The idea to do the Portuguese Camino was settling when we were also looking for a place to meet up with our good friends Theo and Jan and Ray and Jan to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We all got married on the same day, went for our honeymoon at Hayman Island and met. Since then we have gathered to celebrate 20, 25, 30 and 35 year anniversaries along with sharing other life events. This time, with Ray (and Jan) working out of Belfast and Theo (and Jan) retired and living in Melbourne, we chose Madrid as no one had visited this city before. After a few days in Madrid, we bused around Spain and then said our farewells.
Wednesday 6th April Lisbon After a long ride from Madrid in a sleeper cabin we arrived at the hotel to find once again it was 50m from the top of the main drag in Lisbon. Our rooms were not ready but we were chatted-up by a tour guide, Francisco, who said that as he did not have any bookings he would give us a good deal and take us all around the town. It proved to be a great day and Francisco, a great guide. He was also a surfer and had surfed with Mat Wilkinson when they were in Portugal. He also had done tow-in surfing at double overhead at Nazare and had the photos. It was a great day and actually quite hot and sunny. Tomorrow he is taking us to some of the surfing spots as well as the forts and castles along the coast. Thursday 7th April Lisbon Today we went for a tour of Sintra. The Pena palace, the gardens of the Quintra da Regaleira, lunch at a local seafood restaurant and then down to the coast at Cabo de Roca (the most western point of the Iberian peninsular) and then down the coast to the idle rich section. A few more local surf breaks, some forts and then gradually back to the hotel. Sintra is a special place. High up in the clouds and the summer place for royalty Friday, 8th April 8, Lisbon Decided for our last day in Lisbon we would walk through the old town, up to the fort and mail some clothes and stuff up to Santiago.
Saturday 9th April Tomar We are now saying goodbye to Theo and Jan who are going straight up to Porto today while we are only going as far as Tomar. A quick train ride up to Tomar and we were in Templar country but we had no idea at the time, of the revelations that would unfold over the next 2 days Settled in to our hotel/ pension and then went out for lunch and a walk. Also saw our first yellow Camino arrow walking into town from the train station. Visited The Church of Santa Maria do Olival. The resting place for the Grand Master Templar Guardime Pais who founded Tomar. Another grand master was Henry the Navigator. So with the wealth and wisdom of the Templars, Vasco de Gama and others found the new world and it was all planned in Tomar. Also in the church is an undated and unique statue of Mary Magdalane and after enjoying a tour by the young lass that was there we were shown the holy grail- a chiseled and still clear outline of the cup dating back to the 13th century on one of the floor pavers. During the Inquisition all traces of the templars were removed from the church but these were saved from destruction. Some 20 knights were buried in this church along with Pais. There is also one of the few surviving statues of Mary breastfeeding the young Jesus behind the alter. It was an amazing tour by the young lady.
Sunday 10th April Tomar Well if it could not get any better The Templar castle - 15 out of 10. After breakfast at 8am and under a grey sky with rain, we walked up to the castle. We were amazed at the excellent state of the castle and then we found the Capella. The inside columns were modelled on the Temple of Solomon and were simply magnificent. The only blemish was some of the lower paintings were taken by Napoleon. We could have stayed there all day but we headed to the cafe for a hot chocolate and then down to the town for a light lunch of tea, beer and hot chicken pies. Later we had a walk around the town, the river and the 15th century Synagogue. We also found the Camino path leaving Tomar. Anther point of interest was the Festival of the Trays to be held in July. Looks great but we are 2 months too early. We finished the day with a clear blue sky and a great dinner.
Monday 11th April Coimbra We got the fast train to Coimbra early In the morning and checked into River Suites. We took a walk through the town which lasted for 6 hours. Coimbra is an old roman town, once was the capital of Portugal and now a University town. The highest point in the whole hilltop town is the University tower. Had a look through the legendary library and saw the outside of the medical centre. Then a few churches some which started around 1100 ad. Finally we went to a Fado Concert to end the day. Tomorrow Porto.
Tuesday 12th April Porto We arrived for a few days before we set off on the Camino and 3 days were not enough. We arrived around 1pm and were met by Theo and Jan and set off to see a bit of Porto. We found the Cathedral Se' and collected our passports. Great views were available from the 11th century cathedral It was pretty cold so we headed back to the hotel, changed and had dinner at a close Turkish restaurant. As always the manager was very obliging and we had a great night. Fortunately Real Madrid was playing another European team and won which made the cafe patrons very happy. Unfortunately, the cafe did not carry a bottle of Mateus Rose. Later we said our goodbyes to Theo and Jan who were leaving very early in the morning to catch the train to Santiago. They will be there 24 days before us. So officially the 40th anniversary celebrations with Theo and Jan and Ray and Jan Williamson concludes.
