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LIVE from the Camino "Fever in the Blood", day by day...


Pilgrim's Progress

Day 1

It was dark and chilly at 3.30 am yesterday morning as I nosed the car off the drive for the thirty five mile trip to Stansted, where Pilgrim was to board his flight to Porto for his pilgrimage to Santiago. We arrived in plenty of time; I said my tearful goodbyes to a bleary-eyed, quietly excited Pilgrim and drove home on the dark, eerily empty early morning roads.

Fifteen hours later came the phone call to say Pilgrim had arrived safely, met MacGregor at the airport, and set off on the start of their pilgrimage. They walked, chatting as old friends do once reunited after a period of time, swapping news of families, each other, etc. Twenty four kilometres of hard road walking later, they arrived in Vila do Conde in the early evening, the weather having been kind to them - dull but not wet.

They found a small, reasonably inexpensive hotel and were going out to find a meal in this little town as the hotel's restaurant wasn't yet open for the season.

I eagerly await tonight's phone call from Pilgrim. Please keep him and MacGregor in your pravers.

Many thanks,

Mrs Pilgrim
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Pilgrim's Progress

Day Two - Vila do Conde to Barcelos

Pilgrim reports that he and MacGregor arrived safely in Barcelos after thirty five kilometres of "hard" walking, on heavy, cobbled streets and main roads with large amounts of traffic.

They left Vila do Conde early yesterday morning, having slept well and eaten a good breakfast at the hotel. They walked through fine, drizzly rain for most of the day, stopping for food in small, local bars.

On arrival in Barcelos Pilgrim and MacGregor were directed to the Pilgrim Hostel - a disused ward in the local psychiatric hospital! They were to share a room as space was somewhat at a premium as a large party of French pilgrims were expected.

Pilgrim reports that anyone who knows Galicia would recognise the countryside as being very similar, with the route being well waymarked with the familiar yellow arrows.

So, we leave Pilgrim and MacGregor tired but happy in Barcelos, having walked over twenty miles in the day.

For my part, I have received numerous calls/e-mails enquiring as to Pilgrim's well-being, with some asking "Why?" If only I knew! I shall, however, ask that very same question, yet again, God willing, on his return!

Please keep them both in your prayers,

Many thanks

Mrs Pilgrim
Pilgrim's Progress

Day Three - Barcelos to Ponte de Lima

Pilgrim and MacGregor left Barcelos at 8 am in teeming rain - they got thoroughly soaked. The rain continued until early afternoon to be followed by hot sun.

They had expected the day's walking to total approximately 29 kilometres. However, the path has been re-routed, adding another 6 or 7 kilometres. Consequently they arrived in Ponte de Lima at 7 pm, in Pilgrim's words "absolutely shattered", limping and with blistered feet!

Pilgrim reports that they met many kind and friendly people en-route, but also many snarling and definitely unfriendly dogs! The countryside they walked was green and varied - hills, fields, valleys and vineyards, all very green.

Their hotel for the night was quite upmarket for them - a three star hostelry with a special discounted rate for pilgrims! Clothes had been washed and very sore feet bathed in warm, soapy water when I received tonight's phone call.

So Day Three has ended with both Pilgrim and MacGregor safe and well, but suffering!!

As before, I ask you to keep them both in your prayers. Next stop, (hopefully), San Roque.

Many Thanks

Mrs Pilgrim
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

Pilgrim's Progress

Day Four - Ponte de Lima to San Roque

Today found Pilgrim and MacGregor walking in dry, occasionally sunny, weather, having slept well and breakfasted at their hotel.

They walked for some hours on cobbled roads through beautiful, Spring countryside. It then took them two hours to a climb a steepish mountain, which definitely taxed Pilgrim's bruised and blistered feet to the full!

As before, the dogs snarled (Pilgrim VERY relieved they were chained up!) and the people were friendly and kind - whilst passing through a local market Pilgrim was donated oranges by an intrigued stallholder, who flatly refused to accept any payment for them.

Tonight Pilgrim and MacGregor are sharing a room in a small, cheap hotel. The owner of the nearest restaurant, sited some 4 kms from the hotel, is driving them to his restaurant for their evening meal - yet another kindly gesture.

Pilgrim remarked that one striking aspect of this Porto to Santiago route is the lack of fellow pilgrims - they have yet to encounter one single one!

I would ask you once again to keep them both in your prayers.

