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My unlikely encounter with the Neuschwanstein Castle

Schloss Neuschwanstein hidden in the mist.

© aNadventures

Even though I was born and raised in Germany, I’ve never been to the Bavarian Oktoberfest or the famous Carnival in Cologne. Neither had I, until recently, seen the historical Disney-like Neuschwanstein Castle in the very south of Germany. It was an image I knew from postcards, from the kind of calendars tourists use to buy, but visiting the castle seemed so far away, so unlikely, that it never really crossed my mind I might find myself suddenly standing right in front of it.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened. After my return from the Camino Portugués, I was hooked on being a pilgrim. I had a few spare days to spend in southern Germany, so I decided to go hiking there as well. Staying in Kempten, I drove to Füssen in the morning, which is a town close to the castle. I knew it would be somewhere around there and I started walking, following the signs. After forty minutes or so, I took out my phone to look at the castle’s location, to see how far I still needed to go. To my surprise, the phone indicated it was right in front of me. I lifted my gaze and had a look around. And there it was, majestically standing in the mist, all covered in snow amidst the mountains. It looked so beautiful I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had turned into a tourist in my own country. The sudden encounter with the castle had been an unexpected one, something I hadn’t planned. But as in many other cases, the most beautiful things in life are the ones we don’t plan, don’t you agree?

For other interpretations of Unlikely, have a look at this week’s photo challenge.

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Top 7 places to spend the night on the Camino Portugués

Poster of a pilgrim spottet at Ideas Peregrinas.

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Throughout my camino experience I came to sleep in numerous different beds. Setting off in the mornings, I hardly ever knew where I would end up spending the night. So every day was a surprise. The accommodation I chose was an alternation of church run lodgings, youth hostels and privately run hostels. The costs varied between 5 to 14 euros. So all of them were quite affordable. The lodgings were different in terms of furnishing, comfort and attention. Some were not more than a mere shelter for the night but some others represented a cozy oasis to regain forces after a rough day.

These are my favourite places to spend the night on the Camino Portugués, in the order that I visited them: Read more…

What to pack for the Camino Portugués

Pilgrims on their way.

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When I decided to walk the Camino Portugués from Porto (Portugal) all the way up to Santiago de Compostela (Spain), I wondered about how to prepare for the trip and what to pack. Never having been a hiker or a pilgrim before, I sought advice online before heading to Decathlon to purchase most of the equipment. If you’re preparing for the camino yourself or are just wondering about what to take with you on such a kind of journey, here’s my packing list as well as some dos & don’ts I learnt along the way. Read more…

Lines: Walking around in Pontevedra

One of the stages of my camino experience led me to the beautiful city of Pontevedra, in the Spanish region Galicia. While walking around the historic city centre, I came upon the following collection of lines:

Walking map in Pontevedra, Spain.

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What looks like a metro map at first sign, is actually a walking map. The colourful lines show the walking distances and time estimations between the many nice spots this city has to offer. I was tempted to try them all, if it hadn’t been for the strong pain from all the previous walking.

But the idea was certainly something that struck me.

How about YOU? Have you ever come across such a walking map? Or have you followed the one in Pontevedra yourselves?

For other interpretations of Lines, have a look at this week’s photo challenge.

You know you are a pilgrim when…

Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago.

© aNadventures

  1. You keep a lookout for yellow arrows.
  2. You start feeling like a Hobbit on a mission.
  3. You are happy with every new stamp that fills your pilgrim pass.
  4. You have slept in countless different beds.
  5. You are grateful above average when there are hooks to hang your towel and clothes in the shower.
  6. You can pack up your belongings within minutes.
  7. You get excited when people wish you “Buen camino”.
  8. You enjoy wishing other pilgrims “Buen camino”.
  9. You think a solid waterproof poncho is one of the best inventions ever.
  10. You protect your backpack with a “plastic condom” in one of many available colours.
  11. You recognize fellow pilgrims by their rain protection.
  12. You know exactly who they are talking about when they refer to “the lady in orange” or “the Korean couple”.
  13. You cherish dry socks and the smell of washing powder.
  14. You start craving pasta and fried eggs more than usually.
  15. You are in a love-hate relationship with your hiking boots.
  16. Your feet are covered in blisters or you have experienced at least one other type of pain.
  17. You spot several signs along the way and think they are directed at you.
  18. Your mind feels ventilated by the nature and simplicity.
  19. You make friends along the way and feel you have known them forever.
  20. Your body craves walking even after you have completed all stages.

