Redondela, Rosa, and Our “Private Room”

Saturday, September 22 – Breakfast at the Hotel Arco’s café, run by Manuel’s daughter. She too tells me about her mother (Manuel’s wife) walking from Sarria to Santiago in three days. 100 km in three days. I ask, “WHY?” and she says, “It was a promise, a sacrifice. All the pain was part of her deal.”

I ask again, “Why?”. She says her baby was born at 25 weeks and her mother promised God . . . ah . . . she puts up her hands. I ask how old the baby is now. She says, “Three years old.” So I guess it worked, if you believe such things. Whatever gets you through the night.

After breakfast, we pack up and go to the bus stop. Our plan for skipping 36 km from Sebaris to Redondela. I will go 10-12 km per day and no more unless I feel like it. I alternate between being ashamed of myself and being disgusted with being ashamed. This will be my habit, all the way to Santiago. But that’s another matter. For now, Redondela by bus, as per Ria, who has done this Camino before,

All the way to Vigo bus terminal, and we discover that the next bus to Redondela is FIVE hours from now. This time it’s Ria who nods toward the taxi stand and raises an eyebrow. On we go.  20 Euro.

Our reservation in Redondela is at Casa d’Abreu. My contact is Rosa, and when I spoke with her on the phone, her English was pretty fair.  I asked the price per person of a private room with bath. 18 Euro each. No problem. When we arrive at her Casa, she says 20 Euro and I balk. She mutters something about another reservation she wasn’t aware of, and I insist on her quoted price. She then mutters again, about her English being “not so good”, but it was plenty sufficient on the phone.  So she tells us we must take a third floor room. And she takes forever to check us in. Probably 30 minutes, rather than 5 minutes. We trudge up the stairs. Ria thinks I might have been too sharp with Rosa. But she soon changes her mind.

What we find is that we have a bunk and a “flat bed” in our “room”, but no privacy at all, no window at all, and one bathroom on the second floor for about 12 people. Where our window might have been is an opening to another room for three people, and out theirdoor is a balcony where everyone can hang their laundry. But one must go through that room in order to hang clothes, thus disturbing the three people sleeping or relaxing there.

Fortunately, those women are happy to keep their door, our “window to their room, and their balcony doors open so we can have fresh air all night. But since I drink so much water on these Caminos, my four or five visits to the bathroom during the night are treacherous, down narrow, steep and creaky stairs, hoping no one else will be occupying that one tiny room at the moment.

I check out the place on Trip Advisor (too late, of course), and find many people with the same type of complaints . . . overcharged, falsely represented accommodations, and in some instances, suggesting that Rosa doesn’t actually record everyone’s passports, perhaps so she can rent more spaces than she is authorized to do. I see two girls in one closet, with two foam mattress pads crowded next to one another on the floor. BLEAH!

After another uninspiring Menu del Dia down the street, we return to our “room” to sleep, ready to get out of Dodge early the next day. We forego a shower, not wanting to fend off the other inhabitants. So we are not sad to leave this habitacion.

And there are no photos today. Not of the bus, the taxi, Rosa, or our blah dinner. Mañana.

But I will end with a fresh image just for relief.

This beauty is not a “rosa”!


Posted in Albergues on the Camino, Backpacker beware, Camino de Santiago, Dorm life, Oldish world traveling, Redondela Rosa, Spain, Women Walking | 6 Comments

Into The Woods . . . for awhile

Leaving the beach , , ,


Friday, September 21 – Ria, Michael and I, along with the other Albergue guests, walked out early today in deep fog.  62 degrees and 99% humidity. A common theme for the coast, I guess. The paltry breakfast at the Albergue didn’t look inviting, and we were locked out by 8:00 anyway, so tromped in a small group to the bar promised to be about 1-2 km down the road. Another exciting breakfast of “Toasta” or croissant, fresh orange juice and tea.  Where oh where are my eggs, for breakfast, not for dinner??

