Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Camino 2017-09-20 Here and Ready

I arrived in Lisbon ready and energetic. My pensione was in a surprisingly good location, just by the Elevador de Santa Justa and Rossio Station. All I really wanted was the train station to be close by, but this turned out quite convenient.

I first headed straight to the Cathedral. I found I could get a Camino passport in the Portuguese language here so I filed away the American one and used this. I toured the cloisters and found a column that showed eager normal people ascending to the beauty of heaven, guided by angels. They looked like normal folk. And it made me think of immigrants and refugees yearning for heaven on earth.

Dumb luck - I caught a mass and the Bishop was celebrating.

I lit candles for the people we on our Facebook group are praying up.

I then headed to the Igreja Santiago. This is the normal starting point of the pilgrimage. The yellow arrow invited me to start walking but I wasn't ready just yet. I learned on the first Camino that you had to get used to the time zone or you'll be a wreck.

I bought my train ticket at S. Apolonia station for the first walking day. I'm not starting in Lisbon. Too many people said (and seemingly were confirmed by friends this spring) how difficult it is to walk out of Lisbon . So I got tickets to get me out and drop me in Santarém for just 6.60e.

I wandered over for a bite in what used to be the old open air market, Time Out. It's now a very nice and trendy and expensive dining area. I enjoyed my light meal of shrimp.

I then headed back to Rossi train station to get my ticket for tomorrow. Turns out I bought just the right ticket of Lisbon airport to give me a round trip to Sintra. So I walked around the city and soaked it in.

Sintra was amazing. It's an easy hike up without a backpack in the early hour but I chose to breakfast and just grab a cab for 5euro. The hop on hop off bus was 6 euro but I only needed one ride and would walk the rest.

The Moorish castle was lovely with the restoration of graves and markings of Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. The church is now a museum though the grave monument outside does not distinguish between Christian bodies and others. An inscription says in rather resigned tones "What Man has assembled only God can separate".

The views were stunning and there sure are a lot of palaces here.

I walked a few minutes over to Pena Palace. It was built in the Romantic 1800s style and, well, looks like the product of a stoned Disney forgetting if he were celebrating Snow White (Neuschwangstein), Aladdin (Agrabah), or just It's a Small World. The crowds were thick. The insides didn't do much for me but the building was the star. I lunched on the patio soaking in the tourists of all nations.

While walking in Palacio Pena, a German lady asked if I knew I was wearing a Camino logo. We talked for a bit; she's walked a part of Jakobsweg (German Camino route).

Then while walking down the mountain, a cab driver pulled over and asked about my scallop shell. He walked the Camino when he was younger and just gave a ride yesterday to some pilgrims.

Yes. The universe is telling me it's time to walk.

After my train ride back, more Lisbon.

The Carmo Convent's church was destroyed by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. The quake hit during mass on All Saints day so most people inside perished. Maybe 100,000 people died in the region. It was natural to pray and grieve for the people of Mexico City as they grasp the scope of death after their quake.

I then walked over to the church for Saint Roch. He's the patron saint for pilgrims (among other things) and is found throughout the Camino Frances. This time, I lit a candle for me.

I rested and grabbed some dinner. Then I went over to meet my cousin Joy and her friend. What a weird coincidence. She and I hadn't seen each other since 1980 when they visited us from the Philippines. She's now a doctor at LSU and they just finished walking the Sarria Camino. I felt a profound sense of joy that others in my family could experience this journey.

And so my prep time came to a close. I felt history, family, and majesty swirling in my thoughts during these 36 hours which is often what you need as you go into the humbling world of a walking pilgrimage.

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