Wednesday 13th April First full day in Porto We did a bag of washing and had a coffee while a raging storm hit town. It really teemed down for over a half hour then bright sun for the rest of the day. We purchased a round trip on the hop-on bus and did the full loop. Around 2pm we got off and had lunch near the Livraria Lello. This is the bookshop who many say is the loveliest bookshop in the world. It also was the inspiration ( the staircase) for Harry Potter. We also went down to the sea and retraced the track we will take when we walk out of Porto on Friday. Then we went down the river to where we will get the boat cruise and wine cellars tour tomorrow.
Thursday, April 14, Porto Last day in Porto today. We had a 2 day hop-on bus, the Douro river cruise -the 5 bridges and a tour of the Cockburn port wine cellars. The tour was amazing and I have a bottle of 20 year old Tawny Port to take with me on our walk. The weather today largely held off as I was able to wear my socks inside my sandals all day without them getting wet. Finished a long day with a hot bowl of vegetable soup. Walking in the morning
Whilst we could not get a bottle of Mateus Rose when Theo was here, we did find a pingodoce (supermarket) who had had a bottle for €1.99 and tasted really nice. Sorry Theo and it had a screw top.
And what a memorable trip it has been to date. Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Granada, Valencia, Barcelona, Zaragoza and then Lisbon and Porto. Tomar for us will also and always be a special place and Coimbra. Now to pull on those boots on Friday.
Friday, 15th April Day 1, Porto to Matoshinos
Well the day started with rain and ended with cold windy and torrential rain that wet us to the core. St James would have been tested. We thought we had it covered but we were way wrong. The walk out from Porto and along the river was pleasant with only light rain falling intermittently. But then we hit the coast and the Atlantic threw everything it had at us. Linda's rain gear gave up around 3kms out of Matoshinos and we were both drenched to the bone and freezing. It was up there as the longest 12km I have ever walked. Then once in town, we looked for our hotel which proved harder that I would have imagined. We got three separate directions, a ride in the back seat of this lovely lady's car who said she was going that way and would drop us off and finally we resorted to drying the phone so I could read my booking.com details and realised we were in the right street, we just had to locate the Casa street number. After a bit more walking , this was sorted and once again, Casas do not have a hotel entrance they are just a door off the footpath which you need to knock on. Fortunately, we had a lovely hostess, who got us quickly into our room, turned up the air con to maximum dry and then we found a laundry just down the road. We dried all our wet clothes (not our boots) for 4 Euro and then across the road was the Waiema Surf Shop where I purchased a long sleeve Rip Curl surf top which would better protect Linda on the cold and wet days. Later on it cleared up and we went to dinner. It was great - Fried shrimp, Vegetable soup Grilled sea bass and whiting, roast potatoes and salad followed with Biscuit cake Custard cream, 1 half litre of vino tinto, Coffee and tea and a liquor - Burnt water and almond.
Saturday 16th April - Day 2 Matoshinos to Vila do Conde
Today we set out from Matoshinos to a cloudy sky with slight rain. This was ok and we made good time. Then a big squall headed our way. We were a bit more prepared but still were dripping wet when we entered this small cafe for lunch. We sat down while the storm moved on with vegetable soup and we then shared fried shrimp with rice and a 1/2 bottle of vino tinto. Soon the sun came out and took us all the way to Vila do Conde. The down side is that with the two days being so tough. Linda has a few blisters. So Day 2 Portuguese Camino deja vu with our Camino Frances in 2014. Today we walked on the beach boardwalks and even took the boots off to walk on the sand. This was nice albeit still very cold. The water temp was still sub 5 degrees. We also met up with and walked into Vila with a young US and a Canadian girl. They were pretty tired after setting out from Porto that morning. When we arrived at the River suites we found out that booking.com had duplicated our booking. Once we sorted this out, we then asked if we could stay a further day. When the answer was yes, I can tell you we were mighty pleased.
Sunday 17th April Day 3, Vila do Conde
We woke to a beautiful sunny day and had a walk up the river to the mouth. Missed out competing on a fun run but made it up with lunch
We then walked up to the Santa Clara monastery. The monastery has been significantly restored and is currently vacant. We asked a few folk what is planned to use it, but no one had any idea. I think it would make a good Parador Hotel....