Then on to the next bed, near Nigran, I think. I made the reservation so I know we HAVE a bed, but one can never tell exactly what town it is in.

I realize I’m good for about five hours of walking these days, typically, or 10-12 km, whichever is hottest. This isn’t easy once the fog lifts and the temperatures rise, but it’s been okay so far, with my turncoat taxi help.   Today the path heads up into the words for awhile and over a “mountain”, though from sea level, it’s only 170 meters . . . a bit over 550 feet. The pack feels alternatively lighter and heavier as I walk the rocky path up the mountain. Some shade occasionally and I sit against a rock, trade shoes for sandals, and read more of my Kindle book on my phone.

The feet wonder WTF??

Pilgrims pass me by and nod. At some point, two woman stop. “That looks like a good plan”, one of them says, and they take off their packs and after a few bits of conversation, sit down next to me. So much for reading, but these women are fun to talk with. Soozie, from Australia, will meet her friend from England (not a walker) in Baiona, the next town. The friend has flown in for Soozie’s 65th birthday, and has reserved a room at the Baiona Parador.   Such a friend!

The other woman, Terri (Terry?), tells me this is her first time out of the States, and that she has been taking care of her disabled sister for the past TWENTY TWO years!! A sister-in-law (I think) is taking care of the sister while Terri has her first passport adventure. I don’t ask where the brother or other relatives are in this caretaking solo assignment. Terri and Soozie have met on the trail from a day or two ago, and Terri has decided to book her own Parador room. I don’t think I would splurge on a Parador in anywhere but Paris or Florence, but not sure I would spend that kind of money anyway.

Are we again on the “Old Roman Road”?

Another 15 minutes and we are all back up the hill. The shade and breeze are helpful, and after an hour or so, we finally think we are in Baiona, but no, another 3 km, says a man walking by, and up up up a hill with no shade.   I am not headed for Baiona as my stopping point, so we split trails eventually, and now I’m on pavement, a street, with no idea how far it is to the Hotel Avenida in, supposedly, Nigran. Mid-afternoon, with a very real concern that I might just pass out on the road. No drama here, but no bars, no cafes, no nothing,

And even if I could call a taxi, I have no idea where I am, with no town or road markers to help indicate my position.

After about an hour, I see a taxi going the opposite way and flag it down. I explain my predicament, and though the driver has a passenger, he waves three fingers at me, and drives off. Sure enough, a bit less than five minutes later, he is back again. I tell him where I am going and he shakes his head. Finally he calls the number of the hotel and tells me it is in Sebarís. Not helpful, but at least someone knows where it is. Another seaside town, darling down, with the kindest hotel owner named Manuel.

He tells me his wife, my age, walked the last 100km of the Camino Frances, from Sarria to Santiago, in THREE DAYS. Why? I ask. He just shakes his head. He says, “She doesn’t do that anymore.” Asks how I am, do I need some cream, are my feet all right, etc. Gives me the keys and I go to my room to wait for Ria.

When she arrives, we go next door to a grocery store, get some fruit and water, and find a café. Vino tinto, por favore.  Researching restaurants on Trip Advisor, which I am sure the pilgrims of 1000 years ago wished they could have done, I find that one of the highest rated restaurants in the area is just down the block.  Fidalgo. Mediterranean, Spanish, Tapas, etc.  No pictures, but a varied paté plate for me with local cheese and marmalade.  Different fare than I’ve had on this trip so far, and I welcome it.

Ria recommends that we take a bus leap tomorrow, so we can skip an apparently very large and fairly ugly city, Vigo, which means a bus to Vigo and then a transfer at the bus depot, on to Redondela.  The bus stop is just outside the sea-side entrance of our hotel.

I secure what I am told is a private room with two beds and a private bath in Redondela, at Casa d’Abreu.  Hear the “I am told” part.  We think we are set.  And we have a good sleep tonight.  Still beautiful flowers all around . . .

