Day 11 – Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

When the Camino delivers…new friends (to my left Jo & husband Bryan in the black sweater from Melbourne, Australia; Ditte from Holland; Verena & Giuliano from Switzerland; and Neil from Kent, England to my right) are an unexpected treasure.  A shared dinner with passionate talk on many tender subjects such as politics, healthcare, religion…but we walked away friends.  Buen Camino!

After our chance meeting, lively discussion and entirely too much local red wine to wash down my excellent calamari, I went to bed much later than usual but awoke early and ready to walk.  I love the early morning…it’s always been my favorite time of day, so I was the first pilgrim down for the opening of the breakfast cafe at 7 am.  After a cafe con leche and croissant, I started out for Caldas de Reis.

Pardon senor…can you spare any loose coins?

This is what I should be eating…fresh fruit…instead of all the pan & jamon.

This dapper gent bids me and Pontevedra adieu.

After leaving the fond memories of Old Town in my rear view mirror, I crossed a beautiful bridge and river leaving town.  The sun was just cresting the trees and the air was fresh and brisk.  This was going to be an enjoyable 17 mile walk…I could just feel it in my bones.

The ancient bridge I crossed.

A newer suspension bridge in the distance.

The beautiful workmanship of the older bridge trusses.

After leaving town I made my way up a gradual grade to 150 meters above sea level.  The walk was a perfect balance of challenge and calm.  I saw very few pilgrims my first 2-3 hours, and my paths varied from shaded and wooded through small vineyards to hard surfaces alongside minor roadways.

An unusual stone waymark in the woods crossing a small brook.

Much of my day was walking down beautiful shaded paths like this one.  A peaceful setting for prayer and reflection.

It’s always the final 1/3 of each days walk that is the most difficult.  Your feet start to hurt from the varied surfaces, and in today’s case, from walking too fast the first 2/3 of the way.  So it’s always a treat and motivation to encounter a special tile marker or Galician cross.

Santiago telling me where I can find him.

These Galician crosses are complex…and weathered.  Note St. James below the crucifixtion of Christ.

I love this one of the mother Mary holding her crucified son Jesus.  No mother should have to experience such agony.

So my ultimate entry into Caldas de Reis was uneventful.  There was a  beautiful clear river with footbridge and adjoining cafes upon entry to the city center, but little else of historical note.  I haven’t seen my friends from last night but still may as dinner here in Spain doesn’t start until 8:30 pm.  I’m feeling a bit of the lack of sleep from yesterday and may call it an early night so I can repeat my early morning joy en route to Padron.  Until that post, I’m wishing you all a good day back home.  Know that my morning rosary includes you in my prayers.  Buen Camino family and friends.

I guess the dryers broken again!

The strangest sidewalk brick pattern I’ve seen…it literally makes you dizzy as if you’re walking on waves of water.

A parochial school is right behind our hotel.  I could hear the sound of children playing at recess…Catherine’s favorite sound in all the world.

The impressive bridge entry into Caldas de Reis.

The water was running so clear you could see the fauna bending with the flow.

Day 10 – Redondela to Pontevedra

The stone marker at the head of the bridge Pontesampaio over the Rio Verdugo.  The bridge was built in 1795.

View of the river from the bridge.

Today’s walk was 50% over lovely shaded paths carved out of eucalyptus forests.  The smell was like walking through a Pier 1 store on steroids!

I spent last night in an old farm house that was converted to a restaurant and inn.  Apparently the restaurant has quite a following as the inn was full of both vacationing families and pilgrims.  After waking to the rising sun with the songs of birds filling the air, I met pilgrims from Poland and Spain before heading out for Pontevedra.

Today’s walk was short & pleasant, and it’s a good sign that I’ve turned a physical and psychological corner when I consider 10 miles to be entirely too short.  You know you’re capable of more when you’re at your hotel before the rooms are ready for check in.  High class problem, as there’s time to wander and have a beer.

