Po.51. Vila Nova da Cerveira – Valença

Finally, the first day of our walk on the Caminho Portuguese together. Didi woke up earlier than me, I got up at 7. We need to prepare our big backpacks and bring them down to the reception area before 8, because TUITrans will pick them up between 8 and 8.30.

After bringing our packbacks down we go back to our room, breakfast is starting only at 8.30. The breakfast buffet is “closed”, the woman behind the counter is serving from behind the counter, due to COVID-19. After we had breakfast we went back to our room to pick up our smaller day-backpacks.

Luckily the train stopped, so we did not need to wear our poncho’s. Yesterday we saw the markers in front of the church, so we went there and started to walk. We missed a market, but according to John Brierley’s book we had to go to the Ecopath to follow that trial to Valença.

Once we found the trial, it was easy for the 90% of our walk. Just follow the red “carpet”. It is a bike/pedestrian path, sponsored by the EU along side the Rio Minho. This river is the border between Portugal and Spain.

We passed by cornfields, Eucalyptus trees, small forrests and some boats. The only bar was closed, only open during summertime. At noon we took a break, eat our lunch which we bought the day before.

In a small village just before Valença we stopped for coffee, jus and a croissant. And a stamp in our Camino passport. And just another 1,5k to our hotel. It’s easy to find, we can already check in and our backpacks have arrived already.

We take some time to rest from our walk and around 16.00 we went out to be a tourist, visiting the Fortaleza of Valenca. From the walls of this fortress you have a nice view of the river Minho and of Tui, the city on the other side of the river in Spain. The Cathedral of Tui is rising above all othet buildings in Tui.

We stroll through the narrow streets and.look at the many small shops, some churches and other tourist. Around 18.00 we start looking for a restaurant to eat. For Portuguese people way to early, but not for us. We are not used to eat late.

After diner we did some groceries for the next day and went back to our hotel. We blogged and vlogged, had a video call with our daughter and went to bed.

Do you know that you can watch our vlog on Youtube, just search for the channel PTX Camino Geleen.

And we like to read some comments too…..😉

Po.03. Azambuja – Santarém

Saturday, 11th day of September. For a lot of people it is not the same anymore, Nine Eleven….. Do you remember where you were on that day and what you were doing? I do.

Now 20 years later it’s still a day the world turns slower. But for the impact of what happened or something else?

Last night I was the only pilgrim in the albergue, tonight in the hostel not. I share the big room with a elderly man from Dublin. I saw him twice today on route.

The night was again one to forget. I sleep until 2 half past 2 and from that time it’s waking up, sleeping, waking up, sleeping. And each time looking at the watch. It is the same as my other Camino’s, in 2018. This happens because of my apnea, at home I use a CPAP machine to sleep, but if I would bring that along, it would mean bringing 2 kilos extra.

So I got up at 06.30 and had all the time in the world. I had my breakfast, packed my backpack checked everything and just before 8 I was outside. The first thing I noticed was the darker clouds…. But then, the forecast was ok. Just 50 meters and I was on track again. I had to cross the road and the railways by walking over a bridge, so I had to walk up stairs, not do fine with a  backpack, but I covered it.

On the other side it was again following the blue and yellow arrows. Just after 2 kilometers I was walking between fields of tomatoes or harvested fields.  This would be 80% of my day. And what I didn’t expected happened, it started raining, not too hard, but hard enough to take out my big orange raincoat. I had to wear it for 3 km, while trucks fully loaded with fresh harvested tomatoes keep passing me by. On a lot of fields they wear harvesting the tomatoes. Here they grow on the ground, almost like strawberries. And slowly the sun started to come out behind of the clouds. It was getting warmer and warmer.

Í need to have a lunch before the last stretch of 15 km, because there is no possibility along that path. Just fields and dust. Shall I lunch at the last cafe or before? Just to be sure I had lunch at the one before the last one, because you never know if it’s open….. And yes, I made the right decision, the last one was closed. So always keep your eyes open and don’t trust the books. I had to walk back 500 meters if I wanted to try the last cafe….