Posted in Camino de Santiago, Spain, Women Walking | 4 Comments

Across The Portuguese/Spanish Border

Thursday, September 20.

The scenery is beginning to change.

I’ve been thinking about how very different this Camino is . . . not only that I’ve been in Portugal rather than Spain, thus far.  Not only that I’m on a beach boardwalk for the most part, again thus far.  But because my mind can’t seem to let go of wrangling with the issues still at home . . . a horrendous HOA situation, a possible sale of one of my Vermont properties (with all the attorney e-mails, etc. no matter where I am).  A different way of living in the moment.  I have no Neil, no Kali or Huxley, the beings who give my life its day-to-day joy.  But I still have more of the BS from home than I have had in the past.

And I also know that from my first Camino that it took me two weeks to let go of all the “home fires” burning and just be free every second.  Now I only have two weeks, start to finish, and one can’t just speed up one’s letting go.  So.

Today I am up and out of my apartment early enough.  My breakfast was a banana, a few little jam-filled cookies, and mint tea, all of which I had purchased yesterday.  So no wasted time stopping for “breakfast”.  I have managed to avoid cafe con leché (though I love it unless I know I’m going to have a full extra day of no walking, substituting mint or lemon tea, which has in turn eliminated my need for ‘Paris moments” in the bush.  A good thing.  Took me 1-1/2 Caminos to learn that!  Sigh.

So an easy path to the coast.  half a block and I’m there. The walk was easy, and my mid-destination is Caminha, a town on the border between Portugal and Spain.  Once in Caminha, a ferry takes travelers of all sorts (and cars) across an inlet of the sea.  Less than 10 minutes (and Euro 1.50, I think) and poof!  Spain.  A Guarda, to be exact.

My bed is in Mougás, however, and when I arrive at the Albergue, a couple is sitting outside in front of the reception area.  “Oh, you must be the American!” the woman says brightly.  “We’ve heard all about you from your German friend.”  Hmmm . . . I laugh.

I look around for the proper entrance, and the woman tells me to follow “the man”.  She gestures to someone approaching me from the restaurant next door.  I walk with him into the Albergue buiding, and he says, “You must be Joannah.  Your friend is waiting in your room!”  Nice to be infamous.

The view from our Albergue room in Mougás

After settling in, doing a bit of laundry, hanging it out on our balcony, with its lovely view, I must say, we went down to the attached restaurant for dinner.  A German man Ria had met on the road joined us.

Our various selections made a colorful display on the table.  Michael’s mussels, my langostinos, Ria’s baby squid, and our shared Padron peppers (I have to look for these in Fort Collins . . . delicious!). Some mediocre red wine, but hey, we’re all tired . . .

Michael’s mussels

Joannah’s Langostinos

Ria’s baby squid

Shared Padron Peppers. My maiden experience! YUM!

The room at the albergue WAS private, but had its problems.  Half of the plugs in the room were non-functional, as were half of the light switches.  The major issue was that the toilet didn’t flush.  At all.  EEWWW!  Who wants to dump water from the shower sprayer in the middle of the night, just to flush a toilet.  We’re old, remember, or at least I am, and I get up a lot in the middle of the night.

But at least we weren’t in bunk beds with twenty other pilgrims.

Posted in Albergues on the Camino, Beautiful seafood, Boardwalks and sand paths, Camino de Santiago, Camino Portugues, Hiking oceanfront, Oldish world traveling, Spain, What Goes on in the Mind, Women Walking | 4 Comments

Beach Day Off

The flowers are still so beautiful on this sunny, humid Poruguese coast

Wednesday, September 19.  My day at the beach is lovely, though I had sent my swim suit on to Santiago earlier, when I thought I would have no time to get in the water.  But the view is magnificent and the very sight is calming.