Up there you also get a better appreciation for the aqueduct. We then made our way back down town via the mother church.
Tomorrow we will resume our walk and head inland to Arcos
Monday 18th April - Day 4, Vila do Conde to Arcos
This was stated in Brierley to be 10 to 12 easy kms. We started with a high cloud mass. Cool most times but a bit warm in the middle of the day. But a few firsts -Cork trees outside Touguinha and staying in a place that will charge over €100 for a private apartment. But reportedly, very nice. But we are officially now on the Camino Real. Linda's feet held up with the a shorter walk that saw us hit Arcos around 1pm after a rather late start (9:30 to 10am) But we are now in the country and if the internet had the ability to load up smells we are back with the smell of natural fertilizer .... with the racing rivers, stone bridges that tell of ageless times and little churches that have stood for centuries. We settled into the Quinta Sao Miguel and had a brief walk around town and after cleaning up had dinner in the accommodations restaurant. It was lovely with three courses and wine and coffee.
Tuesday, 19th April Day 5 - Arcos to Pedra Furada
Great breakfast -continental with fresh squeezed oranges and a hot boiled egg in a little crocheted beanie. We paid our account and found to our surprise that with room, dinner and breakfast it was just under 80 Euros all up for the two of us. The proprietor has a warm heart for us pilgrims. Just as we were about to leave a quick shower started which caused us to change our gear. But soon out on the track it stopped with occasional sun but mostly cloudy until we found our stop for the day. Met a few pilgrims along the way - Spain, Portugal, Germany, Swiss, American and British. No Aussies so far. Arrived at our accommodation which is mentioned in Brierly and again it was not readily obvious. But after a few questions we were once again, having that hot shower and taking off the boots. We had a lovely dinner at the in house restaurant. The steak was just great and the wine was smooth. The strawberries were a bit too sharp for me. I even had some of the green vegetables which I found out was a type of cabbage (to those who know me, one of my major failures was at being a vegetarian).
Wednesday, 20th April - Day 6 Pedra Furada to Barcelos
Whew that was close. We were having breakfast when in came Ted -. 2 ton Ted.... Perhaps our shortest walk today at 9kms but it was interesting going through what was market gardens, big country houses with well tended gardens and then Barcelos which was getting ready for their annual celebration- Festival of the Crosses.
Barcelos also has a story about a Rooster . It goes like this, a stranger is accused of a crime and sentenced to hang. The convicted man manages to address the judge and says " It is as certain that I am innocent as it is certain that this rooster will crow when they hang me....." Nowadays, the “Crucifix to the Lord of the Rooster” (Cruzeiro do Senhor do Galo) can still be seen at the Archeological Museum of Barcelos
The Hotel de Terco was found and had this strange setup being inside this mall and fronting two streets. Also the WIFI worked on floor 2 and below. We were on floor 3. but all was good, there was a lounge on 2 were you could sit and the bar downstairs allowed you to take coffee and food back up to the room. Took a photo of the corridor leading down to our room in the Hotel do Terco. It reminded me of a scene in the Shining
Thursday , 21st April - Day 7 Barcelos to Balugaes . The walk was good. A mixture of cobbled roads and dirt roads. Once again the irrigation ditches and creeks were running a banker but clear as crystal. We must have walked further than I thought as Linda's feet began to object. Met some nice German walkers and also lucked out again with our overnight accommodation. Quinta da Cancela - an old 16th century farmhouse with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, sitting rooms and thankfully, oil heaters. The owner Jorge and Carla brought dinner down to the kitchen as well as breakfast in the morning. A bit about the Camino food. We were speaking with Jorge about dinner. After he informed us he would order it at a local cafe and bring it to our kitchen I mentioned that we would like 2 soups, only 1 main meal (pork chops etc which we would share) and 1 dessert and wine of course. Let me first say the dinner was just excellent, but the 6 pork chops with 2 side salads and veges was a bit much for 1 meal. I asked Jorge if he could have eaten it. He replied that he could if he did not have the soup..... They were excellent hosts and I wish them well as they are just starting up in the accommodation business . The accommodation was just great. Very faithfully restored and the old wine press in a nearby building was this large stone bowl about 15 feet in diameter and standing 6 feet tall. This was where the ladies used to stamp the grapes. Jorge came out in the morning to wish us off.
