Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I have to admit, there were many hours along the way in which I longed for Spain. Galicia always holds a tender spot in my heart. The rich earth, the Celtic appearance, the food, and walking through the many villages and watching life on the rural farms  always warms my heart. I find I have daydreamed about this area many times.

We have walked through many towns these last few days. Each of them so very different from the one before. We stayed in the family run Hotel Azul in Porrino where we given a basket of pretzels and ice cold beer when we arrived. It was such a treat! The family lives in the hotel and each of the sisters took turns taking care of us. 

In Redondela we stayed in a private albergue. Our room was red and had a balcony that overlooked the small cobblestone main street. It looked like downtown New Orleans. 

We ended up staying in a four star hotel in Ponterverda because it was at the right place at the right time. All the locals came to the bar downstairs to watch the soccer match. It was fantastic. We meandered through the old city and sat out in the plaza in the evening and watched the families spending time together. Needless to say, this reminded us of you and we missed you very much. 

The rain began as we entered Caldas de Reis and has been with us ever since. We get in and change to something dry and then find a bar/cafe and enjoy our time with the locals and fellow travellers. From Lisbon to Porto we only saw eight other pilgrims walking. Now we see eight each day.

We are enjoying these days. Even the rain brings us some delight. I have come to enjoy the speed (and location, as in bus stops) in which Tom can change into his rain gear. It is quite a sight to behold. We will be in Santiago shortly. The time and miles are flying by.

This has been a very different journey for us. I can hardly wait until I see you and tell what it has been like. I'll put on a pot of soup and we can sit by the fire. Looking forward to that time. Until then, you are loved... Buen Camino.

Friday, October 23, 2015

From Portugal to Spain

This morning we crossed the border from Portugal into Spain. We decided to spend the night in the castle in Valenca, Portugal and walk over in the morning when we were well rested. I have to tell you it was very exciting to me. I don't say this very often but I was proud of Tom and I. It was really quite an accomplishment for us. As you know Tom had surgery this past summer and there were many days when I thought we would not make this trip at all. One step at a time and we have walked from one country into another.

The international bridge is a stunning piece of architecture. It is both simple and classy. It was an exciting moment as we crossed over. We are are a little over 100 km from Santiago, Spain. Depending on the weather, we may walk over to the coast and enjoy the coastline for a while. We are still contemplating this as we walk.

We think of you in these beautiful moments. These are the times I miss you the most. Longing to share these special moments and places with you. But for now, we carry you in our hearts.

 Love you so very much...Buen Camino

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes

It was the perfect day to walk as we left Ponte de Lima for Rubiaes. We had such a lovely time I have to admit it was a little hard to leave. We got up early and stopped for coffee at the local coffee shop. By 7:30 the room was full of locals drinking coffee and port wine and the the cafe was abuzz with laughter and loud, playful conversations. We wished we were a little more fluent in Portuguese so we could contribute. It was the happening place this morning.

Our walk was only to be about 15 miles and we had a very steep hill to ascend. Once we set out there were no places to stop so we packed our lunch. It was hard climb but so very beautiful.

We were warm and sweaty when we came into town. We chose our albergue because it was a private home that had been converted to a pilgrim shelter. For us, they feel a bit like home and we always enjoy visiting with the people who live in these beautiful country villages. I will never forget as we walked up the last little hill. Maria, our hostess, stood in the road with her apron on and welcomed us in. She poured us a glass of her homemade vinho verde (red winewhich she scooped out of a barrel for us. She then picked up some chestnuts and quickly roasted them for us while we sat and rested our bones. We talked for the longest time and she told us what life was like for her as a widow with four daughters. Times had been very hard for several years but she was doing much better now.

After an hour or so she brought us a plate of freshly made arroz con leche and served us like we were high school football players after the football game. Needless to say, we did not need dinner that night. I think one of the things I appreciated the most was her generosity. Often times, after hard seasons in life we hesitate or hold back out of fear. She did not. She was very kind and generous and gave freely.