There’s been days when my backpack felt this large…but not today!

A vineyard along the Way today…

I stopped in the tiny and ancient Capela da St. Maria on the outskirts of Pontevedra to offer some prayers and leave this one from my daughter Cristin…’Let it Be’ Dad…let it be.

The inside of the tiny chapel.

Many pilgrims leave their prayers here after their visit.

Pilgrims also pile prayer stones on waymarkers as they ‘leave their sins behind’…

Pontevedra is the Galician regional capital and home to a modern university and about 80,000 residents.  Their ‘Old Town’ section is very cool and littered with public squares, bars, cafes, commercial shops and tourists.  There’s a lively spirit to Old Town as many are out having a coffee or beer and conversation.  It was a treat to arrive early and hang out watching the many different genres of folks stroll by.

The entrance to one of Pontevedra’s many public squares.

The Convento de San Francisco.

Statue atop the Santuario da Peregrina.

The Convento de San Francisco.

Our beloved St. James!

The impressive Arturo Sauto designed Santuario de Peregrina.  The floor plan is designed in the shape of a scallop shell.

So tomorrow is a bit longer with 17 miles into Caldas de Reis.  I didn’t walk with any pilgrims today.  The ones I encountered were in small groups and the opportunity to start a dialogue didn’t develop.  Perhaps tomorrow will be a different story…we’ll see.  I put the ‘alone time’ to use though as I let my mind go to several topics I have been considering.  Time to think is still the most under appreciated  and valuable commodity there is.

Can Beauty ever be Considered Redundant?

The unique roof line of the Immaculate Conception church where I stopped for morning prayers.
The impressive interior of the church.  Note the 12 apostles prominently displayed on the altar wall.  The question is…which is St. James?

When I left the urban city center of Vigo and slowly made my way out of the city and on my way to Redondela, I had perhaps 75% of my short 10 mile walk today alongside different areas (and views) of the Vigo estuary.  The views were stunning, and I’ve come to expect as much along the coastlines of Portugal and Spain.  So today many of my photos are of those views.  They may seem redundant, but can beauty ever really be considered redundant?  Not to my eye Lord, and I thank You for that.

Old school / new school.  Like walking to cars…both get you from A to B, but at much different paces.

A cruise ship in the Vigo harbor.

Much of my view today was of the Vigo estuary on paths high in the hills.  This made me one happy peregrino.

On the last 1/3 of my walk I had the pleasure of meeting another solo pilgrim…Neil from Kent, England.  Neil and I had stayed at the same hotel in Vigo, but only caught a glimpse of each other at breakfast.  During our chat I came to find out he was a retired doctor that spent the previous 15 years of his career working as a physician on the North Island of New Zealand.  He had some fascinating stories to share about the Mauri native islanders and how they’ve come to blame many of their health and social-economic  problems on the ‘white man’.  Like any story, there’s probably partial truth to this.  He and I are of similar age, both have 3 adult children, but he has grandchildren already.  He enjoys walking and frequents the public links nearby his town for socialization.  What was most impressive about Neil though (at least to me), is that he does volunteer medical work in remote parts of the world as a way of giving back.  He’s traveled to Uganda (where AIDS is an epidemic) and South Africa, diagnosing maladies with insufficient tools and staff.  We discussed religion a bit, and after sharing he was a member of the Anglican Church and me the Catholic Church, we agreed that God doesn’t take denomination qualifiers as an entry to Heaven.  After all, we all worship the same God, yes?  Thank you Lord for the gift of Neil’s company.  May I have the good fortune of walking with him again.

Another magnificent view of Vigo and the estuary.

Vigo’s harbor is important for the shipment of many goods, including the auto’s Citroen, which are made there.

El Gato named Paolo…at least that what he told me his name was!

A backside view of Vigo as I approached Redondela.

Today is May 1, my 9th consecutive day of walking.  I am thankful it was a short walk and the weather was perfect.  I took advantage of both and moved at a leisurly pace (where was this JT on that 2014 French Way Camino my Catherine might ask!).  Neil and I both had the same diagnosis…inflamed and sore feet from all the hard surface walking over the preceding week…especially the cobblestone streets.  Thank you Lord for mostly crushed coquina shell paths today.  Our feet are rejoicing!

Many of the paths were smooth surfaces today…a Godsend!

Sharing the road with bikers and sheep!

Can you imagine waking up to this view every morning?  Many do.  I wonder if they realize how blessed they truly are.

A mural painted on a rock along the Way.

Tomorrow I am scheduled for 20 km as I make my way to Pontevedra.  I wonder what my day will present to me, but I trust that God will deliver…again.  Peace always family & friends.

​Peppercorn carne with double starches and an Estrella Galicia to chase it down.  Yes!


​​As beautiful to look at as it was pleasing to hear.

Angels from Above

I believe in angels.  I think God sends them in many shapes and forms.  On my 2nd day of this Camino I was a little blue at dinner because it dawned on me that I would be riding solo for several weeks, and I was already lonely and missing Catherine.  So who pops into the restaurant but 2 Americano pilgrims from SW Oregon…Jan & Bob.  They were friendly, engaging and we chatted for a brief time.  I ran into Jan & Bob again the next 2 days but haven’t seen them since.  We had a couple great conversations about work, family and Camino’s and I like their perspective on life.  Thank you Lord for sending those 2 angels when I was blue.

A small town festival to bring in May and the national holiday in May.

The stunning Cies Islands in the distance…one of Spains most important national parks.

My Madrid angels…sister & brother Ines & Juan.  God bless you both.

So when I packed up this morning my mood was as dark as the sky.  I was tired and did not want to walk nearly 30 km in the rain, but I had a destination (Vigo) to get to, so I suited up with my rarely used Columbia rain suit.  The last time I wore it was in Wales for the 2010 Ryder Cup when I was working for Scottish golf tour operator PerryGolf.  Rain suits are a bit like insurance policies…you pay a lot for them and use them rarely.  Off I went in spitting rain and high winds.

About 4-5 miles into my walk I rounded a corner and 2 young Spaniards were coming down an adjoining street and we met at the intersection.  After Buenos Dias and Buen Camino’s were exchanged we struck up a conversation that would last all the way into Vigo.  I found out they were brother…Juan an internal auditor for a Madrid bank after a stint in London; Ines his younger sister that was a manager of international advertising sales for the large Madrid newspaper.  To say that they were both interesting and generous with their time is an understatement.  They would wait patiently for this old American as he took off his rain jacket, put it back on, and repeated the cycle at least 6 times throughout the day as we experienced rain, wind, sun…even hail.  All 4 seasons packed into one day.  The really neat thing was they took turns walking with me and the conversations covered careers, families, religion & faith, weather…life.  When we wished each other a continued buen Camino and adios in Vigo, I was a bit sad but oh so thankful for their kindness.  Thank you Lord for these angels at my side today.  And Ines…thank you for the meat empanadas at the festival…a nice late walk treat.  Tell your Mom & Dad that they’ve raised two outstanding human beings.  I hope our paths cross again.

A colorful snail along a wall.  It’s about how fast I was moving early in the day!

Not the best looking girl but an excellent swimmer.

Public cabanas at the Bay of Baiona.

Beach bums hangin’ out.

Geared up and leaving the Parador…but not at all pleased by the prospect.

Tomorrow I have a much shorter walk into Redondela where I leave the Portuguese Coastal Way and join in the original central Camino Portuguese.  Catherine and I had met 4 angels on our French Way Camino in 2014…Joe & Linda Stubbs from Washington DC and Jim & Giselle Thornton from western Canada. We have remained friends and stayed in touch.  Joe & Linda walked the central Camino Portuguese last year, so now we can compare notes for the remainder of my walk into Santiago.  Until then, God bless you all.  Please pray for me.

Tapas and a Mahou Maestro to wind down my day.

A brave soul was Jules Verne to sit on the mighty pulpo at Vigo harbor.

Real Club Nautico.

All manner of ships and boats at the Vigo harbor.

Children riding a Merry Go’ Round at the harbor festival bringing in May and the Monday national holiday.

Carriage ride anyone?

Day 7 – Oia to Baiona

I stepped outside this morning to stillness…literally no wind.  The wind is a huge dynamic on many things. Yesterday the outside temperature was similar to today…upper 60’s, but the wind was blowing hard and the combination made for a very cold start.  Even my windbreaker brought little relief.  Today I had it off in the first 5 minutes.  A headwind can make an overseas flight 2 hours longer than one with a tailwind.  A headwind can require a golfer to use 2 extra clubs for a standard yardage shot; a tailwind 2 less.

And so it is with life.  When the rush and sounds are in your face, things seem harder.  When you have quiet and peace, things seem clearer.  I brought ear buds with me thinking I would tune out the world while I walked, yet I’ve not used them once.  The stillness and peace of this morning had me attuned to the sounds and smells of nature…the birds chirping, the sea flowing, the flowers fragrant.  It is a simple but rare treasure these days.  Time to get centered and your thoughts clear.  I have absolutely relished that gift.

A wall just outside Oia.

Goodbye Oia…you were special in my heart.

What looks like Roman ruins on the outskirts of the town.

About midway through my walk today I moved from the country to some major roadways. These roads have dedicated paths alongside for bikers and hikers.  I must say I’ve been reacquainted with the lack of courtesy extended by some bikers doing the Camino.  They are sometimes traveling 10-20x the speed of walkers, and when they zip inches by you from behind at that speed…with no warning…you about jump out of your skin.  Some display the proper etiquette by calling “on your left / right” or “Buen Camino” when approaching, letting you know to step aside, but more often it’s the former versus the latter.  The other ‘skin jumper’ is when a dog awaits you walking alongside their fence and growls and barks out of nowhere.  Man oh man, why can’t they just chill like cats?

Then my day flipped back to countryside walking, and perhaps the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen…not only on this walk (which is saying a lot)…but perhaps EVER.  I’m talking stunning vistas that are too surreal for words.  I hope the following photos do some justice to what my eyes and brain will store forever.  I’m so grateful to see this incredible part of the world, and to do it on foot in peace and quiet.

A unique marker for pilgrims.

One of the high and beautiful paths I walked today.

A 5 euro ‘brown bag’ lunch…

…enjoyed on a cliff side with this $10 mm view.  I’ll take that combo any day!

Some of my paths today were grassed with yellow flowered gorse bushes in bloom.  I felt I was walking Royal Dornoch in northern Scotland…but w/o my clubs!

Not sure which was more unusual…this cliffside windmill or the fact that it was at the Hotel Glasgow…in Spain!

A lighthouse in the distance.

The picturesque coastal town of Baredo.

Looking back on Baredo on the way to Baiona.

First bend coming into Baiona.  Notice the sailing regatta heading to the Cies Islands, arguably Spain’s most important national park.

The front and backside of an ancient guard garrison.  Check out the stone workmanship.

The 1337 built fortress that is now a Parador Hotel.

The Parador at Baiona.

The Carabela La Pinta, which arrived in the Port of Baiona in March 1493 with news of the discovery of America.

​A sailing club in the Bay of Baiona.

All headed downwind with spinnaker sails in full use!

​From the grounds of the Parador Hotel.  Buenos Noches peregrinos.

Day 6 – A Guardia to Oia

The view leaving A Guarda.
The destination in the distance.

Half way to Oia…part of the walk was along a busy road.

Today was my 6th day walking.  My odometer is bumping 100 miles and my feet are showing the signs of wear & tear.  The inevitable small blisters have started to pop up on my right heel, so it’s sewing needle, Neosporin and Compeed bandages tonight.  It was very chilly leaving my inn and I had several looks of disbelief from locals that I was walking in shorts.  Only the stupid American, yes?  Mid walk the sun rose above the mountainside, the wind subsided (some), and the day became glorious.  It was 2/3 along and in view of the ocean and 1/3 inland and up & down grades.  Although today was <15 miles, it felt longer as I had several steep climbs and just about as many steep descents.  I know the pictures I’ve sent and most of the summaries have been about the beauty and solitude, but make no mistake about it…these Camino walks are extremely challenging.  Do one and you’ll see.

My path today was along the sea.

Catherine always reminds me…don’t forget to look back!

Into Galicia along The Way.

It’s rare to get a path so smooth and flat.  A peregrino’s delight when one approaches!

I stopped into a rare open church today, just 5 minutes after starting my walk, and had some prayer time for my journey today.  My intention was to have a long talk with God about…me.  This was the primary reason I’ve come back for Camino 2.0.  It’s hard to get unrequited time alone with the Lord in our fast paced world.  This is the best place I’ve found for such solitude and focus.

Many pilgrims have asked me if I’m going to be staying at X or Y hostel in the next town, and I always reply ‘no, I grew up in a hostel with 10 brothers & sisters…no more bunk beds for me’.  You always wonder how you became who you are; what shaped your personality and views.  Our parents are the ones who tell us these stories of our youth, and one always resonates with me from my Mom.  She claims that I never spoke a word until almost 2 years old, choosing to listen and study those doing the talking.  Then she says our neighbor back in the day, named Mrs. Magnus, called her one day and said there was a knock on her door, and when she opened it saw no one, but then looked down to see this 2 year old who said “Good morning Mrs. Magnus.  How are you today”?  She told my Mom she thought I was an adult midget, that I sounded so grown up.  I guess my sales career was born that day, as no one has since accused me of being ‘too quiet’.  I’ve taken personality tests when in the corporate world, and always trend to the introvert side of center.  I can turn on the charm when required but my true nature is lone wolf independent.  I see that when walking these caminos.  I love visiting when the day is done and the walking is over, but purposefully avoid lengthy interactions when on the move, preferring to walk at my pace with my thoughts.  Today delivered on that front, so I had uninterrupted time with God.

It’s only been recently through the insights gained in our discipleship group that I’ve truly come to realize what my purpose is.  It’s the same purpose you have…all of us for that matter.  To love God above all else and our neighbors as ourselves.  That is TRUTH.  It’s also very, very hard and I fall short of the mark frequently.  I thanked God for the many blessings He’s given me…my health, wealth, wife & children, church, friends…but mostly His gift of salvation.  So today when I looked out to the massive sea, realizing how insignificant I am, I was humbled by the beauty He has provided us all.  Thank you Lord.  I will try harder to please You by following your commandments.

A cool little auto spotted in Oia.

The Monistery in Oia.

​Approaching Oia.  How magnificent!

​​​​A man walking his goat herd through town.  Precious!

Approaching Oia from a distance.

​A small chapel along the way.
Bottlebrush trees in bloom everywhere along the walk.

The views are long and stunning.

One more thing…

When Catherine and I walked the French Way Camino in 2014, we met the most awesome couple from Canada named Jim & Giselle Thornton.  We were mid-Camino and both struggling with feet or knee issues, but over some evening meals we became fast friends.  I have seen their faces often on this walk and miss Jim’s dry wit and Giselle’s laugh.  Jim has been following my blog on this walk and asked today “where’s the pulpo John?”.  For those of you uninitiated with Spanish cuisine, pulpo is octopus, and if you’re a calamari lover this is heaven.  Tonight I ordered the pulpo from a cool restaurant overlooking the convergence of the Rio Mina and the Atlantic Ocean, an idyllic setting to also have some local white Albarino wine.  It’s nice to pamper yourself now and again…at least that’s what my bride tells me.  Thank you honey…it feels great!

The infamous Pulpo on a bed of mashed potatoes with grilled red peppers.  Yum!

The Abadia Albarino was a perfect compliment to the seafood.

The town square at A Guarda where the river meets the sea.

It’s obvious it’s a fishing town based on the many statues of fishermen in boats.

A nice shade of blue compliments the seaside setting.

Fishing boats galore!

Where the river meets the sea at sunset…striking.

The water was so clear you could see bottom from 30 yards down…amazing.

A concrete boardwalk encircled the entire harbor.  What a lovely place to live and visit.

 

My Extended Family – Day 5 – Vila Praia de Ancora to A Guarda

Today was perhaps my most interesting day thus far on my walk.  The irony is, it was also the shortest walk…only 10 miles.  Like a good movie, that walk had several plots to the story.  I started in Portugal (Vila Praia de Ancora) and walked the first 4-5 miles along the coast line.  That led me inland a bit where I walked down long meadow pastures with my only interaction being with a herd of goats!  It’s the dichotomy of walking alone…it’s a bit frightening, bundled with the joys of discovering new things.  The world is so busy and we are so tethered to our electronics, that rarely can one find the solitude to think.  I am thankful this walk has delivered on that front so far.

Eventually I reached the River Mina, which divides Portugal from Spain, and took the 2 km ferry across before walking into A Guarda.  A treasure trove of visual experiences today, including finally running into a batch of other pilgrims for the first time (all waiting on the ferry).

1 euro for the ferry ride…what a deal!

​I dedicated my prayer time today to our extended family of friends at Holy Name of Jesus church back home.  Catherine and I first attended HNJ for Christmas Mass 2007.  It was suggested we try this church by our former priest in Orlando, a “newbie” named Fr. Jeremiah Payne.  He said “you must try HNJ because one of my best friends from seminary is there…his name is Fr. Tony Welle”.  Isn’t it fate that not only did we find HNJ and Fr. Tony  as awesome, but that we hit the lotto jackpot for a couple years as Fr. Jeremiah was there as well before moving on to St. Joseph’s.  Catherine and I renewed our faith walk by attending the men & women’s CRHP retreats.  They were life changing events and I truly don’t know where my faith walk would be now without that experience.

A year later I was part of a formation team that established the current men’s small discipleship groups that meet weekly.  I have met so many impressive men through this ministry and have bonded very closely with the 8 other men in my group.  I have also had the blessing of bringing the Eucharist to the sick and home bound through the MTS ministry.  Today I thanked the Lord for HNJ, our friends there, my ministries and for the opportunity to walk with him today.  I prayed for you friends!

I love how the Europeans utilize their public squares as places to gather, eat & socialize.

Trust and Tradeoffs…from Viana do Castelo to Vila Praia de Ancora.  Day 4 along the Portuguese Coastal Way.

Morning in Viano do Castelo before breakfast and my days walk to Vila Praia de Ancora

Trust is a word that is liberally spoken but rarely extended.  So it goes with matters of faith, marriage and relationships.  All of us have been hurt when trust given is abused.  I have come to covet mine and am judicious in whom I place it.  I have always considered myself a man of faith, but it’s really since I attended a Christ Renews His Parish retreat at our church that my trust in the Lord has been both renewed and intensified.  Catherine has a slogan taped to her bathroom mirror that says “Look up and Believe”.  Amen honey.

So as I departed my inn today I had my walking notes provided from Camino Ways instructing me to take an inland route that ran parallel to the sea.  It did provide for the coastal route but cautioned that it was not well marked.  So after considering my options, I chose the inland route because I had traversed the sea the first 2 days and I live less than 200 yards from the ocean at home.  As I type this update, I’m glad I opted to take the route I did because it provided the nonstop beauty and desired solitude.  But with that choice came the tradeoff of walking 15-17 miles on cobblestone streets/paths…beautiful to look at, but oh so  painful to the feet.  Still, that’s what they make Aleve for, right?

As I set out on my journey today my prayers were dedicated to my siblings…all 10 of them.  That’s not a typo folks.  I have 7 brothers and 3 sisters.  Growing up in that dynamic was both interesting and trying.  As you might expect, most were closer to the sibling ‘bundle’ immediately surrounding them.  Sort of like 4 pods of 3.  I was 4th in that chain of 11 and often wonder how my personality and skill set were shaped by that placement in the family chain.  In order to maintain some sense of control in a large family, order and rules have to be clear and abided by…otherwise anarchy loomed.  Our Dad was a proverbial ‘command & control’ guy and Mom was the loving, empathetic counterbalance.  Considering we all have/had jobs and no one is in the slammer, you’d have to say this parenting (management?) style was reasonably effective.  Most of us that got away from our home at age 18 went on to carve their own path and establish some of the one thing we were devoid of growing up…CONTROL.  This had all been just dandy until M&D got old and sick.  The inevitable passage of time we all have to look forward to, where living wills and powers of attorney are crafted with children chosen to take on appointed roles.  Turns out my Dad asked me to be both his and Mom’s POA when that time came.  I lovingly and dutifully agreed, even though I live 180 mile round trip from them now.

Both our parents are incapacitated now and my duties have been in play for some 2 years, and while much of this work is emotional and challenging, it becomes more so when all the siblings don’t pull the rope in the same direction.  That has sadly been the case and the infighting has taken it’s toll on certain relationships, so today my rosary and prayers were on patching these wounds so that our parents can pass in peace.  We all love our folks and none of their care is about ‘us’…it’s about THEM.  If we could all just bury the hatchet and find common ground on THEIR behalf, the angels would be singing in Heaven.  Lord, give me the strength to turn the other cheek and relinquish control to others, even when I don’t think it’s warranted.  As our dear friend Carole Renner often reminds Catherine and me, it’s “not about being right; it’s about relationship”.  Very wise advice.

So I went down each siblings name and said a special prayer for each, asking that they find happiness and faith in their salvation.  That’s really all Mom & Dad would want for any of us…not wealth or fame…just entry to Heaven.  Funny, that’s the exact thing Catherine & I want for our 3 children and their partners too.

Until tomorrow when I cross the River Mino for A Guarda and Spain, may the good Lord bless you and your families.  Bom Caminho peregrinos.

It’s this way!

Or maybe not!

An outdoor pool with a garden and view of the sea…life is good!

Crossing the rail line on my way to town

This is the perfect spot for a rest and a snack.  Man that beard is getting whiter every year!

An ivy covered stone wall.  Unfathomable how many hundreds of miles of these walls and cobblestone paths there are in these small towns.  There is no way to reproduce these or find the skilled labor to construct them.  The Roman influence is undeniable.

​One of the many old, but sadly unattended and locked, churches you pass along the way.

​​​Always a pleasant surprise to stumble on a running brook…such a peaceful sound.

The colors of the plants in bloom is almost surreal.  Thank you Lord for the light show.

I took this picture of the kitty relaxing on his front porch because it reminded me of our cats back in Richmond, VA on our wrap around porch.  I know my family will love this.

Approaching Vila Praia de Ancora after a looong walk…what a happy sighting!

Rows of wind turbines along the mountaintops.

One of the many sensational views I had along my walk today.

Portugal really is stunningly beautiful.

More wind turbines…

They were actually turning today…which isn’t a guarantee.

Flowers in bloom…amazing.

This reminded me of the country setting in Virginia where we raised our family.

A lone lily sprouting from a roadside.

Look at the clarity of this stream water…

A late afternoon ‘pick me up’.  It was, well…bueno!