Thursday, September 18, 2008

I am now back in the UK visiting friends and family before flying back to New Zealand. After Santiago I went caught the bus to Finisterra which is a small fishing villiage on the western most point of Spain and in many pilgrims opinion the real finishing point of their camino. I would have to agree as there are very few tourists that visit this quiet corner of the earth and is an ideal place to hang out for a few days R&R.
The night before I left Santiago I caught up with a few people that I had walked cretain sections with and now have become friends. Matius, Florian, Verena and I had a nice meal in one of the restaurants near the Cathedral before having a few drinks in a nearby bar. Somebody suggested a round of Licor Cafe which is a potent homebrew similar to Tia Maria however it is a lot stronger. One round turned into several and the rest of the evening is just a blur although I do remember a lot of laughs and fun. Thanks guys and hope to see you all again one day.
Over the next few weeks I will be posting information about what to take, the alburgaes, daily costs etc and a rough break down on trail information so stay tuned.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Santiago De Compostala.

Today I arrived to my destination.. the cathedral in Santiago. I left Padron around 8am in the middle of a huge thunderstorm and walked in the rain for about an hour before it stopped. This was the first time during the trip that it had rained and luckily I had packed a plastic rain coat which I was thankful for to be able to pull out of my pack and put on.
The walk into Santiago wasnt that great as a lot of modern apertments have recently been built with the way passing through them blocking out the view from the top of the hill of Santiago city.
The area around the catherdral is jammed packed with pilgrims coming off the various different ways however I was able to spot a number of my fellow perigrinos in the main square outside the cathedral and had the obligatory photo taken of myself with the catherdral in the back ground.
Then it was off to a small hotel that had been recomended to me about a 5 minute walk from the center. It is a small, clean place that only costs 15 euro per night and as I plan to stay in Santiago two nights it is ideal.
Tomorrow I will go to the pilgrims office to recieve my compotala which is like a certificate to say that you have completed your camino. Then around midday they have a service inside the catherdral which I will have a look at.
I do not leave Santiago until the 4th september so I may do a small section of another walk before flying back to the UK.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

2 Days From Santiago De Compostala

The time seems to flown over the last few days. I have been getting into a routine of waking each morning around 6.30am, having a quick wash and a coffee and out the door around 7pm. Its still dark around this time but having sussed out where the trail go"s the day before and walking part of it I manage to head in the right direction. From there I walk about an hour or so or until the first open cafe where I have a coffee and something to eat. Normally a pastry type thing which keeps me going to my destination where I arrive around 1 - 2pm. I check into the Alburgae, claim my bed by unrolling my sleeping bag on it and have a shower. I then wash any clothes that need washing, socks etc, then its siesta time for a cople of hours. In the late afternoon I then hunt out a good place for dinner. Menu Del Dia which roughly translated is the menu of the day or whatever the chef has decided to prepare. It includes bread, beer or wine, salad, meat such as chicken, beef or pork, chips or rice and somtimes if your lucky dessert such as icecream. The price of this has varied along the way ranging from 5euros in Potugal to 9 here in Spain. When the accommodation only costs 3 euros per night, speding 9 euros on a big meal is no big deal.
Tonight I am in another hotel as the alburgae was 4km out of town and only has 24 beds so I thought I might get a decent nights sleep and be refreshed for the walk into Santiago De Compostala in 2 days time.
The alburgae tomorrow night is much larger so will be room for all hopefully...
Will let you know.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ponta Da Lima to Rubias to Tui to Redondela.

I am now in Spain. I crossed the border yesterday between Valenca and Tui. The last few places that I have stopped in havnt had internet cafes so apologies for the delay.
From Ponta Da Lima to Rubias was a great walk with lots of natural tracks, good tracks and lots of water fonts to stick my head under and wash away the sweat. And sweating I was as its been at least 40 degrees over the last few days. Rubias to Tui was a nice walk as well and I walked most of it with 2 german guys which made a nice change as they were both fluent in english and was able to have a good chat about all sorts of different topics.
Todays walk (31km) has by far been the worst with about 5km of an industrial area through Porrino and then walking along a busy road with a big hill to top things off.
The alburgaes have been good. Modern, new and clean although they are filling up to capacity each evening as people stagger in seeking shelter.
The last few mornings I have been getting upabout 6.30am, having a wash and making myself a quick cup of instant coffee to wake myself up and setting off walking by 7.30am.
Tomorrow will be the same as even though its a shorter distance 20km, I want to get there before it gets to hot.
Tommorrows destination is Pontevedra.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rates, Baecelos and now Ponta De Lima

Left rates yesterday morning in a not particulary great frame of mind as I was kept awake by cars driving past and mosquitos the size of helicoptors bombarding me all night. Others had similar experience.
Walked with a Spanish couple today, Marcus and Sonia. They had started their Camino in Lisbon and were walking up to 50km per day. Crazy! We got to Barcelos around lunch time (16.4kms) where a festival was being held. Lots of people and noise so I decided to walk with them to Ponta
De Lima another 33km down the road. I walked with them for a couple of miles and had to turn round and go back to Barcelos as the heat was just to much. I,m pleased I did as I checkeed into a nice hotel and a relaxing afternoon looking around the town.
This morning I left about 7am and had a long hot yet enjoyable day to Ponta De Lima, an historic villiage on the banks of the Rio Cavado. Spoilt myself to a nice hotel room overlooking the river as I felt that I deserved it. It includes breakfast and they gave me a discount for doing the walk.
I have seen about 10 others today, walking. Getting slightly busier although it is a saturday and people may be section walking on weekends.
Tommorrow is a short day only 17.1kms to Sao Roque where it will be all Alburgae accommodation to Santiago De Compostala. I may even be able to have a bit of a lie in, in the morning. Chau.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Porto to Rates

