Where in the World Wednesday: Camino de Santiago and Portugal Edition

where-in-the-world-wednesday-camino-de-santiago-and-portugal-edition

Every Wednesday, I share a Where in the World Wednesday featuring where in the world I am, what I’m doing there, where I’m planning to go next, my general thoughts on the latest week of travel, and what I’m currently reading. To catch up on the entire series, click here.

This Wednesday is a little bit different, as I was disconnected from blogging while walking the Camino de Santiago and reflecting on my camino experience in Portugal. I’ll be sharing an abbreviated version of where I was for each Wednesday in the past seven weeks, so this this Where in the World Wednesday is really seven posts in one. Might I suggest pouring yourself a cup of coffee or vino and settling in?

Week One: Estella, Spain

Where in the world were you?

This time on Wednesday seven weeks ago, I was having the best day I had experienced in quite some time. Three days prior, I had lost my wallet with every bit of cash and credit card I own inside (she types as she puts her palm to her forehead). The sweetest cafe owner found it, all cash removed but cards still intact, and offered to drive 30 minutes each way to return it to me. Then, I hiked my shortest day on the entire camino (about 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles) to arrive in a tiny hillside village.

Where were you up to this week?

The first few days of the camino are many things to many people and mine was a roller coaster of emotions. To this point, I had walked 114 kilometers (about 71 miles) of the camino and roughly 1/8th of what I would in the next four weeks.

Camino de Santiago Weekly Recap Post

I wrestled with a lost wallet (more on that story and how I handled it in a future post). I wrestled with self-pity and self-doubt. I wrestled with blister pain and physically adjusting to carrying a backpack 24/7. I wrestled with the first homesickness I have felt in over three months of travel (certainly triggered by the helpless feeling of losing my wallet).

Camino de Santiago / Camino Frances / Crossing the Pyreness

On the other hand, I crossed a mountain pass and the French-Spanish border on foot! I was trekking through beautiful mountains and vineyards! I learned how resourceful I truly am and how generous human beings can be! My wallet was returned to me on this day! I fell in love with Spain!

What are you currently reading?

I was reading Love and Ruin by Paula McLain  and just starting The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti, which had absolutely nothing to do with where I was or what I was doing (which was much needed after dealing with a lost wallet and countless physical troubles like blisters and sore muscles). Even so, I wouldn’t recommend it as a light YA read and would issue a trigger warning for those particularly sensitive to mental health issues.

Week Two: Burgos, Spain

Where in the world were you?

I was spending the morning in beautiful Burgos, Spain. I woke early in partly because I wanted to have coffee with a friend before he walked on ahead of me, and partly just because my body was adjusting to the camino schedule of rising early to beat the Spanish sun.

I watched the sunrise over the gorgeous cathedral and toured the inside.

Then, I spent the rest of the morning just enjoying the company of the people I now call my “camino family.” We had walked together for 5 of the last 7 days, but were all splitting up to walk different distances after Burgos. 

I decided to walk a “half day” and my second shortest day of the camino, just 13 kilometers or 8 miles. Apparently, I didn’t like walking far on Wednesdays!

Where were you up to this week?

This week brings some of my dearest memories of the entire camino.

I met new friends that dramatically shaped my camino for the better. Together, we walked a few of the longest and most physically challenging days of the entire way for me.

We also sang a lot, laughed a lot, and ate a lot. We experienced an authentic Spanish fiesta completely by chance. We took afternoon naps laying in the sun. We developed inside jokes and told each other our favorite stories.

Once, we had to walk to the next town because there was no space left in the inn (quite literally). Then, we walked an actual marathon coming in to Burgos by choice.

Life was really, really good.

What are you currently reading?

I was reading Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. I didn’t connect with the story in this novel as much as I had her other books. It’s set in colonial Africa, so maybe I just need to visit there before I’d appreciate this one!

Week Three: Leon, Spain

Where in the world were you?

Leon Camino de Santiago

I was in Leon, Spain. Leon is about 2/3 of the way along the Camino de Santiago and one of the most vibrant. Continuing the easy days on Wednesdays trend, it was the only city where I took a rest day and walked zero kilometers along the camino. Even still, I walked nearly 8 kilometers around the town exploring and celebrating with my fellow pilgrims on a (self-created) tapas tour.

Where were you up to this week?

This week, I walked through the Spanish desert called the meseta. It is often the part of the camino that most pilgrims dread.

Camino de Santiago Meseta

For me, it’s one of the parts of the camino where I felt strongest, calmest, and happiest. I saw some of the clearest stars and brightest sunrises. Plus, I was able to reunite with some of my favorite friends from week two and we motivated each other through the driest sections.

