A bit MORE of the Camino de Santiago

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Aug 9th, 2014, 04:58 AM
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A bit MORE of the Camino de Santiago

A bit MORE of the Camino de Santiago

If you have read my first experience here

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...e-santiago.cfm

then you will not be surpirsed that I was excited to jump on board another Fodorite’s Portugues Camino route this past July. Cruiseluv opened an invitation to join her and her friends on their quest, so I did. But being the wimp I am, the entire portion from Tui to Santiago did not really appeal to me, not only because of the distance, but because I was reluctant to leave my husband for so long in the probable case he did not accompany me.

So I decided to do just the last four days with them.

Once I had decided to go, I quickly secured cheap Ryanair flights from Valencia to Santiago for 80E round trip, alter making cancellable reservations at cruiseluv’s excellent chosen accommodations.

I flew early one morning, arriving in Santiago around 8 a.m. I took the airport bus to the bus station and hopped on the next bus to Noia to do some coastal strolling.

http://www.galiciaguide.com/Noia-index.html

The tide was out, so not as picturesque as with water, but the lovely historical buildings were well worth the excursión. I had a pleasant breakfast and alter a couple hours I took another bus back to Santiago and then another bus from the same station to MY starting point of this hike, Caldas de Rei. The bus information booth had given me the schedule for Caldas so I made sure I was not going to be waiting around too long between buses. However, that said, it is a GREAT place to socialize. 90% of the passengers waiting are Camino newbies from all over the world, wondering which dock their bus will leave from. Then a few old pros and bus station personnel inform them . Lots of pilgrims here catching a bus to the end of the trail at Finisterre more than anywhere else it seemed.

That is a day trip many like to do to put the icing on the final stretch. Some walk.. some ride. Coming this far I am sure they feel.. “ I’ve got to go see the end of the world here”. Many actually burn their shoes or clothes when they arrive there to represent the start of a new phase of Life.

I stayed at this hotel, Hotel Cruceiro, http://www.hotelcruceiro.com for two nights. This first night alone and then next with our small group. This turned out to be a very good choice. There was a supermarket across the street and it was close to most everything. I had a huge lunch menu of the day there and then scoped out the area finding the reccommended restaurant for dinner for the next night and retired early. I even found a sewing shop where the woman kindly and cheaply fixed one of the pulls on my knapsack.

The next morrning I knew cruiseluv and her friends (I had never met any of them) would be leaving Pontevedra for a long 23km walk. My plan was to get up leisurely and meet them (me walking TOWARDS Pontevedra) wherever that might be. As I was leaving town looking for the Camino's shell indicator,

a modern version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Way_of_...zla_Jakuba.svg

more than one person tried to stop me to tell me I was going the wrong way!! “Señora.. señora!! “ Santiago was in THAT direction!. I can understand their concern.. but I was able to smile and let them know my plan.

So off I went.. alone.. thinking of how glad I was to have decided to make this journey. Especially alter the following:

Several days before my departure I saw a post from my cousin on Facebook saying that the next day the family and friends were doing a “5 km. memory walk” in honor of their beloved son, who sadly, was killed a few years ago.

Suddenly, I got such a deep inspiration to dedicate MY 50 km. walk to him that this hike became all the more important. I have never done a walk for cancer or “run” for anything.. so this meant a lot to me to be able to dedicate my efforts to his memory.

I found a nice photo of him, put it in a plastic frame in my pocket and documented many of the stops along the way. We had meals together, stopped in front of churches together and basicaly I felt like I was walking with him, my cousin and her family. He slept on my nightstand next to my bed every night. I posted frequently on FB so they could “feel and see ” the beauty and spirituality of doing this walk, mostly by myself, but with him close to my heart and in my thoughts literally.... all day long.

Living here, it would have been so easy just to skip this walk it and to do it some other time. It required very little pre-planning compared to someone who has to arrange international flights, etc. But the fact I could finally meet cruiseluv, after so many years here on Fodors, was a catalyst for thinking it should be a fun experience. And I was right. It was a wonderful experience..

