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Posts from the ‘caminho portugues’ Category

14 days…#keepwriting

Let me take you back to Saturday, March the 14th. Coronavirus was in the news here in Ireland however we were free to travel and see folks (oh I miss those days!). I went to the Camino Information Centre for the day and walked back to the centre of town to catch my train. At the time, there were a number of flights cancelled but there was no talk of lock-downs or restrictions. There were 90 cases of Covid-19 located in Ireland. The following day, I travelled to my parents house as I normally do for a Sunday. It was such a strange thing taking the train, it was actually empty for once. Sunday was fun but I had seen Italy and Spain had imposed restrictions to control the virus. I knew that I wouldn’t see my folks again for quite some time. And I was right.

Jump ahead to the next morning. I wake up with a thumping headache and a temperature of 37.5c. Ok, it’s not quite a fever but, considering the advice given from the HSE, I decided to call my GP and lay low. At that time, the HSE were looking to test anyone who displayed flu-like symptoms. It is quite an ambitious approach but it will have a huge waiting list. I called my GP and to my surprise, he asked me to self-isolate for 7 days and he would arrange a test for me. Now, the important thing to remember here was that I felt fine, I had no cough (yet) although I was aware that it is possible to be not have any symptoms to have this virus. I gave my GP the benefit of the doubt and looked forward for the test.

Four days passed and I heard nothing. I had been taking my temperature every day and it had remained normal. By the end of the 4th day, I had developed a dry cough, but I put this down to being indoors and having no fresh air. The cough is not persistent. I ring the GP to discuss this with him. Again, he said it was best to relax, and I should receive a call soon from the HSE.

And finally, on the 25th of March, the HSE changed their criteria. Now they were looking to test people with two symptoms. I immediately rang my GP and he said I didn’t need a test. I am now back at work, although working at home. Apparently, over 40,000 people were waiting for a test while 94% of those testing were negative. This is only a good move.

I took my first walk since the 15th of March on Thursday. We luckily have a large park beside my house where I can go to stretch my legs during lunch and during the weekend. A few weeks without seeing my family can be sacrificed. The party will only be huge when this is over.

I look forward to the day when I can hug my parents. I look forward to the day I can go for a walk through a packed Dublin city. Even walking through the hills of Galicia is a dream for me right now. But it is nice to dream. Keep hoping. It keeps a light on in the dark times.

But all I do right now is sit and wait. It is the best we can do to help. While I am not working, and while I am indoors, I will be good to #keepwriting. The Camino keeps me happy, naturally enough so I will post some of my favourite memories from years gone by every day.

Take care and stay safe!

When darkness falls, we keep hoping, we keeping dreaming…

With the ever evolving situation in Spain, France and Portugal, many pilgrims are putting their Caminos on hold until Covid-19 subsides. When that will be is difficult to say but many qualified people are saying, we should be over the worst by June. Until then, we need to wait. The Camino has seen darker days and I am sure it will see days like this again but the sun will shine, I can be sure of that.

For those of us who are at home, please follow the advice of your own health authorities. Wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing and if you feel symptoms, self-isolate. The WHO has great information on what to do.

The current situation:

  • The government of Spain has declared a State of Emergency for the next two weeks.
  • The government of Portugal has declared a State of Alert until April 9th
  • FICS is asking all to cooperate in telling all pilgrims currently on Camino to return home
  • All bars and restaurants are closed for the next two weeks.
  • Santiago Cathedral is closed and all church services have been suspended
  • All municipal albergues in Galicia are closed and in most other Camino routes.
  • The Pilgrim Office is closed
  • Pilgrim House is closed

Please read the Department of Foreign Affairs travel advice for Irish citizens travelling to Spain

The ones who will be hit the most from Covid-19 are the people who help pilgrims on the Way, the volunteers and the owners of cafes and albergues. They depend on pilgrims walking through their towns. But as I said before, the Camino has seen tougher times. We must think positively and work together to ensure that Covid-19 is slowed down and stopped.

Let’s talk about Coronavirus

Ok..since my last post, there have been more developments. And I have a feeling that will be the case for the next few months. Yesterday, we learned that our lord and saviour President Trump has placed a travel ban on flights from Europe (excluding UK and Ireland). Now, I’m not medically qualified, but this is highly unlikely to contain the virus. The only thing it has done has made some bad friends in Europe and made some US travellers very concerned.