I wish Shani a safe and happy Camino,

Many thanks,

Mrs Pilgrim
Pilgrim's Progress

Day Five - San Roque to Tui

Pilgrim and Macgregor have today again walked through scenic countryside, climbing out of the river valley over gentle hillsides. Then through heathland and pungently aromatic eucalyptus forests on old mediaeval tracks, where the cart ruts are still visible, and over ancient stone, hump-backed bridges.

Again, the weather has been mixed, very wet during the morning - so much so that they were walking literally through tracks flowing with water - and hot sun after midday.

Pilgrim reports a memorable incident during the day- they were walking through a forest when they heard singing from the Mass at the local Church (which Pilgrim estimates to have been three to four kilometres away) which was being relayed through loudspeakers.

They crossed the border into Spain at Valenca, (having remembered to put their watches forward an hour,) and have stopped for the night in Tui, where they have had considerable difficulty finding suitable accommodation for the night. They turned down one place as it was grubby and had no showering facilities. Thus they are now ensconced in a three star hotel with breakfast thrown in, all for the princely sum of 33 euros!

I am relieved to report that Pilgrim's feet, though still bruised and battered, are a little better than they were yesterday!

As always, I ask you again to remember them in your prayers,

Many thanks

Mrs Pilgrim
Pilgrim's Progess

Day Six - Tui to Redondela

Pilgrim and MacGregor have walked for the first time in glorious sunshine for most of the day. They have walked through several towns, many with industrial suburbs.

For the first time Pilgrim and MacGregor have encountered a rare sight - another pilgrim - a young Spanish girl. They had originally intended to head for Porrino today, but, as the weather was so good, their feet comfortable enough and their spirits high, they decided to press on to Redondela, a distance of some 32 kilometres.

They are staying tonight in an authentic Spanish pilgrim hostel, sharing it with what Pilgrim describes as "what sound like thousands of Spanish teenagers"! As he was a teacher for 36 years he surely knows what hordes of young people sound like en-masse!

After we spoke they were off for a pilgrim meal at a local restaurant.

Thus today was reasonably uneventful for our intrepid pilgrims.

I ask you once again to keep them both in your prayers,

My good wishes Shani should you read this and a safe journey.

Many Thanks

Mrs Pilgrim
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Pilgrim's Progress

Day Seven - Redondela to Pontevedra

Today found Pilgrim and MacGregor again walking in teeming rain for a couple of hours when setting off from Redondela.

As the rain started they set about putting on their wet weather gear, when, suddenly, an old man, obviously a local, stopped. (They deduced he was a local because he was leading a cow on a chain!!!) He insisted on helping them don their gear. The irony was that he was dressed only in a jumper - the weather obviously wasn't bothering him, but he was most concerned that the two pilgrims didn't get wet!

Pilgrim and MacGregor walked through lovely countryside, climbing gentle eucalyptus-lined hills and, eventually, after 30 kilometres reached their destination, Pontevedra.

They stayed the night in a hotel, as, yet again, the local hostel wasn't opened this early in "the season".

I ask you, as I have done now for over a week, to remember them both in your prayers and wish them "Bon Camino"!

Many thanks

Mrs Pilgrim
Pilgrim's Progress

Day Eight - Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

Pilgrim and MacGregor have today started the second week of their Portuguese camino to Santiago de Compostela. They left Pontevedra this morning in glorious sunshine and the weather, mercifully for them, stayed like this all day. The route today was mainly through gently undulating countryside with comparatively very little road walking.

One interesting incident was when they were stopped by an old lady on the road, who insisted on giving them a euro. They tried to reject the coin, doing their best to explain that they were not beggars but pilgrims. I have to say here that I would have some sympathy with anyone who might think they were beggars - after Pilgrim's last camino some eighteen months ago, I almost had to do a double take at the airport when I saw him - his appearance left a lot to be desired! He had, after all, been on the the road for almost six weeks - hair long, beard long, much thinner and haggard looking than he had been when I lhad last seen him! However, to get back to the tale. The old lady said she knew they were pilgrims and wanted them to take the coin, put it in a box in the great Cathedral of Santiago and pray for her there. They did, of course, agree to do this.

Tonight they are staying in another hotel, as, again, the local hostel is not yet open. It would appear that several temporary hostels were opened last year, but, of course, closed at the end of the holy year.

If Shani does get a chance to read this, I hope your camino is going to plan and you are keeping well.

Please, as always, I would ask you to remember Pilgrim and MacGregor in your prayers, particularly as Pilgrim's feet are, without any doubt, in a bad way. (Perhaps one day I'll be able to persuade my mad husband to leave these things to the young ones - I have no doubt whatsoever that I shall be ignored, as usual!)