The stretch I walked after my lunch was long, and longer and very long. Luckily a lot of bikers past by, so it was not a lonely walk. The first of the road have my shoes a different colour. The last 6 km I could see Santarém and the hill I need to climb. Not only me, all the pilgrims. Under a bridge of a highway I see the elderly man whom I saw just before my lunch break earlier to day. And on the side of the road 2 women taking a rest in the shades. So today I already saw 3 pilgrims. Bom Caminho….. It’s still 2 k before the road is going up. This last, correction, first and final climb of the day is massive…. It’s just going up to 140 m but at some places it’s steep. But we have to make it to the top.

At the time I reach the center I check for a place to sleep. The biggest albergue is not open, do I check the first and cheapest private hostel, they have a bed for me. But before I can go inside they ask if I’m vaccinated….

At the check in they check my paper version, register me as a pilgrim and a tour through the house starts. It had 1 room with 4 bunk beds, so 8 people could sleep here. But they also have private rooms, which are more expensive. After choosing my bed and installing myself I take a shower, remove the sweat and dust off today.

Next a video call to home and after that a rest. Don’t forget to shop for 3 liters of water, done soda and 2 bananas for tomorrow. The sodas are for today. Back in the room my roommate from Dublin, Ireland is also having a resting period. We chit chat a bit ….  And later I go for dinner. My first bacalhau…. And maybe my last…. It’s though to eat and the bones…. I like fish but not the bone. Someone at home knows all about it. After dinner back to the hostel, preparing for tomorrow and making blog and vlog…. The internet here is almost perfect, do I can post it all……

Food for thoughts for the Dutch:

Je kunt plannen wat je wilt, er is 1 iets dat je niet kunt overdoen: het leven dat achter je ligt.

Successful training weekend

August 14 and 15, my first of 2 mini-camino’s weekend has come to an end. I planned 2 weeekends in August to test my condition, can I walk 2 days in a row more than 30 km per day? For Saturday I planned a route using bicycle paths, you can use the fietsknooppunten¨ to set a track to follow. The planned route is 32 km long.

On a very sunny Saturday I started at 10 a.m. to walk, the temperature was rising and already above 23 degrees. The route was nive to walk, in the sun and sometimes in the shades. I past by some unfamiliar places. At 1 p.m. I stopped at a bench under some trees to have lunch, stopped for about 30 minutes and then went on route again. Past also the market-place in Geleen and was back home at 4 p.m.

30,44 km in 5 hours and 26 minutes, not bad, with a backpack of 10 kg on my back. Let’s hope the Sunday will be O.K.

This Sunday we will be walking to Echt to visit my brother. The distance between our houses is 17 km. Maricon and me leave the house again at 10 a.m. with the sun again shining. The route we take goes mainly alongside an National road, we walk off course on the bicycle path. Around  mid-day we stop to eat our lunch on a bench alongside the road and then continue our way. Around 2 p.m. we arrived at our destination.

After the break at my brother’s house we started to walk back. Maricon walks only another 5km, so her walk today will be 20 km. I walk alone the way home, because I need to past the 30 km, today again. At 6.10 p.m. I arrived home, total walk of 34 km today.

Regretful to mention, I have 2 blisters today. Usually my feet have no problems walking these distances, but yesterday evening we had a foot-spa at home and maybe my feet got a bit to soft, causing the blisters today. Otherwise no problems, and no pain for Maricon.


First backpack walk

Today I walked the first time with my backpack. Although the signs about the pandemic are going the wrong way, more people get again infected again, we still keep the faith that this will get better again.

We are both fully vaccinated now, it’s almost 2 weeka ago that we got our 2nd.  We still hope that we will not get infected, but if it should happen, it should not be to bad.

Back to my walk. It looked like there would be some rain, but the clouds were scared away by the watery sun. And it was a bit humid. I walked with my 11 kilo backback. Trying to get used to it again.

12 kilos might be a lot, but it’s what I carried with me when i walked in 2018. Maybe this time I will have less, but that I cannot decide yet, because I am not preparing yet the content.

I walked on the road, bike paths, gravel, stone and trailpath. Going up and down, through ” the Dutch Mountains” . The walk was almost 14 kilometers, it took just 2 hours and 30 minutes.

A lot of people were walking, biking. You could really see thaat they were enjoying themselves. There were a lot of cherry trees with very red cherries, ripe to eat for those who like cherries.

I also took some time to test and play with my drone. It will go with me to the camino and I hope to make some nice shots, but now I need to learn how it will go and get better using it.