But, enough of the politics. Here in Ireland, schools, colleges and public institutions will be closed until March 29th in the hope that it will delay the virus. On a personal level, it won’t be long before I will be working remotely and I look forward to it. I don’t feel any symptoms but it is only a matter of time. Here, we have 70 cases in Ireland but I believe we have far more.

https://www.elcaminoconcorreos.com/es/blog/el-camino-de-santiago-ante-el-coronavirus

And then there is Spain. First of all, no case of coronavirus has been detected on the Camino de Santiago. No pilgrim or hospitalero has tested positive for the virus. Until now, the main infectious areas in Spain remain concentrated in three points: the Community of Madrid, Vitoria and La Rioja. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has advised against non essential travel to these areas. For those with trips planned to the Camino, it may mean postponing for a few months (or next year). Coupled with that, some albergues are closing or curtailing beds due to coronavirus prevention.

I am still hoping to walk in September. Six months is a long time in dog years. In the meantime, let’s try and get together and look out for the more vulnerable in society. If I am unable to travel in September, the Camino isn’t going away anytime soon!

On the subject of YouTube..

I may as well give a little plug to my own YouTube channel that is in its infancy. I hope to record a few shots while walking and upload it for you to see. I’m comfortable with the Dji osmo pocket that I bought before Christmas. It is so tiny you can fit it in your pocket.

At the moment, I have two videos, one talking about my gear and another uploaded recently from the Waterford Greenway. In time I will upload more. It will not detract from this page however.

It’s Saturday & Some News I need to talk about…

First of all I need to apologise for the delay in posting. With my time dedicated to work from Monday to Friday, I don’t have a lot of time for writing however I do try to write during the weekends or during the evenings. Last week, I had a nice easy walk, nothing too strenuous, but it was enjoyable. I would love to venture out again in the near future, this time with a pack. I have a 3 day pilgrimage coming up in May (2 months away). However, with the news of Covid-19 and with the lack of any positive outcome, it’s difficult to predict if I will walk this or not. At the time of writing, 18 people have contracted the virus in Ireland and a number of schools are closed. A few weeks ago, I didn’t think that it would cause us much disruption but I am willing to take that back now. Each and every morning, I go to work and hear people coughing. You can only imagine how unsettling that feels. But to be honest, I can see this getting worse. I feel for the vulnerable, I feel for the elderly, I feel for the people with existing conditions.

Ok, so the question remains what you do if you are planning to walk a Camino in Portugal or Spain in the near future? Do you go ahead or cancel? I see many pilgrims on social media already on the Camino in photos. So why not, is the answer to that. But I answer with a caveat!

You must firstly follow your own Government’s advice. If you are advised not to travel to an area where there is a spread, please do not travel. Otherwise, it is safe to travel.

On the Camino or anywhere for that matter, how can you stay safe from corunavirus:

There is as yet no vaccine for coronavirus so Spanish health officials are advising people to practice good basic hygiene to keep themselves protected.

  • Wash hands your thoroughly and often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing or before eating or it you have been touching surfaces that many other people will have touched such as on the Metro
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Cover your mouth with your elbow when coughing
  • Use disposable tissues and throw them away after use
  • Clean off surfaces with alcohol- or chlorine-based disinfectants.
  • They insist that protective face masks are not necessary unless you have symptoms or are treating someone who has symptoms.

At this moment in time, I am travelling to Porto in September. I will wait and see how this develops before making a decision on whether to travel.

Some handy links:

It’s February and a new Camino season is upon us!

It’s February and as I settle back to my new home (long story!), I begin to look ahead on the next few months. 2019 brought a record number of pilgrims to Santiago and the expectation is that this year, the numbers of visitors to Santiago will be higher. But I am here to write about my own walks and how I enjoy them. And I do enjoy them. The fact that I return each year shows you that I get great love from my time in Spain or Portugal. If I could spend longer, I would, but that’s for another blog post. I will make do with two weeks and a few days in Santiago once I arrive there.

