Camino de Santiago: September 2021

In September 2021 I walked about 150 miles from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compestella in Spain. Rather than trying to explain what the Camino is, here's a Wikipedia link that gets into detail of the history, culture, and purpose.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camino_de_Santiago...

Why did I do this? People walk the Camino for many different reasons. I love history, culture, travel, taking pictures, and sharing stories. I'll be spreading Tom's ashes at all the most beautiful stops along the way. I have many friends who will never have an opportunity to do something like this. They tell me they live vicariously through my stories and pictures, so I will am sharing my experiences here for them. You know who you are.
 

Porto, Portugal
We made it to Porto with no major issues and with all of our luggage. Now to tour the town and drink some wine! A little too much vino verde, sardines, cheeses, sausage, bread, and fun times!

Day 1 - Mosteiro (Porto) to Arcos
We walked from Mosteiro (just north of Porto) to Arcos, a total of about 11 miles. We took a couple of detours to avoid walking on dangerous roads. Lots of trucks zoom by with little space, so we took the rural route instead through fields of corn and some pretty cool forests. Got to Arcos just before it started raining. Our accommodations were at Quinta de Sao Miguel de Arcos.

Day 2 - Arcos and Barcelos
We walked somewhere between 12-14 miles, depending on which device was keeping track. Much prettier than yesterday through lots of gorgeous countryside between Arcos and Barcelos. Our accommodations were at Hotel Bagoeira in Barcelos.

Day 3 - Barcelos to Quintiães
We walked only 9 miles from through lots of vineyards. Very sunny and hot today, so it was nice to find our hotel had a swimming pool, but the water was way too cold to swim in. Nice for a foot soak. Our accommodations were at Casa dos Assentos. This place got a bit sticky, since we walked too fast and arrived before check-in time. The hotel manager also insisted we show a QR code for our Covid status, which we could not get. We had proof of vaccination and negative tests before we arrived, but that didn't seem to be enough. He finally did let us in a little early and we walked to a local gathering spot for some vino verde, snacks, and good times with the local boys.

Day 4 - Quintiães to Ponte de Lima
It was a hot, long 14 mile hike, but very pretty. We hiked past the River Neiva and River Lima, through a gazillion vineyards, lots of small towns, and through the Lima Valley with mountains on both sides. We were out of water by the midpoint only to find the only cafe on the path closed, with no others for six km more. Fortunately as sweet man on a bike pointed us to another little place where we could relax and get water and food. We survived another day! Tomorrow is our most challenging hike. We have to climb over the Labruja Mountain.
 
Day 5 - Ponte de Lima to Cossourado
This was definitely the most challenging, because of distance, steep terrain, and weather. We started in Ponte de Lima and walked about 15 miles over Labruja Mountain, past beautiful waterfalls, patches of forest, over Roman bridges, passing various hamlets, and Romanesque churches to arrive in Cossourado at the end of the day. It was pouring rain when we left, but the weather got very hot as we were walking up the very steep mountain. Then more downpour as we walked down. We are staying at a nice B&B, still high in the mountains, but expect thunderstorms again tomorrow as we descend down to our next stop.
 
We are seeing some people over and over again who are on the same path. This is especially fun to know we are all making it. It’s hard to describe the feeling of total physical exhaustion combined with the mental and emotional exhilaration one gets from doing this. It’s not for everybody, but I sure am glad I’m doing this and happy to have such great hiking sisters with me.

Day 6 - Cossourado to Valenca 
We started in the mountains in the town of Cossourado and walked to the city of Valenca in the valley below, which was just a short 7.5 mile hike. This path had a lot of places to stop for coffee, so we did a few. We’re getting better at following the guide maps and finding our hotels at the end of the day when we’re all tired. The maps apps work well here. Weather forecast said it would rain, but we were lucky to avoid it.

Day 7 - Portugal border to Porriño
Today we crossed the border from Portugal to Spain across a long, steel bridge (19th century, base on Gustavo Eiffel’s design) over the River Minho. We were soon in the midieval town of Tui, where the 16th century Cathedral of Santa Maria de Tui is located. Total walk was about 13 miles ending up in the town of Porrifino. Tonight we are at a small B&B drinking wine and eating ham croquettes. Tomorrow is another big day.
 