Well.. it was mostly fun and wonderful…. I will get to that point later.
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Aug 9th, 2014, 06:40 AM
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Aug 9th, 2014, 08:41 AM
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I am glad you had a buen and interesting Camino.
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Aug 9th, 2014, 08:51 AM
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Thank you.. more to come!
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Aug 9th, 2014, 09:04 AM
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Dear Lincasanova,

It was such a pleasure to meet you , I'm thrilled to be reading of your journey from your perspective. You're quite a trouper!!
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Aug 9th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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Me, too.. cruiseluv! We are all troopers.. what else can we be? It would be terribly boring otherwise! I loved meeting your friends, too! And those two girls you met on the camino!
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Aug 9th, 2014, 09:57 AM
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I set out with my photo, water, fruit,belongings and phone/camera and started documenting my journey.

My cousin's son and his family were on my mind everywhere I went, but in a soothing way. It was very fulfilling to realize how much I was thinking about people I dearly love and wishing I could alleviate their eternal sorrow. I do't think I have ever found one group of people in my thoughts as much as on this trip.

After a couple hours of walking a tall man coming towards me on the trail asked me if I was looking for “Maria”. I said “yes”. “Oh.. so you are her friend.. Here she comes!”.

And that was how I met cruiseluv on the trail. I had never seen a picture of her.. maybe I expected her to be older. I hadn’t really given it much thought! It was so nice to finally put a face to a name. They knew it would be easy to spot ME.. as I was walking against the logical flow of traffic! So I was simply waiting for someone to lock eyes with me, really, and introduce themselves!

I was introduced to her dear friends from “way back”. After a while, walking and chatting together, we saw a hand written sign that said “BAR 30 meters” with an arrow pointing away from the trail. On a trail like this, this requires some investigation.. and ... it was time to stop! Luckily it was only a few meters away. We treated ourselves to some delicious local cheese, freshly made tortilla de patata and cool drinks. These “down times” on the camino at the local bars and cafés, or under a tree, are the only different thing one does all day besides walk.. and walk.. drink water.. take photos.. and walk and walk some more.

You will be surpirsed at how liberating it is to have nothing else to do to muddle your mind with plans. Just follow the yellow markers. Enjoy the scenery.. and let your mind wander as you wander through the Spanish countryside, stepping on the same ground that pilgrims did centuries ago. You will pass the churches they prayed at. You will see the mountains and fields that surrounded them.

The Camino Portuguese is more isolated and less serviced than the French one. I am not sure I would feel comfortable alone on this trail during the entire time. On the other hand we had some long walks in forests that were a real treat. I did miss the animals, though, that one encounters on the French trail. All these towns are near the sea and its rivers so fishing is the main industry here. We saw a few sheep near the end, but that was about it.

I would make a point of trying to walk with people I had met, although that can be a challenge seeing that everyone walks at a different speed. I have realized that I am SLOW and on this particular trip .. was stopping to take more pictures than usual. I was also carrying a backpack with 5 days' worth of clothes and found that my back would bother me if I didn´t stop to rest.
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Aug 9th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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Lin - I am joining in and walking the camino with you, albeit in a virtual fashion. It's a part of Spain that i have never seen so I'm looking forward to seeing, hearing and tasting it through you - and cruisluv's too of course.

and what a lovely thing to do, to dedicate the walk to your cousin's son!
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Aug 9th, 2014, 11:21 AM
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Why did I think you had done part of a Camino, annhig?
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Aug 9th, 2014, 12:19 PM
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Following along with your lovely trip. Take your time, I'm slow too, and you can never spend too much time taking pictures.
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Aug 9th, 2014, 01:40 PM
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Why did I think you had done part of a Camino, annhig?>>

no idea, Lin - DH might be keen but I'm pretty sure that my feet would rebel within the first 24 hours.

I am full of admiration for those who have done these sorts of things though.
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Aug 9th, 2014, 05:55 PM
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I think anyone who can walk around shopping can easily pace them selves and just stop more often and do fewer kms.. it is not grueling as one might expect UNLESS you go beyond what your body would like to do. My martyr days are o-v-e-r!
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Aug 9th, 2014, 07:44 PM
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Lin,

I know how important it was to you to document your travels and dedicate it to the memory of your cousin's son.

