Camino and Hiking Events in October 2017

Below is the roundup of Camino-related events and hikes in the SF Bay Area for the month of October 2017. This coming Saturday, October 7th, there will be a screening of Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago for those who attend the Lake Merritt walk and lunch.  My hope is for the camaraderie to continue after our monthly walks, where everyone can gather in a comfortable atmosphere over a good meal and learn about Camino topics or enjoy a film from our chapter’s CaminoFlix library.

Continue reading

Let All Who Are Thirsty Come

Mel Soriano from Pasadena, California, is on his fifth Camino and is currently in Ponte de Lima, the place I started my Camino Portugués last year.  I am recommending Mel’s blog, Let All Who Are Thirsty Come, plus a few related links below. He is on a spiritual journey and eloquently shares his experience through stories, hymns, prayers, and photographs.  In his own words, he’s “Nomadic geek, Episcopalian, Pilgrim, mobile/data integrator, husband, fiscal progressive IMMIGRANT.”  He is also on the board of Integrity USA, the LGBTQ group affiliated with the Episcopal Church. For Mel, the Camino pilgrimage is about healing, contemplation, gratitude, and meeting people.

Continue reading

Camino and Hiking Events in September 2017

Below is the roundup of Camino-related events and hikes in the SF Bay Area for the month of September 2017. This coming Saturday, September 2nd, I will be doing a presentation about One-Week Caminos with highlights of the Camino Portugués. Feedback from the last presentation on the Camino Inglés was positive, so we’ll continue with this “Camino Lunch & Learn” series as long as there is interest. The Lake Merritt walks have been a great way for like-minded people to keep the spirit of the Camino alive, right here at home. My hope is for this camaraderie to continue after our monthly walk, where everyone can gather in a comfortable atmosphere over a good meal and learn about Camino topics. I enjoyed every step of my “short” Caminos and look forward to sharing the highlights and lessons learned with those who might not have the time to walk longer Camino routes.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Porto Memories: J. K. Rowling Hangouts, Majestic Café and Livrario Lello

Did you know that the author of the beloved Harry Potter books lived in Porto between 1991 and 1993?  J. K. Rowling taught English there and used to hang out at the Majestic Café, and the 100-year-old bookshop, Livrario Lello.

According to The Portugalist, “During this time she outlined and developed her ideas for the entire seven-book series, and even got started on book one.”

I loved reading all the Harry Potter books and watching the films, so visiting J. K. Rowling’s old haunts was very exciting! Continue reading

30 Years of Pilgrim Statistics

Every January, the Oficina de Acogida de Peregrinos (Pilgrims’ Welcome Office) in Santiago, Spain and the American Pilgrims on the Camino (APOC) publish the pilgrim statistics for the previous year. Among the various data is a chart showing numbers of pilgrims receiving Compostelas for each year dating back to 1986. When I first started to learn about the Camino, I was intrigued by the dramatic spikes for some years.

2016statsyears

Continue reading

Coming out of the Camino Closet

The Camino has provided in more ways than I could ever imagine, and it keeps providing in the months after my return home. The executive director at my workplace was curious about my Camino as he and his wife have some friends who recently walked the Portuguese coastal route. They also lived in Greece and Germany so were somewhat familiar with the Camino. He surprised me by asking me to give a presentation about my Camino at an all-staff meeting. I was unsure at first because this was a personal journey and I have tried to keep my private life and work separate.

Arrival to work on day 1

Walking to work was great training!

My closest colleagues were familiar with the Camino from hearing me talk about it and seeing me train during lunchtime hikes. I was spotted with all my Camino gear when I walked to work three days in a row. But I was not sure if I could explain the Camino to people who have never heard of it, let alone share my personal experiences in front of a room full of people, many of whom I did not know. Was I ready to come out of the Camino closet?

Continue reading

Walking Day 6: Padrón to Santiago

IMG_8111Continued from Caldas de Reis to Padrón

Stage: Padrón to Santiago
27 km

For all the modern amenities the Albergue Corredoiras in Padrón has, it lacks in the coffee maker department. Groggy pilgrims were taking turns using a small Italian-style stove-top coffee maker.

Colorful decor and art

Cute kitchen, but they need more coffee makers

In the adorable-but-not-functional Ikea-like kitchen, I looked in every cupboard for a French press, hot water kettle, or even an American-style drip coffee maker, to no avail. I finally got my turn, made a stove-top pot of coffee, and shared it with the Aussies and they shared their milk with me. This coffee was enough to get me out the door. I knew I could get another caffeine fix later.

On my walk through Padrón there were detour signs. I did not think this would add much to the overall kilometers that day, but it ended up being the longest walk yet! Brierley’s guide showed 24.9 km for this stage, but my AllTrails app showed 27.4 km.

Detour Signs leaving Padron

Continue reading

Walking Day 5: Caldas de Reis to Padrón

CCaldastoPadronontinued from Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

Stage: Caldas de Reis to Padrón
19 km

After my fifth night in a municipal albergue, I was getting used to the routine of putting my earplugs in to sleep through the “snorchestra.” Municipal albergues are the cheapest accommodations on the Camino: I paid just five euros for the first three nights in Portuguese albergues, and six euros the last two nights after crossing over to Spain. That is just thirty dollars at our current 1.12 Euro-Dollar exchange rate (the best exchange rate I have ever seen!). There is a range of comfort to match every budget on the Camino. I chose to stay in municipal albergues for two reasons: (1) to meet other pilgrims on my short Camino, and (2) because that is one of the requirements of being a hospitalero (volunteer) on the Camino.*

I couldn’t help but wonder what pilgrim life was like on the other side, like staying in a private room with ensuite bathroom and real sheets. Sure I could tolerate the sleeping above a different snoring man each night, but I was getting tired of the odd bathroom situations. The albergue in Caldas had an awkward setup and was lacking in good shower and sink facilities. Everything was shoddy and wobbly. I was thinking about how this would have driven my husband crazy. He grew up working in his Italian grandfather’s hardware store and learned many skills from the tradesmen. He even fixed a toilet in an old hotel room we stayed at in New Orleans!

Albergues are all different, and some are a little on the grungy side. For the low price, you get what you pay for. Nonetheless, Caldas de Reis was a beautiful small village that I would like to return to someday and stay in the hotel with the private thermal baths. Below is a 360° video I shot on the old Roman bridge by the albergue and fountain.

Continue reading