 
Day 8 - Porriño to Arcade
Today we started our Camino in Porriño, Spain and walked over two BIG hills (460 meters) about 13.5 miles to the town of Arcade, Spain. The second hill felt like the steepest we’ve done so far, since it was toward the end of the walk, yet even these long, steep hikes feel less challenging than they did earlier in the trip.
 
Our paths merged with those walking the Portuguese coastal route and we hit the 100 km from Santiago milestone, which is required to get the official “certificate” awarding those who have walked the Camino. So there are many more people on the trails and at our destination compared to when we were in Portugal. Tonight we are at a small 2* hotel that is absolutely fabulous! We have a beautiful view of the Rio de Vigo estuary.
 

Day 9
We walked 8 miles from Arcade to Pontevedra, which is considered an easy hike in spite of much of it up another big hill between the two cities (240 meters). It started with the one-lane bridge then uphill through winding stone paths through the woods and along the River Tomeza detour. We still have some touring to do in this city, but had to get some croquettes and beer first. It’s been raining most of the morning, but it looks like the sun will be out before the end of the day.

Day 10
Today we walked about 13.5 miles from Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis in Spain. The first time we walked that far we were so wiped out and in pain we could hardly move, but now I think we’re getting used to it. We hardly complain at all and just keep going. I only have a couple of small blisters that are well padded, so they aren’t an issue.
 
As we left Pontevedra the combined groups of pilgrims looked like a herd of cattle, but things thinned out as we passed up a hill and through the forests. It wasn’t supposed to rain, but it did for part of the way. There were several cute cafes along the way where we stopped for coffee or lunch, seeing all our Camino buddies at the same time. We finished up the last three miles through vineyards. There were a lot more bikes on the path, which was a bit dangerous. Two more days of long walks and we’ll be in Santiago!
 
Got a couple of text messages from my friends and neighbors at home to tell me all is well there. They are taking care of my house, my succulents, and each other. I love my neighborhood!
Day 11 - Caldas de Reis to Padron, Spain
We walked about 12 miles. A lot of the same gorgeous forests, vineyards, and small cafes along the way. Since it is Sunday here we had to hoof it back to town from our hotel to get a bite to eat before the restaurants closed early. Our bodies are aching again and our feet hurt, so disregard the comment I made yesterday about getting used to this. Tomorrow is our last day, but it is a big one. Over 16 miles uphill to Santiago de Compostela. My left leg is aching from my ankle to my knee, so I’ll be on Ibuprofen.
Days 12 & 13 - Santiago de Compostela
Our LAST DAY of the Camino we walked over 16 miles, uphill most of the way. I don’t have many photos because I started the day with shin splints in my left leg and needed to lighten my load, so the big cameras went with the luggage. Lea & Liz waited patiently while I painfully limped my way through the day to finally arrive in Santiago several hours before sunset. We scheduled our Covid tests so we can fly to Lisbon in a couple of days, then headed to the center to enjoy some vino and tapas (Yes, we over-indulged).
 
Santiago de Compostela is is the place where all the Caminos from Spain, Portugal, France, and all the neighboring countries end, so there were hundreds of people here. We were looking for our many trail buddies, but didn’t see any of the familiar faces. Just before we headed back to our hotel we did run into the two guys from Spain who we had been crossing paths with all along the way.
 
We started the next day with a trip to a clinic to get Covid tests, then to get in line for our pilgrim certificates. Wandered around the streets for a bit, shopped, drank coffee and ate. Tried to get into the cathedral, but the line wrapped around the block. Tomorrow we’re off to Lisbon. Thanks to my friend Steve in the US, who is a podiatrist, I got the right instructions for taking care of my swollen ankle and shin splints. I don’t think I did any long term damage. Of course every day here ends with a glass of wine!
 
I’m not Catholic and I don’t speak Spanish well, so going to the mass at the Cathedral would not have much meaning to me. Plus I didn’t care to wait in line for hours in the sun to get in, so it’s Liz & Lea’s turn to take pictures. Some day in the future I’ll organize a photo Camino here to take pictures.
Days 14 & 15 - Back to Lisbon, Portugal
Because we flew in and out of Lisbon, we needed to fly back there to catch our international flights after a few days. Lisbon is a beautiful city and I'm glad I got to see it, but if I did it again I would spend time there before the trip, not after. The flights from Santiago de Compostella to Lisbon were through Madrid, which is a huge airport. We barely made our flight and our luggage did not. Eventually it caught up with us, but next time I'd arrange my flights out of Spain without returning to Portugal.

