I arrived in Porto last night and walked, with my backpack, about 35 minutes to Seminario de Vilar where I spent the night. Up and down cobblestone roads I went. Two conclusions came out of this walk. One, my backpack was way too heavy even after leaving stuff behind with John at the airport. Two, following Google Maps GPS directions eith a Portuguese accent sucks. I arrived on a bus that was nicer than coach on Lufthansa Airlines. However, I didn't have the luxury of finding an information desk right outside the gates, so I had to rely on my phone for directions. I get to Seminario de Vilar and the clerk and I had the same conversation we had on the phone earlier. The room I reserved was available and the Pilgrim Albergue was also available. The choice was mine: private room at their hotel or donation based room at the hostel. This hotel was inaugurated in January of this year to accommodate the pilgrims that start their journey in Porto. It's a brand new facility with three bedrooms with four beds each, two bathrooms and living/eating area on two stories. I had no intention of staying in an albergue before starting my walk, but then the guy says there is only one Italian woman staying there for the night and the rest of the place is wide open. So decided this was the time to try an albergue. He gave me directions, I left and came back after a five minute walk down and up another very hilly cobblestone road only to have him tell me that I didn't find the place because I didn't walk down far enough. I told him I walked all the way to the end of the parking lot which felt very far to me. He said keep walking and take the only stairs down. Back I go through the parking lot, down some funky stairs. And there it was. A small building that looked like a tiny farmhouse of the back of a castle. Everything else around it was dark. I knocked on the door and was greeted with a very enthusiastic "tchau"!! I'm adding some pictures but I am on a mobile device so not sure how this is going to work. The place was in fact brand new and clean - very nice indeed. According to my roomie Manuela who is an experienced pilgrim, a real luxury when it comes to albergues. The best she's ever seen. In the morning we both took pictures of the outside to show how remote this place was. Yes, the small tiny building on the back of the enormously big building.
Well, the answer is simple. I grew up listening to my dad telling me about having the best time in Portugal and Spain. He loved it. He wanted to go back and walk the Camino de Santiago. He wanted to do this with his good friend, and my godfather, Moreira. My father passed in 2012, the day after he turned 75. He never walked to Santiago. I am walking in his honor. I am walking for my dad. It's not repentance; it's not a religious quest. It just something that reminds me of my father and his stories. He liked to talk, flourishing his speech is ways I am not capable of doing. When he talked he made Portugal and Spain sound magical. He was keen on speaking in family gatherings because he always had something to say. Since he was the elder of the family, everyone stopped and listened. I stopped and listened. I miss listing to his voice. I miss having a conversation with him. So I am going to walk his walk. It was his walk. It is now my walk.