I suppose I have an affinity with the coast. I was born and bred along the coast. I have lived with the sea breeze. Walking the Portuguese Coastal Route is somewhat special to me. It may not be the “true” Camino but having walked from A Guarda in 2018, I knew I would be back again. Am I even going as far as saying that the Portuguese Camino is more enjoyable than the Camino Frances? I will leave that for you to decide but it can have it’s benefits. The French Way will always have much more infrastructure – because more people walk it. On the Portuguese Camino, especially in September/ October when I do walk it, there will be less pilgrims but some albergues will be open.

I’m still conflicted, however, as the French Way has a small place in my heart. All those years on the meseta have had an effect on me!

Meseta in September

My packing list has been reviewed and I suppose the only item I need to buy is a few pairs of socks. I might do that tomorrow. Everything else is ready for the Kerry Camino in May.

Speaking of tomorrow, I will help with our local Camino association at their annual information event in Dublin. I think this is the 3rd one I have attended in St James Church and each one has been packed! It just shows that each year interest in the Camino is growing and people are always curious looking for the right information. I will be there on deck helping future pilgrims. We seem to get a great response each year. I will post some photos in my next post. Talk to you later.

Camino Portugues – Putting some plans together..

For those of you who know me, I have always been averse to organising a Camino in any shape or form. I’ve written about it before. In most of my Caminos, I prefer to pre-book a hostel or a private albergue at my starting point and if I am finishing in Santiago, e-mail the good people at the San Martin Pinario a few months in advance for a bed in their pilgrim section. I’ve been quite happy with listening to my body and putting up with the bed-race, no matter how irritating it has been getting of late. Walking from Lisbon, myself and my Camino buddy, Carsten, had the freedom to walk for as long as we wished and we still “had a room at the inn”. There were some days we arrived at a hostel at 3pm with a selection of beds. But this is the Camino from Lisbon and most pilgrims walk from Tui or even Porto on this route.

The annual figures from the Pilgrims Office in Santiago were released earlier this month and while part of me is not surprised by the increase, I am surprised by how popular the Camino has become since I walked first back in 2011. It is inevitable that the numbers will increase in 2020 and in 2021, the Holy Year in Santiago. The question is how high will the number be. It is worth pointing out that the number below are pilgrims who have collected their compostela in Santiago. There are others who do not value the compostela and feel happy to reach Santiago. So we may be over 350,000?

So to avoid all stress, I’ve decided to use Booking.com to prebook certain accommodation for this Camino. A wise move? I will let you know when I reach Santiago. I have two albergues yet to book as they are closed at the moment. On reaching Santiago, I look forward to spending 2 nights in the San Martin Pinario and meeting friends based in the town.

Having somewhere booked means I don’t have to start as early, I can take my time and I can capture some content with my Osmo. I will still carry my backpack however, I won’t lose sight of my kit! 🙂

Here is a draft itinerary from Porto:

28/09/2020Porto – metro to MatosinhosPovoa do Varzim
29/09/2020Povoa do VarzimEsposende 
30/09/2020Esposende Viana do Castelo
01/10/2020Viana do CasteloA Guarda
02/10/2020A GuardaMougás
03/10/2020Mougás Saiáns
04/10/2020Saiáns Redondela
05/10/2020RedondelaPontevedra
06/10/2020PontevedraCaldas de Reis
07/10/2020Caldas de ReisPicaraña
08/10/2020PicarañaSantiago
09/10/2020Santiago
10/10/2020Bus to PortoFlight to Dublin

Some can walk in 10 days, I am hoping to complete it in 11 days. The only day that concerns me is the one from Viana do Castelo to A Guarda which is 30 kms long, 4 km of which is on a boat from Caminha in Portugal to A Guarda to Spain. I arrive in familiar territory at this point having walked the Coastal Camino with my brother 2 years ago. The distances get shorter once I arrive in Spain with some days less than 20km.

But we are in January. There is much to happen before I fly to Porto and take my first step. The Kerry Camino in May being one.

Looking out to the coast / May 2018

Weekend Watch #64 – Portuguese Coastal Camino

This is a short video promoting the Portuguese Coastal Camino and it does a great job. September can’t come soon enough. However, I can’t help noticing that this particular pilgrim walked inland to Valenca instead of crossing the River Mino at Caminha.

