Top Sights Along the Camino Portuguese

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Hellooooo, ladies and lads! It’s been awhile, and mostly due to the fact that I went to SPAIN! (and Portugal obviously since this blog post is about the Camino Portugues…)

But before I share my lovely experiences about Spain, the Camino, and Santiago, I wanted to get something out of the way first. I landed in Spain 1 hour before the terrorist attack happened. When all was said and done, I ended up less than a mile away from La Rambla when it happened. I know, I know, I know, the terrorist attack in Barcelona was absolutely horrific. My heart goes out to all of those immediately affected. But the bright side is the lovely Catalans, and the rest of the world for that matter, stayed strong through it all. I am so relieved that everyone is continuing on in their life; it is truly heartwarming and just goes to show this world is also full of love and resilience.

Ok, now the fun stuff! So we spent a couple of days in Barcelona doing the touristy things like La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, El Born, you know, the places that all of the travel sites say you have to go to. Then we took a flight over to the wonderful Portugal!

Porto was an absolute dream. I would definitely put this gorgeous lake town on your to-do list of visiting the world. Before this trip, I had no desire to travel to Portugal, but I am glad I decided to go. The Portuguese are the sweetest, the views are incredible, and the port is perfect!

Unfortunately, we only had half a day in Porto before we were on our next adventure. There are plenty of sites talking about all the things to do here, but if you only have an afternoon, definitely visit the places I went to! Aside from just walking around town, it is worth it to see the Porto train station, the Douro, and walk across the infamous Dom Luis bridge. The bridge is up HIGH, but it was absolutely worth it to cross.

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Another great thing to do in Porto is to taste the wine! We only had a bit of port, but we also had some great sangria alongside the river. The restaurants here are chock full of great seafood and drinks. They also offer great views of the river!

After our lovely evening in Porto, it was off to the camino! I think we did a total of 60 miles on our trip, starting with the Camino Portugues. Our first leg was from just outside of Porto to Ponte de Lima, Portugual.

Even though we had all day to walk 10 miles, we needed it! The weather chose to be around 95°F when we were walking, so it was pretty exhausting. If I could do this trip over, I would definitely recommend hiking the camino in a month other than August. The heat made it unbearable at times.

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Once we finally made it to Ponte de Lima, we were tired and overheated. I wish we had more time to explore this cute river town. From what we did explore, I can tell you right now that the seafood is amazing! In fact, this whole trip had amazing seafood. Another thing about Ponte de Lima was the history along with it. There were so many old buildings to explore. We were also there during their market day and it took up almost two whole streets! The giant market would have been fun to explore, but we were on a schedule. My takeaway from the first day was to enjoy the walk, but also do this hike at a different time of the summer and to leave more time to explore bigger towns like Porto and Ponte de Lima. This was a common thing for me, as I wish we had more time to explore Santiago, but more on that later.

IMG_3727Before we moved from Portugal to Spain, we gained some elevation to this gorgeous mountain. At the top, we overlooked this valley full of trees and it was well worth the climb. Labruja mountain is on the way of St. James, so it isn’t hard to find if you follow the camino Portugues.

After Ponte de Lima, can you guess what we did? If you thought, more walking, then you are right! We walked, and walked, and walked until we were in Spain!

If you do the Camino, even though this kind of goes without saying, but definitely bring nice shoes to walk and hike in. If I didn’t have my trail runners on this trip, I would have been in serious pain on the last couple of days.

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But on the bright side, the what we saw along the way of our trip was breathtaking! When hiking the Camino, its easy to get in the groove of just walking to get your miles in, but it’s also important to take time and appreciate the view. For me, walking around the little towns in Portugal and Spain was truly amazing. California, and most of the US for that matter, doesn’t really have anything like Portugal. There are no cobblestone streets or trellised vineyards. These two countries had so much to offer and I’m so thankful to travel them.

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Our next stop, after Portugal, was Galicia in Spain. We stayed in castle that was converted to a hotel. It was so fun to explore the ins and outs of the castle. During our stay, which was only a day, we also explored the surrounding islands. Taking a break from walking the camino to explore nearby beaches and other attractions was worth it to me because we got to see more of Spain! I know that the camino asks a lot of each person completing it, but I would recommend taking time to explore other areas along the way. Sometimes you see great things!

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After Galicia and Baiona, we were on our way to Santiago! We hopped over to the Camino Frances (the most popular camino), and we continued walking. The theme of this trip is walking! Walking on dirt, walking on roads, hiking up a mountain, walking on gorgeous cobblestone…we definitely did our fair share of walking!

Even though we were walking a ton, we had some beautiful views of the coast and trails along the way. We also rarely had to worry about getting lost because the whole camino is guided by yellow arrows!

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While our trail was on the coast for a portion, we also were in the countryside and surrounded by trees. The camino gave us an opportunity to explore the country while being away from tourists and exploring the authentic culture of Portugal and Spain. Plus, the camino also has other pilgrims and you get a chance to meet other great people!

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After we made it to Santiago, we were able to spend about half a day in this historic town. The cathedral was breathtaking, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. All in all, this camino was great! I loved that we were able to jump around different caminos and really soak in all of the history.

