Sunday, 25 March 2018

Camino Portuguese (March 25, 2018) - New Day 13 Padron to Santiago de Compostela

We made it! Today we walked 26.3 kms in just under 5.5 hours with significant elevation gain. There wasn’t much to see and the adrenalin kicked in so we set a fast pace.

Over the 6 Camino routes that totals 2,972 kms so I will round to 3,000 kms... maybe a little stretch.
The Camino Portuguese was as mentioned in previous blogs my most difficult in terms of physical and mental demands. Often I did not think I would make it and my comments made on the blog simply understated the physical issues.

Having successfully completed the Camino Portuguese does however makes it my most satisfying Camino from a personal perspective.

A good friend sent me an email message which had the following thought which I really appreciated.
“Anyway I'm proud of you for pushing your limits (but in a sensible way).”

This will be my last Camino... hopefully there will be other more modest adventures in the future. Overall I enjoyed the experiences immensely ...clearly not every single minute.

As well this is likely the last posting for this blog. So todays blog will be very different from previous postings as I am including only a few pictures.

The focus of this posting is to simply express thanks in many different ways.

Paulo and me in front of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral!!! The feet stopped moving!

Paulo  - Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

And my own selfie! I know very well done!
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read various blog postings. The blog was never meant to be a typical well researched series of articles. It was very often silly but that’s what kept me going on many a day... if it brought out a smile or two it was worth it. Comments and emails sent were truly very much appreciated especially when all was not going smoothly.

Thanks to various incredible people that I had the chance to walk with on various Caminos. While one meets many people the ones that I will remember most are Daniel (France), Yoshi (Japan), Georges (Belgium), Cyrille (France), my brother Marc (Canada) and Paulo (Brazil). Your companionship, good humour and encouragement was really appreciated. I certainly hope we meet again.

Thanks to my family Lise, Jeanne, Claire (daughters), Steven (son in law) and my two very special granddaughters Rose and Elodie. Rose and Elodie are incredibly special! You listened to my stories (well pretended to) and were always very supportive which was very important and appreciated.

Thanks to Dr. Olga without who’s kindness, thoughtfulness and professional help I would never have made it. Rarely does one meet a Dr. Olga in life...I was so very very fortunate!

Thanks to my good friend Paulo which whom I have walked a total of 43 days on Camino paths.
Without Paulo I wouldn’t have had the slightest chance of making it on the Camino Portuguese. Always positive, encouraging with a great sense of humour. Dr. Paulo never complained about the twice a day dressing changes... by Camino end 10 meters of 4 cm tape had been used to hold down dressings on my feet!

When a significant change of plans was required due to my early problems Paulo never hesitated. Paulo and family... come to Canada for a visit. Perhaps I will go to Brazil one day even though the dangerous animal situation is incredible... sharks, snakes, crocodiles, spiders etc. etc.

Finally a heartfelt thanks to Dawn my special friend and wife for 38 years who has been there for me at all times. My Camino plans were off the wall crazy and I know that while being away for a total of 105 days on Camino paths that you had to deal with a lot of extra demands on your time. In times of real need such as my medical issues in Switzerland you were right there for me. I can’t truly express how fortunate I have felt and how appreciative I am. I love you very much!

Now a day of rest in Santiago before returning home ... giant cookie, gelato here I come!



Saturday, 24 March 2018

Camino Portuguese (March 24, 2018) - New Day 12 Caldas de Reis to Padron

With the exception of one very notable incident (more later) today was another quiet day. It rained three times today and on two occasions we had just stopped for a short break...perfect timing!

Once again we had some fantastic stretches of walking in forested trails in Galicia combined with normal road walking. I felt quite strong again and we walked 19.6 kms in just over 4 hours...too fast for sure...we know we are getting close to Santiago de Compostela and the feet (between green and amber light today) were complaining very mildly in comparison to prior days.

Yesterday we stayed at the Hotel Balneario Acuna in Caldas de Reis...while a little dated it was a comfortable place which at some point in the past was likely a grand hotel.

Hotel Balneario Acuna

The hotel had a pilgrim menu which was great however it also had a pilgrim section...yes we were second class citizens in a segregated section of the restaurant...I am not kidding!

Separating wall between lowly pilgrims and non pilgrims!

For supper had delicious soup while Paulo had pasta...apparently he rarely get’s pasta at home
so a little excited!

Delicious soup

Fish and Spanish tortilla

For desert I chose what I understood to be a fruit is what I that was funny!
Last night another chapter in the Dr. Olga miracle was written. Paulo received a phone call just before 10:00 pm from Dr. Olga. She had not heard from us since Sunday and was worried about me!!! She was so happy to hear that I was on the mend and still moving towards Santiago de Compostela.

Dr. Olga then mentioned a few key medical procedures to Dr. Paulo (will spare you the details) and was very pleased to hear we were already following these. She told Dr. Paulo that she was keeping me in her thoughts.

