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Camino de Santiago Journal – from Porto to Santiago de Compostela in 11 days

I remember that, a few years ago, I was hearing my friends talking about Camino de Santiago and I didn’t know what it was. Until doing a bit more research, all I knew was that you have to walk a lot and nothing more.

But walking is just a part of the experience. It’s the main part of the experience and also the most painful one.

After I did a bit more research, I understood there are more Camino de Santiago routes and each route can be split into smaller routes.

For example, Camino Portuguese starts from Lisbon and ends in Santiago de Compostela, and it’s a 650-kilometer-long walk. It’s the second most popular route, after Camino Frances. But if you’re really adventurous, you can start the journey from the most southern point of Portugal (which is Faro), then walk to Santiago de Compostela. Or you can start from Porto (as I did) and experiment a shorter version of Camino.

Also, Camino Portuguese has two routes: the coastal and the central routes.

2-3 years ago, when I first heard about Camino de Santiago, I wanted to do it because back then I thought it was a great method of introspection. It’s not easy at all to walk a few hundreds of kilometers in 10-12 days and be alone with your thoughts most of the time.

The emotional and spiritual journey fits perfectly into the physical journey and you get to have a special transformation. At least that’s what I was thinking a few years ago, after I read more about Camino. In a way, I still see things the same.

Even though I wanted to do Camino de Santiago in the previous years, I’ve always had excuses. I either didn’t have enough money, the proper equipment, or I was working. But this time I said that, whatever happens, I’ll do it!

On the 5th of February, I bought the plane tickets to Porto and also from Santiago de Compostela back home. I was arriving in Porto on the 3rd of March and the next day I was starting my journey. I set myself to walk between 11 and 29 kilometers every day, for a total of 12 days, so the journey would have been from the 4th to the 15th of March.

Things have changed a bit. I started the journey on the 4th of March and ended it on the 14th of March, and I walked between 15 kilometers (the 3rd day) and 45 kilometers (the 8th day). Moreover, I didn’t have any equipment. I took my normal clothes and some light shoes, a backpack with a few clothes, a polaroid, my MacBook, and an umbrella.

For each day, I had a small journal and I’ll paste the text here, in the article. But, until then, I have a few more things to mention.

The feet pain was too much and I felt pain in my sole, muscles, heels, and tibia. I went from having simple pains to feeling that my feet are burning or I was walking on needles. I went through so much feet and legs pain that I ended up feeling no pain.

The route I took is officially 240 kilometers-long. And I started with the idea in mind that I’ll only have to walk for 240 kilometers. But I didn’t take into consideration all the walking for food or for grabbing a beer. As good as that, I didn’t take into consideration the deviations from the route because I wasn’t paying attention to the map. In total, after 11 days, my smartwatch showed me that I walked for 326.5 kilometers. A lot more compared to what I was expecting.

But beyond all the pain, the journey was worth it and I’d do it again in a few years, maybe on a different route, even a longer one. It was worth it for all the beautiful landscapes, delicious food, and amazing people I met on the road. I’m not going to mention all the things I’ve done or all the people I’ve met, but I’ll share with you two things.

The first one. In the 3rd day, I met two guys who live in the Netherlands, really young (one is 20 years old, the other one is 23 years old), who started their journey on the 10th of December. Yes, last year. They started in Faro (in the southern point of Portugal), continued to Sagres and then Lisbon, Porto and Santiago de Compostela. They were carrying two huge backpacks, and they were also having a tent with them, which was put to good use on the sunny days. I’ve meet with them in 6 out of the 11 days, and one of these days we spent entirely together.

The second one. Considering I had no equipment, everyone I was interacting with were surprised I was doing Camino de Santiago with no equipment. It happened many times to be considered a local and my true identity was unmasked by the seashell I was carrying around my neck or by the fact I wasn’t speaking Spanish at all. But considering that everyone was doing the same route, whenever you met someone else, one of the topics was the people you met on the road. By the end of the journey, I was popular because I was the guy from Romania, without equipment. That was funny.

That’s it for now. Keep reading to discover interesting things about each day along with the photo I liked the most from each day.

  • Day 1: Porto – Vila de Conde
  • Day 2: Vila de Conte – Barcelos
  • Day 3: Barcelos – Tamel
  • Day 4: Tamel – Ponte de Lima
  • Day 5: Ponte de Lima – Rubiães
  • Day 6: Rubiães (Portugal) – Tui (Spain)
  • Day 7: Tui - O Porriño
  • Day 8: O Porriño – Pontevedra
  • Day 9: Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis
  • Day 10: Caldas de Reis – Padrón
  • Day 11: Padrón – Santiago de Compostela

Camino de Santiago – Day 1

Porto – Vila de Conde

Day 1 Camino de Santiago

This morning, I woke up at 6:15, had a shower, eat an apple, a few bananas and some nuts, and then leave at 7. I had in plan to walk 24 kilometers, to Vila Cha. Instead, I walked for 40 kilometers. 🤯

I left the AirBnB with an apple in my pocket and a bottle of water in my hands, wanting to see the ocean, so I went straight towards it. After arriving at the ocean, made a few photos (two with the polaroid – I want to make two photos every day with the polaroid) and a short break of 10-15 minutes, I continued my walk on the coast of Portugal. That was the first break out of the three breaks of today.

I was lucky with the weather today, which was (and still is) simply beautiful. A bit windier in some places but with a lot of sun. Starting tomorrow, I’ll change to the central route – in case it starts raining, the weather will be worse near the ocean and my umbrella won’t hold on.

I kept walking until I decided to sit on a bench, eat the apple and take the pills that I forgot to take this morning – an aspirin and another pill which is a combination of calcium and magnesium. I stayed there for 15 minutes.

Then I kept walking on the coast of Portugal, being motivated by the thought that I was about to eat. I checked Google Maps to see what restaurants are around and I see that, a few kilometers ahead, there’s a nice place. So, I went straight towards it.

The place is called Nova Rumo and here I ordered a vegetables cream soup, a tuna baguette (so good), and a beer. I had in front of me the food and the ocean. Didn’t need anything else. 💚

Until here, I walked around 20 kilometers. I was at the periphery of the city Labruge and heading to Vila Cha, where I wanted to arrive in the first place.

I get there and discover that the few hostels with decent price were closed. At a point, I see the Camino sign (the seashell I carry around my neck) at a place that was providing accommodation and decided to check it out. The owner of the place was asking for 30 euro/night – it seems it wasn’t a hostel at all and the Camino sign was just a marketing thing, to attract the fools who are doing Camino de Santiago. In general, the costs are between 5 and 12 euro (the price rarely goes up to 20 euro), and in some hostels you can pay with a donation. But these hostels are specials for pilgrims (those that are doing Camino) and they’re called Albergue (I still struggle pronouncing this word).

I refused staying there and kept walking. And this is where the chaos started. The wind was stronger and stronger and was throwing sand in my eyes, hair, and places I’d rather not talk about. It was sand all over the place and I had no choice but to fill my shoes with sand.

On the road, I met two people from Netherlands who helped me understand that I’ll only find accommodation in the next city (Vila de Conde). They had this huge book with all kind of information about Camino – on the other hand, I was having only a silly map that I got for free from a tourism office back in Porto. 😅

I kept walking and finally arrived in the city. I found here two closed hostels and only the third one, where I am right now, was available. I paid 16.10 euro. There are 6 beds in the room and until now I only have one roommate – a 50-60 years old man who finished Camino and now is going back to Porto. He told me he did many Camino routes and showed me a few drawings he did on the road – they looked great!

Before jumping in bed, I went to a laundry that was 100 meters away from hostel. The lady that was working there was really cool and, when she saw I only have a few clothes to wash, she manually washed them. She only had to put the clothes in the dryer. We understood each other well, without me knowing Portuguese or she knowing English, but she told me she understands English a bit.

My feet hurt like hell. I’d like to leave to the next city tomorrow morning at 7, but I think I’ll do it at 10. Tomorrow I’ll have to walk 26 kilometers. Let’s hope it’s just that, otherwise I’ll finish the whole thing in 7 days, not 12.

