Camino de Santiago- Portuguese way done MY way!

And so one day the idea popped into my head and May 20th 2013 it was put into action. Needless to say nothing much was planned out but it fell right in place like all the other crazy ideas 🙂

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We decided to embark on a self exploration spiritual journey on our rental bikes from Porto (Portugal) to Santiago (Spain). Everything was planned and yet so unplanned. Purchased a real durable 2 person tent with some good sleeping bags, rented out 2 very good full suspension aluminium light frame 24 speed bicycles, got a very basic map of Portugal-Spain and off we, Tom and I, went on our Camino!

Landed into Porto on the 20th of May. The bicycles were already delivered to our hotel. They were provided to us by this fantastic company, so professional and helpful in their dealing that I am going to put down their website for those who are interested in their business.

http://cycling-centuries.com/

We took the bikes for a test run and the following day we were all set for the start of a very wonderful 7 day trip that will be hard to forget.  First stop ended up being the Cathedral of Porto from where we got our pilgrims “passport”. Got that stamped and then headed North. Since we had no proper map and were heavily relying on our Iphone compass, the logical thing to do was to head north in the direction of Spain. Before I go any further and make this a task for everyone who is reading it, I’ll type down my itinerary so that all the useless reading can be stopped and we can get straight to the point. Also just a little mention, we took the coastal route all the way to Spain. Why? We had no proper maps or GPS to guide us to Spain! We had to make do with our brains and since the idea was to go on an adventure, we did just that so  Here it goes…

Leaving Porto for

Day 1- Rio Alto ( Camping site  close to the little village of Ofir. The perfect little place with all the amenities that you can think of, this camping site had it. Very comfortable and it only cost us €7.00 to set up our tent.) There are signposts all along the way for Orbiture Camping and we followed it. Very simple!

Day 2- Afife (A town that you won’t be able to locate on a regular map unless it’s the kind that has every little village mentioned on it and is super detailed. This little village is right before you reach Vila Praia de Ancora- This however is well-marked on the map.) Here we stayed in a little or should i say the ONLY hotel that we could find called ” Hotel Compostela.” It was very apt so we decided to skip camping that night -although the camping site was only 2 kms outside Afife and very reasonable, we decided to pay €35.00 for the comfortable bed and a nice warm shower after a long day of biking!)

Day 3- Tui ( This day we crossed into Spain and spent the night in the lovely village of Tui. We stayed at Hotel San Telmo. Again, a very reasonable hotel and very comfortable stay. By day 3 with our bums hurting, it was impossible to even think of sleeping on hard ground so cheap hotels it was! Cost us €35.00)

Day 4- Pontevedra ( Again, a long day and this happened to be a big town. There was no dearth of hotels here. We stayed at a hotel called – Virgin de compostela. How could we not? After all we were Virgins of Compostela! This was an expensive one with a huge king size bed and a beautiful bath. Cost us € 40.00 for the night)

Day 5- Caldas de Reis ( A very short day as we really wanted to explore the town of Caldas de Reis that is simply so picturesque and serene. We stayed at Hotel O Crucerio for €35.00. Seemed it was the going rate for all the hotels in small villages. Very very friendly and accomodating staff that cooked us a filling meal since we got in at the ” siesta” hour and every place in town was shut!)

Day 6- Padron ( Again, another short hilly bike ride into this lovely village of Padron. The Sunday market was in full swing when we pulled in on our bicycles and made our way over to Hotel Rosalia. It is a bit our of town but that’s just what we were looking for. A quiet place just to ourselves. Cost – €35.00)

Day 7- Santiago ( Now this one was hard!!! We had a hard time finding Cathedral of St James and had even a harder time finding our Hotel Horreo!! Took us good 3 hours before we found our hotel. As a result we toured the whole town on our bikes and know the city of Santiago INSIDE OUT! The hotel was plain and just OK and cost us €45.00 per night.)

Now since the itinerary is out-of-the-way, let me concise my spiritual journey into a few paragraphs and paint the most sincere and humble picture in words. From day 1 – 7 all I felt was nothing but love and respect from complete strangers. It almost seemed surreal to keep meeting people who were more than happy to help out and were more than willing to go out of their way to make us feel comfortable! We were so humbled by it all. From being offered a dirt tractor ride to meeting someone by chance, who nurtured the hobby of fixing punctured bikes to getting to know their personal lives and what they did for a living in the form of drawings and hand gestures ( since we don’t speak any Spanish or Portuguese, and they didn’t speak any English, this was the only way we could put our point across!) it was all an experience that will be very hard to match up to and ever forget.

All those who feel there isn’t any good in this world NEED to do something spontaneous where you have no access to technology as you make your way from one village to another depending on good will and helpful souls. At no point during my journey I felt alone, threatened or unloved. People are pure and I am so lucky to have had the chance to live this experience with someone I love.

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