September 2016 along the Camino Portugues
In less than one month we commence our September Tour along the Camino Portugues. First up we explore the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Oporto and have our Pilgrim Passports stamped to mark the start of our journey. Highlights include: the tranquility and splendor of walking long distances on forest tracks, beside vineyards at harvest time; experiencing the friendliness of local people and learning about the history and culture of this fascinating region; and joining countless millions of people who have travelled this path over many centuries.
To give you a flavor of what lies ahead you might like to read the following journal extracts from one of the participants in our May 2016 Camino tour.
On Wednesday we embarked on an 18km walk to Barcelos… home of the legendary cockerel (that) each Thursday hosts a large, lively market… (A) cafe run by Antonio was a beacon and gave us a chance to rest our feet, dry off and sample home-made vegetable soup and delicious cake… Little settlements between bigger villages with churches, shrines and town squares where people mingle and chat, were a constant. Whether chatting or silent, we helped each other, our conversations at pit stops sometimes about sore feet, blisters and distances ahead… It didn’t seem long before we’d arrived at (our hotel)… Later, walking around the village meant visiting churches and significant buildings. And we found a sports store where we bought their last set of walking poles. Gold
Monday’s… walk followed the Camino across the Ponte do Burgo beside the remains of an original Roman bridge, meandering via the peaceful villages… to historic Caldas de Reis. A small spa town… once occupied by Celts. It has botanic gardens and thermal springs, so we took the time for foot and back massages and spas. The day’s… walk was fairly flat, but hot. Refreshment breaks had been most welcome, giving us a chance to have a spell, take off shoes and socks and cool down… Chatting as we walked, Michael took lots of photos, often joining Heather and I in solving many of the world’s social and political problems. We also took time to admire the magnificent wildflowers scattered around and across fences and walls. There was time for contemplation too. Tony Kevin’s Camino experience* “…the pilgrimage takes your mind into new territory and encourages bold, lateral thinking [and]… can offer a piercing clarity of vision of the world, as well as sharpening appreciation of our common humanity…”, had some resonance for us. *Tony Kevin (2007). “Walking the Camino. A Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago.” (Scribe Publications, Melbourne).
(Next day) we were excited to be on the home run… We trekked through woodlands dappled with sunlight and shade… But sections of deep green rainforest had a sub-tropical appearance. We walked on country roads alongside the picturesque Rio Valga to San Miguel, and along the banks of the Rio Sar, enjoying ever-changing rural landscape and wildflowers. Villages were dotted randomly throughout valleys, with a mixture of agricultural, residential and commercial properties and ever-present churches and religious shrines. As with previous days, many farmers waved as they toiled in fields. Others drove past with their families in heavily-laden tractors, greeting us, their trusty little dogs wagging their tails ‘Buen-Camino’ style. It’d be easy to think of these Camino locals as having very simple and unsophisticated lives. But given the fast pace and complications of many richer societies, it’s debatable just who’s the more sophisticated. Geri Bryant-Badham (published on her blog ‘Canberra Snippets’)
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