Santiago de Compostela - why people do it and how to prepare for The Way - Botafumeiro - Guides and planning tools
Let's ask Wikipedia what is a pilgrimage ;) A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone's own beliefs.
Well, I made it because of curiosity. I wanted to see how it is to walk 260 km and I wanted to make it with my beloved friend, to get to know him better after 25 years. Also, it seemed to be a nice alternative way of travelling. I always liked to see the "real life" and Camino is the perfect way to see the picturesque little authentic villages, rewarding landscapes and wild forests (still safe enough for all the pilgrims). Last but not least the local inexpensive wine, the pastries and all the vibe. There are few most popular and tens of alternative ways to walk the Camino. The most popular is Camino Frances / French Way. Camino Portuguese is popular as well. Here you will find a short and sharp review of the Camino Portuguese Coastal (260 km, from Porto in June 2018 within 11 days) with photos, distances and quite specific information about albergues. The coastal route is not so popular.
Camino / Caminho - The general name for the Way to Santiago de Compostela.
Peregrino - Pilgrim, the person who walks (or riding a bike or horse) the Way/El Camino.
Credential del Peregrino - The pilgrim's passport you have to carry with you and get 2 stamps in a day: one from your shelter, another from some cafe or small chapel. You will get the little book for 2 € from the starting point, at the Cathedral.
Albergue - The inexpensive lodging, often Catholic shelter, often with bunk beds. Cost 5 € - 14 € for a bed.
4-step ACTION PLAN:
- Watch the free full movie "The Way"
- Google and check youtube and choose your route. They vary from 100 km to 1000 km. Check Camino FORUM.
- Pack smart, pack light, this is the key! Good shoes and blister plasters are the must-have! Here you find my travel light ultimate female packing list to walk the Camino in June 2018.
- Get the PILGRIM PASSPORT for 2 € from the Cathedral you start your Camino and follow the yellow arrows, they lead you to the next Albergue. Do not over-think, just hit the road :) Good site is also www.wisepilgrim.com.
Pilgrim passport and Albergue's map. The map we got from the first albergue from Povoa de Varzim.
El Camino #DAY1 from Porto to Povoa de Varzim (31 km)
1. The sleeping mattress was sooo unnecessary. 2. I was deeply grateful for my woollen leg warmers. No link to provide, I sew them by myself. Hint: cut off sleeves from an old jersey. Wool keeps you warm even in case all your clothes are wet. Also they provide cool vintage look ;)
El Camino #DAY2 from Povoa de Varzim to Marinhas (25 km)
Here we took a little offroad as we wanted to feel the Ocean, but the wooden way lead us away from the coastline.
Scallop shell is the symbol of pilgrim.
El Camino #DAY3 from Marinhas to Viana do Castelo (23 km)
The weather was pretty cold and it was raining often, which is not usual in Portugal in June. So I got a raincoat from a local store and my boyfriend got a big umbrella. Seriously he said it is much better than sweet in a raincoat.
El Camino #DAY4 from Viana do Castelo to Caminha (29 km)
Viana do Castelo
Hand in hand with my Up-shirt. #EthicalFashion #ReetAus #EstonianDesign
El Camino #DAY5 from Caminha to Valenca (29 km)
Albergue S.Teotonio is situated in a suburb, but near to supermarkets. Open til 8 pm, cost 5 €. Good coffee for 50 sents, big hall and kitchen, bathrooms are unisex and not very comfy. No heating. But there is self-service laundry near (the pink older shopping mall behind the modern mall). No bed sheets at all.
New Camino-friends :) Marja from Sicily.
El Camino #DAY6 from Valenca to Porrino. Hello Spain! (20 km)
Porrino: superlux dorm Sendasur Albergue. 12-14 €
Porrino Sendazur Albergue was super lux. Modern, heated, soft bed sheets with all linen, hairdryer, laundry (4 €) with the dryer (2 €), good relaxed atmosphere, supermercato around the corner. No proper kitchen, but microwave and fridge. Morning cafe at their partners which was all lovely-lovely. The hudge croissants, fresh juice and coffee as good as everywhere. But something about the staff...Muah!
