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Doing the Portugues with a disability?

LindaH82

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None
Hi y'all.

Like many people, I'm thinking of doing the Camino next year - september/october, pretty much. After long consideration, I've settled on the Portugues because of the coastal bits - I like the sea. :p Plus the bit with the boat in the Espirituel. Sounds fun.

However, I have an extra challenge. I have a congenital myopathy, which means that I was born with underdeveloped muscles. I can walk, but not super far. Climbing too much is out as well (I was thinking of doing the Ingles but decided not to because apparently it's quite a lot of climbing). But now I'm wondering how doable the Portugues is?

My plan was to fly into Porto (I'm coming from the Netherlands, so flying out of Amsterdam), then take a bus (?) to Vigo and start my Camino there. I think I can do about 15 km per day max (I still need to start training), would that be doable? Has anyone with, say, a challenging body done this before? I will have about 3 weeks of time max. I'm hoping to have two or three days in Santiago, do a daytrip to Muxia/Finesterre, then go back to Porto to fly back home. I really do hope to do it next year as I've been noticing my disability is getting worse so I really would like to do it while I can still do it on my own!

And I'm a little worried about accomodation and my backpack. I'm not sure I will be able to carry a pack all the way, and I'm worried about the albergue-race, ending up in the top bunk of a bunk bed, etc. Yes I worry easily. :p I have been looking into organised walks, for example the walk Caminoways offers: Portuguese Coastal Easy Camino Is anyone familiar with this company? I will be getting in contact with them as well for more information but I thought asking here wouldn't hurt!

Lots of questions, hope someone can answer them. :) Thanks in advance!
 

wjohnk

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portugese Coastal (2019)
We traveled the Coastal Easy Camino last year with Caminoways. All went well. Our only disability was Old Age! The longest day was 20km into Vigo. You could reduce this by walking further on the day before and then getting a taxi back to the night's lodging. On the following morning gat a taxi to where you were collected on the previous day.

There is a direct AUTNA bus from Porto airport to Vigo which is very comfortable. There are 5 a day midweek and 3 a day at weekends and the journey takes about 2 hours (remember spanish time is one hour ahead of portuguese). Unless your flight arrives in Porto before midday there will not be time to get to Vigo or Baiona at a reasonable time on the same day (check bus times). Otherwise stay at an Airport hotel and travel refreshed onthe following day. Our flight into Porto was scheduled for20.30hrs but was two hours late!

Do factor in a rest day or two if your schedule permits. Pontevedra would be one good place for a rest day

A do it yourself option is possible with Tuitrans transporting your luggage and say booking.com booking accommodation. gronze.com lists accomodation along theroute.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Hi y'all.

Like many people, I'm thinking of doing the Camino next year - september/october, pretty much. After long consideration, I've settled on the Portugues because of the coastal bits - I like the sea. :p Plus the bit with the boat in the Espirituel. Sounds fun.

However, I have an extra challenge. I have a congenital myopathy, which means that I was born with underdeveloped muscles. I can walk, but not super far. Climbing too much is out as well (I was thinking of doing the Ingles but decided not to because apparently it's quite a lot of climbing). But now I'm wondering how doable the Portugues is?

My plan was to fly into Porto (I'm coming from the Netherlands, so flying out of Amsterdam), then take a bus (?) to Vigo and start my Camino there. I think I can do about 15 km per day max (I still need to start training), would that be doable? Has anyone with, say, a challenging body done this before? I will have about 3 weeks of time max. I'm hoping to have two or three days in Santiago, do a daytrip to Muxia/Finesterre, then go back to Porto to fly back home. I really do hope to do it next year as I've been noticing my disability is getting worse so I really would like to do it while I can still do it on my own!

And I'm a little worried about accomodation and my backpack. I'm not sure I will be able to carry a pack all the way, and I'm worried about the albergue-race, ending up in the top bunk of a bunk bed, etc. Yes I worry easily. :p I have been looking into organised walks, for example the walk Caminoways offers: Portuguese Coastal Easy Camino Is anyone familiar with this company? I will be getting in contact with them as well for more information but I thought asking here wouldn't hurt!

Lots of questions, hope someone can answer them. :) Thanks in advance!
You can easily book your accommodations a day or two ahead using booking.com or other sites, and there is backpack transportation via Tuitrans. That will enable you to tailor the Camino to your specific needs.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese coastal (2021)
Hi Linda!
I am doing the Portuguese Coastal and Espiritual (like you the boat is calling) next September and have flight/bookings in place. Covid 19 permitting!

I have found videos on YouTube by one of the guys on the forum John Sikora (thanks again John) he walks the coastal with i think a Go Pro filming as he walks speeded up they helped me a lot to see ( i am severely sight impaired) exactly what i would have to contend with ;they might help you better understand what terrain to expect with your physical limitations.
I chose the Portuguese because it was mainly flat and after looking at Johns vids i thought it was doable.
I know all of us with disabilities have to cope in our own way; and only you know what you are capable of!
Walk your Camino so that you are in control , just do what you can do and no more. ( your body will thank you and hopefully the walk wont have a negative impact on you)
Don't get stressed about not being able to finish the days target distance or using taxis.

