Category Archives: blogging

Caminho Portuguese: Bonus Round #3

Any Portuguese town looks like a bride’s finery – something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.  – Mary McCarthy

August 23-24, 2019

Using old school maps we walk along the metro line in Matosinhos until we need to go away from it to find our hostel for the next two nights. (Actually, Randy and Joan read maps and I just follow.) We manage to wind around neighborhoods, a large hospital, and cross crazy traffic until Randy spies a tiny sign in front of the building – Oportocean Hostel.

A metro line stop is practically in our back yard, so off we go to the old section of Porto, to take advantage of a free Porto Walking Tour advertised. Look for the orange umbrella for a tour in English. The tour guide is fabulous, taking us all around the old city centre, along the Douro River, while pointing out interesting landmarks and sharing a tremendous amount of history for two full hours. This young lady will do very well in life and we make sure to tip her accordingly.

Shame on people that ditch a tour when it is almost over to avoid tipping. Rant over.

Caminho Portuguese: Bonus Round Day #2

Don’t count the days, make the days count. ~Muhamed Ali

Wednesday, August 22, 2018: 12+ kilometers

Short YouTube video of Bonus Round Day #2:

We exit Oporto Brothers Hostel in Porto, Portugal to make our way along the tile covered sidewalks along with a throng of tourists and locals.

Don’t be fooled by Google Map’s estimated time for walking. It’s not an easy task to navigate the narrow streets, alleys and steep steps to reach the River Minho. Let’s just say we like to make things more of an adventure.

First stop is to locate Sao Bento Railway Station (for later reference) and we find it to be an amazing sight to behold. Large azulejo “paintings” representing historical events in Portuguese history line the walls. There are approximately 20,000 azulejo tiles, dating from 1905–1916, composed by Jorge Colaço, an important painter of azulejo of the time.

We continue up the hill to the Porto Cathedral which seems to have been a work in progress for some time as it displays three major historical styles: Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque.

Image from Visit Portugal. No copyright infringement intended.

Construction began in the 12th Century and continued to be a work in progress into the 18th Century which explains the different architectural styles. It is the largest place of worship in Porto and one of the oldest historical monuments.

Now its time to follow the yellow arrows through the maze of narrow streets and find our way to the Minho River.

Fishtail Hostel, our home for the night just a few blocks from the beach.

Caminho Portuguese: The Bonus Round #1~Back to Portugal

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

We bid farewell to Albergue Seminario Menor, Santiago, Spain and hike to the bus station to catch a bus back to Porto, Portugual. It’s kind of interesting to speed past towns and the path that took us fourteen days to walk.

Upon arrival in Porto we fire up Google Maps and proceed to locate Oporto Brothers Hostel. Intersections do pose to be a challenge when there are at least six or eight streets fanning out from the center, but with the help of locals, police and Google Maps we find our way to the correct neighborhood. Things begin to appear more run-down in this section of town… don’t think I’d want to wander too far in the dark around here. Google Maps says we have arrived, but we see nothing as to signage for our hostel. What to do? Start knocking on doors, I guess, until someone helps us. Yep, that works… we find the hostel name on a tiny hand written slip of paper taped to the doorbell.

Great accommodations at Oporto Brothers Hostel and serve our purposes well.

Tomorrow we’ll put one foot in front of the other and walk to the Porto cathedral to start our coastal section of Camino Portuguese. This may be a backwards approach to the camino, but it works for us. Make your own path, hike your own hike.

Portuguese Camino Day 12 ~ The race is on.

I find joy in living day to day, not in the future.

August 17, 2018 | 26.5 kilometers | Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

Apparently, we missed a huge celebration during the night and as we leave our hostel a little after 5 a.m. we find a young man slumped over a table. This larger facility has a security system, so this sleepy young man most likely found himself locked out of the building after partying. Oh well…

The groups of men huddled together near alleyways (especially near the ATM machine) bring our guard up a notch. Leaving town poses to be challenging in the dark, but friendly, young revelers help us out with directions to the river, so we find our way to cross the long bridge. An older gentleman on his early morning walk is also kind enough to give us a detailed city map and directions.