El Camino #DAY7 from Porrino to Redondela (16 km)
There was a very good travel goods shop at MOS, a little picturesque village between Porrino and Redonela. Also ALBERGUE SANTA BAIA DE MOS
The albergue was lovely, with a real nun at the front desk. Albergue parroquial Santiago Apostol de Redondela.
Having a wonderful afternoon on the balcony of albergue with my merino TUUB and Up-shirt.
El Camino #DAY8 from Redondela to Pontevedra (18 km)
Albergue de la Virgen Peregrino, 6 €. Hudge dormitory with 25 bunk beds in one room. The hall and kitchen are lovely and very pilgrim-friendly with all information on walls and leaflets. Laundry and dryer service. Toilets and bathrooms are pure but have the hand dryer - comes a handy when it's raining all day long. The staff will close doors at 9 pm and no-one gets in or out anymore.
Mostly the day was like this: highway, rain and shit...but not only, some awarding villages we met on the way:
Passing the old bridge you will find a little restaurant with good day menu (a sup or salat, a dish of 4 fish! and a nice cake and coffee, good as always)
Imagine the room filling with 40 people, each having a wet raincoat and socks :D
But the chill lounge was super lux and there was a big well-equipped kitchen, laundry for an extra fee. The bathroom was according to the dorm.
El Camino #DAY9 from Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (23 km)
Who knows what is this? Almost every house had this in countrysides. I saw corn inside but is it for drying or they keep it there over the summer?? Corn house :)
Travellers dream. Rewarding cafe in Barro. I could move in.
El Camino #DAY10 from Caldas de Reis to Padron (22 km)
Albergue de Padron 6 € besides the monastery in a very good location. Wooden bunk beds in a huge but cosy dormitory with provided sheet and pillowcase. Kitchen.
Resting after visiting the authentic fish and fruit market of Padron. Behind there is the monastery with albergue.
Other enthusiastic pilgrims in Padron.
El Camino #DAY11 from Padron to Santiago de Compostela (24 km)
Life is confusing sometimes.
Last day the Way was quite crowded by pilgrims. Other days we met them, but not to often.
Happy pilgrim arrived to Santiago de Compostela.
Behind the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (As the front door is under construction more than 5 years already)
A Botafumeiro in Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. KLICK to see the video. The dramatic ritual is not happening every day. Here is the INFO when to see the famous and rewarding ritual, a blessing for the exhausted but satisfied pilgrims who finished the Camino.
The scallop with the logo is the sign of pilgrim.
#DAY12 back in Porto. Alive & happy
Bolhao metro station and Rua de Santa Catarina. Lila line E brings you directly from the Airport to the vivid heart of Porto within less than 40 minutes and for 2.6 €. The lovely blue Chapel of Souls and many nice cafes serving local foods will take over from here. Difficult not to fall in love with this city.
Busy and famous shopping street Rua de Santa Catarina.
You can find fine arts and palaces all over Europe. Just keep your eyes wide open. This exhibition was about Manuel Antonio Boaventura, the man who invented the plastic hammer in 1963. Free entrance.
I see El Camino as the alternative way of tourism and I really recommend it. And the superfine first layer merino TUUB, made by my team is the handiest garment for that kind of walk! Merino is warm, but not hot and it keeps you in warm even if wet from rain or sweat - you will get one of them, most probably both. Merino wool breathes and manages moisture better than any other fibre. Additionally, wool products will not stink as they are naturally antibacterial! I had no need to wash my merino TUUB not a single time within 11 days of walking in nature, highways, in rain and sunshine. Last but not least, it is very good for executing the change of clothes in public spaces like dorms or on the cafe - as it is a tube without a shoulder strap, if you get what I mean!
Buen Camino, friends!