Some tips for walking the Camino de Compostela

  • Walk at your own pace, even if you’re with someone else, or a group. Everyone has their own reason for doing the Camino. Whether it is to clear your head, set a personal speed, steps, or distance record, take pictures, take in the smells, sounds, and scenery of what’s around you. Do this for you. Not for anybody else.

  • You're going to get a LOT of advice from every Camino expert out there. Things like whether or not you should use poles, what kind of socks and underwear to bring, how you should take pictures. Start preparing at least two months ahead of time to get your endurance built up and find out for yourself what works for YOU! I got all kinds of bad info from a lot of people who insisted they were experts or got their advice from experts they knew.

  • Don't be afraid to walk the Camino alone. If you do it with others be sure to discuss ahead of time what the plan is if you get separated. Make sure you are all in agreement so there is no guilt or hard feelings.

  • Don’t be in such a hurry! If you walk too fast you’ll arrive at your next hotel before check-in time and sometimes before your luggage arrives (if you use a transport service). You’ll be standing there all sweaty, sometimes in the hot sun, sometimes in the pouring rain and can't check-in. Make a few stops along the way for coffee or snacks. Stop and take pictures!

  • Shin splints are the result of over-exertion. You can get them even if you are well-prepared for your Camino. Be sure to stop often and stretch often. Make sure you know how to treat them if needed. Bring the proper bandages and wraps with you. Do not keep pushing through the pain! This could lead to stress fractures. Take your time! There is no need to hurry.

  • Be careful if you’re wearing earbuds! Many Camino paths are on busy streets or even short stretches on highways. Not all cars and trucks give way to clueless hikers. Best to take then out when you’re on streets. 

  • Carry as little in your daypack as is possible. You’ll need to save your energy to carry water, hat, sunscreen, a snack, moleskin & bandages. 

  • Unless you are young, fit, and are staying in hostiles without a reservation from day to day, use a transport service to forward your luggage to each new destination.

  • Know the Covid requirements for each destination.

  • Use a maps app to enter your hotel address before you set out for that day. Realize that the map apps probably don’t recognize the Camino apps and the Camino apps don’t know which hotel you are in. Bring along an extra battery device, because all GPS tracking apps really suck the life out of your cell phone battery. I liked AllTrails because I could download our trail for offline viewing and I liked the earth view.

Join Us for 7 Nights at Atlantis Dumaguete
September 13-20, 2022
$2536 per person double occupancy

 DSC5297SINGLE OCCUPANCY:

Deluxe Room single occupancy: $3,227 pp
Ocean Front Room single occupancy: $3,619 pp
Garden Suite Room single occupancy: $3,619 pp

Payments:

$1000 deposit to hold your spot
Balance due July 1

Dumaguete includes:

  • Accommodation in a deluxe room (double occupancy or twin share)
  • All meals at Toko's Restaurant (breakfast drinks, Italian and specialty coffees are included)
  • Coffee, tea and  filtered water are available during restaurant’s operating hours 6AM-9:30PM (Italian and specialty coffees are not included after breakfast)
  • Unlimited internet access
  • Unlimited scheduled boat diving (up to 5 dives a day including night diving; excludes dawn dives and additional day trips)
  • One day trip to Apo Island or similar
  • All taxes
  • All the photo assistance you need
  • Transfers to/from the resort - Atlantis provides round trip transfers between Manila and Dumaguete, which includes round-trip domestic economy airfare between Manila and Dumaguete with 70lbs checked luggage, domestic terminal fees, private air conditioned van between international terminal and domestic terminal in Manila, round trip private air conditioned transfers between Dumaguete Airport and resort, personal airport ‘meet and greet’, and luggage assistance. Cost is $208 in is included in this price. Rate assumes at least four passengers traveling together. Otherwise, a different transfer rate would apply and would be billed to your account at the resort.

