Hi all - I was among four friends from Tasmania who recently did two weeks of the Caminho Portugues
, from Porto in Portugal to Santiago in Spain. It's one of the lesser known pilgrimage routes that converge on Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. It's nowhere near as busy or commercial as the Camino Frances (made popular by films like "The Way" and "Six Ways to Santiago").
We walked around 250km through varied countryside in their early autumn, splitting our time almost 50/50 between Portugal and Spain. The walking isn't hard, but we did do 20-30km most days. The countryside is delightful, only mildly hilly, and occasionally wooded. Funnily enough eucalypts are very common, both in plantation form and just scattered around the fields. Grapevines were colouring up and full of grapes, and seemed to line many of the fields. We even found a local in Spain pressing grapes to make his own wine. The people we interacted with, both locals and other pilgrims, were almost universally friendly and great to be with.
We got by with minimal Portuguese or Spanish, 'though we soon learned how to order coffee, wine or beer in both languages! The Portuguese seem more familiar with English than are the Spaniards. This may be the result of the long history of port and wine trade between Portugal and England (and conversely a similarly long history of war between Spain and England!)
Any journey of 250km will have its difficulties, and we did sometimes struggle with blisters, aches, fatigue etc. But overall we would highly recommend this route to anyone considering a pilgrimage. I've started to write up the journey on my blog, starting here http://www.naturescribe.com/2016/11/a-long-slow-journey-1-preparation-of.html
and continuing here http://www.naturescribe.com/2016/12/a-long-slow-journey-2-into-rhythm.html
. More should follow over the coming weeks.