Three Stamps

When you walk any leg of the Camino de Santiago, you must carry a pilgrim’s credential. The credential serves two purposes. First, it shows accommodation providers that you’re a legitimate pilgrim. This is especially significant in municipal and private hostels built (and priced) for walkers and bikers alone. Second, the credential proves that you have completed at least 100 kilometers when you reach the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Officials check your dated stamps before offering a certificate of completion.

In my opinion, the credential is also a fabulous ritual that leads to a perfect souvenir. Getting your stamp at the end of a hard day feels good. It’s an opportunity to reflect on your progress, and to share stories with the people you encounter. Natalie and I experienced this ritual in its fullest today.

The owner of our albergue in Alvaiázere takes immense pride in stamping credentials. After touring us around town and telling us the story of how he opened a hostel, he got to work. First, he applied a foil seal to our passports. Then, he glued in a small patch next to it. Finally, he made a wax seal with ribbon representing the town’s colors attached to it. Another traveler commented in Spanish that he was an artist and we wholeheartedly agreed. Check out photos of his handiwork, as well as simpler stamps for comparison.

We keep opening our credentials to look at his three, thoughtful stamps. Yes, part of his motivation is developing a competitive advantage other other hostels in the area. But the time he took to sit with us, sip port, and melt wax onto our passports had a lot more to do with building community than competition. What a sweet experience for all.

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Smiling, Sweating, and Sobbing

On Day 2 of our caminho, somewhere between Vila Nova da Rainha and Azambuja, Natalie and I both sobbed for the first time on this journey. We were splayed out in the blazing sun on a dirt track next to a bog of eternal stench. We had been walking for about 8 hours as the temperature climbed to 90 degrees. As Natalie took off one shoe to tape up a blister, she started to cry. Then, she pointed out some chafing on my inner thigh. I started bawling. Defeated but unwilling to fully roast in the sun, we lifted each other up and carried on. I may or may not have said “I hate Portugal” multiple times. Only Natalie knows what happened.

As we emerged from what could mildly be described as an overgrown thicket into a truck stop motel, we smiled. We did it together. If we looked past our sunburned calves and disgustingly sweaty faces and multiple curses laid on the innocent people of Portugal, we saw what we had really done: supported each other enough to alternate sobbing and caretaking on the side of the rode. We had truly made the most of our time together – this is a vacation, after all, and it’s also the beginning of a wonderful chapter in our lives.

Thank you all for your support. We are enjoying a glorious rest day at Casa da Alcacova in Santarem and soaking up the many lessons the caminho has to offer.

Bom Caminho!

We walked 20 miles today. Woah. After flying to Lisbon and spending the day exploring (and napping, let’s be real), we hit the road bright and early. Check out our highlights and photos below:

Lisbon highlights:

  • Exploring the monastery.
  • Eating lunch on the waterfront.
  • Running into my SOM classmate, Avi, while take a selfie with a gelato statue
  • Visiting the cathedrals that represent the starting point of our walk and receiving our first stamp in our pilgrim’s credentials.
  • Embracing the comfort of a spacious bathtub and a delightful episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Stage 1 Highlights – Lisboa to Verdelha de Baixo (32.2 km)

  • Walking out of Lisbon before everyone was awake. We found the the remains of yesterday’s World Cup parties all along the twisting streets.
  • Gorgeous coastline walking through the ’98 Expo Area.
  • Getting our first “Bom caminho!” wishes from a local walker.
  • Midday beers. Twice.
  • Ending the last few miles in peace, despite serious calf and booty aches. 20 miles is really far and we did it!

Thanks for reading!

Adventure is out there!

Hello, olá, hola!

It’s hard to believe that we’re leaving to walk the Portuguese route of the Camino de Santiago in three days! Natalie and I have been dreaming about this adventure for a long time. We’ll start walking from Lisbon on Saturday, June 16th, and we will reach Santiago de Compostela on July 9th. 24 days of walking!

We would love your company along this walk. If you would like to get email notifications for our posts, sign up with your email address on the right side of the homepage. We look forward to sharing this journey with you!

Camino map

Route map from Brierley’s Camino Portugues guidebook.