Exclusions:

  • Nitrox
  • Rental Equipment
  • Land Excursions
  • Marine Park Fees - Guests are responsible for paying marine park fees at the time of their stay on their personal bill; as these fees are set by local Municipalities they can change at any time.  The current fee per day dive is 210 PHP and 315 PHP for a night dive. 
  • Hotel in Manila before the trip, if needed

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS FROM
ATLANTIS RESORT IN DUMAGUETE


INCLUDES: A DAY OF DIVING AT APO ISLAND

Apo Island is one of the world’s best known community organized marine sanctuaries. The island is home to over 650 documented species of fish and estimated to have over 400 species of corals.

PHOTOS FROM OUR RECENT APO ISLAND TRIP

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phoca thumb m Dumaguete IM 022 phoca thumb m Dumaguete IM 022 phoca thumb m Dumaguete IM 022 phoca thumb m Dumaguete IM 022 phoca thumb m Dumaguete IM 022 

 

phoca thumb m Dumaguete IM 022OPTIONAL DAY TRIP TO OSLOB

From Dumaguete you can catch a van & ferry ride to Oslob to snorkel with whale sharks. The rest of the day will be spent diving around tranquil Sumilon Island, surrounded by crystal clear waters and pristine white sandy beaches. Look out for… exquisite coral gardens and drop-offs. ‘Might sees’ in this area include manta rays and sting rays, barracudas, sea turtles and snakes and very occasionally whale sharks and hammerheads.

 

Anilao Add-on At Crystal Blue Resort

Want to stay in the Philippines a little longer? Join us for additional diving at Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao. All rooms are air conditioned and have an ocean view!

The Anilao area of the Philippines has emerged as one of the best critter diving hot spots in the world. Crystal Blue Resort is conveniently located in front of Arthur's Rock Marine Sanctuary where scuba diving enthusiasts can have their once-in-a-lifetime underwater adventure. There is also excellent wide-angle opportunites at nearby Verde Island.

Enjoy the luxury of only 4 guests per boat in one of the most nudilicious places on earth! 

Meals are included! The on-site restaurant serves from 7:00 am until 9:00 pm every day. All your food is included in our price! Space is limited, so if your would like to attend please contact Bonnie to reserve your spot. 

$1791 per person based on double occupancy, $2711 single occupancy

Includes:
  • 7 nights accommodations, AC room
  • 18 boat dives
  • boat & guides
  • all meals
  • tanks, weights & weight belt
  • park fees
  • NITROX
  • all the photo instruction you can handle
  Not included:
  • airfare
  • RT group transfers from Manila*
  • gratuities
  • additional scuba instruction
  • beer, soda, alcoholic beverages
  • rental gear if needed
  • massage
 

Extras:
Blackwater dives: $55
Night dives & Mandarinfish dives: $36
Manila airport solo pickup: $115

*Transfers:
RT with group: $85
One way solo: $115

6 Night option: $2286 single, $1513 per person double occupancy
  • 6 nights accommodations, AC room
  • 15 boat dives
5 Night option: $1862 single, $1235 per person double occupancy
  • 5 nights accommodations, AC room
  • 12 boat dives
 
 

 

Here is an example of our itinerary. Schedules and presentations change depending on the needs of the participants and the expertise of the guest presenter. The standard package comes with 7 days of diving, so you have the option to skip dives on the days of your choice, or purchase additional dives at the dive shop.


Day 1 Saturday: Participants arrive. Some come in early and may already be diving.

5:00: Getting acquainted, short presentation of the Marine Park rules and photographer etiquette, review of photo contest rules, show off prizes. I may also do a short presentation about prepping camera gear, batteries, lenses, etc. for the week. Distribution of rental camera gear if applicable.

We sometimes go into town on either Saturday or Sunday night for dinner and family night at the square. Each person pays for their own food & drinks.

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it. Check out your tanks at the dive shop before 6:00 pm.

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Day 2 Sunday: 2-tank boat dive. Optional free shore diving in the afternoon.

5:00 Monday evening: Workshop Presentation/Bonnie – Common Mistakes in Underwater Photography

6:00 Workshop Presentation/

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it. Head into town if you like. It’s Family Night at the square!

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Day 3 Monday: 2-tank boat dive. Optional free shore diving in the afternoon.

