Secrets of France Tour

The secret is out. I am enjoying another Trafalgar Tour with my mom before I walk a Camino.  This time it’s the “Secrets of France” tour that starts and ends in Paris. It includes a high-speed TGV train ride that takes only three hours to get to Bordeaux in the south-west corner of France, as opposed to an eight-hour bus ride. This year it was mom’s turn to choose our itinerary, and she picked a winner!

Secrets of France Trafalgar Tour

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Happy Mother’s Day

I’ve been writing up a storm lately, and I really need to pack for my Camino, but I couldn’t resist a quick toast all the moms out there. For they have the most important job there is. Cheers to all the moms!

I’ve been playing with the Facebook Messenger Snap Chat thingy. Check out the birdies. My mom gave me the cross pendant for confirmation. I love the surprise effect of mama and baby bird!

In service today, Father Dan said something along these lines, “God is the father. . . Wait, scratch that, God is the mother. How many times do we hear ‘God is father’ in the gospel, but really, God is not a specific gender. What’s more, God’s love is unconditional, like a mother’s love for her child.”  Amen.

Fr. Dan also quoted a recent comic from The New Yorker. “The prodigal son returns to do his laundry.” Continue reading

Fátima Memories

Today, Pope Francis was in Fátima to canonize Jacinta and Francisco, two of the children who reported seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary in a field in Portugal. This sighting took place one-hundred years ago, and made Fátima one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world. Learn more about the Fatima pilgrimage in this video.

My pre-Camino tour of Portugal included a night stay in Fátima. Most tours just stop there for a day, but because we stayed in a hotel right next to shrine, I was able to attend the candlelight procession in the evening, as well as the mass at the cathedral the next morning.

Candlelight mass before the procession.

The experience was deeply moving. It was just one day before leaving for my Camino, and during a time of my rekindled faith. After this candlelight ceremony, I pondered the idea of getting a blessing before my journey. Continue reading

Porto Memories: Coastal Stroll

Continued from Ferreira Port Cellars Tour and Tasting.

Matosinhos Beach

One of the tour’s included dinners was about a fifteen-minute drive from the Porto at Matosinhos Beach. I felt like I was back in California when I saw the surfers wearing wet suits.

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4th Annual Lake Tahoe Pilgrim Rendezvous

I’m sharing an event hosted by Camino friends Dave Jennings and Monica Armanino.  An open invitation to pilgrims, both those who have walked the Caminos de Santiago and those who are planning to walk.
Incline Village/Mt. Rose, Nevada at N. Lake Tahoe
Friday, July 21 – Sunday, July 23

An unbelievable winter, can you imagine over 65 ft. of snow on Mt. Rose. The falls, streams and wildflowers should be spectacular.

An unbelievable winter, with over 65 ft. of snow on Mt. Rose. The falls, streams and wildflowers should be spectacular.

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Porto Memories: Ferreira Port Cellars Tour and Tasting

Continued from Porto Memories: Stock Exchange Palace and Imperial McDonald’s.

If you like Port wine, don’t miss a visit to the many Port cellars on the south side of the Duoro in Porto. Instead of touring the British-founded Sandeman Port, our tour guide brought us to Ferreira, the only Porto wine house to have remained in Portuguese hands since its foundation. And it was made successful by a woman! Ferreira tops the list in the 10 Wine Tours You Can’t Miss in Porto. Below are photos from our experience.

Founded in 1751, it became particularly prominent under the leadership of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira.

Founded in 1751, the winery became particularly prominent under the leadership of Doña Antónia Adelaide Ferreira.

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Porto Memories: Stock Exchange Palace and Imperial McDonald’s

Continued from Porto Memories: Walking Tour.

Below are the photos of the Stock Exchange Palace, followed by our guilty pleasure: having lunch at the Imperial McDonald’s. Don’t judge, some people say it’s the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world!

Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) was built in the nineteenth century by the city’s Commercial Association in Neoclassical style. According to the Rick Steves Portugal book, “Today this unassuming building is neither a stock exchange or a palace, but a breathtaking monument to civic and commercial pride, with some of the most lavishly decorated rooms in Portugal.”

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Porto Memories: Walking Tour

Continued from São Bento Railway Station.

I love to take walking tours to get a vibe on a city. Trafalgar usually includes walking tours led by locals, and we have always had a fantastic experience. Below are the photos from our tour through the Ribeira (riverbank) district of Porto, and the Dom Luis I bridge.

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Camino and Hiking Events in May 2017

Below is the roundup of Camino related events and hikes in the SF Bay Area for the month of May 2017. But first, I would like to highlight a few recent updates on this blog, and announce a new e-book on the Spiritual Variant of the Camino Portugués.

Camino Francés Route Report

Santa Cruz couple Cathy Seitchik Diaz and David Stewart are on the Camino Francés right now.  As the reporter for the Camino Frances this year, she is sharing the stages the Camino Francés, complete with daily distances, photos, observations and useful tips. See Days 1-12 and Days 13-24.  Cathy is, quite possibly, the world’s happiest pilgrim!  You can find other Camino routes linked under the Route Reports drop-down menu, and on the Camino Routes page.

Pondering Portugal?

I have been writing about Porto, a popular Camino Portugués starting point. The series is linked below, and on My Camino Portugués Stages page.

Porto Memories:
Six Bridges Cruise and Porto at Night
The Porto Cathedral
J. K. Rowling Hangouts, Majestic Café and Livrario Lello
São Bento Railway Station
Porto Walking Tour
Stock Exchange Palace and Imperial McDonald’s
Ferreira Port Cellars Tour and Tasting
Coming soon are posts about a coastal stroll and Fatima.  I am clearing the photos off my laptop to make space for my next adventures in France, then walking the Camino Inglés. 🙂 Follow my Facebook page for live updates during my trips.  www.facebook.com/CaminoProvides/

New Kindle book on the Camino Portugués

Roy Uprichard has a new book on Amazon kindle for just .99 cents.  It’s called: Stone and Water – Walking the Spiritual Variant of the Camino Portuguese. Roy asks that you download, share and consider leaving a review on Amazon, to make it easier for others to find it. The preface is written by Celestino Lores, President of the Friends of the Camino Portugués. Available on Amazon.com.


Let the games begin!

Monthly Lake Merritt Walk in Oakland
Saturday, May 6, 10:30 am

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Porto Memories: São Bento Railway Station

Continued from J. K. Rowling Hangouts, Majestic Café and Livrario Lello.

I enjoyed seeing the blue-and-white azulejo tiles on buildings throughout our tour of Portugal, but the São Bento Railway Station in Porto takes the cake! It celebrated its hundredth anniversary in 2016 and is still serving thousands of people a day as a transportation hub in the heart of Porto. Afar magazine claims it to be the most beautiful train station in the world. It is certainly the prettiest that I have been to. Whether or not you need to take a train while in Porto, spend some time to enjoy the beautiful scenes of life in those gleaming tiles. Think of it as an admission-free museum!

Train Station in Porto

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