On the Way to Portugal

Day 2: Lost my way twice today on the Way Day Padron to Caldas de Reis 18K (+10)

Unlike yesterday, another universe away, today was challenging and difficult mostly because of missing the arrow twice, going way to far before realizing I was wrong, and having to backtrack adding an extra 10K to my walk. Also the challenge of finding the arrows took a lot of mental energy and so I spent my time looking and stressing to see if I’d missed the Way rather than enjoying my thoughts or the scenery. 

The day was clear skies and warm, a bit muggy and promised to be a beautiful day. I had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel and then enjoyed the early morning in Padron, one of the places that St James had preached when he was alive and where his remains were returned to after his death. 

I followed the path and did well with the arrows and the guide book until I missed one turn and then made the mistake of starting to follow a red arrow thinking the blue arrow may have changed color. This took me into some other reality where two people told me I was going the right way and I spent two hours getting back to where started. Interestingly there were signs trying to point me in another direction, a horse twice tried to stop me while his rider berated him for not obeying, but I wasn’t paying attention. Then an hour later I did the same thing by making an assumption that caused another half hour or more detour and both detours had long hills that were needlessly climbed. By mid afternoon I felt like I had to be vigilant all the time or I’d get lost. It wasn’t fun and this was supposed to be fun. So decided to trust that I’d learn to see the arrows and still be able to enjoy the walk. 

I stopped for lunch and ate my sandwich I’d made from extra food I’d had from breakfast. I was beat from walking and found it?s harder to pace myself without Lilly to compliment me. We liked to stop at the same time and our rhythm gave me comfort and stamina. I also missed the conversation and laughter. I like my own company too and hope once I get situated with the path I’ll enjoy myself again. 

I arrived in Caldas de Reis around 3:30 so had walked a good 7 hours. There were a number of other pilgrims going to Santiago in the opposite direction and some would smile and some would ask if I was going the wrong way and some would know I was heading to Portugal. The pilgrim traffic is much less than the Spanish Camino which is nice. I’d also say that the age range is maybe older than that Camino. 

The Albergue turned out to be a hotel and I had a decent room for 25 Euro. After washing clothes and bathing I took a nap before going out to explore the town. It was famous for its hot springs hence the name of the town the King’s Hot Baths. It sits on a river, as do many of the towns in Galacia, and I found a cafe by the water to have a beer. The weather had been warm all day and it was pleasant sitting outside. 

Later I had dinner in the hotel and the food was fine. It was busy with a party downstairs and I enjoyed watching the Spanish come alive. By 11:00 I was in bed and soon asleep.


An abandoned mini chapel. Caldas de Reis. 


Blue arrow. The place St James’ body was first brought to on way back to Santiago. Icecream sundaes for Lilly. 


Field of scarecrows. Mountain Wine. Happy Flowers. 


Way in Padron. Font in Padron showing St James baptizing a child. 


Padron Porta de Santiago. City streets. 


Padron Porta de Santiago. Typically path in this part of Galacia raised grape vines on either side. Willy Goats’ Gruff. 

On the Way to Portugal

Day 1: William Starts the Portuguese Camino Day

I left Lilly at the crossroads of our mutual future directions, she to go to the train and I to find the Portuguese Camino. The day broke clear and it was sweet to be exiting Santiago on sun rather than rain. Our goodbyes were brief as we had been transitioning and completing our journey since arriving in Santiago. I felt a sadness yet no grief on parting. 

Getting out of town was challenging as I couldn’t follow the guide book’s instructions backwards to exit town. So it took me an hour to find the Camino again by asking directions repeatedly. I finally came into it at 9:05 just when Lil’s train was leaving for Madrid, about 6K from where I started. 

I saw a number of pilgrims coming my direction but nothing like the waves coming into Santiago on the Camino Francais. A few I spoke with as they were interested in why I was going the opposite way. One couple was from Seattle and had come from Porto. A few Spaniards smiled when they saw I was walking south and asked if I was heading home from my pilgrimage. Yes, I was, I replied with the smile of a pilgrim who’s completed his pilgrimage. 

Following the signage was much more challenging than the previous walk as the arrows of the Portuguese Camino are blue not yellow and far fewer in number. However, between the arrows, the guide book’s maps and seeing pilgrims walking I was able to stay on track though I missed the mindlessness that comes with not having to pay attention to the route. 

The villages were different yet to any others yet seen on the Camino. More “tight,” compact hamlets with the path meandering through. Also new were little mini chapels that were build on elevated structures and seemed to go with individual homes. They looked like rectangular boxes with doors on either end with no access them by either stairs or ladder. 

The weather which started out clear skied began to change around 10:00 and I thought rain might be coming. However, after I stopped for lunch it cleared up again and was sunny by late afternoon. Lunch was at a cafe where I treated myself to fried eggs, bacon, and french fries. I even had a beer to top it off. 

What was also notable today was the number of barking dogs. On most of our journey through Spain the dogs have been quiet usually because they were leashless or not behind a wall. Today every house it seemed had a barking dog. I wandered if the folks here are more fearful than other parts of the country? 

Several times today I felt a strong connection with Lilly and thought she was also thinking about me. It is a different journey now, walking alone and I miss her company very much. When I got to my hotel this afternoon and did my routine it felt a bit empty without my companion. Walking alone too for the first time since my journey in France brought up some of the feelings of insecurity I experienced then. However, this time I’m a different person and have learned much since then. I think this journey alone will be wholesome and healing for me. 

I took a bath and nap before coming down for dinner in the hotel restaurant. It was quiet with only one other table of pilgrims. The meal was excellent and I started a new book about the history of the Byzantine empire. 

Though I hadn’t planned to write a blog on this part of the journey I’m enjoying the writing and will do so when the muse calls. I’m writing this on my phone as the keyboard is defunct for now. Ok friends time to say: 

Hasta Luego! (see you later!)


Baroque church. Towers. First sign to Portugal in Milladoiro. 


Leaving Santiago. Mini chapels. 


Gallacian hills. Gallacian scarecrow. Grape Alley. 


Village washing. St. James and a for sale sign. First caf? with Portuguese Camino name.