The countryside becomes much more beautiful as we head northward. We will be in Spain soon to a more familiar Camino. While that is very exciting to me I will miss these moments. The times when we are sitting and chatting with someone we have just met. Drinking wine from a barrel and eating freshly roasted chestnuts on the terrace. These moments only occur because I am here in this moment. It was a beautiful exchange of experiences by two women who had never met nor would probably ever see each other again. I will carry this moment with me and in the years to come I will always remember it with great joy.

She invited us to stay at the castle in Valenca which is just south of the Spanish border. We will consider this as we walk. We are excited to know that we are close to Spain and yet a little sad to leave Portugal. This walk has had its' fair share of hard moments but the beautiful encounters with the Portuguese people have by far exceeded any hardship we may have experienced. It has been exactly what we needed.

We are thinking of you each and everyday and are hold your heart next to ours. Looking forward to our return when we can be together again. You are loved...Buen Camino.

Monday, October 19, 2015

We May Never Pass This Way Again

We may never pass this way again...I know that sounds the like the words to an old Seals and Crofts song but today those words hold great significance to me. The course of events were phenomenal and I know I have not yet unwrapped all layers of the gifts that were given to us.

It started rather ordinary. According to the weather forecast it was to be clear in the morning with no rain expected until about one in the afternoon. We had heard about a beautiful Quinta about 15 km away and thought we would have a short day of walking and enjoy most of the day and evening in the beautiful old farmhouse. With the expectation of rain in the afternoon this seemed like the perfect plan. We got ready and headed out the door and within three minutes it started to rain. Not just a light misty rain but a downpour. Apparently the weather had not heard about the forecast prediction. Our walk today would take us through the forests with one major hill to climb. When the clay gets wet it is very slippery and hard to maneuver. We had five miles before we would find a village and cover of any sort.

Our devotional for today reminded us to trust God and go gently through this day, keeping our eyes on Him. I will open the the way before you as you take steps along your path. I'd like to say I knew everything would go according to His plan but I felt a bit anxious as we started. As the rain fell harder I began coming up with numerous back up plans. And then, God opened the way.

We had stopped for a moment in the middle of the road and a running team came along. Once you are north of Porto everyone recognizes you are on pilgrimage and heading to Santiago. They want to stop and assure you are heading the right way and wish you a Buen Camino. Today was no different except we had decided we would not go any further with the rain so heavy and the roads so slippery. As it turned out there was a race today. Teams were running from a distance of about 20 miles away and ending in Ponte de Lima as a part of a large marathon event. Our team was a part of this event. When they heard of our plan they stopped and offered their assistance. They walked back into town with us and carried our bags.They got us a cup of coffee and called someone to drive us into Ponte de Lima. Once we were settled they ran off in the rain to continue their race. We were so touched by their genuine concern and kindness towards us.

That in itself was incredibly beautiful but as we sat in our nice warm room overlooking the river we saw our team come in. Bravo we shouted from our balcony window and they came to us to make sure we were warm and settled.

We will stay a day or two in Ponte do Lima. It is considered the oldest town in Portugal and it is very beautiful. We have a beautiful little pensao overlooking the river. There is an Italian restaurant below us with a fire oven and the most delicious smells wafting up to our room. And, we may never pass this way again so Carpe Diem. We will seize the day and just enjoy the beauty that is here.

I am learning so much...Trusting in Gods perfect plans. Being reminded that He doesn't need me to have a back up plan in case His doesn't work. The exquisite beauty in the way in which He shows us He cares for us. There is so much more for me to learn. I think of you and hope you know that you are loved...Buen Camino.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pedra Furada

We left Porto and headed to Pedra Furada with only the plan to head north. We are getting really good at abandoning our agendas on what to do and how to do it for the truly unencumbered life. We know we are out for a walk and the destination or distance no longer concerns us. We just stop when we are ready.