Some more walking while the evenings get darker..

It’s that time of year… I’ve seen the first Christmas trees. The advertisements have been playing on radio and TV for the last few months and people have started to get in to that frame of mind.

Christmas!

Of course, my mind is a million miles away and I’d rather be following arrows than making shops that little bit richer. Careful now, someone might accuse me of not being in the Christmas spirit. Au contraire! Give me a few weeks until we are in December and I should have sufficient time to prepare.

So what have I have been doing since I last posted nearly one month ago?

Well, the Camino spirit has not left me entirely since I returned from Portugal. Since I last wrote, plans are ongoing to walk from Porto to Santiago in September. The one unanswered question is whether I walk the coastal route or the classic internal route. By walking along the coast, I am adding 2 days to my trip however the coast gives you the added bonus of the breeze until you move inland. This question will remain unanswered until I arrive in Porto, I guess, and I will let my feet do the talking.

I have been on two walks – one long, and one short. The first was on the Boyne Valley Camino which starts at St. Peters Church in Drogheda. I was actually meant to write a bit about this walk but time got in the way however below are some of my favourite photos from the day. My friend Oihana and I took the commuter train to Drogheda from Dublin and walked the 25 km looped walk. It is a good mixture of forest, road walking, walking along the River Boyne, with the added historical element too. This walk is part of the Celtic Camino series and you can pick up a nice certificate from Camino Society Ireland if you collect stamps during your walk. More information here: Boyne Valley Camino.

Thanks to Oihana (Facebook page) for providing some of her photos. We had a fun day. It’s always great to try out newer walks, especially ones that are closer to home. I would definitely recommend the walk and if you get the chance, do walk the full loop. It can be a bit challenging during the winter months but during the Summer it would be perfect, I would imagine. The Batttle of the Boyne site, Mellifont Abbey and Oldbridge house are interesting. We did manage to get lost however, due to some signage going missing. We were back on track before long.

The following week (the 16th November), I walked a short walk with Camino Society Ireland. Out to Howth Head we would go. It would be a morning of firsts. I am so used to the purple loop or bog of frogs but due to ongoing works, this path was closed so we opted for the Black Linn Loop, following the red arrows. I brought along my DSLR, Canon 750d and took a few photos. You can check them out on the Camino Society Ireland Facebook page. I am very much a beginner at photography so any tips are useful. I guess the number one tip is practice, practice, practice.

Well that’s all the news here. I hope you are all well. 310 days before I touch down in Portugal..ha! I will post soon!

Back to the Camino Portugués de la Costa

Boy, did I plan this in advance?

I usually leave the flights or whatever until after Christmas but if you read my last post I had been doing a little bit of planning for next Camino. I have decided to walk from Porto along the Coastal Path and hopefully arrive in Santiago within 2 weeks.

I have booked a Ryanair flight to Porto on the 27th of September 2020. I have no idea what I will be doing around that time but I feel good locking in the flight. The plan is to walk to the cathedral in Porto, get my first sello and catch the metro to my hostel in Matasinhos, which is 12 km from the city. I will be avoiding the industrial part of the city and it makes a nicer start of a walk the following day. I will book a hostel in Matasinhos closer to the time.

I have already walked from A Guarda to Santiago (165 km) in May 2018 and I am excited to see some of the towns again. Towns like Oia, Baiona and Pontevedra. I will see some new towns, of course, in Portugal.

Santa Maria de Oia

However, there is always one town…..Vigo! Last year, I didn’t enjoy my time there. I arrived in just as a ferry from England docked carrying tourists and I just felt it wasn’t a pilgrim town. There are also a real lack of arrows. Hopefully, my time there next year will be different. This week, it was announced that the authorities in Vigo will place stone markers to help pilgrims. Vigo is a very large city and one of the largest ports in Spain.

I have no return flight booked yet but my intention is to book it before I leave. I have been looking at the guidebook briefly. All the stages seem relatively short and compared to the central route, it is not challenging. There are opportunties to take alternative routes, with all Caminos and I may take them to vary things.

However, we are looking too far into the future. What I need to do first is buy a new backpack as my current one is torn. So I will be shopping shortly. And I will be walking shortly too.