I walked, wrote, walked, talked with Ashley (my daughter) for awhile, read a book on my phone screen (not ideal but when desperate  . . . ).  I have lunch at a little bar with grass shack umbrellas, a beautiful view (where in this town is there NOT a beautiful view), mediocre food and TERRIBLE service.  Several pilgrims stop here, two of them from Houston, two from Germany (of course . . . so many Germans are walking this road).

I talk with the two from Houston, a man and his sister (ah, to have a brother like that these days), and the man says he has horrible blisters, and they think they will stay tonight here.  I tell them about my accommodations just around the corner, and the sister goes to secure a room for them.  A good place for pilgrims, with or without blisters, for a day off.

Back to my apartment in time to call Neil at a reasonable morning hour, after he walks Kali but before he settles into his lengthy breakfast routine (food, news, Sudoku, crossword puzzle, comics, etc.). I think it’s the first time we’ve actually talked, not texted.

By evening, I’m ready to sit at the grass shack bar, have a glass of wine, and watch the sun set.  Unfortunately, though the outdoor tables are nearly full, the service is as bad as it was earlier today.  I sit and wait for about 20 minutes without a sign of anyone who wants to acknowledge those of us who have sat down in the last while, so I leave and head for the restaurant from yesterday’s niçoise salad.  There are already two other tables full of people, but the waiter bustles around and doesn’t seem to see us.  Finally he come sto my table and I say, “I know you don’t open until 7:00, but I would really like a glass of wine to accompany the beautiful sunset.”  He says, “Of course.” and proceeds to ignore me.  The sun is getting lower, and yes, I can see it without having a glass in my hand, but . . . .

It is 6:55.  Now 7:00.  Still, the man nods and smiles when I say, “Wine, please?  Before the sun goes down?”  Now 7:10.  7:15.  Finally, as the sun dips into the water, he opens a bottle and pours me a glass of vino tinto.  “Tranquillo”, I say to myself.  I make the mistake or ordering a steak dinner, almost never a good idea in Spain or Italy, in my experience, and it’s okay.  Pink, nearly, but not medium rare, as I ordered it.  Ah, well, at least I had the wine.

Now organize my pack for tomorrow, and then sleep.  I meet Ria in Mougás tomorrow.  We have a private room and bath reserved at the albergue there.

Thank you, Gertrude Stein! And thank YOU, Meta Strick, artist extraordinaire, who made me a new one of these at the last minute, since the one I carried on my other two Caminos has disappeared! From Colorado to Vermont and back to Colorado, from request to creation to receipt, in five days! Just in time for me to attach it to my pack. Thanks again, Meta!





Posted in Beach days off, Boardwalks and sand paths, Camino de Santiago, Spain, Women Walking | 2 Comments

Mini-vaca in a beach town

Tuesday, September 18. This morning, I can’t say I “awakened” because I hardly slept all night. Went to bed at ten, woke up at midnight for the bathroom and then could not go back to sleep. I hate these nights. My watch and phone illuminted the time for me . . . 1:15, 2:10, 3:30, 4:25, and then thankfully, I must have had a bit of rest again, because when the phone alarm did its banjo alert at 6:45 (and then 7:00 and then 7:30), I groaned myself awake and staggered out of bed.

Packing up all the e-bag cubes into my backpack has become an efficient habit, especially since I typically lay out fresh underwear, shirt, socks, packet of pills, etc. before I go to bed. Ria had again scouted out a place for coffee and a pastry (I don’t like the Portuguese pastries all that much . . . too many with cream filling and not enough fruit!) so I sling/fling my pack on my back, buckle up, check the room one last time, and head out in the near dark hallways, hoping those automatic lights will go on as I hit the stairs.

Tiptoeing past the dozen or so young late-comers who ended up with places to sleep on the floors everywhere (geez, I’m glad I’m old and that I was early to register at the albergue yesterday afternoon), I make my way among the yawning and stretching pilgrims on the floor and breathe fresh, if humid, air out in the courtyard.