It was the perfect morning to walk. We had coffee and toast and then headed out. The weather was cool and there was a nice breeze. Rain was expected by three in the afternoon. We were set, northward we would go. We stopped for a moment in Barcellos (we have dear friends with the same last name) and then meandered through the countryside. We stopped for light lunch along the way and enjoyed a moment of life in rural Portugal. We looked across the street at a small church and saw the most beautiful baby pig. I wish I had captured his photo but I was so enthralled with him I did not even take my camera out of its pouch. He had the biggest ears I have ever seen on a pig. He looked like dumbo the elephant with a pigs snout. When he ran his ears flopped and it looked like he large dark eyes imprinted on the inside of his large ears. We watched him enjoy his freedom for awhile. He ran through neighboring gardens snorting along the way. We left shortly afterward and two men in a blue Mercedes were driving up and down a dirt road. We suspected they were looking for the pig. We called them over and tried to explain where we had seen the pig last. We laughed when we thought about how they were going to catch this little pig and drive him home in their beautiful Mercedes Benz.

The rain and blustery winds kicked up a little earlier than we had expected. We had about 2.8km left (uphill) when the deluge hit. A young man pulled over and offered us a ride and we accepted it. We are warm and dry and enjoying the respite.

Thinking of you. You are loved... Buen Camino.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Porto is lovely. The port city is beautifully situated on the 'River of Gold' or, as known in Portugal, Rio Douro. It is a city full of vitality and a rich history. Famous navigators of the 14th century were born here and by the 15th century the city played a leading role in the maritime discoveries of the New World.

We loved our time here. We quickly slipped into the tourist mode and took a river boat cruise on the Douro River. We were able to see the Port wine caves along the embankments and see the renowned hillside settlements which have also been around since the 15th century. Our trip took us to the place where the river meets the sea. To say it was lovely would be an understatement.

The history and architecture is rich and beautiful. We meandered among the cathedrals and museums and then took a city tour. We also went to a couple of the port wine lodges and sampled some wonderful port and learned of it's history. We tried the local specialities, franceshina being of our favorites. It's like a calzoni but made with thick Portuguese bread and their famous sausages. It is smothered with cheese and toasted. A wonderful tomato sauce is poured over it and then served with homemade potato chips and a cold beer. It was so satisfying.

We had so much fun. We stayed up late and woke up even later. We have decided to alter our route for a while and head north along the coastline. The weather looks good for a few days and so we shall walk along the coast. Our traveling family has moved on ahead and we are walking alone again. We are certainly in good company. We are also getting better at the surrender. Letting go of the self imposed expectations and schedules. This really is a daily issue for me and I must work on it constantly.

We arrived in Vila do Conde today after a 19 mile walk along the coast. It was one of our best walks. We think of you in all this beauty. Thankful for you in our lives. You are loved... Buen Camino.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Perspective and Perseverance

These are not easy words for me to write. Today was hard and I had moments of doubt about what we were doing. We started out early because there were many miles to cover and heavy rains were predicted for the entire day. I could live with the weather because of my rain gear but the terrain was also difficult. It was a combination of undulating rocky hills and busy freeways. A hard combination when rains are present. When it was over I would have to say it was probably one of my best days. Not because it was easy or beautiful but because it was a day that provoked my thoughts and gave me a different perspective.

By California standards we started out in a heavy rain. Since we haven't seen rain in California for quite some time it was a lovely storm. This would not deter us and we eagerly set out.

Our walk started along the N110. The trails and infrastructure in Portugal are not as developed as the ones in France. On occasion (usually after a natural disaster) they reroute us along the national highway. It was cold and I was wet and the cars and trucks whizzed by at incredible speeds. Why am I doing this? I thought. This is ridiculously hard.  Then I was reminded that there are some who would give anything for this to be their hard. I could think of nothing else to complain about from that moment on.

I find one of the most beautiful aspects of our walk is our time without distractions. Amidst these beautiful places and exquisite experiences the thing I appreciate the most are these moments of closeness to God. There are many ways in which this happens but for me each step I take is a prayer. In those moments of prayer, my perspective can change. I am a work in progress and I have so much to be thankful for. I thought of those who would give anything to say that this was the hardest thing they had going. What had once seemed overwhelming to me had now became very beautiful as I thought about this. 