So a brief recap...Friday in Porto first see Dr. Olga and she spends 75 minutes doing all kinds of things for 40 Euros. Monday she spends additional time and gives me the green light. Over the next week we have some concerns and phone her at home both Saturday and Sunday and she gets back to us. Yesterday a followup additional charges...encouragement and practical information given at all times.

When I return home to Canada I will send something to Dr. Olga to thank her for her time and kindness. I would like it to be a uniquely Canadian anyone reading this if you have an idea for such a gift I welcome all suggestions.

A few pictures leaving Caldas de Reis today...

Leaving Caldas de Reis
Leaving Caldas de Reis

Today we met again with Steffan and Allan and started leap frogging each other through the day. Once we came over a bridge overpass and saw them a 100 meters ahead looking totally lost...they had somehow gone under the overpass... into the mud and come up the other side past the Camino turn sign. We waved them over and I offered to guide them for the rest of the day...they politely declined!

First rest stop...self serve
Second rest stop...2 Norwegian women pilgrims, women pilgrims from Argentina and Germany, Steffan and Allan and a young guy Jordan from New York. Jordan is in his senior year in high school and a group from his school was walking from Tui to Santiago de Compostela where they will stay until May studying. Poor Jordan he was already tired of his group and had detached himself from them...going to be a long few months.

As mentioned earlier a notable incident occurred as we entered Padron. First we had lunch at a
fantastic location where Paulo and I (too a small extent) had pulpo or octupus. Pulpo while tasty has the texture of a rubber tire. Seriously it is considered a delicacy in Galicia.

Pulpo and Beer

Non Pulpo and Fries

Paulo and I had chosen Os Lambruns as our last night’s accommodation prior to our final day...a luxury which turns out is 3 kms out the Camino way. After a long day we decided to take a taxi from a specific Camino point to Os Lambruns and the next morning return to the same specific point and resume our walk. Totally kosher.

Seemed logical however hopping into a taxi might be misinterpreted by fellow pilgrims so I was determined to be careful. What followed in my recollection of events. We wanted a taxi...none to be found. We start walking in circles asking people. At one point we are directed to a booth to phone in front of a million pilgrims for a taxi!!!!

Telephone booth for Pilgrims
While walking around helplessly... estimate 2 kms, Paulo thinks 500 meters, so let’s say 1.75 kms we turn the corner and see Steffan and Allan wave to us from a bar. Panic sets in...if they see us entering a taxi we will NEVER hear the end of it no matter how logical our reasoning is!

During the walk which I estimate would be 30 to 45 minutes...Paulo might say 15 - 20 so let’s settle on 40 minutes it starts to rain!!! Monsoon like rain, Paulo might say light rain so let’s settle on a heavy downpour.

Finally a nice lady in a supermarket provides Paulo with a phone number and a taxi is there in a few minutes.

At this point I gave Paulo some very specific pilgrim avoidance instructions for the taxi...remove hats and slouch in our seats as low as possible...who cares what the taxi driver thinks! We must not get people who do not understand our logical plan providing FAKE NEWS to others!

Well that’s it for the main storylines for today. Tomorrow onto to Santiago de Compostela ...what a wild ride this Camino has been!!!

Some pictures from the day before entering Padron...

Yikes that is high!
Incredible walking!

Friday, 23 March 2018

Camino Portuguese (March 23, 2018) - New Day 11 Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

Again a very quiet day walking 22 kms over 4.8 hours. I felt surprisingly (more on this later) strong and was walking well with minor discomfort only...feet were giving me an amber light cautious!

Last night was a different matter altogether as Dr. Paulo and I consulted and decided some minor surgery was required. This was based on past advice from Dr. Olga...all went well until Betadyne was applied (infection prevention). Oie that was not a good feeling and this persisted through the evening and most of the night.

We were discussing options for today which included my stopping to walk and taking the bus. I was prepared to do this if things had not improved by morning. I even dreamt I was a professional golfer (anyone who has seen me golf knows that I am very very far from being a professional...although I have witnessed a hole in one by Stefan K.) who had a 2 stroke lead after 71 holes and blew it one the last hole.

Talk about the subconscious at work...I had only 60 kms to go. Morning came and I had recovered well and was good to go! Man what a mental and physical effort this Camino has been!

If was drizzling for most of the morning leaving Pontevedra..

First breakfast...often not sufficient to sustain us more than a few hours

A highlight of the day was walking through some forest paths. We are in the Galicia an area of Spain known for a lot of rain and green vegetation. I believe it has been compared to Ireland that way.


And yes I crossed this bridge without falling in the creek!!!
There were a number of interesting signs today...

My mantra
Lot going on in this sign!

Call a cab...tempting!

40 kms to go by highway...48 kms by Camino trails at this point in the day!

At 8 Km nice stop at a cafe for Naranja Aquarius beverage and to split a sandwich

Finally lunch at the hotel off Pilgrims menu...baked beans!

Fish and potatoes

Ice cream...must unravel treat oneself!
So on to tomorrow where we spend our last night prior to Santiago de Compostela!!!