A stray dog followed me for hours. He had lunch with me and then watched me swim in the Ocean.

Camino Portugues por la Costa — a photographyc reportage.

When I started this journey through Portugal and Spain I felt as I was being rescued. My life was in a very stressful period, the work so intense, and I was sinking in the lack of time for myself. I always have been a very obsessive and targeted person. It is not easy for me just to stop all my vulcanic thoughts and ideas and enjoy the time. I am essentially in competition with myself. I always have to prove more talented, smarter, wiser, fitter. It can be a neverending story of dissatisfactions, great achievements and nervous breakdowns if you don't know how to stop it.

I found my way to escape this mental rollercoaster: backpack traveling “hobo-style,” yoga, and last but not the least, expressing my feelings with photography.

A happy pilgrim stretching in the sunset after a long day of walking.
The skyline around Porto is a mixed emotion. Hideous industrial buildings are mixed with the quiet and deep blue of the Ocean.

I discovered the considerable healing potential of walking Camino de Santiago last year. Following my nature, I decided to start from the most challenging route, the Camino Primitivo, 320 km up and down the mountains of Asturias, in the north of Spain. The mix of walking all day long, meeting people from all around the globe, exploring new places, everything with absolutely no hurry, was exactly my archetype of vacation.

Windmills on the coast of Portugal.

During the Camino, I never felt anxious for anything, I never felt forced to any decision. To summarize the program of my Camino was:

enjoy your day, take your time, stay alone or find a company, sleep well, eat to be full and happy, laugh a lot.

Obviously this can only work if you start your journey alone. No friends, no significant others (for God’s sake!), no relatives. You will easily find a company (or better to say, a company will find you) if your real nature wants it. A big part of the journey is to create empty space so that your actual feelings and personality can be expressed freely. No social obligations. No cultural constrains. You are a Pilgrim now, your only duty is to enjoy your wandering.

For many people living in contemporary occidental society, this is a privilege that no sum can ever buy.

Walking on the coast doesn't mean boring and never-changing setting. The variety of scenarios on the Atlantic coast is huge.

The Camino Portugues in its litoral route (“Senda litoral” in Portugal, in Spain “Variante por la costa”) is very flat, exactly the opposite of the Primitivo. The Portugues starts in Portugal, from Lisbon, ends (obviously) in Santiago de Compostela and take more or less one month. I started halfway, in Porto, since I had only two weeks free, and added one day doing the “Spiritual Variant” in the last part of the journey.

Rocks, sky and Atlantic Ocean in a beach near Labruge.

One of the first things that strikes you on the way is the endless amount of blue that the combination of Ocean and sky can give you.

Mile and miles of saltwater meeting the sand, without a single human being. Except you.
One of the coolest fact about Camino Portugues is that you can walk barefoot for many kilometers. The water vigorously caresses your feet and makes you whole. At one with the surrounding nature.

The second thing that you notice is the space. The beaches are for the most part completely empty. You find yourself walking alone for miles and miles with just the company of water, sand, and sky. All this time spent in literally pure open space made me regenerate all my love for human beings, including myself.

It is not always beach and pebbles. Sometimes the route departs from the coast. The litoral bush has its charm either. The foolproof yellow arrows will guide you even in the deepest forest.
Sailors houses and the Ocean in the last part of Portugal, before entering Galicia.
Some shortcut are by boat only. Enjoying the blue, the breeze and the splashes is an essential part of the Camino Portugues’s Pilgrim portfolio.
Rocks and seagull footprints on the sand make a beautiful pattern.

Then there is beauty. You start seeing it in a few days. After many hours of walk, your mind runs empty and your soul expands. You start to care more about who and what is around you. Beauty is in your eyes, the Camino gives them the ability to catch and feel it.

There are dozens of memorable moment during Camino. The ones that you will remember forever. It is just priceless.

When I shot the photo above, I was walking on the beach with a friend that I met the day before. It was our first day of walk together, we were utterly exhausted, still, we wanted some nice time. You grow eager of awesomeness when you are free. The wind was so strong to make it difficult to walk. Everything was painted orange. It was June, we only had a sweater and a light jacket with us. We were freezing our asses, so we moved to a little bar and had some Porto wine.

One of the big things about Camino is that you can take your spaces. No matter how many people you will meet and befriend, you can always decide to walk alone and enjoy your pure moments of serendipity.

The Camino is always an inspiring journey. And in my opinion, the best way to spend my free time. I strongly recommend it to everyone, especially if you, like me, do feel a bit overwhelmed by your daily life. It will not solve your problems, but it will give you time to think and space to be your real you.

Arriving to Santiago is always exciting. I personally prefer to arrive together with the friends I met during the way. The joy of success is pervasive and I like to share it.

Photographic reportage of social, humanitarian and environmental topics.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store