We did it!

Yesterday afternoon at 5.30pm, we walked up the steps to the south door of the Santiago Cathedral, which was used by medieval pilgrims travellingthe Camino Portugues and is the oldest doorway in the Cathedral, dating back to the 11th century. We touched the door with our foreheads, and our Camino was over. It has taken us 2 attempts, 22 months, nearly 1300kms, 64 days of walking, a couple of dozen blisters and lots of Voltaren tablets.

We had intended to walk another 4 days and 80kms to Finisterre (‘The End of the World’), on the west coast, but I was somewhat less than enthusiastic, and Greg kind of lost interest after learning that in fact it’s not the westernmost point of the Iberian peninsular. So it seemed like a bit of a waste if we both didn’t really want to do it. Greg’s shoes probably don’t have another 80km of tread in them, and his feet or ankles won’t cope well if he keeps on wearing them …… he’s planning a whole post on ‘Why not to wear lightweight shoes to do a Camino’ at some later stage. So instead, we’re flying to Barcelona this evening for a few nights, followed by a few nights in Madrid, then home early next week.

The stuff that hung off our rucksacks has been removed, our walking poles are packed inside, I have thrown out my yucky socks and some clothes that I didn’t really like anyway (but they dried fast, so were good to walk in), and we have changed from pilgrims into ageing backpackers. We spent some time this afternoon sitting at a cafe which is on the route to the Cathedral. We watched the passing parade of people – locals, tourists and pilgrims. The pilgrims who were walking the last few hundred metres of their Camino were such a varied bunch – some walked very fast, some limped, and some almost floated past us. I hope they all felt as happy and relieved to be (almost) finished as we felt yesterday.

And now, here are a few words I prepared earlier. I actually wrote most of the following back in 2010, but didn’t get to use it then.

Thank you:

  • To our family and friends who read this blog, left comments and emailed us while we walked
  • Barbara and Bryan, for first telling us about the Camino and igniting the spark
  • Our parents, Sam and Brianna, and my brother Phil, for keeping an eye on our place and ‘doing stuff’ for us while we were away.
  • The guy with the yellow spray paint can, for those arrows which were often our only guiding light, and which were the difference between us staying on track and ending up hopelessly lost. Greg’s GPS helped a lot too.
  • The pilgrims and the friends of the Camino we met along the way, for sharing their stories, and for listening to ours.
  • Greg, whose kind words and actions gave me wings when my legs felt like lead. Muchas gracias mi amigo. Thanks for sharing your Caminos with me, and for being part of mine. I couldn’t, and wouldn’t have done them without you.

To future pilgrims who stride, walk, stumble, limp and hobble in our footsteps, we wish you all a BUEN CAMINO



Posted in Camino, Spain | 6 Comments

Day 32 Padron to Santiago de Compostela!

Walking out of Padron

Less than 10km left!

Touching the South door of the Santiago Cathedral

Santiago Cathedral (click for larger version)

Posted in Camino, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 31 Caldas de Reis to Padron

18km. Another hot day, probably up to 34C today. Slightly more shade than yesterday, but unfortunately Greg was feeling unwell today … so we can rule out the tapas as he didn’t eat any! I am feeling much better, thankfully. It does seem like the Camino is putting obstacles in our path to try and stop us from actually getting to Santiago (anyone who has read Stephen King’s excellent 22.11.63 will understand what that means), but tomorrow we’ll be there, even if it means crawling the whole way on our hands and knees. We’re less than 25km away now.

A pretty easy second-to-last day of walking, apart from the heat. We just  ambled along for most of the day, stopped at the Cafe Esperon near Carrecedo for a medicinal Coca Cola for Greg, and a lemon ice tea and tortilla espagnol (potato tortilla) for me, then stopped at regular intervals after that for much-needed shade breaks, drinks of water and food.

We took our usual quantities of water – 2 x 500ml bottles for me, 2 x 750ml bottles for Greg, but had been relying on getting more at a cafe at the 12km mark at San Miguel. That didn’t work out for us as it closes between 2 – 5pm, and we walked past at 2.20, however there was a mains water fountain about 1km further on, and then another 5 fountains within the next 4km!

