Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Barcelos Thursday Market

As a group we decided to spend the morning in the lovely town of Barcelos at the weekly market and the to skip a few stages (due to issues with Michelle) and then take the train to Valença at the border of Spain.  This would allow all the walkers to stll walk the final 100 kms, which is required to get the Compostela in Santiago.  I always love photographing markets around the world, so I had a great time today.  Also, SUNSHINE!!

Flower market

Girl I chased down to photograph

With her sister

Mural in train station

Fishing line

Art in the streets

What fantastic colors!

Flower market

Bread market

Who knows what kind of flowers these are--just gorgeous!

Birds of paradise flowers in market

Day 3: Wednesday May 21 - Barcelos to Balüges

This day was all about rain, rain, and more rain.  We had some brief showers on other days, but today the downpour was relentless and accompanied by wind.  In spite of ponchos, we all ended up wet, and exhausted.  Not many photos from today's walk: too wet to enjoy the scenery or take out cameras.  Even the Portuguese Longhorn looks like he is in a bad mood.

Bird of Paradise

Lemon tree

Pissed off Longhorn


The pilgrim look

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 2: São Pedro de Rates to Barcelos

We had already decided that the recommended stage was too long (27+ kms), so Margie and Kim started the walk at Arcos, and Syd and I chose a slightly shorter stage from Rates.  Meanwhile, the hotel staff helped to make an appointment for Michelle to get her foot x-rayed.  This walk was now on the main Camino path & the waymarks were excellent.  So much better for someone with a terrible sense of direction.  Some rain, but enough sunlight to periodically get dry.  Flowers, flowers....everywhere.  With so much moisture, it appears that everything grows, and there is color all around.  A pleasant walk until we get the news that Michelle's foot is broken and there will be no Camino on foot.  I feel so disappointed: had looked forward to have this time with she & Syd-- both friends from my former home if Austin.  And I so wanted to have her experience the peace and beauty that had repeatedly pulled me back to this retreat.  By the time we met up back in the hotel, we were all depressed & Michelle was devastated, thinking she would be returning to the US in a few days.   Finally, we decided as a group that we would revise my carefully devised plan and we would do a somewhat different Camino than anticipated.  I am not known for my flexibility, but I know I don't want Michelle to leave and then have to sit at home and not have help getting around.

Fountain by church for pilgrims to fill water bottles.

No idea what kind of flower, but very impressive 

House in the country

More lovely flowers

Idyllic setting

Village church

View if small village we passed through


Sign with both St. James (Santiago) & the symbolic shell of our journey

Day 1 of Camino: The Coastal Route

The day does not have an auspicious beginning.  My sore throat has become a horrid upper respiratory infection (think green slime) and Michelle is limping along and imagining that she is going to do the walk.  We get a late start (have to get antibiotics for me who never gets sick-only on vacation -and have to take the tram to the outskirts of the city), so I make an executive decision that Michelle cannot walk with us as it is going to be a very long day and she will slow all of us down.  Kim, who is an ex-ER physician, is concerned that it might be more than a bone bruise, so she encourages Michelle to take the train to the hotel where she will meet up with our bags.  The rest of us (down to 4 from the original 6: Syd, Kim, Margie & me) get a very late start ("crack of noon") and begin the Portuguese Camino on the poorly way-marked coastal route.  Most of the day is spent walking right along the sea.  However, at times the wooden path would abruptly end with a big drop-off, so we would have to venture into the nearby villages until we could find another path by the ocean.  It was during one of these searches that we "lost" Margie and could not reconnect for a couple of hours.  It was not always possible to get a signal to send a text and none of us knew exactly where we were located: all that was sure was that we had to walk north for about 25 kms.  Eventually we all found each other & emphasized the importance of having all the relevant info in one's backpack:  name & address of hotel as well as Brierley's Guide to the Camino.  Many frustrations occurred: my endless cough; Michelle having to spend a day alone with a painful foot; the inability to locate Margie; and the lack of clear directions.  In spite of it all, it was a magnificent walk: sunny; beautiful vistas of the ocean, and colorful small villages.

Kids playing on the beach

View of the sea

Some sort of beautiful flower

Fishing village

Cat who was trying to catch a seagull

The flowers in Portugal are truly amazing.  I never expected that it would look so tropical.

Portuguese woman who engaged me in extensive conversation in French (which I understand, but have forgotten how to speak) about her 40 years living in France & then her return to Portugal--all while leaning out her window.

Night descends on the Camino

A bit of the paved walking path


After three nights in Lisbon, we said goodbye to Susan (who had decided a while back, but after the purchase of airline tickets, that she was going to forgo the walk & visit friends in the UK instead) and headed to the train station.  Of course we all brought more stuff than absolutely necessary since we were planning to send some stuff by taxi.  So this is where the trip veered off the itinerary: Michelle was walking down the long flight of steps to get to the metro that would take us to the intercity train when she tripped and injured her foot.  It seemed to be only a bruise, but we would discover much later that it was a bit more serious.

The Lisbon train station had wonderfully colorful murals (which we would see all over the country):

We arrived in Porto in time for a short tour:

Mural on church ceiling

Big open space for kids, students & lovers

One of the 10 "Laughing Men" statues in the park: guide tells us they are laughing at the absurdity of all the corrupt government officials.

View of Porto