rescue once again. He got out of the cab and pounded on the door with Rachel. The desk clerk, brought the documents to us and we headed back to the train station. Unfortunately, the entrance was blocked due to the farmers protest. Our cabbie, got permission from the police to enter anyway. He dropped us off at a side entrance that allowed us to bypass the main entrance and get to our train just before the doors closed. It was quite a morning!

Fortunately, the train ride was relaxing, except for a small bit of confusion when we showed up at the apartment we rented. (We got a 1-bedroom apartment for $59 a night; Booking.com ROCKS!)
The rest of the day was very relaxing. 

It’s definitely been a good day!

It’s All about the Ritual, or Not

The goal today was to participate in the pilgrim rituals. This meant attending the various pilgrim stations, i.e. Standing over the tree of Jessie, touching our brow to that of maestro Mateo, view the crypt of St. James, and participate in the Pilgrim’s mass. The thing was, the area most of these things are housed in is under renovation so we weren’t able to follow the rituals. We did attend the English Mass and walked around the the church. I found the dichotomy of the message of the service which spoke to the lack of material possessions and comfort and the material abundance of the cathedral interesting. 

   
    
 

This is not to say I did not appreciate both because I did. I was truly spiritually moved by the mass and there was no denying the grandure of the cathedral. I just found the contradiction in the messages they each sent interesting. 

After mass, Rachel, Mandy and I met Klemon an Semone in the small square. After visiting for a while, Klemone, Semone, Rhcel and I walked to the train station so Rachel and I could by our tickets for the train that will take us back to Porto tomorrow.

On our way to the train station, we came across a protest. The farmers are protesting the the falling milk prices. To show their discontent, they drove their tractors into Santiago and simply left them in the street.

  It was definately a sight to behold.

After we purchased our train tickets, Klemon, Semone, Rachel and I enjoyed a picnic in the park overlooking the cathedral.

   
 

We fished our day at a small cafe where we drank Sangria, entertained ( or annoyed)the individuals sitting next to us by singing, and enjoyed each other’s company until the sun started to set.

  
It was a great way to spend our last day in Santiago.

Santiago Here we come

We wanted to be sure to get into Santiago for the Pilgrims’ Mass which starts at noon, so, once again, we left before the sun was up.  Luckily it wasn’t completely dark when we left at 7 am, still, we opted to use the headlamps to be on the safe side. 

We were fortunate enough to catch the sunrise just as we were coming over the crest of a hill.

  
It was really magical. 

About two hours into our trek we stopped for coffee. As we checked our bearings, we found we were just under 1/2 way there. 

 This made us quite happy!

Approximately, 15 minutes later, we caught our first glimps of Santiago.

   
We headed down the mountain and over the bridge into Santiago.

Due to some construction that was going no, we were forced to take the older route that took us through the city as opposed to a newer route. As we made our way up to the Cathedral, someone called Rachel’s name. It was Ania!

  
We hadn’t seen Ania since we climbing the mountain between Point de Lima and Runiaes. It was so good to see her! We spent about 5 to 8 minutes standing in the middle of the street catching up. She and Josie had reconnected after they had entered Santiago. Josie decided to go to Finisterre (the end of the world). 

After catching up and exchanging email addresses, we continued on our way up to the cathedral. By this time, we had lost all track of the markers. Fortunately, we ended up in a park that Rachel was familiar with. 

  
Not only was it beautiful, it was was next to the entrance to the old city where the cathedral is.  We arrived in the square outside the cathedral just after 11:30. There were street performers and various vendors in. Square outside the church.

  
Not exactly what I was expecting, but then, that’s the way life is.

We attended the Pigrims Mass at noon,

  

and then made our way to the Pigrim Office to receive our Compestella where we ran into Klemon and Sabine! We got a number of people in the crowd to cheer for them when they came out with their Compestella’s. 

  

After entertaining the other Pilgrims who where standing in line with us, by singing “King of the Road”, “Y M C Albergue”, and “Goodbye”, Rachel and I finally made it to the front of the line and received our Compestella! 