Why the early start? It appears no beds are available to reserve in our destination of Caldas de Reis, so we opt to race for the 50 beds at the Municipal Albergue. Excitement fills the air as we count out backpacks in line and discover we made the cut-off…46, 47, 48! The crowd of fellow pilgrims cheer along with us, Yay, Minnesota! We wait until the 1 p.m. opening and continue to stand in line as each pilgrim is slowly checked in. As we get closer to the building entrance we are able to chat with friends already checked in as they leave to shower at the city pool since the albergue showers are dirty. I overhear others leaving to go to the drug store to purchase bed bug spray. No big deal… at least it’s a bed and we’ll survive. We get within 4 people and discover they only have a total of 42 beds (per small hand written sign in door) and we are turned away.

Luckily, an assertive (Irishman that lives in Italy?) man with excellent Spanish speaking skills takes on the role of advocate for all of us waiting in line. The albergue employees say they can do nothing as there are no beds available in the whole town, so we all must start walking the 10 kilometers to the next town, (Even though it is now mid-afternoon.) Our spokesperson continues to argue and scolds them for not cutting off the line of pilgrims hours earlier to allow time for those of us without beds to walk on. He insists the community must attempt to accommodate this overflow of pilgrims and proceeds to call the police, churches and hospital to no avail. Not one to give up, he continues to plead his (our) case. Like a true Camino miracle, affordable beds a short walk away and just a few Euros more than the public albergue magically become available. Yes, the Camino provides…

Our Camino Angel advocate is still very upset with the municipal albergue and the unprepared, unresponsive community, so he continues walking down the road. I hope he finds a bed. 

This lady also has three beds for us above Bar Caldas. Now that would be a story to tell!!

Santaland 2018, Madison, MN

Fun holiday tradition located in Madison, Minnesota!
  • Christmas, my child, is love in action. ~ Dale Evans

Camino Portuguese Day 11: Camino Angel in the Night

Thursday, August 16, 2018 | Cesantes to Pontevedra |

19.6 kilometers

Albergue included breakfast for a fee so arrangements had been made for an early start  to try and beat the afternoon heat. The number of pilgrims has increased substantially since Tui, so the odds of scoring  beds, especially bottom bunks, appear to be slim to none in Pontevedra. Thus, we have a reservation at a hostal across the street from the public albergue. No worries today.

A large grocery store is within walking distance so the evening meal consists of lettuce salads and pizza washed down with wine, all consumed in our cozy little room.

Absolutely no available beds to be found in the next destination of Caldas de Reis so it’s early to bed ~ tomorrow will be an epic bed race for the 50 municipal albergue beds listed in the Brierley book.  Can we do it?

Camino Portuguese Day 7 ~ So Tired!

Sunday, August 12, 2018:  Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes, Portugal | 20 kilometers

Oh, so tired today.  Ponte de Lima festival included loud music from midnight to 3 a.m. this morning. The albergue balcony with open windows, due to the heat, allowed all of us in our section of beds to feel as though we were part of the fun and  merriment. Style of music was not the lullaby kind and the tremendous fireworks show after was lengthy, as well. Thus, little sleep, but that’s o.k.

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Warm temperatures today plus we climb the largest hill on Portuguese camino. By the looks of the photo above we tackled it like beasts! All rocky sections are compared to the Loch Lomond section along the West Highland Way and this was not as challenging.IMG_1078e

Beautiful views, but we must hustle along as we hope to score beds (bottom bunks) in the 5 euro Albergue de Peregrinos in Rubiaes, Portugal.

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Welcome!

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Yeah!! We arrive in time… Our home tonight is an old school converted to an albergue filled with bunk beds, well supplied kitchen, large dining area and outside patio/laundry area complete with clothes lines strung across the sunny yard.

Albergue de peregrino rubiaes beds
Image from Albergue de peregrinos website

Albergue de Peregrinos is an old school converted to house Camino pilgrims with rooms filled with bunk beds, well supplied kitchen, large dining area and outside patio/laundry area complete with clothes lines strung across the sunny yard.

Albergue de peregrino rubiaes clothesline
Image from Albergue de Peregrinos website

Chilling in the patio area outside, we meet a tall man from South Korea who has completed the whole Camino Frances from France to Finisterre, Spain and immediately started walking  the Camino Portuguese backwards from the coast. His current unemployment status has given him time for this lengthy endeavor and by now he can cover a tremendous number of miles each day. While you may be tempted to look at this as a mid-life crisis situation,  I would prefer to see it as an opportunity for personal growth. To each their own, right?

Short video featuring Camino Portuguese Day #7: