On foot from Portugal to Spain - part 1


The St James Pilgrimage has several routes, I went from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I walked 260 km in 13 days with a 9 kg backpack on my back. I didn't know what to expect from such a journey, I just knew it would be amazing. And it was! 

The first impetus for the trip was last year's holiday by the sea. After years of being active in the mountains, my family and I headed to the beaches of Egypt for 15 days. We love scuba diving and it was going to be an unforgettable trip. And it was... On the third day of our stay, a shark killed two people on a nearby beach.

Although we tried to fill our days with activities, the most common activity was lying on a deck chair and "enjoying" the sea at least by sight. However, this way of spending time is quite far from my ideas of how to relax the body and especially the mind after months of intense work and taking care of the family. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and spend my time exploring the new in a slightly different, less commercial way.

The first step was to choose a suitable route. The St. James Pilgrimage is a network of pilgrimage trails that lead from various countries (including the Czech Republic) to Santiago de Compostela. It takes a couple of months to travel from here, I only had two weeks. I eventually chose the coastal route from Porto, which allows the pilgrim to soak in the ocean for almost a day for the first 150 km or so.

Packing the backpack took only a short time, you need to take only the essentials, because every gram will wear off after a while. Just a sleeping bag, raincoat, spare underwear, soap and towel, water bottle. My 9 kg went through airport security in the blink of an eye, but I could honestly feel them when I wore them everyday 😉 .

The biggest challenge was sleeping in the hostels. Rooms for 20 or more people are quite common, no privacy, on the contrary snoring of roommates is the order of the day. I wasn't worried about losing my belongings, who would care about someone else's used clothes or leftover snacks 😊

On the other hand, the friendliness and consideration of my roommates was one of the biggest surprises of my trip. Of course, there was always someone who came to the room later or got up early, so sleeping wasn't worth much. However, I appreciated that most of the travellers tiptoed in such situations and tried to slip out of the room as quietly as possible.

And what did the trip bring me? The many wonderful people I met. The beautiful countryside I've travelled through. My first swim in the Atlantic (for the hardy only 😊). Beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Great food. Two weeks with no daily worries. And most of all, the realization of how many things in life we deal with unnecessarily and how complicated we make it.

The trip to Santiago was so extraordinary that I'll come back to it in future posts and go into more detail. About the beautiful country, about the food, about navigating unfamiliar terrain, about how the locals treat pilgrims. What to look forward to and how to enjoy the pilgrimage as much as possible 😊