A bouquet of lilies.

Learning to Walk 11


(30,659 STEPS – 22.96 KMS – 14.26 MILES)

“Roll away your stone, I will roll away mine.

Together we can see what we can find.”

– Mumford & Sons, Roll Away Your Stone

Sheep grazing in a foggy olive orchard.

The Foggy Start, sans coffee…

At 7:30 am, I was the next to last pilgrim to leave the albergue this morning, sloth that I am. Doug had sent a text at 6:00 am telling me he had left. I stumbled outside, it was foggy and drippy. The moisture was not enough to warrant the rain gear, but it was too heavy to not use it, I put on my rain jacket and covered my pack.

Conímbriga is not really a pilgrim town, it’s more of a suburban outpost of Coimbra, the nearby city (and today’s destination). As such, there were no resources, namely coffee & pastries, on the way out of town.

One of the benefits of Doug leaving early was that he would reconnoiter the availability of resources ahead of me, sending me the names of cafés and a pin of its location. This way I could walk sullenly or in hope. Today’s breakfast was a mere 6.1 kilometers ahead! And it was fantastic, Portugal’s pastries products are second to none, in my opinion.

The walk was foggy, damp, and up & down all morning. At 11:00 am, the fog cleared as I entered the suburbs of Coimbra. The walk was a suburban slog with lots of ups and downs.

Then I rounded a corner…

The first view of Coimbra and the familiar song.

Easter Sunday

From this suburban hilltop, the view of Coimbra ahead was stunning! As I admired the view and took a video panorama, I heard a familiar song nearby. The song, He Lives, was a crowd favorite of my Protestant upbringing, and it reminded me that today was Easter Sunday. I’ve written before that moments, times, and dates are all fused into one monolith of experience on the Camino. Is it Sunday, or Thursday? April the 9th or 23rd? Who knows…

I followed the source of the sound to a storefront church across the street, the Coimbra Church of the Nazarene. I poked my head in the door, and then walked away, there was a little café half a block down the street. As I sipped my coffee at the table on the sidewalk, I could still hear the singing in the distance. I have tried to be open to any and all experiences on this trip, why was I so quick to walk away from that one? I bolted down my coffee and went to church.

A nice lady in the back tried to usher me to a seat, I preferred to stand in the back, mainly because of my smell. I was near the end of a sweaty morning’s walk and my clothes were also a little funky because of the days of hand washing. Also, I was in shorts, a t-shirt promoting one of my favorite brew pubs in Corpus Christi, and the rest of the crowd looked *suspiciously at me as I dropped my sweaty backpack in the entryway.

The liturgy was in Portuguese, but I was familiar with Protestant worship services and knew enough Spanish to follow along. The final component of their meeting was the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper/Communion, a celebration of the gift of Jesus. I participated with them, and it was a meaningful time, thankful I returned.

*In defense of the little Nazarene church, most churches don’t do a great job with outsiders.


After the church service, I hustled down the hill, was anxious to get into Coimbra. While walking, Doug sent me a text to tell me he was a Easter Mass at one of the big churches coming into town, and that we would connect later in the afternoon.

I dropped my backpack at our lodging for the night, then went back out to explore the city. This town sent out serious vibes, like Pamplona or Santago de Compostela. It felt very comfortable. I enjoyed walking all around the Old Town. I enjoyed a good Italian lunch, a good Indian dinner, and a few beers from local breweries.

The only downside to Coimbra was that all the businesses that sold sunglasses were closed for Easter Sunday.

Sunset over the Mondego River in Coimbra, Portugal.
Sunset on the Mondego River.




A walk to Santiago is not all fun & games, delicious, calzones, and beautiful buildings…it’s mostly this.

One thought on “Learning to Walk 11

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