There was one unfortunate incident with bed bugs that required us to walk an unexpectedly long day (38 km or 23.6 miles) to the next town, but the long day allowed us to take a rest day without any semblance of guilt in Leon.

What are you currently reading?

I was reading Artemis by Andy Weir. I absolutely loved this heist novel set on in a city on the moon. It has quickly become my go-to book recommendation for friends looking for an entertaining read.

I also was listening to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari as I was walking. When I wanted to forget I was walking through the desert in the middle of the day, I would turn to Han’s book. When I wanted to contemplate the meaning of life and other deep things, I turned to Sapiens.

Week Four: O’Cebreiro, Spain

Where in the world were you?

I was in O’Cebreiro, Spain. O’Cebreiro is a gorgeous mountain town that sits at the peak of the steepest section of the Camino Frances just over the border into the Galicia region.

Where were you up to this week?

Walking and walking and walking some more. After a few more days of desert, the landscape thankfully became more diverse at the beginning of the week.

This week also brought some of the most emotional moments I had on the camino. I was able to drop a stone and be a (sometimes literal) shoulder to cry on for some dear camino friends. I was able to share in endless laughs on mountain tops and at al fresco dinners. Light moments balanced the dark and deep moments beautifully.

What are you currently reading?

I was reading absolutely nothing. With my mind elsewhere and my heart with the people I was sharing the camino experiences with, I didn’t read a single page. Usually, reading is my way to escape. I don’t think I wanted to escape the camino for a moment in week four.

Week Five: Finesterre, Spain 

Finesterre Spain | Post camino celebration | Camino de Santiago Beach

Where in the world were you?

I was in Finesterre, a seaside town they call the “End of the World” on the very western edge of Spain.

Where were you up to this week?

Oh, just finishing the Camino de Santiago. I finished all 799 kilometers of the Camino Frances on October 1. 31 days after I started and with about as many blisters.

Camino de Santiago boots | Finishing the Camino de Santiago | Camino Frances | Hiking holidays

After celebrating in Santiago de Compostela, we took to the beach.

Many people opt to walk the additional 80 kilometers to Finisterre, but I felt accomplished and emotionally finished after reaching Santiago. The bus ride there was the first time I had moved using anything other than my own two feet for 31 days.

A true sense of elation and relaxation came over me in Finisterre. I’m not sure that I’ve felt more confident, more at peace, or more accomplished in my life.

Finisterre Camino de Santiago Recap | Where in the World Wednesday | Pages to Passport | Camino de Santiago

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I’ll be honest, I knew this book by the cover (which is gorgeous) and by its strong #bookstagram game, so when it was available at my library on Kindle, I scooped it up. It ended up being a great post-camino beach read. Heavy enough to sustain my mind, still emotionally reeling, and entertaining enough to keep my attention.

Week Six & Seven: Portugal

Where in the world are you?

I’m in Lisbon, Portugal. Lisbon and its colorful, hilly streets has truly captured my heart.

Where were you up to this week?

After leaving Spain, I made my way to Porto. The transition from camino life to traditional travel was a bit of a shock for me. I spent a lot of my time in Porto feeling guilty for not loving it as much as many people do, but I wasn’t in the right headspace to give this city a true chance. It was just a bit too urban for what I needed.

So, I did what I do best and found a little beach town to stay in for a few days. Nazare is a beautiful little spot known for surfing and big waves. Being there in the off-season, it was a peaceful sanctuary for me.

After that, I followed my gut and spent some more time in surf towns. While it was a long 6-hour bus journey, I was instantly glad I decided to spend time in Lagos along the portuguese Algarve coast.

Where in the World Wednesday Lagos Portugal

After quite a few days hopping from beach to beach, I made my way to Lisbon where I was able to meet up with two friends I had met while traveling in Switzerland. It was a bit of kismet and a blast to reconnect before we jet all around the globe again, and Lisbon has been a magical place to do so.

Lisbon Alfama

Speaking of magical places, I took a quick day trip to Sintra the other day and was in fairytale heaven.

Sintra Pena Palace | Sintra Castle | Day Trip from Lisbon

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Station Eleven by Emily St. Jean Mandel. I was hoping that I’d capture the magic of Artemis with this post-apocalyptic novel, but I’m having a hard time getting in to it.

What are you up to next?

On Friday, I’m flying back to the good ol’ US of A. I’m heading to a good friend’s wedding first, then will spend some time with family in Michigan. I’m oddly excited to do the normal, everyday things like laundry, working out, and grocery shopping in a language I actually understand.

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