With Spain set to welcome EU pilgrims from June 21st, non-EU pilgrims from July 1st and Portugal not far behind, there has been lots of discussion among pilgrims as to whether it is feasible to travel this year of not.
Well, I can’t answer that question but if you were to travel after July 1st, you would need to wear a mask in crowded areas and practice social distancing. I have written before how albergues have changed their sleeping quarters, halved their numbers of beds and that food is no longer served. There is a new-normal in Spain and on the Camino de Santiago and there is a lot to get used to. The first pilgrim to arrive in Santiago after the lockdown was Lorenzo. He arrived into Santiago from Lugo on the 11th of June and did not meet one pilgrim. He has been joined by other Spanish pilgrims in recent days. These are unprecedented times. For that reason, I am going to hold on for another few months.
So what about next year?
Over the last number of months I have had plenty of time to think about the Camino. It is impossible not to when you are at home for so long. I feel so lucky to be able to travel each year to Spain or Portugal and I do it for the headspace. I don’t do it for the sense of achievement. There is nothing better than being among other pilgrims and fresh air, away from the stress for 2 weeks or so. It frees the mind. But I need to be with other pilgrims. Ok, enough rambling.
So next year… I still feel that my time on the Camino Portugués is unfinished, and I have lots more to see. The Camino Francés, while I will be back there eventually, can wait for another year. Last September, I finished my Camino in a town called Águeda, about 90 kms short of Porto. It is home of the famous Umbrella Sky Project and I would love to see it again. The people in Albergue de peregrinos Santo António were the best and I look forward to seeing them again. Instead of marching on with my pilgrim friends, I caught the train to Porto and flew home the next day.
So where to start? The nearest large town to Águeda is Coimbra. It is a university town and can be accessed via Porto or Lisbon by train. The great thing about walking prior to Porto is I don’t need to worry about accommodation, however I will learn from lessons past and walk no more than 25 km per day.
I will have two weeks walking which will leave me in Spain, just short of Santiago. I will be in Santiago again no doubt.
More to come soon.