Camino de Santiago – Day 2

Vila de Conte – Barcelos

Day 2

I was planning to walk for 27 kilometers. I did 37 🤯.

I woke up at 6 in the morning, stayed in bed a little, worked a bit, and then at around 8 I left. Went to the second closest Lidl shop and got 3 bananas, 2 apples, and 2 bags with a mix of nuts. I’m happy I can find here the products I usually buy in my hometown.

Lidl was around 3-4 kilometers away from where I slept. Around the time I got to Lidl, my feet started hurting. If anyone wants to take my place, I’ll rent my place. There around 170 kilometers left to do, in 10 days. 😅

Shortly after Lidl, I took a break to eat the bananas, an apple and some nuts. And then, nearby, I found some sort of paved footpath where only pedestrians and cyclist were allowed. Google told me that’s my route and I took it.

I walked around 11 kilometers on that footpath and it was still not over – I just had to change the route and turn left. I had a lot of that footpath without any other human being in sight – just some cyclists and runners. It rained for the whole duration of those 11 kilometers.

As I said, I had to turn left and ended up in some sort of village. It was barely populated and the further I walked, the more I realized I wasn’t, in fact, on the Camino route and I never was that day. 😂

When I reached Vila de Conde, I was on the coastal route. Today I made the switch to the central route. But to have reached Barcelos today through the Camino route, it would have taken me another half a day.

Going back to my through the village, at one point there are three children coming out of a yard and ask me something in Portuguese. I told them “I only speak English and I’m doing Camino”, showing them the seashell I was carrying around my neck. As a reply, one of the children says “Ah… Ingles”. There aren’t that many tourists going through that village, I said to myself. They kept saying things I didn’t understand, so I kept walking.

Shortly after that, Google Maps is in mood for jokes and shows me a road that was only on the map. Fuck you, Google and thank you for making me another 3 to 5 kilometers. I know I’m fat, but too much is too much.

And then I ended up … on the highway. 😂

A highway that had too many cars and too little sidewalks. The cars were passing by one meter next to me and that made me forget about the pain I was feeling in my feet.

And I walked on the highway for a while. I think it was one third of the today’s road.

Eventually, I ended up in Barcelos and looked for a place to eat. Only the third place was open and I’m happy I found it. It’s a small place, called Bistro Vigor. When I stepped inside, there were only the owners (wife & husband) with two of their friends, eating together.

The guy wanted to recommend some food, but changed his mind as soon as I told him I’m vegetarian. In that moment, he started speaking with his wife, who was a chef for 20 years, about what they can offer me. I ate a delicious vegetable cream soup and a pasta so great that I’d move here only for the pasta.

Oh, and they also gave me some Portuguese bread, which was interesting. For all these + one beer I paid 10 euro. I understood that the cream soup was free for pilgrims. Before leaving, I wrote something sexy and inspirational in notebook where other pilgrims wrote things as well.

Then I went to the hostel, which was 10 minutes away from Bistro Vigor. It’s that type of hostel where I can pay with a donation. There are only 4 beds in the room and I’m the only pilgrim here.

Tomorrow I plan on walking only 10 kilometers, to the closest city. The pain I’m feeling is too much to handle.

Camino de Santiago – Day 3

Barcelos – Tamel

Day 3 Camino de Santiago

I think this morning I woke up at 6 and stayed in bed up until 7:30. After that, I put some clothes on and went to walk around Barcelos for 30 minutes and take some photos. Then, checked Google Maps and saw that I only have to walk only 11 kilometers to reach the next city. With the short walk through Barcelos, I ended up walking a total of 13 kilometers today. I feel a bit better, but my soles still hurt.

Today was a short route, with a little highway and a lot of rural zones. Beautiful landscapes all over the road. 💚

I don’t have too many things to say about today, expect it was one with a short distance and a lot of sun.

I went to a restaurant, which is next to the restaurant, where I ate some eggs, fries, rice, tomatoes and some other things. Paid 8.7 euro and for these money I also got a 0.5L water bottle.