At some point during the day it did stop raining. We often stop to look around us and get a different perspective of where we are and where we have been. The rainy day had become so beautiful to me. A little change in the my external environment or perhaps, the change was me, but everything seemed different. Still walking north to Spain and having persevered the storm we continue onward. Not always sure of what is ahead but know we will be alright. Buen Camino...You are loved.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


We were pleasantly surprised when we entered Coimbra. Sometimes after days on the trail and then staying in the smaller villages where we know everyone it can be difficult to adjust to the busyness of a big city. This was not the case when we walked into Coimbra. It was spectacular as we entered and our way was well marked. Our friend Bernard who is always ahead of us found the most delightful place for us to stay. We had a lovely roon in a historical pension with a stunning view of the city. We walked out our door and we were in the heart of the city. It was delightful.

Coimbra was the capital of Portugal from 1145-1255. However, it is best known for it's university which was founded in 1290. The original site still remains with some of the original structures and with some gorgeous new buildings. It is one of the best schools for mathematics and engineering in the country.

We have decided to eat at a traditional Portuguese restaurant that the locals favor. It's specialty is fish and I have to say it was one of the best seafood meals I have ever eaten.  I had the giant prawn and grilled calamari. The owner was very generous to us and shared some of his wonderful port. Afterward, we went with a young couple from Canada to watch Fado. It was lovely.

We think of you as the days so by. Each day and a another adventure that we would love to share with you. You are loved...so very much. Buen Camino.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Onward We Go

The countryside was exquisite today as we left Alaviazere for Rabacal. The villages here are small and quaint and we have enjoyed watching the men and women harvesting their olives. It is tedious work as they do it all by hand. The men usually hit the branches with a large stick and the women usually gather up the olives. Sometimes a whole branch comes down and the olives are hand picked off the branches. I know that this is just the beginning of their work.

It rained intermittently throughout the day but we were very comfortable. We are getting used to our packs and we are the happiest when we are out on the trail. It has taken a while to find our pace and relinquish our expectations for ourselves. We remember that we are really just out for a walk we begin to fully relish being in the moment. We have met a few other pilgrims and are beginning to enjoy their companionship as well.

The people we meet along the way will often approach us and engage in conversations. It is not often they have visitors walking through their village. Although the Portuguese route is not as popular as the Camino Frances the people in the small villages are aware that they live on this historical way. They want to hear about what we are doing, where we have come from, and then tell us their own stories. We are loving this part of our journey.

I appreciate this time as we acclimate to our new routines and rhythms. Periodically we take a moment to stop and look at where we have been. Sometimes the overall goal feels overwhelming but when we take a moment we see we are exactly where we are supposed to me. We are inspired and encouraged to continue on.

You cross our hearts everyday...we carry you with us. You are loved... Buen Camino.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


After a lovely visit in Tomar we are off to Alaviazere. We have decided to take the bus for a few kilometers in a difficult to navigate area. We are having a glorious thunder and lightening storm and we will stay put for a while to enjoy it. The weather should clear later in the afternoon and we will walk into Alaviazere.

The small towns are starting to change in their appearance and today's villages actually look like some of the farmhouses in Italy. It is easy on our heart and refreshing for our souls so we enjoy this day of diminished walking and beautiful thunder and lightening storms.

The change in scenery reminds us of the many places we have been and even being wet does not deter our joy as we reminisce about those places. We talk for hours about the beautiful life and adventures we have had.

We are staying at an albergue in Alaviazere. The owner has turned part of his home into rooms for pilgrims. He is so happy and proud that he is taking care of us travelers. He gives us some of his best port wine and puts a gold stamp in our credential. We chat for awhile and then go into town with three other pilgrims. We have been enjoying the company of Bernard Plaisant from France for the last few evenings. Tonight, another couple from Pacific Grove join us for dinner at the only restaurant in town. As he is the only one working in the restaurant he is only cooking one thing tonight for all of us. We are happy to eat pork, potatoes, salad, bread and wine. We heartily accept it and enjoy each others company.

We are starting to get into our new routine. We have cut back on the miles we are walking each day and are trying to remember the things we learn each day of walking. Breathe, the place we are is the exact place we are supposed to be, you have nothing to prove, be joyful and enjoy this gift of each other and our time together.