Friday 22nd April -Day 8. Balugaes to Ponte de Lima 20 kms
First thing- 100kms this far We woke up to a lovely breakfast in the old farmhouse kitchen. Then headed of at around 9am. The walk was ok but our packs are way too heavy. We are not using half the stuff. So along the way we are thinking- that can go etc. We stopped finally when we found a cafe. Two Swiss guys who passed us around 12 after giving us a 16km start were there and invited us to share their table. One guy also gave Linda his untouched 1/2 tuna salad sandwich which he could not finish. I had the soup which turned out to be bean soup. I got about half through before I could not go on. Then it was a long slow walk into Ponte de Lima. We got in around 3.30pm. It has also now dawned on us that the 25th April is the anniversary of the revolution in 1974 so accommodation is at a premium. So no rest day tomorrow. Another 18kms. But we did manage to get to the post office and sent another 5kgs to Santiago. About 3 to 4kgs were from Linda's pack . We also are finding that Booking .com is not much use in the smaller towns so the reception staff have been great to get ongoing bookings.
Also heard the terrible news, Prince, you live on in your music . RIP. Post note. Our 5kg package is still having a holiday in Portugal after failing to be delivered. We are not particularly happy with that outcome and are still exchanging emails.
Saturday 23rd April - Day 9 Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes 18kms
Today it was up and over the Cruz dos Mortos "Hill of Death" where Napoleon''s troops were ambushed. It was 450m high but fairly steep and rocky. Reminded me of a few climbs on the Kokoda Challenge. Linda went up and over really well and 7 hours later we were in our room for the night. One problem was that I found some dubious withdrawals on my cash card which resulted in me suspending the cash card. Will have to check it out when I get home. Rest day tomorrow. Will have a good nights sleep and revisit it tomorrow Sunday 24th April Day 10 rest day in Rubiaes
Not much to report as this town is very quiet. Last night the owner drove us down to a cafe restaurant and will do so again tonight. Nice pilgrim meal with a red wine Had to get a taxi this morning to take us to Coura where we could get some cash out. We also called cash passport and explained the situation. It looks like we are ok. But it was nice to do nothing and sit in the sun. A walk or two and meet new pilgrims as they arrived. We are off to Valenca in the morning
Monday 25th April -Day 11 Rubiaes to Valenca
Impossible blue skies greeted us as we set out on an 18km day with a 250m climb, two roman bridges, a number of boggy paths which slowed us up and had us seeking alternate paths. Arrived in Valenca and had a hot walk into the centre of town and our hotel. After a shower we slept until 7.30 when we then had dinner.
.Tuesday 26th April - Day 12 Walk to Tui
We have now reached 150kms. We farewelled Portugal by walking through the fort and the old village in Valenca. I must say that Portugal was amazing with amazing people. If I was to say one thing, it is that the Portuguese language is very difficult to pick up, and it is great that they do have a good command of English.
So we overcame Linda Briscoe's fear of heights and open bridges. It is a 130 year old meccano (Linda's terminology) bridge which connects Portugal to Spain. Tui is also an amazing town that is overlooked by Valenca . The town is pretty tired looking just across the bridge, but into the old part it is beautiful. We are staying a further night here as tomorrow we will catch a bus down to the coast to the fishing town of A Guarda. It is noted for its picturesque harbour area and also its seafood restaurants
Wednesday 27th April - Day 13 Additional day in Tui.
First up we had a walk around the back of the church to one of the first buildings and roads in Tui. Bus trip Yeh.... Better than a theme park ride rocketing through the old villages in this big ol bus. Down from Tui to A Guarda for a lobster lunch and we were not disappointed. My only issue is that I had to choose the unlucky lobster from the tank. We had a celebratory drink to Glenda Noall for her birthday. Had a walk out onto the sea wall. They must get some big seas.
Thursday 28th April -Day 14 Tui to Porrino
Dawn broke with blue skies The walk out of Tui was interesting going out through the old town which we had not explored. We settled into a 3km an hour amble and off over roman bridges, back roads and then came to a place where we met a local Camino guy. He told us of an alternate path that we then took all the way into Porrino via the river.
There is a lot of skullduggery going on in this neck of the woods as the local shop owners want pilgrims to continue to walk through the industrial area and past their shops. The local Camino group want pilgrims to enjoy the walk by going through a nature reserve, along the river and very pleasant. Yellow signs are being blacked out and others being removed. I can see both sides of this argument. I hope they can resolve it amicably.
