The Road to Alcoutim


The camino adventure ahead of me was the Via Algarviana, a 300km trek across the Algarve region in Southern Portugal. The journey would start in the town of Alcoutim by the Rio Guadiana, which also acts as the border with Spain. From there I would head west going all the way to the magnificent cliffs of Cabo de São Vicente on the Atlantic coast. However, the journey to get me to the start line would actually begin in Helsinki, on the very first day of snow in the south of Finland. What a perfect day to head towards the sun!

After a couple of relaxing flights, with a 4 hour stopover in Frankfurt, I made it to Faro, where I stayed at the Baixa Terrace Hostel. I arrived right at dusk, and with my energy levels waning fast, I decided to just have a quick dinner and shower before hitting the hay. Despite being quite tired from a very long day of travel, I still awoke pre-dawn and had the chance to enjoy the magic of the full moon. And if that wasn’t enough, I was then gifted with an amazing sunrise, as I set out to roam the quiet early morning streets of Faro before catching the train to Vila Real de Santo António.

In Vila Real, I had a few hours to grab the most critical supplies for my upcoming trek. At the top of the list was a bottle of Beirão, my treat for the evenings when wild camping. I also scored 4 cigars to enjoy, one at the start, and the others to celebrate reaching each 100km marker of the adventure.

The bus ride to Alcoutim didn’t take too long, and before I knew it, I was at the start line, although I still had one night ahead of me at the local youth Hostel. This was perfect as it gave me the opportunity to explore the town a little bit, as well as to have a nice solitary moment of pre-camino contemplation at a café by the Guadiana. Am I really in Alcoutim now? With all the ongoing worldwide rona related travel restrictions not making this a very easy trip to organize, I almost had to pinch myself to be sure. Yes it was true, eu estou aqui! And early the following morning, it would be go time!

Be blessed,
Jyri

As I stare at you,
I lose myself in your light.
A lunatic smiles.

‘Lunatic’ | Jyri Manninen

Berlenga


On the 5th December, 2021, I made a day trip to Berlenga Island that I made with David (Czech Republic), Sam (France) and Luca (the Netherlands), whom I met at the Peniche Backpackers Hostel. To be more accurate, we visited Berlenga Grande, which is the main island of the Berlengas Archipelago.

Truth be told, I almost didn’t even go as the original trip, which has been planned for the day before had been cancelled at the last minute. I’ve be coming to this area of Portugal (Peniche and the Silver Coast) for about 10 years now, and yet had still never visited Berlenga. So, I’m so glad it ended up working out, and that I got to share it with my three fellow travellers, a really great bunch of guys.

One of the many highlights of our trip was to be able to explore the Fortress of São João Baptista (Forte de São João Baptista), which was constructed in 1651-1656 from the remains of a pre-existing monastery (the Monastery of the Misericórdia da Berlenga), which had previously been abandoned.

I hope you enjoy the short video I made of this day trip, and that it inspires you to make the effort to see more of this wonderful world; and why not start with the places close to home. They are, ionically, the ones we more easily take for granted.

Cheers, Jyri.

From far we have come,
to this rocky barren isle.
As brothers we see.

‘Berlenga’ | Jyri Manninen

A special tribute Haiku poem to this shared trip with my three other ‘Berlenga Bois’.

Mountain Goat

I love to run over trails, especially when they take me into the mountains. Come and join me for this 19.6km trail run, including 495m of vertical climb, over the mountain behind Carreço, Portugal, which is located just some 20km from the border with Spain.

At the summit, I came across the source of the Rio Afife, a mountain top reservoir lake. Unlike the wet, cloud covered run the first time I run in the trails here (and of which I have a separate video here), the weather this time around was clear and sunny, and so much better views in all directions, even as far as the Minho River at the border with Spain! The descent was also pretty cool as I got to run through covered forest pathways, as well as some small mountain side villages before reaching sea level again.

The entire loop started and finished at Casa do Sardão, an amazing hostel that caters for Camino Portuguese pilgrims taking the coastal route. I hope you enjoy this run, and that it also inspires you to get out there and do some exploring of this amazing world around us.

Cheers, Jyri