We think of you as the hours go by. We know you would like some of these places too. You are loved... Buen Camino.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


It did rain today and we did make it to Tomar. We had looked forward to the walk today as it would take us through some beautiful forests. It was crazy and beautiful at the same time. There had been a fire in the last year or so and the trail over the mountains was no longer present. Our guide book gave instructions but needless to say we got to a point where we could no longer follow the instruction it gave. I am married to a wonderful navigator who was trained by the Navy in celestial navigation. I knew I was in good hands. We found our way out and then walked along the N110 which is the national highway. And, it was raining like crazy.

We found a restaurant on the side of the highway and went inside. It was Sunday afternoon and everyone was dressed in their Sunday best. Despite our wet and disheveled appearance we were welcome in. We ate a lovely meal of fish, potatoes and green salad. Everyone was kind and helpful to us and we had a lovely time. We were exactly where we were supposed to be. We got a ride into town which was about 6km and checked into our lovely hostal to dry off.

We have decided to spend a little more time here and explore the area. It is home to the Templar Castle and the area is enchanting. We are doing well. We are learning so very much about ourselves and hoping to know more about what God would have for us. You are loved... Buen Camino.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Santarem to Golega

Our host Mario woke up early to see us off in the morning and I have to admit that a few tears were shed. He wished us well, packed a small lunch for us, and gave us his phone number in case we needed anything. He also gave us the name of a place to stay in Golega and said that his friend Lenore would take good care of us when we arrived. We accepted his offer and he was right. It was a great place and Lenore did take good care of us.

Golega is famous in Portugal for fine Arabian horses. The annual horse show occurs in November and people from all over the country participate. It is a lovely town and we are pleased to be here.

We also met a few other pilgrims tonight and enjoyed lively conversations and wonderful stories. The two men we shared the evening with were near seventy and avid walkers. Bernard was from France and Neil from Finland. Both are 'given' a month each year away from their families to walk so they get in as much walking as possible. They covered 30-40 miles a day so I knew our time together would be short. As we listened to their many walking stories I came to appreciate that they did this for the pure joy of it. They were not bragging about their speed or their accomplishments. They were just excited to talk about the walks they had taken. When we mentioned that twenty miles a day was our limit they offered some wonderful words of wisdom. They reminded us that in this season of life we have nothing to prove to any one. It is not the accumulation of miles or the completion of any given stage that makes our walks of any value. It is the joy that being together and walking gives us that makes this journey beautiful. I am reminded that these words hold true even when we are not walking.

We are off towards Tomar tomorrow. There is a chance of rain for the next few days. We are out for a walk and will see where we end up. You are loved... Buen Camino.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Santarem is the place where the Caminho Fatima and the Camino de Santiago divide and head their separate ways. It is also the place where Tom's cold took a turn for the worse. We have decided to stop here and rest for a few days. It is a lovely village and we are staying at the Hostal Santarem where we have a little terrace apartment. Mario is our host and he plays some of the most beautiful music for us. He must have at least 1,000 vinyl records and his collection is to be envied.

We did take a walk through town where we visited the Portas do Sol which is known here as the gateway to the sun. It has a stunning view of the vistas below and occupies the site of the original Roman forum and the Moorish citadel.

After a visit to the local pharmacy I realized I would be out of a job if pharmacies in the United States were like these. You present your symptoms to the pharmacist and he or she prescribes for you based on your symptoms. I contributed my thoughts and she readily agreed and handed over our request. Needless to say, he is feeling better.

We will resume our walk again tomorrow. The rest has been good for us in a most unexpected way. While each place has brought us a special delight our time here has given us time to reflect on what is really important to us. We are in the season of life in which we do not need to rush. We can stop and enjoy the moment we are in even if it means we alter our plans to just stay still.

The local taberna fixes us homemade soup each day and our host prepares soothing drinks for us and we feel well cared for. We realize we are in no hurry nor do we have a final destination. We are just on a walk and enjoying everyplace we happen to be. After all, we are only doing this for the sheer fun of it. Excited to see what lies ahead. You are loved and missed...Buen Camino

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Porte de Muge

Porte de Muge
Today we have chosen to walk less than the twenty plus miles that our guide book recommends. We are using the Brierley's guide for pilgrims who walk the Camino. He prefaces this guidebook by saying the route through Portugal is for the experienced pilgrim. We are beginning to see why he would make that statement. The distances, though not necessarily hard, are long. Often times there are no  places to stop or stay along the way. We must plan ahead with some provision for those days. We must also be able to navigate without a lot of way-markings. Today we have the option so we have decided to stop in Porte de Muge.