At this moment I’m in the garden of the hostel and I’m waiting here for almost one hour. There are 20 more minutes and the hostel is going to open. As far as I know, the cost for accommodation is 5 euro/night. It’s that kind of hostel where only pilgrims are allowed.

Tomorrow I have planned a walk of 22-25 kilometers. 🕺

Camino de Santiago – Day 4

Tamel – Ponte de Lima

Day 4

The information from the previous days started to mix up and I have the feeling that what I’m about to wrote happened a few days ago, not today. 😅

I woke up today while the sun was still down, around 6:20. So I stayed in bed until 7 and then left to get my clothes from the drying room. They were still a bit wet, so I tried to dry them a bit more, for another 20 minutes, but didn’t manage to do it – they’re still wet in the backpack.

I was so tired and had some tight muscles on my right leg. But after 10 minutes of walking, everything went back to normal and I was feeling great. I felt like I was able to run.

The entire road today was beautiful. 32 kilometers around woods, with a lot of sun. I gathered enough courage to say hi to the locals in Portuguese. I already feel like a local. 😂

On the road, I met a guy from Germany, which has his own business in the real estate industry and we talked about various things. We walked together for 4-5 kilometers, until he stopped to get some rest and I kept walking. I believe that he actually got tired of hearing me speak. 😅

After reaching Ponte de Lima, I looked for a placed to eat and only the 3rd place was open. It happened the same in Barcelos and that place has amazing food. The same happened this time. I found a vegan place where I drank a tea and ate a fish cream soup and a something else with lentils (which was brilliant). I paid 8 euro for all these and another 3 euro for a cake.

Then, I looked for some accommodation and went to a hostel where the rooms have 4 beds. I already have a roommate and he’s from Germany. The dude seems nice.

Tomorrow I have around 17-20 kilometers. It seems easy. I hope it won’t be more. 😅

Camino de Santiago – Day 5

Ponte de Lima – Rubiães

Day 5 Camino de Santiago

To my surprise, my roommate woke up before I did. I started the day by repeating the ritual from the previous day. At 7:20 I left the hostel and went to the closest Lidl, which was also the only one in town. 😅

Considering that Lidl was opening at 8, I walked around the city a bit and took a few photos. From Lidl, I got one croissant, one bottle of water, and a mix of nuts. I also wanted to buy a sleeping bag, but they didn’t have one.

After walking for 5-6 kilometers in Ponte de Lima, I left to the next city, with a big pain on my feet.

Most of today’s road was through the woods. I think I also climbed a mountain which, before climbing it, I also went down from the same mountain. It was a bit weird. I got to experience many short torrential rains, of 10-15 minutes each, followed by a sun so bright that was always drying my clothes.

Almost nobody on the road. A few locals and maximum 5 pilgrims – with two of them I drank a few beers in one of the previous days. I met them again today after I reached the top of the mountain and from there we went together to Rubiães, which is so small, it feels like it has a population of 50 people.

I ate at a restaurant (the only one around) some fries with two eggs, rice and some vegetables, with a cream soup.

After that, I went to get some accommodation. This time, I chose to get a private room and paid 30 euro for it, compared to 12 euro, which is what I would have paid if I would have stayed with other people. But here I have my own bathroom, so it’s worth getting it. 😅

I have no idea how much I have to walk tomorrow. I’ll find out tomorrow. Right now I go back to working, so I can finish what I have to do and sleep early. Tomorrow I wake up at 6-7.

Fun Fact: 0 Times More Inspirational

Did you know that optimistic leaders are 5 times more likely to inspire their teams?

Camino de Santiago – Day 6

Rubiães (Portugal) – Tui (Spain)

Day 6

Today was a really weird day, with a mix of emotions. But I reached the end of the first half of my journey.

I woke up at 6 in the morning and left the accommodation at 8:10. Shortly after, I met a guy whom I also met yesterday. He was coming from behind and I told him that I’m a slow walker because I’m tired, so he kept moving, saying that he’s going to the same city I’m going. We said Buen Camino to each other and didn’t see him for the rest of the day.