5:00 Tuesday evening: Workshop Presentation/Amanda – Ambient Shooting (In Water and Post Production) What you need to know

6:00 Workshop Presentation/Bonnie & Amanda – Working With Models

This is a great session for non-shooting dive buddies too. 

6:00 Optional Presentation/Bonnie - Photo Composition and Ideas To Make Your Photos More Interesting

This is a popular presentation that I've given at many of the Underwater Photographic Societies and dive clubs around the US. It discusses theories of composition such as working in thirds, the golden mean & golden spiral, lines and diagonals, negative space and framing, and more. Its a very inspiring presentation for photographers of all skill levels, both underwater and topside because it doesn't focus on how big your camera rig is or how much experience you have. It also shows lots of examples of how one might typically shoot a particular subject, then offers ideas on new angles and techniques you might want to try next time.

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it

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Day 4 Tuesday: 2-tank boat dive. Optional free shore diving in the afternoon.

5:00 Workshop Presentation/Bonnie – Lighting

Wide-angle lighting, macro and special lighting techniques such as shooting with a snoot.

6:00 Workshop Presentation/Amanda – Optimizing Low Light Shooting (Night Dives, Dark dives like caves, cenotes)

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it

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Day 5 Wednesday: 2-tank dive, optional shore diving

Histograms
Exposure Scenarios

Shooting Big Animals (How to get the best images)

Followed by optional image processing session until 7:00

In this session participants are asked to bring in any images that they had problems with or were looking to correct. We talk a little bit about file formats and digital workflow but spent most the time showing they typical steps an imaging professional takes to process an underwater image. There are many ways to color correct images and underwater scenes have special needs. We encourage shooting in RAW and demonstrated why this format is best for underwater shooting. We also talked about ways to shoot different next time so we can avoid the problem in the first place.

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it

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Day 6 Thursday: 2-tank dive, optional shore diving

5:00 Workshop Presentation - Bonnie's 6-Step Salsa – Processing RAW Images with Adobe Photoshop CS6 Raw Converter/Lightroom

I make six possible basic adjustments to every image I process. This presentation will be about those steps.

6:00 Mexican Night Pajama Party

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it

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Day 7 Friday: 2-tank dive, optional shore diving

5:00 Workshop Presentation – Processing underwater images with Adobe Lightroom
How to process JPG and TIFF Images in Photoshop

6:00 Workshop Presentation/Bonnie – Keywording  (applies to Lightroom, Photoshop Bridge, other comparable apps)

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it.

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Day 8 Saturday: 2-tank dive, optional shore diving

3:00-6:00 - One-on-one sessions to critique and suggest photo contest entries. Each attendee brings 10 of their favorite images, both processed and unprocessed. We critique everything, from shooting through processing and tell them which images I think they should enter in the contest and why. I typically put a signup sheet on the classroom door to let people sign up for 30 minute sessions. Depending on how many people we have in the workshop, we may need to split them up into two groups and have you do some and me do others. We have 22 people participating in the workshop so we can get eight sessions schedules in this time.

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it

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 Day 9 Sunday: 2-tank dive, optional shore diving

3:00-6:00 - One-on-one sessions to critique and suggest photo contest entries (eight more sessions)

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it

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Day 10 Monday: 2-tank dive, optional shore diving

1:00-4:00 or as needed - Final one-on-one image reviews

5:00 All contest entries are due to Bonnie

5:00-6:30 Judges pick the winners

6:30 Happy Hour

7:00 Dinner in the upstairs restaurant at Scuba Club Cozumel

8:00 Slideshow, awards presentation of the winners

Optional free shore night diving as late as you want to do it.

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Day 11 Tuesday: Departure

Send us a deposit to secure your spot

VenmoThank you for your interest. 

If you wish to hold a spot on any trip you will need to make a deposit. This is best done by sending the required deposit via Zelle or Venmo to 9497352985, which will resolve to Under Watercolours. Your verbal or written request will not hold your spot for you. A deposit is required, as most trips sell out quickly.

ZelleOr send your check deposit, payable to Journey Pacific and mail it to me at the following address:

Bonnie Pelnar Dietz
1188 Miramar Street
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

We will contact upon receipt of your deposit.