We are feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep and are eager to get back onto the country paths. We have packed some fresh fruit, nuts, and raisins to eat along the way. We have decided to stay in a Quinta which is a traditional farmhouse. The Quintas here are relatively large. They have a large main house and then a variety of apartment style buildings with a large kitchen and dining area for the farm workers. This is a rich agricultural area with a variety of crops but it most notably known for its production of tomatoes. We stop along the way and pick up a few fresh ripe tomatoes to refresh us. They are delicious.

We are pleasantly surprised when we reach the Quinta da Marchanta. There is a note to welcome us pilgrims. Our gracious host Graca is away for the moment but Ernesto, her overseer welcomes us. He gives us a lovely apartment where we feel right at home. After we freshen up and get our laundry on the line we take the bicycles into town where they are expecting us for dinner. We are pleasantly surprised by a light rain and excited to wear our jackets for a moment. We have two choices for dinner and we have decided to have the steak, eggs, and potatoes. This also includes bread, olives, salad, fruit, and drinks. All this for a mere 10E. All the locals are here and we are excited to be with them. Mama has done the cooking, daughter Ana serves us and we are happy in this moment with people we have just met.

We are blessed and we know it. Today we are really appreciative of those blessings. You are also a blessing to us. You are loved...so very much. Buen Camino.

Alverca to Azambuja

Alverca to Azambuja
We get up early today to get a good start on our eighteen mile trek. This has been an arduous day. Not because of the distance or its degree of difficulty but because much of today's walk parallels the busy N-10 and we must traverse through many industrial areas. In 2012 there was significant flooding in this area and so the walkway along the estuary has been altered. At this time this is the recommended route so we follow it northward.

We must maintain our vigilance as we meander through this area and pray not to miss what God would have for us in this unexpected detour. We meet another young man who stops to talk to us. He offers us a cool drink and then encourages us on our pilgrimage. He speaks words to us and we are left amazed that he would know the exact words we needed to hear at that moment. It is as if he knew things about us that we had not even spoken of. We are thankful for this moment in an otherwise hard day. We know we are cared for and not alone.

Tonight we stayed at the Ouro Hotel. We had read it was nice and it was the first place we found as we entered the small town of Azambuja. We washed our laundry and rested a bit before we headed for dinner. We can tell we are out of the city. I ordered a $2.00 glass of wine and got the whole bottle! We ate a delightful meal and were the only ones in the restaurant. People began to enter as we began to leave. We haven't quite got the knack (or the energy right now) for the late night life yet.

We know we care cared for each day. God makes Himself known to us in ways that we know only come from Him. Sometimes things are not as we expect but we know that they are no surprise to our God. We are open to all that He has for us. We think of you.You are loved... Buen Camino.

Inward Journey

As we begin this pilgrimage I have begun to understand the words of John Muir. His quote, "I only went out for a walk...and finally concluded to stay out to sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in" is becoming clearer to me as we walk many hours each day through Portugal.

This pilgrimage is very different for us in many ways. We are different. The course of events over this past year have caused us to look inward as we redefine our lives by His desires for us. Things are not as we expected but exactly as they are supposed to be. What needed change was not necessarily our situations but our perspective about them. So, as we begin our walk we have many hours to contemplate this inward journey.

The miles are long as we leave Lisbon. It certainly isn't as beautiful as crossing the Pyrenees were but in it's own way very moving to our hearts and souls. We are not distracted but what surrounds us but are able to concentrate on what is within us. Each day God gives us the most beautiful encounter and there is no doubt that He has placed that moment to remind us He is with us and we are well cared for. I think He has that message for us everyday but in these moments, alone for miles on end, we just seem to hear it better.

We also have been burdened by the desire to pray for those of you we love. Our hearts our full in doing this. It is beautiful to take the time to do this and we feel very connected to each of you. Our hearts are next to your hearts in these moments.

We continue northward. The way-markings are modestly placed and we have to work hard at navigating the trail but we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

You are loved... Buen Camino.