All throughout my life I’ve been inspired by movies. When Top Gun came out in 1986 I was a young and impressionable teenager who wanted to join the US Navy and take to the skies in an F-14 Tomcat fighter jet. Little did I know that one must have excellent grades in high school and college just to be selected to be a student of Naval Aviation. I had barely managed to graduate high school with a 1.8 GPA.
During my Senior year, in 1990, another inspiring movie was released – The Hunt for Red October. It was so inspirational that I signed up to serve in the US Navy and went to school to operate, maintain, and fix the electrical equipment of a nuclear powered submarines. I enjoyed a decade of serving my country and wearing the title of Submariner.
In 2010 a movie titled The Way was released. It is a story of a father who must fly to Spain to recover the body of his estranged son that died while traveling the Camino de Santiago. The father decides that he’ll honor his son by walking the nearly 500 mile journey from the French border to Santiago de Compostela. Along the way he discovers a lot about himself. One of the things that he contemplates is a comment his son made to him before leaving to hike the Camino: “You don’t choose a life, dad. You live one.” It’s a powerful message and one I’ve tried to live most of my life. Now, here in Spain 10 years later, was our chance to hike just a portion of the Camino de Santiago.
Our original idea was to hike the 780 km (485 miles) from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, but this can easily take a month or longer. With only 35 days left on our 90-day Schengen it just wasn’t feasible. As an alternate we decided to hike the second most popular route known as the Camino Portugués (the Portuguese Way). This route starts in Lisbon, however we decided to join the path at the border town of Tui, Spain and hike the 119 km to the finish in Santiago de Compostela.
The first leg of our 6-day pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela – 17 km (10.6 miles)
We timed our wake-up and morning drop-off of the motorcycles so we could arrive at the Valença-Tui International Bridge at sunset. We thought it would be a fitting way to start the adventure!
What an incredible morning! The temperature was pleasant and we were excited to start the first day of our hike.
Shortly after leaving the road and hiking through a park we came across these spray-painted murals of some of our favorite cartoon and video game characters. Who can name them all?
While passing through the town of Tui, we enjoyed the outside of the Cathedral of Santa María of Tui.
Not long after leaving Tui, you enter some beautiful forested regions. These areas were especially nice to focus on the steady rhythm of hiking and contemplating more spiritual things.
Many people walk the Camino for various reasons: the history, the physical challenge, the culture, or for spiritual reasons. In my case, I chose to hike the camino in order to focus on becoming a better person. Life is full of minor frustrations and it can often get the best of me. Something as simple as a piece of electronic gear not working, or taking a wrong turn, can get me in an angry mode quickly. Chantil often has to deal with my outbursts and sometime I, regrettably, take it out on her.
I decided adding a bit of discomfort to my Camino in the form of a small round rock in my right hiking sandal. I planned to walk 100 km with it and hoped, that with each step of my right foot, I would be reminded that life if full of minor discomforts and I should be more tolerant of them.
You don’t choose a life, dad. You live one.Emilio Estevez – The Way (2010)
Just like in life, the Camino gives you choices. At the 110 kilometer marker there are two paths: One walks through the town to the east and the other winds through the forests to the west. The forested route is about 1km longer. Just like in life, the longer and more difficult routes are often more rewarding. We took the western forested route…
… and were rewarded with the beauty of nature!
The entire route is well marked with yellow arrows and concrete markers indicating how much further you have to reach the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Just south of O Porriño we stopped at the Capela de San Bieito to visit the chapel and get our credencial (pilgrim passport) stamped. This passport booklet requires two stamps per day and is used to prove that you hiked the minimum 100 km needed to earn your Compostela certificate.
O Porriño, Spain
Just after 3 PM we arrived at O Porriño. Just 99 km left to go!
Parroquia de Santa María da Concepción
Just one day into our hike and we’re missing our motorcycles. This BMW F650GS is a older cousin to our G650GS motorcycles. The 650cc engine, and many of the components are the same but the body has been updated.
Walking along the streets of O Porriño during siesta. Not many folks around.
For dinner we tried a restaurant that looked inviting but it turned out to be vegan. Not ideal for a couple of carnivores who just walked 17 km! We decided to give it a try and actually liked the taste of whatever the burger was made of.
Our pilgrim passport after the first day of hiking. Four stamps!
For that evening we decided to stay at a hostel called Rincón del Peregrino, where we ended up being the ONLY people there. The Coronavirus is really effecting the tourism of Europe – even on the Camino.
Next Blog Post
Our Camino continues as we enjoy the second day from O Porriño to O Mesón.
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30 July 2020