Camino Portuguese Day 7 – the un-scenic route

I decided to leave early this morning.

I walked out of the hotel shortly after 6am – the street already festooned with hanging lights in preparation for Semana Santa.

lights above street Tui street morning

Cafe chairs were stacked high, gleaming gold in the light from the street lamps, which must have been made during the age of gas.

chairs stacked old street lamp

I was wearing a headlamp – here is my attempt at a selfie…

selfie attempt

Even with the headlamp though, I still missed a few key yellow waymarkers. But soon I picked up the route, which led past ancient churches out into the countryside.

arrow with shadow St. Bartholomew church camino sign on laneway

The sun doesn’t come up till about 7:45am, and so I walked about 6-7kms before colour started to tinge the sky. It was a glorious morning.

church at sunriseI mused at my luck with weather. This is my second Camino, and both times now I’ve lucked out with perfect weather. On the Camino Frances last year, I only had 2 rain days in 28 days of walking.

A week ago, the rain was pouring down. The day we started this pilgrimage, the skies cleared and we haven’t had so much as a drizzle since.

(Now that I’ve said this, stay tuned for tomorrow – it could well pour down!)

Steve, bless his socks, had been watching the weather charts for weeks and months before this trip. He would email me, with a thinly veiled sense of despair, telling me it was raining in Portugal.

Each of us in our own way tend at times to worry about things that are not worth worrying about. We get ourself into a state – then only later do we realise that it was for nought.

I needed to walk be myself this morning. I needed time to think – and it was a perfect time to reflect, in the dark – then later as the sun came up. The temperature was cool, but ideal for walking – and it reminded me of those mornings I set off last year before sunrise. Some of my strongest memories of the Camino Frances last year were sunrises over spectacular countryside.

I thought about our lunch yesterday.

bill effigy

I wondered whether on Palm Sunday we should have had such a boisterous lunch – but none of us are devout, except for perhaps Marie – and Jennifer in her own way. I found out during that lunch that one of the reasons Jennifer and Marie have been late arriving each day is not because they walk backwards, but because they pick up litter.

Wonderful people.

I thought about Steve, and the lunch, and what constitutes strength. And what is strength.

My mind then began to wander into what it is to be a man. This is something that’s perplexed me for a long time. What is a man? What qualities does a man – should a man, have?

I wear girly scarves. I look at the world in a way that sometimes could be construed as “feminine,” in that I see beauty around me, and I’m not afraid to express that beauty through my films, or my photography, or my words.

Bill on avenue

I also express vulnerability. I express failings. I talk about my feelings. These are feminine traits. Men don’t do that. Men work hard to keep themselves impervious to vulnerability. They have to. It’s been bred into the gender, to keep the species alive. Men have to protect, they have to provide, they have to do things a man has to do.

Expressing feminine qualities sends out mixed messages to the world.

I have no answers to any of this – these were just my wandering thoughts this morning as the sun came up.

I needed to walk into a sunrise. I needed that infusion of clean bright energy. And I needed to walk alone. I needed to let my thoughts off the leash. I walked surprisingly fast. The air was clean, the track was soft, I quickly shifted into a rhythm that became hypnotic.

I was constantly reminded that this was an ancient pilgrimage route.

Stone crosses covered with lichen. Stone bridges, worn down by myriads of feet and cart wheels and horses’ hooves. The centuries lay before me and around me – telling me that millions of pilgrims have trod the same path I was now treading.

5 crosses

lichen on crosses

old stones on bridge


stones and creek

old sitting stones

It humbled me.

You can walk the last 7-8 kilometres into O Porrino two ways – one way is along a dead straight road through an industrial zone. Trucks hurtle past, factories spew out smoke.

The other way is an alternate route through shaded woody glens, following creeks and streams, avoiding the industrial zone altogether.

I chose the industrial zone.

I did this because I felt I could learn more about the town if I scratched its underbelly. I’d walked all morning through beautiful woods, beside tinkling streams. I wanted another experience.

I’m pleased I did.

Sometimes the un-scenic route reveals more…

red truck blue building cranes



16 thoughts on “Camino Portuguese Day 7 – the un-scenic route

  1. Bill, I love your scarf and it’s sympolism for you. I loved walking in the dark, with the stars and headlamp pointing the way, and the initial warmth on my back heralding the sunrise, to turn and see the wonder. I guess you don’t feel it on your back since you are going northward, but the sensation must be the same. LIght and Love Ingrid


  2. Bill

    That shot of the cranes in black and white is a ripper!

    All I can say is you are amazing!

    In awe.



  3. Wow, Bill, I am in awe of your creative ability with a camera, and with your words. The nighttime photos are amazing. Your words this trip touch a place in my heart. I am grateful that you are sharing your most inner and intimate thoughts with us. It is a difficult thing to do. I am learning much about myself by reading your posts. They make me think. They make me do some serious soul-searching. You have amazing gifts, my friend. Thank you! Julie

    Liked by 1 person

  4. OK, Bill, this time you nearly had me in tears. Just love the golden glow of the first few photos; almost as being back in my childhood when street lights were not as strong as today and then as a contrast those strong industrial scenes. I did some photos years ago of some mining machinery in Derby in WA and swear, like with yours, that I felt they could start walking, clumsily but magestically away from their concrete feet! I hope the rest of the day was as wonderful for you as the start. Again, many many thanks for sharing. Britta

    Liked by 1 person

    • Britta
      You’re post reminds me of an old sci-fi movie I saw once. There were huge power line towers that came marching over the hill and were terrifying people.
      Loving Bill’s photos and Steve and Arlene’s too. Now adding the Portuguese route to my list of Caminos to do.


      • Dear Lynda, not that I’m at all into sci-fi movies, but yes, you nailed it that that sort of industrial scenario could go down well to scare the bejesus out of us all! I’ve recently been re-visiting blogs written by Camino friends of mine who also did the walk in Italy and then from Le Puy in France to St Jean. I’m getting close to retirement and might just have to spend the rest of my life walking in various parts of the globe to re-live all the blogs I’ve followed!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Bill, you continue to amaze and inspire me with your photos and poetic writing. I have just returned from a wonderful in depth journey to Jordan and Egypt. Definitely time for a catchup with you and Jenny when you return home.
    Happy days to you.
    Brenda x


    • Dear Brenda –

      lovely to hear from you! Thank you for your very kind words. You are the one that inspires me though – I think I’ve told you that!!

      Yes it would be lovely for us to catch up. You must have some amazing stories to tell from your time OS.

      Big hug and much love, Bill


  6. I love the feel of this day. Balanced just lovely alongside the trashy 5 ports party day. But! Oh my! That rockwall with ferny stuff…I was so excited to see a square-crocodile shadow-puppet in your halo of light walking backwards!


    • Thanks Shazza – although i wouldn’t describe the five port bottles day as trashy. We did get trashed, yes, but the port was actually quite nice…


      And square croc shadow puppet? I would like to tell you that I angled the camera in just the correct way to get that effect, knowing the way the diaphragm of the aperture blades work… but well… ah… where’s that bottle of port??

      Liked by 1 person

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