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Before I end this post, I wanted to share a couple of things I learned along the way. Even though I already mentioned the weather and shoes, I want to reiterate the importance of hiking when its cooler outside and wearing sturdy shoes! Seriously.

I also wanted to say that we hiked the camino with a tour group. At first I was a bit worried about having a guide through this experience, since it somewhat sounded fabricated, but I was pleasantly surprised. Having a tour guide was helpful and fun because they were able to help us if we got lost (which thankfully never happened) and we could use their vans to jump between caminos. I know this was a different take on this pilgrimage, but it was well worth it.

So please keep your mind open to this camino! The Portugues way can be a bit harder to complete because resources (like cafes and hostels) can be scarce at times. If you are able to do it, though, you will not be disappointed! Even being able to hike a bit of it will give you an opportunity to see gorgeous views. If you want to hear more about the camino, be sure to comment below. And if you’re worried that you can’t hike this much, just remember to take it one stride at a time!

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Jump Into…A Brand New Place

I totally thought that I would have time to blog throughout this move…but I was greatly mistaken. These past few weeks have been full of moving, starting a new internship, finding a full-time job, finding a barn for Rae, barely sleeping, and some part-time exploration of the town and the rest of NorCal! I can honestly say I am so happy to be back up here, but I can also say that I miss SLO more than I thought.

 

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It’s hard to change everything and move, but there is also a beauty in it. I feel like you learn who you are when everything else isn’t stable in your life. On top of that, it shows you that you’re stronger than you think. Trust me, I’ve had some hard moments in the past month between applying for jobs and devastatingly missing Raven. During those hard times, it’s best to just keep going. Because I’ve also had great ones! Not only did I find a place for Raven, but I also got to try backpacking for the first time and dare say I’m addicted!

Putting yourself into new situations may seems scary at first (or maybe even exhilarating), but it always ends up being a good thing. I’m thankful that I can be optimistic during this time period and understand that it will all work out.

But more about backpacking because I can understand why so many people go. The feeling of being in the woods with literally no one else around is beyond words. This was my  first time backpacking and before then, I always was hesitant to try. I’ve always loved hiking, but I didn’t know if I would like carrying upwards of 30 pounds on my back or going to the bathroom in the woods. Heck, I didn’t know how I was going to wash my hands for putting my contacts in! But I put that all aside and just dove in and did it. I’m glad that I put my fears away and explored the beautiful backcountry of Tahoe! I highly recommend going there, but also just ignoring your fears (or at least not embracing them). It will surprise you what you’re capable of!

 

Desolation Wildnerness

I love nature for many reasons, but the first and foremost is that it never ceases to amaze me. Example A: Lake Tahoe. More specifically, desolation wilderness.

Located just before the actual lake, desolation wilderness is perfect for almost any activity. On this particular sunny day, we went on a day hike. Since desolation wildnerness is fairly small, we almost hiked to the center of it and it was only 8 miles round trip. But in those 8 miles, we saw picturesque mountains with full lakes and the greenest grass.

The actual hike wasn’t too hard. After a steady incline, and adjusting to a higher elevation, we made it to above the forest and saw a gorgeous view.

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Once we got through the initial forest (about 2 miles in), we hiked on these giant granite slabs to the lakes. I was in love with the  tree tops against the blue sky.

After seeing the forest, we continued our climb to twin lakes, our final destination. The whole hike was absolutely beautiful!

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Ta-da! The lake! You can see a bit of the reflection in the water, but these lakes were the blue-est I have ever seen. It was honestly worth dealing with the elevation change and the warm sun on our backs. I can see why some people just want to live in nature and nowhere near any cities. Desolation wilderness is so pretty, with a peaceful air, and full of nature!

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After crossing one lake, we went to the divide of twin lakes. They almost look like one, except for this small divide. We ended up having lunch on this rock and it felt like we were actually in the middle of the lake!

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I honestly never wanted to leave this rock. Desolation wilderness made me want to forget school, forget my responsibilities, and just live outside forever. It was absolutely breathtaking.

So if you’re in the mood for some nature, go!

The Outbound

This app has changed my life. Why? Because hikes I didn’t even know about have become available to me at the tip of my fingers.

 

For anyone that loves the outdoors (hiking, camping, cycling, etc.), this is the app for you. You can download it free on the app store and gain so much information on almost anything nature related. There is also the ability to create adventures and save hikes that you want to do.

 

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Not only that, but there is a community on this application who review hikes and give you information on what to bring. It’s like having your own nature guide without having to pay for one!

The app first introduces the ‘featured collections,’ which has hikes and cool places to go. I love that you can search for new adventures, or you can search by the activity you are interested in. You can also let the app use your location to help you find cool things around you. This feature is extremely helpful when you are vacationing or visiting somewhere new.

You can also develop a profile that keeps track of your hikes and adventures. I love being able to see what I have completed so far! And of course, you are also able to write reviews of places and create adventures of your own. This app also connects to their website, theoutbound.com. On the website, they have also created a job search. Here, fellow adventurists can post jobs they know for other job seekers. The website also has a blog where you can read about fascinating places people have gone.

I hope to use this app a lot to document my travels and find cool places to go. My goal is to complete as many hikes and adventures as possible, especially using this app!