How about YOU? What makes you a pilgrim?

The stages of my camino experience

Walking the Camino Portugués.

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When I decided to walk the Camino Portugués, I saw it was possible to accomplish the two hundred something kilometre long route in less than two weeks. The guide I purchased in Porto before starting my hiking journey suggested either the Coast Way or the Central Way. I opted for a mix of both, walking up to Caminha by the coast, then heading inland following the River Miño that separates Portugal and Spain. I crossed the border at Valença and from Tui kept going north on the Central Way that eventually led me to my final destination, Santiago de Compostela.

My aim was to enjoy the experience without any rush. So I took my time. In the beginning, I didn’t walk much more than 15 km a day, to give my body the opportunity to adjust to the new circumstances. Then I increased the distances, according to my daily conditions. The weather played an important role as well.

There is no right or wrong route. Everyone can set up their very personal one. Eventually, all of them will lead to Santiago. In total, I walked 260 km in 13 days. Here’s my route:   Read more…

My camino experience: A general overview

Bom Caminho!

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I left Porto on a cloudy Thursday morning. From the hostel, I followed a very long street that eventually led to the Atlantic Ocean. I had set up my mind to follow the coast line for as long as possible. In the outskirts of the city, I somehow felt stupid carrying the large backpack. Only when, after about one and a half hours of walking, the first person wished me “Bom caminho”, it started to sink in: I’m a pilgrim now. For the next days and weeks my major occupation in life would be walking, gradually making my way from the Portuguese city of Porto up north to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

The Camino Portugués, the Portuguese Way of Saint James, is the second most popular pilgrimage route to the Apostle’s tomb in Santiago de Compostela. There is not just one route as, even on the Portuguese Way, there are many options to reach the final destination.

I was probably one of the least prepared pilgrims since I hadn’t looked at the route in detail before setting off. My decision to walk the camino had been a spontaneous one. Read more…

10 things to do in Porto that cost little or no money

 

As I previously mentioned, I recently spent two days in the beautiful Portuguese city of Porto before heading north on the Caminho Português. Being in Porto felt like being in a Portuguese version of Izmir. Something about the city’s vibe made me instantly feel at ease. If you ever get a chance to visit this splendid place, here are a few recommendations on how to spend your time, especially if you are travelling on a budget:  Read more…

Smiling in Porto: The beginning of my camino adventure

Smiling window.

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As you know from my previous post, it was time for me to leave my Berlin life for a couple of weeks to embark on an adventure. I got on a plane to Porto and stayed in the Portuguese city for two days before starting to walk north towards Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

My first day in Porto was already splendid. I woke up to a rainy grey sky but as soon as I stepped outside the hostel, I was blessed with sunshine and a bright blue sky. I made my way to the historic city centre and strolled through the many alleys and along the coast line. I crossed the mighty Dom Luiz Bridge and faced my fear of heights. I must have walked around 20 km on my first day in Porto alone, which was a helpful preparation for the upcoming camino.

I felt my pace getting slower, my breath calming down, caressed by the sun and the joy of encountering many friendly faces. People’s smiles are often among the first things I notice when going abroad. It must be related to the weather, I tell myself. Read more…

It’s time

Credencial del Peregrino

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My mom thinks it’s time for me to focus on my career. My gynecologist thinks it’s time for me to start a family. Well, I think it’s time for me to go on an adventure.

The idea of hiking the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) has been in my head for quite some time already. I considered it “something I would like to do someday”.  But as I was lying awake the other night, it suddenly struck me: How about NOW? I need to get away, experience something new, breathe some fresh air and get inspired by the unknown.

So I googled the Camino Portugués, the Portuguese route, and made my decision within seconds. Read more…