Many thanks

Mrs Pilgrim
Pilgrim's Progress

Day Nine - Caldas de Rias to Teo

Today Pilgrim and MacGregor walked mainly through open fields, woods and vineyards in gloriously sunny weather.

They had breakfasted this morning at their hotel and were pleasantlysurprised when the bartender adamantly refused payment for their breakfast! Another incidence of the kindness of locals to pilgrims!

Whilst on the road today they passed a small infants school in the hills. As they did so a teacher flagged them down, invited them into the playground and took photos of them with the children - he then showed them an internet project he is working on about Pilgrims!

Tonight Pilgrim and MacGregor have the local hostel in Teo to themselves - it was opened up especially for them. Thus they will sleep tonight knowing that, God willing, they will arrive in Santiago de Compostela sometime tomorrow.

Shani if you do get to read this I hope all is well with you and your camino.

As usual I ask you to keep them both in your prayers,

Many thanks,

Mrs Pilgrim
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Pilgrim's Progress

Day Ten - Teo to Santiago


It is with some sadness that I write this, the last of my "camino diaries", detailing my husband's (Pilgrim) camino from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. At this point I would like to thank all my wonderful family and friends, including our two sons and my sister, for all the care, concern and encouragement offered to me during this time - it is, after all, only the second time Pilgrim and I have been apart for more than one night in thirty seven years of marriage! (I was VERY VERY young when I was married!!)

Thus you can see from the above that Pilgrim and MacGregor have made it safely to Santiago. They arrived there in glorious sunshine at approximately 11.30 am today.

Their first stop was the Pilgrim Office where their precious compostelas were collected. Then off to the magnificent cathedral, with its' mediaeval music for the Pilgrim Mass, the gigantic botufumerio an awesome sight as it swung from side to side on the high altar.

Santiago itself is packed with pilgrims/tourists at the moment, so much so that it was only at the sixth hotel they tried that they were able to get a room for the night.

Tonight Pilgrim and MacGregor had a very pleasant and entertaining meal with Ivar, the creator of this wonderful web site. Pilgrim had been looking forward to this for some time.

There certainly is a 'fever in the blood' - after Pilgrim did the camino from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago during the latter part of 2003, I did not accompany him. However, a few months after his return, we re-traced his steps, by car, as a couple, as he wanted me to see some of the wonderful places he had been, sights he had seen,etc. Having done the Camino by car like this, and also written this diary, I feel very moved to walk the camino myself one day, God willing.

Who knows one day next year I might be writing MY camino diary!

My grateful thanks and prayers go to all of you who have kept Pilgrim and MacGregor in your prayers and thoughts,

Many thanks

Mrs Pilgrim
I just want to thank Mrs Pilgrim and the Pilgrim himself for letting us in on the this pilgrimage.

I meet "Pilgrim" and "MacGregor" last night in Santiago (see picture below).

(From the left: "MacGregor", me and "Pilgrim")

Greetings from Sunny and warm Santiago,
Fever in the Blood....

Well done to Pilgrim and Macgregor on reaching Santiago.

It's been interesting reading your experiences through your wife.

Perhaps you will have some more anecdotes to share with readers when you get home?

Graeme Bennett
Join our full-service guided tour and let us convert you into a Pampered Pilgrim!
well done !!

congrats Pilgrim !! our motley crew of 5 Canadians and 1 Singaporean and 1 Malaysian arrived on the 27th after starting from Sarria on the 23rd. I know we did a much shorter journey but we had some pretty intense emotions arriving in the Praza Obradorio. I think as we approached the last 2 days of our journey together, I sensed in part some reluctance to have the journey end.. much as the journey in itself was just as important as the destination.
Attending Pilgrims Mass the next day was a high point as well, the smoking botafumerio the icing on the cake..
The Final Chapter - How Many P's

(Written on a rainy day in Santiago.)

How many p’s are there in that phrase about planning and performance? Yes, I had pounded over 200 km of road in preparation, but mostly in a pair of comfortable shoes. Yes, my boots were old and trusted friends. Had we not walked over 1,000km together? Yes, I coped easily with my pack before so did it matter that it was already overweight without the necessary litres of water. Probably yes, I was over-confident. But what really did for me was my feet, pulverised by endless kilometres over unforgiving square cobbles. I had no pain from the pack. My legs were fine, had they not done over 33km per day on three occasions! My right foot, loyal friend, was O.K once the huge blister on the ball dried up. What did for me was my left foot. It possessed a little toe that was a weeping and bloody mess which hit my boot with every forward step. (Though what ’s new, many of you reading this will have suffered such pain stoically).

