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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sunday, August 19, 2018 | Albergue Cruces Inn to Santiago de Compostela, Spain | 21 K
Reservations have been made at Seminario Menor (school, seminary and pilgrim hostel) in Santiago so we allow ourselves time to enjoy breakfast and plan for a leisurely walking day with no worry of racing to score beds. Really? Truth is, we are pretty excited to arrive in Santiago so it seems we keep a steady pace throughout the day.
We enjoy random encounters with friends made along the trail along with interesting conversations with new friends on this final hiking day. This is accompanied with a twinge of sadness knowing, most likely, we will never see them again. But, alas, this is the Camino. We experience a little piece of life together and move on. My hope is that they think of us as honest, decent, and kind human beings.
Thank you to all who took the time and energy to smile, laugh, converse and share experiences as we walked the same pilgrim path for this short while. Truly, the best thing about the Camino is the Camino.
Saturday, August 18, 2018: Caldas de Reiss to Cruces Inn, Escravitude, Spain|26 K
We bid farewell to the Lotus Palace (Does the name sound like it should be located in Asia?) at 5:25 a.m. hoping to put in a longer day thus reducing the distance tomorrow as we enter Santiago de Compostela. The past few days have been alongside the freeway N-550 so it is assuring to know we are not lost if we occasionally hear the busy traffic.
It’s always fun to visit with young people as we walk and Randy enjoys learning and sharing special handshakes, such as “The Squid,” with some of the young men we meet. Laughter is also shared along with the handshake.
We cross the bridge and enter the city of Padron which is the legendary starting point of St. James’ ministry in Spain and also the subsequent return of his mortal remains following his martyrdom in Jerusalem. We spend some time exploring the church and find it well worth the stop.
Challenge of the day is finding our destination of Cruces Inn (a new albergue) located past Padron and Escravitude, but asking directions and the prominent signs posted here and there lead us right to the door.
We locate the friendly owner in his office, check in to our lower bunks and explore the grounds. Cute, clean albergue rooms with storage units, bathroom/showers in two locations and a storage shed used for pilgrim overflow. Apparently, no kitchen so delicious food is ordered and delivered from town, while beer and wine is always on hand. Highly recommend Albergue Cruces Inn. Plus, we are promised coffee and breakfast in the morning ~ double hooray!!
These days of hiking have flown by… Santiago tomorrow!!