Lemon tea and an apple pastry (the best I can choose, I guess), and Ria and I head toward the sea, past those wonderful umbrellas, hearts, etc. decorating the old town streets, and finally, finally get to the water. The pattern for weather in the early morning is about 60 degrees, and 93% humidity so far. I have plenty of water, but even the sea walk requires a break every once in awhile, but for 5 hours I walk without seeing a café, a bathroom, a bar, a house or town, nothing on my way.

I sit twice on carved granite blocks next to boardwalks, finally making myself take off my shoes for a toe-rest, eating a piece of bread from last night’s dinner, ducking between the sea and one of those old stone buildings to pee, hoping that the “something up ahead” turns out to be an open place of business. But it never does turn out that way.

In that 5 hours with no bar or café, here’s what I noticed . . . cairns all along the rocky shore, lots of them.  As I walk, noticing more and more of these carefully stacked flat stones, I wonder why I don’t stop to make one of my own.  Just too hesitant to take off the pack, the jacket, etc. and take a cairn break.  I talk with myself as I pass each one.  Surely there is plenty of rock fodder which could be part of a personal creation.  There’s a question to ponder as a metaphor for some other things I no longer do spontaneously.

Many of these along the way in this area . . .

Snails s-l-o-w-l-y trying to cross the boardwalk. I found this one and watched it for quite some time. Then I noticed ahead of me (and of it) that many of the smaller snails were smashed, most likely by bicyclists who were going too fast to notice these tiny round brown things. So though I know I can’t save all of them, and Imight be messing with Mother Nature, I carefully picked up Mr. Huge Snail and carefully put him back down at the coast-end of the boardwalk, Not sure how he will negotiate all that rock, but he WAS heading in that direction before I messed with him.

Finally I come to a café but it’s closed. I ask a local woman, headed for the beach, if she knows of something coming soon, a place I can sit and get some food. She points toward town, this one called Carreco, and says there should be something there. So I do as directed, my phone map showing a pharmacia and somewhere beyond, a café. By the time I get to the pharmacia, I’m too hot and tired to look for the café, which might be a block or twelve from there. So I walk in and wait behind an older man who is picking up about a dozen prescriptions. The young woman pharmacist carefully packages all the boxes and bottles into a paper bag that looks like it can’t possibly hold all of the items. The man turns toward the exit and the pharmacist looks up at me.

“I need a taxi to Via Praia de Ancora”, I say, and she smiles, points to the man, and says, “There is the taxi driver”, and calls to the man nearly out the door. He turns, looks at me, points to his waiting taxi in the parking lot, and I follow him.

Taxi karma? I give him the address of the apartment I have reserved for Ria and myself 8 km north, and he seems to know exactly where it is. Indeed, he drives to the entrance of the Apartamentos Turisticos, calls to a man washing his car next to the entrance, and the man turns and beckons to me. I pay my €55 and walk down the hall, open the door to what I consider an enormous “apartment” with kitchen, living room/bedroom, patio, and a very large bathroom. Wow . . .

Leaving everything on the bed and chair, I scout out a restaurant on walkway across from the beach. Before I left on this trip, I told my friend Judy that I would take my time, walk a distance that was just more than comfortable, and if I found a quaint little area, I just might stay an extra day . . . and THIS is the place, I’m sure of it.

My beach mini-vacation spot

At the restaurant, munching on a huge salad niçoise, I receive a text from Ria. She will be in the town in about 45 minutes. I tell her I will be able to see her from my chair at the restaurant, and will waive her over to my table.

Soon she is eating the other half of my salad, and then we both settle into the apartment, doing laundry, taking showers, etc. I tell her I won’t walk the next day, but will stay and write a bit.I take a nap (naps are underrated . . . I never take one at home. That might have to change), and we venture around the corner to another restaurant I discovered this afternoon, where a nice woman serves me sea bass (and I negotiated a salad instead of the punched potatoes). The fresh green beans aren’t even overcooked, though there is enough on the plate for three people. I eat what I can, we walk back to our apartment, and crash.

Posted in Boardwalks and sand paths, Camino Portugues, Hiking oceanfront, Women Walking | 8 Comments

Viale do Castelo and then on my feet again

NOTE: Forgot to track my distance on the 16th. 13.9 km.

My daily view – tough to take

MONDAY – September 17. Up at a decent hour from our room in the green hotel, and Ria had already scouted out a bakery for tea and crumpets. She also found an optician right around the corner and will go there after it opens.

Today is the “to do” day, at least this morning:

  • Get Ria’s glasses fixed
  • Find a post office so I can send on 1.5 kg of stuff I find I don’t need enough to carry (AGAIN?)
  • Await the opening of the Tourist Information office (if they EVER open), for a bus schedule so we can ride basically 3 days worth of walking, from Povoa de Varzim to Viana do Castelo.

By 11:00, we have accomplished all these things. Ria’s glasses now have rose-colored stems (she emphatically dislikes them, but at least she can wear the glasses now), my little package has been sent to the post office (Correos) in SDC, and we have our bus schedule times.

We pack up and are delighted to find that the bus stop is directly across from our green hotel, and that we JUST have time to make the 11:45 a.m. run, rather than have to kill another 75 minutes until the 1:00 bus. So on we go.

The bus ride is, predictably a stop and go ride through the smaller areas on the way to Viale do Castelo, though at one stop, three German pilgrims board and I hear a shout from both Ria and the woman in the entering group.  They have met on another Camino stint a few years ago, so while they catch up, I doze. We enter a larger town/city, with strange upper and lower main roads, and  finally Ria spots the municipal albergue in the short distance so we disembark along with the three German friends, and walk to get our beds.

We are early and the rooms are not yet available, but I hope I can get a ‘baja’, a lower bunk, and Ria says, “You will get one.  You’re old.”  We laugh.  Turns out, the man (who is also not a spring chicken) gives us a private twin-bedded room.  Apparently we are both old.  No matter.  Whatever gets us the private place.  But we can’t get into the rooms for another hour or two, so we wander down into the coastal part of the town.  Here we are delighted to find a not-uncommon sight in the streets:

At night, these are lit up and I’m sorry we didn’t get to see them in the dark.

Whimsey in the streets

We wander under these colorful umbrella-peppered blue skies, not even caring whether the decorations were for a specific festival or just because it’s a beautiful autumn in northern Portugal.

It’s past time to actually get to our rooms, so we wend our way back to the albergue, where the man, in speedy Spanish, gives a little orientation to us and to a half dozen young people, “Here is where you can go out and come back in, no coming back in the front door, here is the laundry area, and here is the courtyard where you hang your clothes up, and here are the stairs to your rooms, etc. etc. etc.”  So we follow him and are finally shown to a twin-bedded room with a window and tiny private bath.  The settling routine is . . . well, routine, by now.  Unpack what I need, wash what is in my white mesh bag, hang it somewhere to dry and hope it’s dry by morning, extract toothbrush, toothpaste, apnea mouth guard, shampoo, tonight’s meds and tomorrow’s vitamins from their bag, get out tomorrow’s clothes and tonight’s sleeping gear (this changes daily, depending on how hot I was the night before), and then I take a nap.  I haven’t walked much today, but around our previous and current towns, but managed to put nearly 10 km on my phone’s heart-site, and the effect of the past days of walking is cumulative.

By 9:00 p.m., I’m ready for dinner.  Fish is usually in front of me as I walk these coastal towns.  Why not?  I can eat Dorada and Bream and Sea Bass for days on end, though the mounds of “punched” potatoes (whole potatoes, skins on, that are smashed once and put on your plate) and overcooked vegetables remain after only the bones of the fish accompany them.  Is this the place I had the worst panna cotta ever, though until now, I have never met a panna cotta I didn’t love? But this was grainy, gritty, and not creamy at all. Sigh.  Maybe it was last night.  I can’t remember where, but I surely know the fact of my disappointment.