So 240km on I hobbled into Santiago and decided it would be foolish pride to try to go to Finisterre. Pride, because who wants to admit publicly to the world on the internet, that they did not get to their second objective. But also unfair, unfair to my fellow pilgrim McGregor who was so fit on the last day that he literally, at times, danced ahead of me into the town, and on several occasions cheerfully walked back to rejoin me having got too far ahead.

Whilst I mention my walking companion I must give praise to him. To spare his blushes I will call him Hugo McGregor. We walked 150 miles together in cheerful pilgrim companionship. He, dieting all the way, but, not once complaining when I hunted around town for an evening meal, or when I climbed slowly up a rocky ravine. THANKS HUGO!! (If you readers will forgive a private joke - “the Laird Campbell of Glencoe thanks his loyal ghillie McGregor!)

But enough of the endless focus on me. The countryside of Northern Portugal is beautiful. It is very similar to the wooded stretches of Galicia with eucalyptus trees and vineyards abounding. The route is a ‘true’ camino, each day starting with a ‘climb’ uphill out of a river valley. The country people on the route were, almost without exception, welcoming and helpful. The dogs, almost without exception, snarling and unfriendly.

The route is comparatively little used so pilgrims and the pilgrimage seemed little known. In fact we passed as many pilgrims going in the opposite direction to Portugal’s pilgrim shrine of Fatima. That route is marked with blue arrows and if we could not find a yellow one we took the opposite direction to the blue. Once our route from the airport crossed the ‘true Camino’, on day two, the way marking was adequate if not to ‘Frances’ standard. Once in Galicia the familiar concrete way post with its blue tile often lacked its distance plate. Little wonder since the route is, or has been, altered and the plates give distances to three decimal places, e.g. 75.384km. Since that is quoting the distance to Santiago to the nearest metre little wonder a change of route makes them inaccurate. How do they position them in the first place, with GPS?

Albergues seemed few and far between - one we sought was closed for renovation and another had only been open for Holy Year. Thus we stayed in far too many hotels - it alters the spirit of things.

And what of spirit? I entered the familiar medieval streets of Santiago like returning to an old friend, but that friend had forgotten me. Passing first on the way in the Hotel Suso - I stayed there one night last time - I called in, but there was no room for me this time. The Tourist Office was moderately helpful supplying a map and list of hostels and hotels. They seemed more interested in filling in a statistical return with the fact they had helped one English and one German. Perhaps they too have targets to meet. The Pilgrim Office was almost empty and Hugo and I sat at a desk to yet again supply statistical information. The girl recorded two Germans aged between 58 and 60. Not two Germans I corrected her. We received our Compostelas - no cardboard tube this time for the precious document - I merely folded it neatly and tucked it into my Credencia. (As an aside why is the CSJ pilgrim passport so much less practical in format than the folded-concertina-style continental ones?) Our arrival was phoned through to the Cathedral as we said we were off for Mass and that was it. Anticlimax? No, but certainly not the buzz of last time.

At the Mass Hugo and I are the last pilgrims announced - “from Porto one German one English”. That brilliant nun, who is Cantor for the Mass, sang well. The sermon was too long. Sitting for the first time in the side nave the botifumerio’s flight over our heads was wildly fantastic and then it was all done.

Now I am no longer a pilgrim, I wander the town just another tourist awaiting my flight home. After too many days here the town is losing its appeal. I attend Mass daily and realise I was lucky to be greeted on arrival by the Botifumerio. Of the five Masses I attended only two - Friday and Sunday - had the spectacle. On other days pilgrims and huge crowds of tourists waited expectantly only to be disappointed.

Visits to Museums and staring in endless shop windows fill my days. The shops windows all contain the same tacky souvenirs. I actually saw a man buy one of those ‘brown medieval-style pilgrim hats! The one highlight of the day is my evening meal at the renowned Café Manolo - a must for any pilgrim - how do they do such a varied menu, such large portions, so many courses, such good cooking, for the price? The staff so endlessly friendly. Mentioning staff the locals seem disinterested, we are their ‘living’ not their friends. In the Pilgrim Museum I told the man at the counter, I am a Pilgrim, his expression clearly said ‘So what!’

It is time I go home before I lose my love of this town.

(Now home) Congratulations to Shani!!
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Oporto to Santiago

Great to hear about your journey through Mrs. Pilgrim !!! just sent you a response to the kind message you sent me several months ago. So, please give a detailed account whenever you feel up to it. Before september 2005 if at all possible !!!
Cheers. Thanks.

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