.Friday 29th April - Day 15- 15kms Porrino to Redondela
The overnight stay at the Parque Hotel in Porrino was great. Right on the main square. Breakfast was a bit strange. We got coffee with a roll and butter and jam. That was it. Others got juice, ham and cheese, cold water etc. Suffice to say Sybil, Basil and Manuel are alive and living large here. The walk today was ok and we were accompanied by a Belgian walking group, a young American and some Germans. Still no Aussies.
I got myself a Portuguese Camino shirt from a dedicated shop for pilgrims in Mos along the way. We then climbed up and over Monte Cornedo (at 235m it was more of a hill).
We came into Redondela and Linda asked me where we were staying. I said I do not have a clue. So I took out my phone to check for my booking .com email. Without wifi the email would not come up. Linda then said she was in need of a loo stop after 8kms so lets go in here to have a coke. The cafe owner brought out our two drinks plus two tapas. He also had WIFI. I found my email and asked him where we were. He said here but also the accommodation was here.. We then saw that our apartment ( Alvear Suites) was literally two doors up. We had to go to another nearby cafe for the keys and to register, but it is a full suite. Not bad at all. Just had the best shower. We were recommended to a restaurant behind the main albeurgue and had a great pilgrim dinner. The house special was grilled sole, but they had a very different name for it.
Saturday 30th April -Day 16 - 20 or so kms Redondela to Pontevedra
We started around 8:30 and a cold north wind was blowing right through you. The walk to Arcade took a bit longer than expected as we just could not get going and it was a pretty stiff climb and descent into Arcade and a climb out of it. We caught up with an Italian couple and as we talked we discovered they were also having a 40th anniversary in September and she was born in 1952 like me. He was having his birthday today and is 68. Nice couple; they were staying in Arcade for the night. Then it was a long walk over a couple of hills (circa 250m) and over the Roman route which now goes over up north and then over to Astorga where it started. Met two guys at the top who were selling drinks and also small leather ornaments for your pack. I got a boot in Bronco colours. On the way down we stopped at this cafe . The owners dog was friendly and so was the owner who sat with us and we drank his home-made red wine. Quite nice and it was hard to leave (as he kept filling up my glass) but we had to go as we still had 5kms to go.
Sunday 1st May Day 17 - 24kms Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis
Today was our longest day which saw us crossing 200kms. The walk was pleasant with stops at San Amoro and O Furancho de Barosa. Horses followed us as did 50 pilgrims who jumped out of a bus outside Arcade yesterday. We put on some music - Bee Gees and Boz Scaggs which took us into Caldas. When we got here we realized we went back to the 30's with a hotel which had been here since 1813 and working the hot thermal springs since then. After our complimentary 30 minutes in the spar we went over the river for a beer. While there we watched the rest of the pilgrims arrive. There was a fisherman who was working the river. We saw him catch a nice trout.and after that we walked up the river bank, through the park and found this nice quiet cafe for dinner. This consisted of a small pizza, fettuccine fungi and lasagne with a bottle of red wine - Rioja . We then had a shared dessert and brought home half the pizza.
The Hotel Acuna It is just like an old grand hotel. The view from our sitting room windows overlooked the river. Not bad after our longest day walk and cracking over 200kms so far.
Monday 2nd May - Day 18 Caldas de Reis
The rest day in Caldas de Reis. Went for a short walk in town , had a massage and another half hour in the hot thermal pool and then a dinner in the same quiet little cafe. We really enjoyed our short stay in the Hotel Acuna and Caldas de Reis. We also found the public fountain where the hot water comes out of the taps and into a pond where it has been known for pilgrims to take off their shoes and soak their tired feet..
Linda swears she saw John Brierley in town this evening....
Caldas de Reis
Tuesday 3rd May - Day 19 Caldas de Reis to Padron - 18kms
After the break in Caldas we were eager to get going and the walk was very pleasant and we are starting to get our walking legs. The walk was just up and over a gentle hill. Along the way we met up with 2 Irish lasses, Linda and Cathy. What a day and what a night. I met my drinking match in Cathy. .Linda was from Dublin and quiet. Cathy was from Wicklow and we had a big night. At the start of the night, leaving the Hotel Chef Rivera, where we are staying, we met and talked with John Brierley who is updating his book and staying here as well. Linda was right, she did indeed see him in Caldas de Reis!!
