Fog City Boy Walks Through Hyde Park
San Francisco, June 3, 2018
The Fog City Boy has completed the Caminha da Costa (Portuguese) or Camino de la Costa (Spanish) and is happily back home in San Francisco, as the date line above discloses. I am preparing my blog ex post facto because the opportunity to report en route wasn’t there this time: The internet cafes and occasional hotel business center with a real computadora on which I have relied have all but disappeared. Wi-Fi is everywhere and readily available, but I can’t compose a blog entry on my iPhone! So, I will publish a series of posts over the next several weeks, but they will have been composed after my return.
Pilgrims on the Coastal Way generally begin their perigrenacion in Porto, Portugal. The Coastal Way proceeds north through Vila do Conde, Esposende, Viana do Castelo and Caminha where it crosses the Rio Minho and continues into Spain, eventually connecting with the traditional Camino Central of the Camino Portugues at Redondela. I followed this route – with the exception of a 3-day excursion via the Variante Espiritual. Details to follow.
I reached Santiago de Compostela, visited the pilgrim office to receive my Compostela – the certificate attesting to a pilgrim’s completion of his or her perigrenacion, and then continued on for an additional 90 kilometers to Finistere – where the Romans thought it was lands end – thus “finis terra.” But, more about that later!
However, before the Fog City Boy could walk these 250 miles, he had to get to Porto.
23 – 25 April 2018: San Francisco to Porto
The flight from San Francisco to London Heathrow was the best kind: uneventful. Upon arriving and clearing customs and immigration, I had to make my way to London Gatwick for my next day flight to Porto. Being a closet rail fan, I eschewed the bus link between the two airports, and elected to take the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station.
The train was comfortable and swift. Paddington was grand.
I looked for Paddington Bear, but did not see him. Apparently someone was taking care of him, no doubt providing him sandwiches and marmalade.
I proceeded to the entrance to the Tube intending to ride the Circle Line several stops to arrive at Victoria Station where I would board the Gatwick Express and be whisked off to my destination. However, upon applying at a kiosk for a ticket to enter the Tube, I encountered a fare demand of £4.85 = $6.47 which seemed kind of a lot to travel for 6 or 7 stations.
So, since I had embarked upon this adventure for the purpose of walking places – and the day was young – I decided to save my $6.47 and walk to Victoria Station. That would take me through Hyde Park.
It was a pleasant afternoon, and joggers were out in force.
The path took me across the Serpentine. . .
And then, I came upon a procession of mounted soldiers! And heard bells ringing in the distance! And later the report of artillery being fired!
The occasion was a celebration of the birth of young (but not yet officially named) Prince Louis and the arrival of his parents, the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, at Buckingham Palace. The Times of London reported as follows:
“Official celebrations were already under way, with the bells of Westminster Abbey ringing out from 1pm and gun salutes fired in London at 2pm.
“The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery rode out from Wellington Barracks into Hyde Park for a 41-round salute, and the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), the City of London’s Army Reserve regiment, fired a 62-round gun salute from the Tower of London.”
It was quite a show.
I continued my walk back into the City – past Harrods. . .
And past the Wellington Arch. . .
Through a small park. . .
And finally arriving at Victoria Station.
The GX – the Gatwick Express – delivered me promptly to that airport. I slept well, and next morning, flew to Porto.
The Cathedral was a few blocks from my hotel.
I applied for and received a new Credencial del Peregrino – the pilgrim passport that attests to the pilgrim’s commitment to his or her pilgrimage, and on which are recorded many sellas – stamps from hostels, hotels, restaurants, and points of interest along The Way followed by the pilgrim. A stamp from the Cathedral inaugurated this Credencial.
That evening, I took a walk down the hill to the Rio Douro – a popular attraction for both visitors and locals. I passed a monument commemorating the fifth centenary of the birth of Henry the Navigator.
I continued on to the river.
There were many people out for a stroll or otherwise enjoying a pleasant evening.
I had a nice dinner, returned to my hotel, and enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
My perigrenacion on the Caminha da Costa would begin in the morning.
More to follow. . . .
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