Whatever you do it will be an achievement; and its an adventure enjoy yourself and its better than being at home sitting on your bum; twiddling your thumbs that's why i want to do it .


I will try and jiggle some of the stages later on; as i have realised that at the moment a lot of private accommodation is not taking bookings or are closed and perhaps will reopen in a few months time.

There are several of my stages that are 25km plus because i need a private room with my own bathroom. ( i think i said in another post, i am not antisocial i just need my own space to orientate myself safely)

I would much prefer shorter stages like your suggested 15 km, if accommodation was at pre COVID levels 15 km would probably be more feasible and i also have plenty of time to walk the Camino .


As for using taxis if the situation regarding accommodation remains; it is more than likely that taxis will be used at some point.
If i do at some point need a taxi to finish the day,i don't think i would take one back to where i was picked up the day before!
My reasoning is if your day was 25klms and you only managed 18klms before needing a taxi; you have to add the 7klms onto your next days walk which might be 23 klms making a walk of 30klms before reaching your next nights booked accommodation. (i cant take the chance of not having private accommodation booked as no vision at all when daylight fades)
I expect others will have a different opinion.

I wish you all the very best and a happy walk.
Woody
 

LindaH82

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None
Thanks for all your replies!

@wjohnk that's great to hear that you had a good experience with Caminoways! And good tips about the bus from the airport - I had been thinking of spending a day in Porto and then heading to Vigo, but going directly to Vigo would be better, I think. I'll be flying out of Porto anyway so I can always do my sightseeing after I've done the Camino!
And a very wise tip about the rest day! I'll have to carefully look at my itinerary and add in some rest. It's not a race, after all. :p

@trecile very true about booking 'on the go' with Booking.com! Certainly an option I'm also considering. I'm a bit of a control freak, maybe this would be an opportunity to, as Elsa sang in Frozen, Let It Go...

@woody66 that's a very good tip about the Youtube videos, I'll look them up! The coastal way being mostly flat sounds perfect - living in the Netherlands, my training grounds will be mostly flat too, haha. You are absolutely right about walking your own camino and listening to your body. It's easy to get caught up in the comparing and the 'winning', but walking 100+ km in itself is already winning for me! "It's better than sitting at home twiddling your thumbs" is indeed what I always say to people who express admiration of all the things I do 'despite' my disability: I could sit at home on the couch crying and feeling sorry for myself, but what good would that do me?
Added bonus of walking shorter stages: if I collect two stamps a day I will end up with an absolutely impressive amount of stamps compared to people who walked the same distance but in a shorter time, haha. And anyway it's not like the compostela looks different just 'cause someone walked faster or farther.
Happy walk to you too, and maybe we'll run into each other on the boat next September!
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Hi y'all.

Like many people, I'm thinking of doing the Camino next year - september/october, pretty much. After long consideration, I've settled on the Portugues because of the coastal bits - I like the sea. :p Plus the bit with the boat in the Espirituel. Sounds fun.

However, I have an extra challenge. I have a congenital myopathy, which means that I was born with underdeveloped muscles. I can walk, but not super far. Climbing too much is out as well (I was thinking of doing the Ingles but decided not to because apparently it's quite a lot of climbing). But now I'm wondering how doable the Portugues is?

My plan was to fly into Porto (I'm coming from the Netherlands, so flying out of Amsterdam), then take a bus (?) to Vigo and start my Camino there. I think I can do about 15 km per day max (I still need to start training), would that be doable? Has anyone with, say, a challenging body done this before? I will have about 3 weeks of time max. I'm hoping to have two or three days in Santiago, do a daytrip to Muxia/Finesterre, then go back to Porto to fly back home. I really do hope to do it next year as I've been noticing my disability is getting worse so I really would like to do it while I can still do it on my own!

And I'm a little worried about accomodation and my backpack. I'm not sure I will be able to carry a pack all the way, and I'm worried about the albergue-race, ending up in the top bunk of a bunk bed, etc. Yes I worry easily. :p I have been looking into organised walks, for example the walk Caminoways offers: Portuguese Coastal Easy Camino Is anyone familiar with this company? I will be getting in contact with them as well for more information but I thought asking here wouldn't hurt!

Lots of questions, hope someone can answer them. :) Thanks in advance!
I did the CP from Porto in 2018. I started off on the Senda Litoral by the coast and switched over to the Central on the second day. I found it much less challenging than the Camino Frances, hill-wise, although there was one day on the Central route with a fair bit of climbing (after Ponte de Lima). I understand that the Coastal route is a lot flatter, although I can't speak from experience.