It was so funny how my friends knew who you were and introduced us (instead of the other way around), lol.

Those "deviations" to enjoy simple food and vino were some of my fondest memories of the Camino.

IMO, the only negative of the trip (other than what I know you'll relate soon)was the hot weather we experienced. Cloudless blue skies make for beautiful backdrop for pictures , but its not ideal when you're walking with no shade to shelter you from the merciless sun.

Looking forward to your next installment!
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Aug 9th, 2014, 09:57 PM
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It is interesting how the Camino, among other things, creates life long friendships. My wife has made friends with whom we are still in contact with, especially the daughter of a family that they encountered. She is exceptionally bright and ans pleasant her father wrote a book about his numerous Caminos.

We are also still friendly with a woman who simply walked out of her house in Santiago, hopped on a bus, got off where she thought was far enough and started walking back. She was so ill-prepared that my SIL had to lend her a pair of shoes. She said that was the way she did prepare because her friends told her, "Do not worry, Americans will help you, they bring everything."
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Aug 10th, 2014, 01:27 AM
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IMDonehere.. I have been wondering "who" you were and now I think I have figured it out!!!
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Aug 10th, 2014, 04:07 AM
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ttt
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Aug 10th, 2014, 04:47 AM
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Thanks Linca.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 06:58 AM
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Very much enjoying this trip report. Whenever I read a trip report about the Camino I always think it's a trip I'd like to do! Maybe one day!
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Aug 29th, 2014, 02:12 PM
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Sorry for the delay! I was away and will try to finish this up quickly.

So, we walked and talked for awhile but soon saw a hand-written sign pointing to a bar/café a few meters in the wrong direction. We settled in and ordered a plate of local cheese and shared an entire freshly made tortilla de patata! I love these moments on the trail.. snacks.. chatting.. resting.. there's no rush for us as we have accommodations waiting for us. But eventually we need to move on!

We amble forward to our town.. Caldas de Rei, past old churches and with red roof tops in the distance as we approach more dense civilization, where I had already stayed the night before. Our hotel , O' Ceiro, was well chosen by cruiseluv..

http://www.hotelcruceiro.com

...clean, simple, and an excellent price. But do ask for a room at the back as it is on the main road and I was a bit bothered by the traffic. I made sure to get the others back side rooms before they came once I saw the situation, and I , too, was lucky to be able to be moved later before nightfall. I would definitely stay there again.

We decide to meet up later to go out for dinner. A riverside restaurant, O Muino, had been recommended to me.. so we headed there as soon as we thought they'd be open. Caldas has everything you could need. Nice shopping, supermarkets and repair stores. I got my backpack belt fixed at a sewing shop for almost nothing the day before.

The slow moving river is pleasant to watch as locals throw branches for their dogs to retrieve and children dare themselves to get wet at the edge of some flat rocks.

The town also has a spa hotel which allows you to use their pool area all day for 12E. We didn´t use it but for some it would have been a welcome activity, I am sure.

We had a delicious dinner at O Muino, savoring pulpo, ( octopus) and some delicious, VERY tender grilled pork rib meat called " Lágrimas de ibérico" that was to die for. But most fun was cruiseluv and her friends saw two girls they had been chatting with since the beginning of their journey, meeting up in every town and on the trail. They joined us and it was a lot of fun to have them also at the table as they were very funny and energetic.

Since everyone basically walks the same number of miles everyday, faces are familiar ad friendships are created.. some superficial and others will last a lifetime. This is what I think is so special about this type of walk in this place. I doubt this happens anywhere else.. where so any people are doing the same thing, relaxing at the same places, etc. and sometimes eating at the same restaurants ... day after day.

We go back to the hotel, but first the group decides it is too hot to walk in much sunlight the next day so we decide to leave VERY early in the morning to begin our day, forgoing breakfast at the hotel because they didn´t even open until 7 a.m.
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Aug 29th, 2014, 09:22 PM
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Hi Lin,

Glad to see you continuing the tale.... wish we were back there!
That restaurant you selected in Caldas was great.

I so agree with you, the Camino is very special and different.
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