Today’s road was a bit shorter than the usual. I walked for only 26 kilometers and 3 of them were around the city Tui, looking for food and accommodation.

On the road, I barely saw a few pilgrims and most of the walk was around trees and houses. Nothing special compared to the other days – maybe just a bit more rain. Or at least it wasn’t anything special until I reached Tui.

To go from Portugal to Spain, I had to cross a bridge (longer than 100 meters) where the sidewalk was really narrow. And that’s when it happened. I started being anxious and I was walking as close as possible to the metal side of the bridge, close to the road where the cars where driving. I started swearing out loud so everyone (there was nobody around) knew I have a problem with bridges, water, heights, and narrow spaces. 😂

And just when I thought I had no more problems, even more things started happening. Right after I crossed the bridge, a heavy rain started and all my clothes got wet. It was that type of rain with a lot of wind, capable of making your clothes wet even if you had an umbrella or wearing a raincoat.

After that, I tried to eat something. Went to a place where it seemed to be some sort of queue for a spontaneous reservation, so I left and kept looking. After walking around the city for 15 minutes and some lady telling me that if I want to eat pizza in her place, I have to wear a mask, I went back to the first place. This time there was no queue and only a few tables were available. I ordered a toasted baguette, with jam, salmon, goat cheese and almonds and then tagliatelle with pesto. Both of them delicious! For these and a bottle of water I paid 12.5 euro. 💚

Then I left to look for some accommodation and only the fourth one was open – super weird. But I found the perfect hostel.

I have a super blanket, heat in the room, charger right next o my head, and a view towards a green garden. For only 13 euro. The only difference compared to yesterday is that today I don’t have my own bathroom. Oh, and this time, there are 10 beds in the entire room and in one of them is already a girl from Italy. 🤭

Tomorrow I have planned around 16 kilometers. Until now, I walked 179.6 kilometers, according to my Fenix 5 smartwatch.

Camino de Santiago – Day 7

Tui – O Porriño

Day 7 Camino de Santiago

It’s been a week and I walked more than 200 kilometers. I have 5 days left and it feels like it’s all going to happen too fast.

This morning I woke up at 6:30 and waited for the sun to shine so I can leave. Considering the past days, I got used for the sun to shine at 7 and leave as soon as the sun shined. But after crossing the border to Spain, the hour at the sun shines changed. It took me a while to understand it. 😅

Anyway… I left the place at 8 am. Today I walked through woods and, this time, the route was a bit different than the previous days. A lot of green and the colors of the nature were a bit more diverse. I liked it more.

I walked so slowly that pilgrims were catching up to me. The first pilgrim was a girl who was a bit in a rush and she was also focused on walking 33 kilometers today more than anything else. Then a guy came whom I also met a few days ago on the road – this time we discussed a bit and told me he’s doing his second Camino; he did his first one 6 years ago.

On the last part of the road, I met a Romanian girl who’s living in Belgium. She told me she’s been fired recently and she’s enjoying the free time.

Eventually, I reached the city and looked for a place to eat, on Google Maps. I was walking around the city and all of a sudden someone yells my name – it was two guys who are traveling together and whom I also meet twice before in the previous days. They just ordered something so I went inside, ordered a burger and three beers, one for each of us. At the end, one of them paid and I promised I’ll return the favor in Santiago de Compostela. The same promise they made two days before when I paid for some beers.

After that, I went to the closest hostel and paid 16 euro for accommodation, having the breakfast included in the next morning.

I walked around 20 kilometers today. Tomorrow I’ll have the same distance.

Camino de Santiago – Day 8

O Porriño – Pontevedra

Day 8

Today was a full day. It’s 10 PM and only now I have the chance to write something.

I woke up at 7 and at 7:30 went to the kitchen to drink a glass of orange juice and eat some toast. And then I left.

I don’t remember much of the road. I just know that at 8 in the morning it started raining and my left foot got wet. So I had to walk like that.