We had a short chat and then excused ourselves to join up with Cathy and Linda who had invited us to join them for dinner. We should have stayed chatting.
Wednesday 4th May - Day 20- sick day and recuperation - Padron After a late start we got better as the day went on. We walked over the bridge and up the stairs to the hill where it is reported that James gave his first sermon. then back and through the old town. All in all we got to see quite a lot in Padron. Later we enjoyed a pilgrim dinner in the Hotel Chef restaurant . It was very swish and has entertained royalty over the years.
The ladies on the road to Padron, a chance meeting with John Brierley and the restaurant at the Hotel Chef Rivera
Thursday 5th May - Day 21 - Padron to Rua de Francos This morning we had breakfast and had a leisurely stroll to Rua de Francos. We were feeling a bit flat as once again we found ourselves near the end of the walk. It is a strange feeling of anticipation and sadness.
It was overcast and quite warm. We stopped at a small town and a very old Marian church. Here we were lucky to receive a sello when a kind attendant noticed us and opened the back of the church. I guess that was one thing we noticed; not a lot of the churches along the way were open and those that were did not have any person in attendance. So the stamps from churches were very few and far between. Our passport is filled largely accommodation and cafes etc.
After another set of questions we were eventually able to narrow down our search for our accommodation We stayed in this huge house for just the two of us. It was comfortable and the restaurant was able to provide some great food. Tomorrow we walk the last 12kms to Santiago.
Friday 6th May - Day 22. Rua de Francos to Santiago Well it had to happen. Off to Santiago in the rain. We had brekkie after 5 or so kms. The way in was quite pleasant and as you near Santiago there are a few options available to you. Again where some road works were happening, locals would point out the way.
The rain progressively got harder as the day went on. When we reached the outskirts of Santiago we felt we had finished but as you all know, there was still a ways to go. I should also say that the arrows here are few and far between. But we had a good idea where we were headed and eventually we sighted a familiar landmark, the Hotel Compostela and knew our hotel was very close.
After checking into the Hotel Lux we ditched the packs and went out in search of the pilgrims office. We walked out into the rain and after a reasonably quiet Portuguese Camino, were very surprised to see the large number of pilgrims lining up for their Compostela. After an hour we had to leave empty handed to try and find our 2 bags at the Post Office. We did find the main one in a courier office on the outskirts of town but the other looks lost in translation. PS - Parcel 2 from Ponte de Lima is still having a holiday in Portugal
Saturday 7th May - Day 23 Santiago So up at 7.30 and back to what was now a quiet office and received our compostela. The rest of the day we spent organizing our train travel to Segovia and shopping and walking the old town. We were keen to find a shop we recalled from our 2014 visit which had this bracelet that Linda remembered and which could replace the one stolen some years ago. No luck. but that night we went back to the vegetarian restaurant we had visited with our 2014 friend Mark on our last night together. We raised a glass for him and to his wife who had passed.
Sunday, May 8, - Day 24 Santiago We enjoyed the Sunday church service and to our surprise they used the Butafumeria. I videoed the last few swings this time to mainly catch the monks singing voice and then the rain stopped so we took advantage of the sun to have an ice cream. Then the predicted thunderstorm started to roll in. We got ourselves a tile to commemorate our pilgrimage from Porto and Linda got her stolen bracelet replaced when we sighted a similar one in Santiago. They were just closing their shop and reopened it for us. However the shop we were thinking of was later located but was shut.
Postscript The Portuguese Camino was very different to the Camino Frances. First it was not as physically demanding. Second the churches along the way did not seem as if they were a part of the walk. Many were closed and those open were unattended. Thirdly, the camaraderie between pilgrims was friendly but reserved as you did not have that "see you again later" feeling. The walk from Porto was too short to allow that to happen. Might be quite different if walking from Lisbon. Fourth and final, you do walk a lot on cobbled roads and some are shared with cars and bikes, so you need to keep aware when in those situations. That having been said, the people were great and the countryside was magnificent with green grass and bubbling rivers. Would I recommend it - yes as it still has that quiet reflective opportunity that seems to be passing on the very busy Frances.
Final Comment You may recall we mentioned that the clothes etc that we sent from Ppnte de Lima were still having a holiday in Portugal. You may also recall our tour guide Francisco in Lisbon. Well the package and Francisco after much effort came together and he was able to then send our package to us here in Australia. So all is well. Linda got her cherished PNG Billum back and I got my Goretex jacket.