Tomorrow it’s back on my coastal walking feet.

Signs that I’m on the right path




Posted in Miscellany | 7 Comments

On The Boardwalk

September 15-16, 2018: Matosinhos to Povoa de Varzim

Before I began this Camino, I promised myself I would travel only what was a bit farther than comfortable . . . I’ve done two full Caminos in the past and have nothing to prove to myself or anyone else . . . Ria has walked more than twice the number of Camino paths than I have done, and she agreed.  Not only do we agree, but there are not enough days in my travel plans to allow either of us to walk the entire way to Santiago de Compostela (SDC), so we already know that buses or taxis are in our future for the next two weeks.  We will walk and then leap frog from here to SDC.

I also told friends that if I find a nice little beach town, I might settle in there for an extra day, just because, and I hope I will find that along the way. So here we go!

Saturday, we began just north of Porto on the coast at Matosinhos, the suggested start for this Senda Litoral (literally the “coastal path”), with beach, boardwalk, families swimming, playing in the sand.  Children with brown bodies and board shorts, little dogs walking everywhere, running to catch up with their owners, then stopping to sniff and sniff again.

Beach bars/cafes one after another for awhile, all with the same “toasta” with butter or “mixed” (with melted ham and cheese).  Then a span of just beach, rocks, native grasses and flowers, the boardwalks, hard sand paths, cobblestones and pavers stringing towns with one another through the sea wilderness.

The boardwalks don’t do well with walking sticks unless one has those rubber caps on the ends.  Mine do not, but Ria has an old pair she loans me.  Unfortunately, a few yards down the way, the boardwalk slat eats one of my “new” caps, so now I’m sort of a limp-along walker, because otherwise I’m pulled backward about every other step, left stick stuck in the space between the boards.  Sigh.

No matter my great effort, my backpack seems too heavy, because it’s my first day.  I did no training for this Camino, so I’m definitely waiting for the Camino to train me.  But two Granny Smith apples and two wedges of Parmesan cheese do not help lighten my load.

I see very few pilgrims today, perhaps a dozen or so, all German, it seems.  Ria and I part after half a day because she still walks faster than I do,  But we will meet in La Bruge tonight at a private guest house at which I have reserved a room for us.  Very nice, newly renovated, but unfortunately the owner forgot to “renovate” the barking dogs out of the neighborhood.  They kept us awake on and off throughout the night.  At one point, I (very ineffectively) shouted, “QUIET!” out the window, but perhaps the dogs only spoke Portuguese.

Speaking of the Portuguese language, it doesn’t sound like any language with which I am familiar.  Sort of Spanish Russian, and all I know is “obrigado”, the Portuguese word for “thank you”, and “bom dia”, the typical greeting, so similar to Spanish.  But to listen to conversations as I walk, still, PortoRuski with a lot of “x”s and extra “h”s in the words!

I’m again trying to get the hang of inserting photos into the posts, so my imperfect efforts will have to do at this point. A clump and then more narrative.

Their comforting caw accompanies every step of my walk

Boardwalk above coastline

What a strange sight! Similar to the Cowboy Bar on the Camino Frances.

First walking day – 16.8 km. Matosinhos to LaBruge

Sunday – Good breakfast at Casa de Praia in La Bruge, and then off again to the boardwalk, headed for a bed in a small hotel in Povoa de Varzim.  Again, Ria and I waved good luck to one another, and her speedy little body put more and more space between us.

I see already that I can’t escape my Colorado life, because I have had to schedule a phone appointment with my Vermont attorney for some real estate business.  I stop in Mindelo for more toastas and a sparkling water, retrieved my computer from my pack, and had my conversation with Bill.  Buiness accomplished.  But before and after that call, my walk was comforting in its repeat of yesterday.  Boardwalks, stone paths, hard sandy paths, towns and then no towns, towns and then no towns,  The families still out for their weekend excursions with little ones, both children and doggies.

Lets me know I’m on the right path to Santiago!