Caught the Mtero from Porto this morning to Forum Maia, a suburb on ther outskirts of the city. After a short walk I found my first yellow arrow near the local church and began walking towards Rates 27kms away. By lunch time it was beginning to become quite warm so stopped for a rest in a nice shady park in Vilaranho, a small town located at some cross roads.
The afternoon just seemed to get hotter and hotter and a lot of the way was on a road that although didnt have much traffic it was extremly narrow in places with cars and trucks wizzing by.
Arrived in Rates ariund 3pm at the Alburgae. An Alburgae is like a hostel for pilgrims and vary in comfort. This one has all the mod cons, kitchen, showers etc. At present there are 4 others who arrived today who are all from Spain. I left them comparing their blisters with one another. One will not be walking for quite some time as his feet, to put it mildly are knackered. All bruised and blistered. Good foot wear and practice walks in preparation was the lesson learnt to day.
Short day tommorrow, only 16km to Barcelos. Chau for now.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Yesterday I arrived in Porto after a rather long day of trains planes and automobiles. Somehow I managed to work out the metro system at the Porto airport and found my hotel with not to much difficulty. Its not the Ritz but its central to everthing and has AC, an ensuite and a TV so cant complain too much. Actually for a central city hotel it was surprisingly quiet at night and so was able to have a good nights sleep.
This morning I went in search of my credencial which I thought was going to be a mission in itself. I walked to the cathedral and lo and behold outside was 4 people wearing packs and holding walking poles. " Are you guys walking the camino portugues?" I asked. Cee, Cee they replied. They are from Spain if you hadnt guessed. They had just come out of the cathedral having got ther credential inside. A credential by the way is what you need to have in order to stay at the accommodation places on the way. It is a little booklet thing which gets stamped at either the walkers hostels or churches and even bars and cafes.
So I walked in and asked at the desk and as if by magic the guy handed one over. I thought it was going to be a bit of a time consuming excercise tracking one down but how easy was that. At that stage it was only 9am and I was tempted to go back to my hotel, grab my pack and head off on the trail. Good thing I didnt as I decided instead to have a look around the city. I bought a ticket for a hop on, hop off bus and had a look around Porto. Porto is of course famous for its Port wine. I got off the bus at a wine cellar and had a short tour of the cellar or wine cave as they are called and sampled a few.
Tommorrow I am going to be heading away earlyish to begin the walk to Santiago De Compostala. I am catching the metro to to a place about 10km from the cathedral as the first part is mainly walking through the city on roads and I can not be bothered with that. The guys that I meet this morning were walking right from the start and I will probably catch up with them tomorrow.
The register of people that picked up their credential from the cathedral and are walking the camino over the last week or so numbers about 5-6 per day. Not many which is good as it wont be anywhere as near as busy as the Camino De Santiago. Having said that however others may have picked up their credential elswhere so there may be more. Time will tell and I should have a good idea of numbers by tomorrow night.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A brief Introduction

Hi, This is my first post of many hopefully over the next couple of months about walking the Camino Portugues, a 240km walk from Porto in Portugal and finishing in a city called Santiago de Compostala in Spain.
Firstly a little about myself. My name is Greg and I am from New Zealand and I live in the nicest town in NZ called Picton which is in the Marlborough Sounds at the top end of the South Island. I am the owner/operator of a guided walking business called Natural Encounters Guided Walks I organise walking holidays and guide people on the Queen Charlotte Track, a 71km coastal path staying in small boutique lodges. Lots of fun, check it out.
Thats enough business plugging for now, on with the main subject.
At the moment I am in Picton waiting to fly out next week to the UK to catch up with friends and family before flying from Stanstead Airport/UK to Porto/Portugal mid August and staying 2 nights in Porto before setting off walking.
I am doing this on my own by the way and not with a group and have organised it all myself from New Zealand. The flights to Porto and return from Santiago De Compostala are booked as well as the first 2 nights accommodation in Porto but from there I'm on my own armed only with a guide book that was printed in 2006.
There is very little information about this walk out there, whether it is in printed form or on the internet. The guide book I have by John Brierley is probably the best I'm going to get. It contains a lot of information on the history of the walk as well as maps (not particularly detailed) accommodation including prices and detours to sights and places to visit if you have time which I don't. He also gos on about the spiritual and religious side to things which is fair enough I suppose seeing as the walk is an ancient pilgrimage trail, one of many leading to Santiago de Compostala, such as the Camino Frances, a 800km or so walk that gos from France through the Pyreenes and acroos norhtern Spain. Another name for it is The Way of St James. More on him later.
I myself are not doing the walk for any spiritual or religious reasons, it just looks like a nice long distance walk through a country I havn't been to before.
So stay tuned as I will be posting information on: how I organised it all (flights etc) what to expect on the trail, the pilgrim accommodation, clothing and equipment and lots more.