Tonight we’re staying at Padron, which is significant as this is where Saint James Santiago first preached the word of the Lord. So Padron was important during James’s life, and Santiago has become important after his death.

So …how does it feel that we’re now so close to our destination? Exciting, a relief nd a feeling of … finally! We’ll let you know tomorrow.

Hot water fountain in front of the hotel

Padron (click for larger version)

Padron Rio Sar (click for larger version)


Posted in Camino, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 30 Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

22km. It was a hot day 32C.  Judy woke up feeling unwell, maybe eating too much of some of that dodgy Tapas, however she soldiered on. We loaded up with extra water because it was going to be hot, and there was not much in the way of facilities between.

We crossed the bridge decorated with scallop shells and headed north. We spent the next few kilometres following the train line which is being upgraded to a high speed train line.  We spent some kilometres also walking through forest. We made it to San Amaro where we sat for an hour in the cool of the cafe to give Judy a chance to rest and recover.

The sun was hot when we left the cafe in the afternoon, and we went on to Barro, skipping the cafe this time. We did another 4 kilometres mostly in full sun, as there was no shade until be reached the N-550 where we stopped at a little cafe with nice shade, and a few other pilgrims resting as well. We had another cold drink, and then hit the road again walking through grape-vines, and passing the turn-off to another alberque a few kilometres out of Caldas de Reis.

2 km out of Caldas de Reis we found a feute (water fountain) topped up our water, and rested in the shade of a tree. We quickly covered the last 2km, spending 30 minutes wandering around looking for a hotel. We eventually got settled at the Davila (with  a hot spring out the front) at 7pm.

Bridge leaving Ponteverda with scallop shells

House wall covered in scallop shells

Special pilgrim shade (also called rail line)

walking under grape vines

Fence made of peices of granite. Posts supporting grape vines also made of granite



Posted in Camino, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 29 Redondela to Pontevedra

22km. We were up and out the door before 9am, mainly because it’s rare for breakfast to be included in the price of a hotel room, whereas in Portugal it was almost always included. Doesn’t really matter to us as we usually carry some food that we can eat (this morning it was cupcakes), I just have to walk a few kms to get my first coffee of the day. So we walked through Redondela and its outskirts, plus a smaller village, Cesantes, then stopped at the Jumboli Pension and cafe 5km from where we stayed last night. For anyone wanting to do a longer stage than Porrino – Redondela, the Jumboli would make the Porrino stage an acceptable 19kms.

We spent the morning walking close to the Ria de Vigo inlet, a very picturesque, calm body of water with villages dotted along the other side of the bay. A mix of quiet roads and forest tracks for most of the day, apart from one short stretch along the main road north, the N-550. Our guide book made a big deal out of how dangerous this bit of road was, so we donned our fluoro vests and took a deep breath. Actually, compared with the horror stretches out just before Vilarinho and Barcelos, today’s  bit was fine, with at least a metre of margin for us to walk on. We’re a bit puzzled that the guide book doesn’t pay more attention to the dangers of the earlier stages out of Porto.

We reached the town of Arcade at around lunchtime, so even though it has a Michelin recommended restaurant, Restaurant Arcadia, we decided to give it a miss (ha, ha!) and got bread and ham from the local supermarket to eat by the river.

We have seen at least 10 pilgrims today, almost more than we saw the whole time we walked in Portugal.

The most common building material around here is pink granite. Anyone who has either installed or even just priced a granite benchtop in Australia may shed a few tears when they learn that whole houses are built out of it here, together with fences, stone walls, paving and park benches & tables in council picnic areas.

This afternoon we resurrected our practice of soaking our feet. We did it often on our last camino, but this time it hasn’t been as easy to find water. Now that we’re in Spain, there are a lot of water fountains. We’re very wary of drinking from them, but the water is great for a mid-afternoon foot soak. We do usually do it at the end of the day, in our hotel room.

Pontevedra is a large town, population  75,000. We’re staying at the Hotel Ruas in the old section, and just from walking to the hotel, there seems to be plenty to see and do here – lots of history, museums, cafes and a walking tour around the historic centre.