And I kept walking to Rodondela – a city 20 kilometers away from where I slept. But I got here so early (at 11:30) that nobody was serving food. As far as I understood, only from 13:00 I could have ordered some food.

I kept looking for a place and eventually found a restaurant to eat. I got a tuna salad and a fish – both pretty good. And because it was still early, I decided to keep walking, even though I had already walked for 20 kilometers. So I started moving again towards the next city.

When I was 11 kilometers away from Pontevedra, I got a message on Instagram from some people I met before and they told me where they got their accommodation. Therefore, I went exactly there.

On my way to the hostel, with 30 minutes before arriving in Pontevedra, I met a girl from Germany and we talked about all kind of things.

After that, I got to the hostel and, because it seemed a tradition, I was greeted with a 6-pack of beers. We drank those beers pretty fast, so I went to the closest Lidl (which was 10 minutes away) and bought 15 more beers, to make sure we have enough.

That’s all for today.

I walked around 45 kilometers and I’m one day ahead of the schedule. In 3 days (a total of 11) I should be in Santiago de Compostela.

Camino de Santiago – Day 9

Pontevedra – Caldas de Reis

Day 9 Camino de Santiago

Today was full of rain and wind. So much rain, my underwear was wet. 😅

Last night we were 4 people in the hostel. We woke up at 7:15, packed up our things, and left at around 8:10 in the same direction. And all four of us walked together for around 6 kilometers (out of 25 today). The fourth person decided to take another route – the spiritual one.

We had a break somewhere at the half of the road to drink some tea and then we kept going. The rain was pouring more and more and I had the feeling it’s never going to end.

The city we arrived at was a bit weird. It had a odd vibe and the few shops that were opened have a sports theme and games where you could gamble all your money. It looks like today I’m only eating pastry. 😅

At least the hostel is nice. I’m here with the guys I was yesterday. I plan on getting right away under the blanket so I get a bit warmer.

I have 45 more kilometers to walk in two days.

Camino de Santiago – Day 10

Caldas de Reis – Padrón

Day 10

This morning I woke up pretty early – around 6:15. At 6:50 I got out of bed and at 7:20 left the hostel. It was still dark and I was so sleepy that, at a point, I went on the wrong path and walked in the wrong direction for 300 meters.

Most of today’s road was around woods, with a few rains and not enough sun.

After around 15 kilometers, I stopped to eat somewhere. I paid 14 euro for a lentils soup, scrambled eggs, water and some tea.

At 5 minutes after arriving there, a group of 15 high school students and two teachers enter. They order something, get their stamps for certificates, and leave. And then, little by little, more pilgrims arrived. At one point, we were 8 pilgrims – some of them I already met previously. I stayed there for around one hour and left with a girl from Germany.

Now I’m at the hostel and here are most of the pilgrims from today’s restaurant.

Tomorrow I’ll be arriving in Santiago de Compostela. Can’t wait! I kind of got tired of all this walking. 😅

Camino de Santiago – Day 11

Padrón – Santiago de Compostela

Day 11 Camino de Santiago

World, here I am! 😅

I walked a bit over 30 kilometers today, but the last 2-3 kilometers were really painful.

This morning, I left the hostel at 7:10 and it was a bit too dark. I haven’t eaten anything until now, so my mind is more focused on food than on what I did today.

Nothing special compared to previous days, expect for the fact that today I saw no pilgrims on the road.

When I reached Santiago de Compostela, I went to the cathedral and asked about the certificate of distance and they sent me to another place. This city, just like Porto, is full of hills – you don’t really get to walk straight.

I got myself two certificates, because I’m cool like that. 😅 One for completing the route and another one that proves how much I walked. On the certificate of distance says that I walked for 240 kilometers, from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. My smartwatch says that I walked for 326.5 kilometers. I’d rather trust the watch, after all it’s a smart watch.

Today is a day for staying in bed. I’ll probably go to eat somewhere. I have a few more days to stay here. I’ll see what I’ll visit.

With love and optimism,
David

PS: I finished another Camino de Santiago in 2023. Click here to read about it: https://davidtheoptimist.com/camino/

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