150 miles down and 0 to go! Woo Hoo!!!!!

Me and Bruce

Knowing we only had a half days walk ahead of us, we opted to sleep in and have breakfast at the hotel rather then on the road. While we knew this meant that we would be walking during the hottest part of the day, we thought the trade off would be worth it. In hindsight, I believe it was. You see, if we had started earlier, I would not have met Bruce.

  
Bruce is the biggest and friendliest Bull dog I’ve ever seen. As you might guess, we hit it off immediately. While I couldn’t understand what his owner was saying as Bruce jumped up on me, I could tell he was doing his best to get Bruce to behave. However, anyone who knows me understands that I have a way (without really meaning to) of encouraging kids and dogs to misbehave. It soon became clear to Bruce’s owner that not only didn’t I mind Bruce’s behavior, but that I was actually encouraging it a bit. 

  
After playing with Bruce for a bit, we continued on our way. 

We made it to our destination about 3:30.  Tomorrow we take Santiago!

142 miles down with 8 to go!

Two Days to Santiago

It’s hard to believe but we’ll be in Santiago in two days.! Today’s trek took us to Padron. We walked through forests and various hamlets.

   

 

One of the interesting things about the Camino, is the various ways people pay homage to pilgrims. We passed this sculpture in one of the hamlets we went through.

  

As is common on the Camino, we met a new friend (Gabriel) just outside of Padron. He’s from the Canery Islands and is walking the Camino with his two best friends. We have crossed paths with Gabrial for the last two days. However, today was the first day that we actually walked together for a short period of time.

  

When Gabrial heard we were from California, he started singing “California Dreaming”! As we walked together, we learned quite alot about Gabrial. He a from the Canary Islands and travels to the U.S. for business. In fact, he will be in Santa Barbara in a few months. It’s a reminder of how small the world is. 

We ended the day, in the company of Klaus and Semone. We shared a dinner of Octipi, Peppers, and and an Omlete. As we were leaving the restaurant we ran into Paloma and Elaina. They are headed into Santiago, tomorrow. (That’s a 15 mile walk from where we are. While I think Rachel and I could do it, we’d be exhausted and we’d missed the Pilgrims’ Mass so we opted to break this part of the trek up into two days.) Anyway, we said goodbye to Paloma and Elaina, exchanged emails, wished them a Bien Camino, and headed back to the hotel for a goods nights rest. 

It was a good end to a good day.

135 miles down and 15 to go!

What a Difference a Day Makes!

It’s amazing what a good nights sleep will do. Both Rachel and I woke up feeling refreshed. Better yet, our feet felt better then they had for a while. We packed-up and headed out just as the sun was rising.

 
Because we left before breakfast was served, the hotel packed us a picnic breakfast. With my backpack on and our breakfast swinging from my pack, the song “King of the Road” popped into my head. So, of course, we stared singing it as we walked out of town.

9 km (about 5 1/2 miles) into our day’s journey, we stopped for coffee. As we were sitting there Sabine and Klamon joined us. Then a bit later, Paloma and Elaina showed up and joined our group. There are very few things that are better in life then drinking a cup of coffee in the company of friends. 

As Rachel and I continued our journey, we commented on the fact that we no longer ran into the individuals we traveled with at the start of this journey (Josie, Anja, Tino, Tarcy, and Oswald) and, yet, we are still traveling in the company of other pilgrims. It’s like a sped-up version of life. Individuals come and go from your life all the time, yet the memories and impact they made stays with you even if they are no longer there. 

It was about at this point in the conversation, when we came upon the pilgrim monument at Iglesias Santa de Maria de Alba. I decided to take a little break.

  

While it would have been nice to stay, we knew better then to linger. 

We made our way through the forest,

  
over the train tracks,

  
and eventually into Tivo. Which is just outside of Caldas de Reis, which is known for it’s thermal waters. Just the ticket for our tired feet!

123 miles down with only 27 to go!

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