In normal times there are baggage transfer services that operate between Porto and Santiago. I did see at least one albergue (in Rates) that didn't want to accept backpacks that were shipped this way but I don't expect it would be a problem at private albergues or if you explain the medical necessity. Generally, it is best to ship your backpack to where you have reserved a place.

Three weeks should be plenty of time. I took 13 days, but I was doing it a lot slower than many others, who generally walked it in 10 or 11 days. That said, my sweet spot was 20 km a day (although I did break a couple of 30 km days into two 15 km days. The best thing to do is to calculate the total length and how far you expect to be able to walk each day. Divide the latter into the former gets you the number of days you expect it to take. Add in a few extra days in case of mishap or overestimating your daily distance, and any extra day in Santiago/Muxuia/Finisterre/Porto and travel time and you have a good idea of how much time is enough. As others have mentioned, if the distance between accommodations doesn't exactly match up with the distance you are comfortable walking, you can always have a taxi bring you from the Camino to your accommodations after your day's walk and back to where you left off walking the next morning. This becomes a problem in the way Woody66 describes only if you have all of your accommodations booked in advance, rather than booking them the day before or taking them as you find them (see below). Otherwise, If you have some "extra" km to walk the next day, stop somewhere sooner.

I haven't used Caminoways and can't speak to the quality of service they provide, but you've heard from wjohnk so you have that perspective. On the other hand, you don't need to use a company like that to get your bag shipped, and the dreaded bed race isn't so terrible on the Camino Portuguese. In my experience, it really primarily shows up in the first day or so out of St. Jean Pied-de-Port and the last 100km from Sarria on the Camino Frances. If you are worried about accommodation, with the multitude of guidebooks, apps and websites like Gronze.com it really isn't that difficult to book ahead for the next day yourself to secure a bed. And that way you have more flexibility to adjust things in the moment depending on how you are feeling, rather than pre-booking the entire trip in advance.
 

tjb1013

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017)
Portugués (2019)
This can be done!

Here are some thoughts:

Post in thread 'Anyone done a Camino Frances with someone with limited mobility'
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...meone-with-limited-mobility.65290/post-799936

Being able to book ahead can be a huge help. I also lucked out on the Frances to develop a walking family that always arrived at that day’s destination well ahead of me and booked a spot and ‘reserved’ a bottom bunk.

Did the Portuguese with my partner, who always makes all obstacles seem like nothing. 😍
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2018)
Portuguese Coastal, with Spiritual Variant (2019)
My wife and I did the Vigo to Santiago walk twice (2018 and 2019) so we know the route very well. You can view photos and text about both trips in my wife's blog at: https://twoclinestraveling.wordpress.com

Also, here's a recent thread in this Forum about the Spiritual Variant: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...-about-places-to-stay-on-the-spiritual.68666/

Couple of other things:
1) You can take a very comfortable Portuguese train all the way from Porto to Vigo. It's easy as pie. Just download the app for Portuguese rail (Comboios de Portugal) and book right online. Journey takes about 2 1/2 hours.
2) Both Pontevedra and Padron are excellent places to tarry for an extra day. Pontevedra has the best medieval quarter in Galicia outside of Santiago and Padron has a couple of sites associated with the story of St. James.
3) Most of the route is flat, except from Vigo to Redondela and from Combarro to Armenteira (the steeper of the two). Those elevations should be doable if you take your time.
4) If you want to avoid carrying all your gear, Tuitrans provides reliable baggage transfer on the Portuguese Camino. We used them both trips, which enabled us to do the walks with day packs only. Of course, a guided walk tour would provide the same service. It's just up to you how much flexibility you want.
 

LindaH82

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
None
Thank you all for your comments, it's such a comfort to have all your shared knowledged to fall back on!

@kenwilltravel thank you so much about the tip about the train, that sounds like a good way to get to Vigo. I am taking an extra day in Pontevedra so I will definitely check out the medieval quarter. I just have the one day in Padron, but it's the one when I take the boat so hopefully I will arrive early and have an afternoon left to see the sights. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Coastal (2018)
Portuguese Coastal, with Spiritual Variant (2019)
I just have the one day in Padron, but it's the one when I take the boat so hopefully I will arrive early and have an afternoon left to see the sights. :)
Hi Linda. The three sights in Padrón associated with the St. James story are: the Santiago de Padrón church, which houses the pedron stone; the Santiaguino do Monte shrine; and the St. Mary’s church, built on the site of the old Roman port of Iria Flavia. Both churches are actually on the Camino path, so you can easily duck into each one for a look. The shrine, however, requires climbing up a very steep hill, so you probably wouldn't have time or energy for that -- unless you take a taxi or Uber up. It all depends on what time you get into Padrón and how far you have to walk afterward to your lodging for the evening. You'll also need to set aside some time for lunch. And don't forget you have about two kilometers from Pontecesures, where the boat from Vilanova de Arousa docks, and Padrón, although that walk is absolutely flat.
 

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