Thursday, September 21, 2017

Porto and the first week of the Camino

The Camino begins
We arrived in Portugal about 2 weeks ago from England. Each leg of our trip provides new and different views, cultures, language and experiences for the body, mind and spirit.

Our first week was a return to a favorite city Porto (and the same Airbnb on Rua da Alegria 62).  Porto is such a walkable city and we continued our "training" for the big camino by visiting many old and new sites by foot. A thrill is always searching out good veg restaurants and now, with Molly (our Iphone with googlemaps) we find anything we want with ease. 
The houses of Riberia, along the river

Unfortunately I have a bit of sciatica so Porto provided us with an opportunity to visit an acupuncturist-massage therapist who gave me two treatments during the week. I am learning ways to manage it for this long walk as there are only short moments of discomfort and thankfully only at the end of the day. Not sure how I got it but I am hoping it disappears as easily as it came.

For anyone interested in the food and restaurants during our stay in Porto, please visit my blog at:

Symphony Orchestra of Porto
Our new activities in Porto included a night concert of the Symphony Orchestra of Porto, the 6 Bridge boat tour, a long walk to Matinoshos and a repeat of a favorite restaurant, DaTerra, the big Mercado Bohao, the art musuem and gardens of Serralves.

We visited Palacio de Cristal with beautiful gardens and grounds and view of River Duoro and then to Museu Romantico and Casa Tait - both were closed but we walked the extensive grounds.
Ricardo's favorite - pastel de Nata

Here are my thoughts about visiting the same place twice (or more). My memories that are vivid about some things and vague about others are renewed. It is fun to be able to take the public transportation because we knew a bit more about where we were going. Going to the same Airbnb as last time made it feel like going "home". Drawing at the same place as before is interesting. I never have forgotten a place that I sat and drew so going back to the tea house at the Casa da Cha - at the Art Museum Seravales and drawing the houses along the riverfront of the Duoro River was a great way to reinforce my memory. 
Typical Portuguese roofs

After 6 days in our Airbnb we moved to the Hotel Trinidade in a different area of town. We did this because we were now beginning our 2 weeks with Portuguese Green Walks. They are providing accommodations and transporting our luggage during this Camino de Santiago. We are walking ourselves, but with this support.


I am writing this from Valenca in Portugal which is just over the river from Tui, Spain where we will be tomorrow in the early morning. We are taking a day rest in the middle of this 12 day walk and all is going very well. As I am keeping records of each day, each city visited and our mileage, I will not list it all here. We are averaging about 20k (12 miles) per day and with the addition of Portuguese Green Walks, our life is easier. We do not have to wonder where we will sleep and can carry just a day pack with snacks, jacket, drawing book, etc. which is much easier on the body. So far I think we will both agree that it has been great and the scenery is wonderful. We travel on various paths - cobblestones, tarmac, dirt, old Roman roads and the terrain is up and down with only one major uphill climb of 1200' (so far).
Grapes ready for harvest
Much of the land is farmed - cornfields and grapes are the most common along with Eucalyptus and portuguese greens that are served in soup or steamed are common on small private land and around houses. (You can be sure that I am happy when I am served these greens in a restaurant). I am going to write about food on the other blog - rural Portugal is not the easiest for the veg folks but where there is a will, there is a way. 

Entrance to fortressed city
of Valenca, Portugal
We have met folks along the way - spent the most time with an Australian couple and their 26 year old daughter and 24 year old nephew as they have been staying in the same places as we have. Many Germans are traveling along the way - old and young alike. We have met only one from the United States. Topic of conversation with many is what our thoughts are about politics in the USA. We have met no one who understands how we might have elected 45 as our President and of course, we have no explanation.

We are looking forward to the Spanish part of this Camino and you will hear more when we end.
We pick up stones and
leave a prayer

Please know that our thoughts are with all our friends affected by the hurricanes and earthquakes. We are very aware of what is going on in the world and are saddened by this situation.

Once again, thank you for traveling with us.

Words from Ricardo on Portugal and the Camino 

We had another great week in Porto, Portugal, one of our favorite cities. Even though I was unable to master much of the Portuguese language by using my Spanish and at times English I was more or less able to be understood. Most Portuguese speak two languages and the second is either English or Spanish.  

Porto is a very vegetarian friendly place with a lot of culture, pride, very laid back and safe.  Porto has not just a wide river running through it but a great beach for surfing, swimming and for us just  - to lay on the sand.  