Bridge at Arcade

Yet another overgrown spanish rest area. We have seen this many times before in Spain. They get money to develop a rest area. They build it, and it is then abandoned. The bins are never emptied. The grass in never cut. Eventually the rest area becomes completley overgrown and unusable. This rest area was developed in 2010. In 2012 its unusable.

La Peregrina, 18th century dedicated to pilgrims (click for a larger version)

Vigo Inlet (click for larger version)

Posted in Camino, Spain | Leave a comment

Day 28 Porrino to Redondela

15km We are still working on Poruguese time. We went to bed at 10pm, closed the blinds because it was still sunny outside. We managed to get up in time for the 9am breakfast.

We hit the road at 10am, knowing it was a short day. There are no hotels at Redondela, only an alberque, so we would have to stop 2km short at a pension.

It didn’t take long to get out of Porrino, and we were soon climbing up to Concello de Mos. A car pulled up and waved us over. The driver handed Judy a shell inscribed with the Camino and Mos the town. It was a kind gift. We stopped at the bar at Mos, to get morning tea an ice cream and coffee. There were 6 pilgrims just in the bar. We are on the last 100km to Santiago, so we think lots more spanish pilgrims have joined the Camino. In the first 2 weeks of the Camino from Lisbon we would have been lucky to see 6 pilgrims altogether.

It was then a steep climb out of Mos up the hill to Monte de Santiago de Antas. We passed a Roman road military marker, and then decended down again. We reached Vila da Infesta,and then descended down a very steep road, until we reached the valley floor. We met a pilgrim who we have bumped into several times over the last few days. She complained about how little sleep she got last night at the alberque at Porrino, because there were lots of people, and it was noisy.

It was then a detour through some raodworks until we found Pension Brasil 2, which was on the N-550 highway. Later we walked into Redondela, accidently found the Yoigo shop, and using google translate we managed to get a new sim card in out Yoigo dongle that we used on the Camino Frances in 2010

the lunch carrier


Posted in Camino, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 27 Valenca to Porrino

21km. We slept late, and did not get on the road until 10:00am. Unfortunately that was 11:00am Spanish time, which we would soon be on.

We walked around the fortress of Valencia and then crossed the bridge out of Portugal and into Spain. We had been in Portugal for more than a month, and we enjoyed our time there. It was a warm day, and once we reached Tui on the Spanish side, it was a nice walk along the riverside pathway. Tui ia another fortress town like Valenca. Leaving town we walked along paths by the Rio Louro, passing (but not crossing) another roman bridge. We then crossed and recrossed a couple of freeways, with for a period a special pilgram walking lane at the side of the road.  It was then back to forest, with long stretches of mud, that because of the recent warm weather was easy to avoid, but could be much more difficult in wetter weather.

After a diversion of the camino we finally reached Orbenlie, where there was a cafe. We had our first Spanish bocadillo, a baquette sandwich, which we had with ham and cheese. We sat down with a German girl who was doing her first camino. She had spent the first 3 nights in Alberques and thought they were terrible. She couldn’t sleep, people got up so early and woke everyone else up. So she had stayed in a hostel and got her own room, and had finally had a decent nights sleep. Her German guide had no accomodation at Porrino other than the Albeque, and she wanted a room. She copied details from our Camino Portuguese guide which had three hotels in Parrino, including the one we stayed at Hotel Azul (which is on the camino route).

It then a hard slog through the industrial areas of Porrino. Several kilometres of straight road past factories dealing in the granite mined out of the surrounding hills. We followed the camino track in the grass that ran parrallel to the footpath. We crossed the railway line, and eventually made our hotel at 6pm.

on the bridge leaving portugal

the Minho River at the Portugues border (click for larger version)

special pilgram walkway next to the road

the long slog through the industrial area

walking the soft pilgrim path next to the hard footpath



Posted in Camino, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 26 Rubiaes to Valenca

18km. Our last day in Portugal, and we’re feeling a bit sad that we’ll be leaving tomorrow. We had a ‘simple’ breakfast at O Repouso do Peregrino Pensao with our fellow pilgrims, then packed up and were on the road before 9am. Early for us, but we were still the last ones to leave the Pensao. A fairly easy day’s walk, on forest paths and quiet country roads …. apart from the group of men and boys on their quad bikes who roared up to the cafe at Fontoura Fuente while we were having a chat with a German pilgrim, then roared past us a couple of kms further up the road after they had finished their beers.