I am tired, though I realize I’m constantly tired, no matter what country I’m in, so nothing for it but to keep walking.  Sometimes a change of shoes, from my Keen Targhee IIs to the Teva hiking sandals, which does give some relief.  Now that I have a new pair of orthotics, I feel my first two toes pushed more to the front of the shoes, which doesn’t help when I have 20+ pounds on my back as well. Changing to the sandals does help, though I can’t just carry the Keens . . . adding even MORE weight to my pack. I suppose this computer could be ditched, but it’s not going to be my first choice . . . maybe my swiss army knife will have to go, along with the sunscreen (hey, I’m Italian/Lebanese), the arnica cream, and my compass (I have one on my phone anyway).

Just as I thought I was getting to the end of the day’s walk, I approached Vila da Conde, whose coastal path takes a detour around a river port in the middle of town, adding another 6 km to the journey.  Lovely walk, but more than I was prepared for.  Stopped for another “toasta mixta”, basically two pieces of Wonder Bread, toasted enough to melt the ham and cheese inside, but not the bread itself.  Then spread with butter on the outside, making for a greasy mess of basic sustenance, along with a fruit drink of some sort.  The anxious-to-please young man behind the counter assured me, “You will like it, you will like it, yes?”  And I did like the juice.  What was not to like about this sandwich?  But for the Wonder Bread . . .

By the time I found the water again, I was done for the day.  A taxi on a Sunday is hard to find, but a nice hostess at an oceanside restaurant got one for me.  Not sure it was worth it, because the man looked like Wally Shawn without the intellect . . . he kept turning around to ask me where he was supposed to go, all the while driving in the Sunday traffic out of Vila de Conde.  In Povoa de Varzim, my destination, he was completely flummoxed by the address (on a main street, mind you), and I finally just asked him to stop the car.  I could walk.  He made mincing apologies, took my money and I headed for the centro.

My Google Map pointed in the direction, but I was stopped by 1) an ambulance headed for a very crowd-lined street, and I saw a woman in a Sunday dress lying on the street with people gathered around her.  Apparently too hot for her, so I skirted the chaos, prepared to walk through the crowd (obviously some sort of Sunday celebration or parade), but I was stopped by a policeman, who pointed to a parade of priests walking down the middle of the avenue.

No way was I going to wait for this parade.  A Peregrino on her own mission, I stepped as close to the curb as I could, passing the line of waiting pedestrians, and ultimately crossing the path of rows of holy men, virgins in sparkly dresses with long trains, and at the head of the line, six men hoisting The Virgin Mary on a flowered pedestal.  I almost blindly walked across the entire thing, trying not to bang anyone with my backpack or sticks.

Finally arrived at the hotel, Réve d’Or, a tall green building with a marble staircase.

Our one night humble abode

I knew Ria was already settled in the room, because I had received a text from her, but the man who wanted to put me in a different room could not understand that.  Both of our names were on the reservation, and still, I am standing in room A, while Ria is in Room G.  Finally, I hear Ria’s voice echoing through the stairwells, “Joannah?  Where ARE you?”  And the man’s wife, presumably, hustles up the stairs behind Ria to motion us to the correct room, and we are settled.  Ria has broken the stem of her glasses and will go scouting for an optician, I need to find a post office to send “a few things” on to SDC, and we agree that we will get a bus schedule so we can hopscotch 45 km tomorrow to catch ourselves up to the number of days we have remaining. Now that’s settled.  On to more imminent needs.

Shower.  Naptime.  Then dinner.


(NOTE TO FELLOW GRAMMAR GEEKS:  I am completely aware that my tenses change from present to past and back again. For today, my choices are two:  change all to present, which is how I typically write these, or throw up my hands and make a face.  I choose the latter.)




Posted in Beginnings, Boardwalks and sand paths, Camino de Santiago, Camino Portugues, Getting started, Hiking oceanfront, Women Walking | 6 Comments