After this fun filled week we began our second Camino de Santiago which ends at the burial place of the bones of St James.  I'm writing this as we begin the second half of this journey into Spain.  The total walk of 12 walking days has an average of 12 miles/day. So far it has been a complete joy with ample time to reflect.  Much time and prayers have been given for all the people suffering from the hurricanes and earthquakes this month. 

Our weather has been perfect - cool mornings and never more than 70 degrees in the afternoons. Soon the rainy season will begin. Susan wrote more of the details but for me I just like to add a little of my thoughts.  

I have tremendous pleasure in walking and as long as my body allows, I will walk. This type of walk is always a challenge, but with this comes a deeper understanding of the world connection around us.  I now see life more and more through the eyes of others while meeting with so many humans from all over the world, walking near me.  Life is full of many kinds of caminos and this is just one of them.  

May you all have a great Camino today.
Your buddy,

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Buxton rocks!

We are now ending the second leg of our European Trip spending time in Buxton, England with our long-time friends that we met in North Carolina who are more like family. We visited here in the winter of 2016 and promised ourselves that we would return when the land was green instead of snow covered. This was a chance to be with Dan, Fi, Aidan (14) and Will (9) as they spent the last week of their summer vacation with us. As I write this they have all returned to work or school. Together we walked over 70 miles and ate our way through the beautiful Peak District.
I will highlight some of the best memories so that when we return we will remember what we did and where we walked.
  • We walked to Solomon's Temple, Bishop's Lane and the golf course, took Robbie (a dog) for a walk, to Roaches with a stop at Roaches Tea Room, Derbyshire Dales National Park with a stop at Biggan Hall for High Tea, Monsal Trail with a stop at Hassop's for another delicious meal. How amazing that through all these hills and dales one always finds a spot for tea and a meal. Richard has sampled all the scones and crumpets along the way. 
    Buxton Pavilion Garden
  •  We went with Fi to a horse event where we learned about natural horsemanship. It was the introduction to her several day workshop
  • Massages with Pierre at home for Susan, Dan and Richard. We had our sore walking muscles attended to.
  • Walking around Buxton has much to offer - one day had the Green Man Gallery and tea at the oldest building in England. Another for the historical tram ride and high tea at the Palace Hotel. 
    The heather is blooming
  • We timed it right to be here to attend Dan's citizenship ceremony. 
  • A visit to Manchester which included Dan and Ricardo's visit to the Kadampa Buddhist Center for meditation and a return to the Earth Cafe followed by the Manchester Art Gallery. 
    Manchester is pride friendly
  • A visit to the town of Macclesfield, visiting King Edward's Chapel - the oldest Unitarian Church in England. Then it was off to the Silk Museum and to learn the interesting history of Silk in this town.
  • A new city for us was Liverpool for Ricardo to meet his sister Maria (who lives in N. Ireland) and my chance to see the Beatles Story and Museum. It brought me back to the 60's and 70's with such deep music history. 
    Liverpool is pride friendly too.
  • We attended the practice session of the Burbage Brass Band with Aidan on the drums. 
  • We finished this excellent trip with a day at the award winning Devonshire Spa right here in Buxton with steam, sauna, hydrotherapy waters, foot baths and aromatherapy room. Yes we are spoiled to the max. 

The best, though, was our many hours of walking and talking together and witnessing these two great boys as they grow to be men. Having an extended period of time to just "be" together is a bonus to us as we travel the world. I am so very grateful to them for their love and hospitality and we look forward to our next time together.

Now for a few words from Ricardo.

Our time here in England has ended and we are leaving hungry for more. We visited Manchester, Macclesfield, Liverpool and spent our nights here in old Buxton.  There were many walking adventures on the old pathways through the high peaks and old railway trails. Lastly, we ended with a relaxing spa treatment at the famous Devonshire spa.  Here in Buxton we have long time friends who have become family over time and every moment with them is always a joy especially watching their two children Aidan and Will growing up to become good citizens of the world.

This charming English town is a destination place for many with great hikes, history, food, people and healthy thermal waters. This was our second time here and are looking forward to our return. I want to thank our friends/family Dan, Fiona, Aiden and Will  for opening their doors again to us and showing us even more of the magic here in the Peak District.
Richard's sister, Maria

Another very special events was when my sister Maria met me in Liverpool the home of the Beatles. It has been 5 years since we last were together and were able to fill in many of the blanks of the past 5 years which was very enjoyable. 
I feel very honored to have the time and resources to travel with Susan and to share this time with all those that are dear to me.