It was cold and cloudy, but like yesterday it never really rained for longer than a couple of minutes. Enough to make us drag out the wet weather gear, walk for a while and get hot, then take it all off again.

There are more pilgrims on the road now, as we get closer to Santiago. Interestingly, many of them feel the same way about pilgrim albergues as we do – tried that, not doing it again.

We have arrived in Valenca early enough to be able to spend some time walking around the Fortaleza, the old fortress on the Rio Minho, which marks the northern border between Portugal and Spain.

Valenca and the hills of spain in the distance

Posted in Camino, Portugal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 25 Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes

16km Not a long day,but it involved climbing a 450 metre high hill. When we woke up it had rained, and was cloudy. The Pensao we stayed at did not provide breakfast, so it was of to the Pastalaria across the square for some pastries from breakfast. When we emerged it had stopped raining. We crossed the medieval bridge across the Rio Lima, and then past the albergue, and along muddy tracks until past Quinta Arquino. While we were wlking there was music playing from a hilltop above Ponta de Lima. The music must have been pretty loud because we could still hear it for 4 or 5 km as we climbed the hill.

We climbed slowly, past some of what seemed to be abandoned farms. We crossed the bridge  over the Rio Labruja, which had previously had a “falling down” bridge and which had been replaced with a new concrete bridge. Under the A-3 freeway, again with not many cars on it.Portugal must be one of the few places on the planet that built freeways before it had enough cars to fill them. We wnt through Revolta, but the cafe was closed. We passed Arcozelo and the hill got really steep. We certainly needed our walking poles to help us get up the hill. We got passed by a couple of camino cyclists pushing their mountain bikes up the hill.

We reached the cross near the summit, where there was a brass plaque commerating the death of a pilgrim who had died in a plane crash in Moree Australia. We reached the summit, which we recorded as 458 metres.

Then it was down, down, down towards Cabanas on dirt tracks, until we reach quiet roads, where we were passed by a Canadian pilgram who had also left from Lisbon (9 days after us). We reached the Residential at Sao Roque, where there were already pilgrims in residence. There was an Alberque up the road, but there were at least 8 pilgrims staying at the Residential. There was no Restaurant so at 7pm they ferried us up the road in several loads to a restaurant about 2km away, where we had a meal of …pork.

Medieval bridge at Ponte de Lima

Muddy paths out of Ponte de Lima

replacement bridge for the falling down bridge (right)

climbing the hill








Posted in Camino, Portugal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 24 Casa do Rio to Ponte de Lima

20km. Stage 2 of splitting the Barcelos to Ponte de Lima 33.6km stage into two parts. After a fabulous breakfast (see Judys post here), we left at a late 11am. The morning had started cool and misty, but no rain. We headed the 1km back to the Camino route from Casa do Rio (large map with directions here, detailed map here),

We met  a Swiss pilgrim who like us had started from Lisbon, except that he had started about ten days after us!

We walked on a lot of farm tracks, we passed the church at Vitorino do Plaes, but missed the turnoff to the cafe. We climbed up over a saddle and then dropped down into the Lima valley, getting a view of the 400m high hills we will be climbing tomorrow. We stopped at a cafe, then continued along a string of villages towards Ponte de Lima. We noted how many women drove tractors. South of Porto we had never seen a woman drive a tractor.

We followed the banks of the Lima River to arrive at Hotel Imperio de Minho to find it ws closed for renovations, the second hotel on this camino that we have found closed.

We looked for Pensao Beira Rio, but could find no sign or indication that anyone wanted guests. So on further to Pensao Sao Joao where we found a room and settled in. We went out later to a Pizzeria near the river, and walked back to the Pensoa in light rain, more of which is expected tomorrow.

Dry stone walls

Grape vines over the road


Posted in Camino, Portugal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments