20:00 Sun.
25 Oct, 2020

Last stage in Portugal

12:00 am
12:00 am

We arrived to Pontes de Limas something past 8pm, again, we were luckily, the Alberuge there closes at 9. At first, we were really happy, at least we made it, but then we realized, we won’t be able to go out for dinner, since they will close the albergue in less than half an hour (literary they lock you in). So in the end, after a lot of persuasion, Jakob convinced me to run with him to the close by Liddle, that was still open, and just in the distance where we thought we could make it there and back in time. So after the whole day of walking, we conjured just enough strength for the 3 km run, and made it back in time with about 5 minutes to spare. I’m telling you, pasta never tasted so good than that day.

Ponte de lima. Not surprisingly, the town has a bridge.

The next day was supposed to be a hard leg of the journey, we were suppose to walk on a “hill”, so we played it safe and started early (well, early compared to previous and later days, at around 9). After navigating out of the city, we were soon faced with a picturesque, yet flooded path. It took us almost an hour to navigate through it. At first we were jumping over the rocks from edge to edge but then toward the end Aljoša and Jakob smartly took off their shoes and just walked through the water. I for some reason really wanted to find the “dry” path, so after about 15 minutes of trying I finally stepped ankles deep into the marsh, yeey, my socks and shoes were wet for the rest of the day.

After the initial ordeal with wet footwear  our spirits soon lifted as we started walking through beautiful landscape and slowly ascending the hill. The weather again was perfect and the hill was not steep (or high) at all. Somewhere in the middle, when we were resting an interesting old man, came to talk to us. He was very friendly, yet couldn’t speak a word in English nor Spanish (Jakob knows Spanish). Yet that didn’t bother him, he just kept talking. At one point we think he asked if I’m the son of Jakob, haha I guess that felt nice (for me at least), but we probably misinterpreted that part.

Wet socks? Not a problem, just dry them on the backpack.

Before noon we were already at the top of the hill, way ahead of the schedule. We took a short break, playing some cards and sunbathing on the warm winter sun. In the early afternoon we reached Albergue.

Since the day was quite easy, I decided to go for a quick run before dinner.

The following day was supposed to be an easy one, we were to make it either to Valenca (Portugal) or the neighboring city Tui (Spain). Since Spain is a bit more expensive than Portugal, and we were in no hurry we decided to stop at Valenca. Again we walked through picturesque forests and rural areas, the walk was especially easy, since it was mostly downhill. We reached the Albergue before 1pm, so we actually had to wait for it to be opened.

After we checked in Jakob and Aljoša decided to go explore the city a bit. Valenca is an old fort city, designed abit similarly as Palmanova (Italy), in a star shaped fortification, yet I believe it’s even more fortified as latter. I decided to go for a “quick” run on nearby hill, that towered above the city. While the run was quite intense, the hill was about 400m high, the view from the top was worth it. I could see as far as the sea, the sun was shinning and on top of the hill there were some horses running around (with no enclosure) munching on the grass.

Preparing for a run. Despite walking for several hours, it was extremely refreshing to go for a run a bit.

In the evening, all three of us took another walk through the old town, which was completely empty then (a bit scary) and then found a restaurant that served Pilgrim’s menu. We are actually not sure what we ate, it was some kind of fish (bacalao?) and potatoes, looked like they put the scraps of food that were left over from the day together and served it to us, but it was surprisingly good. I think this was one of the general idea of this kind of menus, kitchens just used some leftover ingredients and prepared some really low cost meals. With it, of course, we had some wine.

Wine in Portugal (as well Spain) needs another post all together, but I’ll try to squeeze it in here. It is so unbelievable cheap that it defies logic. You actually have a very decent choice of (local) wines in the supermarket that cost less than 2€ per bottle (yes, glass bottles with actual corque). I think I even saw one that was 0.80 € or something. I don’t understand, how this is, the glass, transport and water in it must cost more than a €. Anyway the prices of wine in the restaurants are not much higher. The cost was usually no more than 5€/bottle, or was even included in the meal price (which was 5-10€). I’m not some wine connoisseur, but the wine tasted quite ok, and even Aljoša and Jakob, who know much more about wine than I do, agreed that they are surprisingly good, not even for the price, but in general, they taste good.

17:00 Sun.
25 Oct, 2020

Portugal Edition

12:00 am
12:00 am

I have been thinking about going on an adventure, go somewhere and don’t plan the whole trip well in advance. See how you feel each day and find hostel/hotel in the city you are at the end of the day.

Luckily such an opportunity presented to me at the beginning of January, when two friends, Jakob and Aljoša asked me if I want to join them on their hike – the famous Camino de Santiago – Portugal edition.  Everything happened so suddenly, after three days we already bought plane tickets and in two weeks, we were off to Porto, Portugal. I have never done anything so spontaneously like this before, but I was really excited about it. To me, it felt like the perfect thing to do, a new experience, a new me, journey to my 4th decade. As it happened, I have turned 30 on the day of our departure.

The last days before the departure were a bit frantic. We were all scrambling to buy the last of the supplies, we thought we would need. Some waterproof  water-resistant pants, rain jackets, this and that, the list goes on. The hard part was balancing what is really needed and should be brought with us and what we could live without. In the end, I ended up with full to bursting 30l backpack, the majority of space was taken by the sleeping bag. In total, I took with me 4 underpants, 3 pairs of socks, 1 running pants, 1 hiking (water-resisting) pants (which I wore most of the time), 3 long and 3 short sports shirts, quick dry towel, chargers, kindle, headphones and a bit of food for the first day of walking – Sunday, since we expected the stores would be closed. In retrospect, I think I could also manage with 2 pairs of underpants, but in total, I don’t think I brought much more than I needed. I don’t think there was an item in the pack I didn’t use – if I don’t count the first aid kit.

Luckily we had couple of sleeping bags at home, so I could pick up the right one, which required some extensive testing, nights before departure.

The 1st of February came soon enough, and I barely manage to have a nice meal with my parents and a piece of cake. This year, I made it myself, wanted to experiment a bit with red velvet cake with lemon filling, it turned out quite ok, but next time, I really need to go back to my favorite type of cakes – fruit cakes. It was nice chatting with my parents, they bought me a new Garmin watch, and I was truly happy about it. I’ve been doing much more sports lately, and the FitBit Charge 3, I had for the last year just didn’t cut it anymore.

Together with my parents, one last time.

So on Saturday afternoon, my ride was ready, I picked up my backpack, boarded GoOpti (popular shuttle service in Slovenia) and I was on my way to the adventure of my life. Because of the birthday(s) (fun fact, Jakob also has a birthday on the same day as I do) we decided that we were going to meet at the airport, since we wanted to spend some time with our families, on our birthdays.

We arrived at  Treviso airport in the early evening, went through the security and were excitedly waiting to board our plane. Our first destination was Porto, Portugal, from where we would start our journey and hike around 240 km, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We were planning to do it in roughly 10 days, and if weather would permit, we would continue to the Finistère at the Atlantic coast, about 90 km from Santiago.

Me, Aljoša and Jakob, meeting at the airport.

Waiting at the airport went by quickly in the good company and soon we were in the air, the adventure awaited us. But not before extending our birthday, for 1 more hour (yes, Portugal is in UTC+0 time zone).