June 2019
  • Day34

    My great stroke of luck

    July 6, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    The Pórtico de la Gloria is one of the world’s most beautiful pieces of Romanesque. It has been undergoing restoration for years. Before the restoration, you could just walk up and admire it (it is the original Romanesque facade of the cathedral). There is a big baroque facade in front of it, and for some unknown reason, the Baroque builders left it in place rather than knock it down.

    The renovations are done and now there is limited access and that just makes it more in demand. Tickets were sold out for weeks but today I just walked over to see if by chance any had become available. Well, lucky me, the new head of the museum, Inma, is someone I know from years ago when I volunteered in the pilgrims office. So I got in. It is amazing, just amazing. Best way ever to end a day in Santiago.
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  • Day34

    In Santiago, done walking!

    July 6, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    It was an easy quick stroll into Santiago. 4 km up to the Albergue, then another 17 going up and down till we got to a spot where we could see the cathedral.

    This Camino passes over the tracks near the spot where there was a horrific train accident when the driver took the curve too fast. Lots of makeshift memorials, now several years old, but it always gives pause.

    Arriving at the cathedral was somewhat euphoric, somewhat flat, somewhat sad. Hard to explain. but it was the first time in many years that the cathedral was without scaffolding!

    Now I’ll have a day to revisit some of the places I love, all the while resisting the urge to start planning next year’s camino. But it will be my 70th birthday year, so I will have to do something special!
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  • Day33

    One more day

    July 5, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Since I was leaving so early, the hotel staff left me breakfast in a sitting room. They even hauled up a microwave and toaster so I could have hot coffee and toasted bread!

    These last days are not the most spectacular scenery, but it was really nice in a few spots. There’s a medieval bridge, an 11C church with Samson killing the lion, a couple of really nice panoramic views, all in all a good pilgrim day!

    I was going to head to the Albergue but in the end opted to stop four kms sooner. That means tomorrow starts with a 4 km climb, but I would have had to carry up some food since there’s nothing else up there.

    So here I am in the pension where I’ve stayed a couple of times. The woman recognized me, maybe there aren’t too many white haired ladies walking in these parts.

    Tomorrow, just a short 21 km to Santiago!
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  • Day32

    Celebrating the 4th in Bendoiro

    July 4, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    I have walked past a 17th century stone Pazo (estate) turned hotel many times and have always been tempted. This year, since I would be walking by on the 4th of July, it seemed like a good year to yield to the temptation. The Pazo de Bendoiro was willing to take me in, http://www.pazodebendoiro.com and the rate was really pretty good. it’s a big estate and there are beautiful gardens and patios for just vegging our. A good choice!

    The walk was a good mix of rural, forests, dairy farms, small hamlets, one big town with its glorious river walk, and then four kms through a typically ugly industrial park. I had a really nice conversation with a woman tending her spectacular vegetable garden. She rarely buys any at all, the plot has things growing all year!

    By 1 pm I was checking in after walking 29 km. I think the thought of a bit of luxury put some pep in my step. Luxurious sheets, thick towels, wow.

    So I am about 50 km from Santiago. Since I didn’t walk into Santiago last year for lack of time, I am really looking forward to it. TWO DAYS!!!
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  • Day31

    The home stretch

    July 3, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Today’s 29 kms sort of sailed by. I passed two old stone boxes of alms for the souls in purgatory, but no donations have been dropped in the rusty box for ages.

    It was a pretty, rural walk except for the 6 interminable kms right below a huge line of windmills. Thankfully they weren’t operating, because otherwise you are walking to the rhythm of an annoying flap, flap, flap.

    I had a climb up to the “spiritual center” of Galicia, with its chapel, stations of the cross, and views to all four provinces of Galicia. Unfortunately for me, the cloud cover obscured some of the view, but it had made for much cooler walking on those 1200 feet of ascent.

    I’ve finally met some people, and I am also finding that there will be a lot of people I know in Santiago. It will be nice to have Sunday there to hang out and do one or two of the many tourist things I’ve done so often but always enjoy.
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  • Day30

    Short and gorgeous

    July 2, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    My choice was 14 km or 41 kms. I’ve done a bunch of 40+ stages this year but I am in the home stretch and am winding down. So I opted for short.

    I didn’t set the alarm this morning and was surprised that I slept till about 7:15! That’s not a camino timetable. But with such a short day it didn’t really matter. I lounged around in my room and made TWO cups of (bad instant) coffee and set out about an hour later.

    The day was really quite beautiful. First to an XI century church with some of my favorite Romanesque carvings—two sweet little cow heads over the side door.

    From there it’s a few km down on Roman road to the river. Believe me, the excitement over walking on a real Roman Road wears off quickly when it’s a steep descent and when the wear and tear of more than 2,000 years has turned the road into a rocky mess. But arriving at the Miño River is magical. So beautiful.

    From there up the other side of the river, short and steep through beautiful vineyards with several beautiful wineries with outdoor terraces. From the top it’s a pretty straight shot into the destination, a small city named Chantada, where the Hotel Mogay had a room with my name on it.
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  • Day29

    Very beautiful day

    July 1, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    By adding a gorgeous 6 km loop to the walk I was able to get the kms up to a respectable 24. It was such a pretty day. First through some small hamlets with lots of interludes on narrow cart tracks squeezed in between two ancient stone walls.

    And then this loop—two Romanesque churches, lots of vineyards, and views of an iconic oxbow loop in the Miño.

    But the part of the day that brought the biggest smile was when I checked into my casa rural and asked if by any chance they had found the credencial of a friend who was here several weeks ago. Answer was yes and we all jumped for joy. And my friend is also pretty happy, she had all but given up.
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  • Day28

    To Monforte de Lemos

    June 30, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    I think today’s walk was in the 32 km/20 mile range. I left early because of the heat forecast, but soon saw once again that weather forecasting is pretty imprecise. Instead of sunny, hot, and 90s, I had overcast and 70s most of the walk. Not complaining , mind you, but it does mean I didn’t have to leave my Hostal at 6 a.m.

    The walk wasn’t exactly spectacular, though mostly pleasant enough. Three ascents and their corresponding descents, mainly through pine forests, but some beautiful old growth as well. Only an occasional smattering of eucalyptus.

    A few kms outside of town, I ran into my first pilgrim!!! An Italian doctor, living in Canarias, who had just taken a fall in the notorious wet stony stretch. Everyone keeps saying this Camino is taking off, but I just haven’t seen anyone!!

    By 2, I was in my room washing clothes. I had a good menu del dia. A nice walk around the old town and up to the parador, and now getting ready for my typical 8 pm bedtime!

    Hard to believe I am not too far from Santiago.
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  • Day27

    28 km along the Sil River

    June 29, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    This was a beautiful day. I left right at 6 to try to get a big chunk in before it got too hot (temperature highs are in mid to high 90s these days). I was really lucky because for the first four hours I had almost no direct sun because of the mountains. So much of today is high above or right along the Sil River. There were several little villages, some with rehabilitation of old houses going on. No bars but enough fountains, so the water bottles kept getting refilled.

    At about 8 km, after a pretty tough descent to the river level, I saw an old man walking toward me. I took a chance — es Ud. Casimiro? Turns out it was the now 92 year old Casimiro. He lives in a house by the river, where he operated the mill till the 1960s to grind all the grain from the area. No more grain grown here. He also told me how in his youth he walked to Northern Portugal to buy cattle at a better price. No more herds here either. His wife died several months ago, he told me, and his two sons are now insisting he move to Madrid. No way will that happen, he assured me. 😁 He invited me in for a coffee and I would have loved to continue the conversation, but with mid 90s coming my way I declined. One of those sad decisions that I felt I had to make. He told me to tell all my friends to come visit him.

    All in all a great day—lots of snippets of conversations with people working in the fields, out for a walk, or renovating an old family home.
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  • Day26

    When 16 km seems short

    June 28, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    This is one of the shortest days I’ve ever walked on any camino (and I think this is camino number 19 for me!). It’s just hard to find anything but a 42 km alternative, and though I have done stages that long this year, the heat advisory gave me pause.

    So I left much later than usual, with a 7 AM breakfast in my hostal. Say what you will about the bathrooms, the breakfast was delicious. Fresh squeezed orange juice, lots of fruit, yogurt, and of course toast with butter and jam. And a very respectable café con leche. Way beyond the norm for a €20 room.

    Even with this late departure, I was still in A Rua before 10 AM. That gave me two hours till I could take off my pack and check into my hotel. So I decided to walk down to the Riverwalk at the edge of town I went to the ayuntamiento and got some information for our Invierno guide, which we update every year.

    I am in a cute little place above a good restaurant, so IWill be well fed for sure. It looks like the temperature May be decreasing some, so a 28 or 29 Kilometer day tomorrow should be fine.

    But first it’s time to enjoy the watermelon I carried up the hill to my hotel!
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