September - October 2017
  • Day23

    Santiago and a little luxury

    October 11, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Having spent fourteen nights sharing bed space, washing facilities and showers it is time to enjoy a small luxury. I am waiting to check into the Hotel Compostela, and the arrival of my partner Emma. Together we will see the beauty of Santiago and for me this will deepen and enhance my Camino.Read more

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  • Day23

    Santiago de Compostela

    October 11, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    No relaxing now...up early and out of the door. It's a cold morning (a brief relief from the heat ahead - unusually hot here at present) but there are important matters to attend to. A short walk to the Official Pilgrims Office, and at 8am already there is a queue. Pilgrims in a range of attire, carrying rucksacks having just walked into the City, and those in casual clothing having arrived the day before. All smiling, talking, questioning "when did you arrive; what route did you take; did you really carry all your worldly possessions with you?"
    We are all here for one reason, the get the official Compostela for completing the Camino. From religious, spiritual, or for sporting reason. Whether done on foot, bike, or donkey (yes it has been done) all (who wish to receive the Compostela) go through this ceremony. Wait over, I am interviewed and questioned on my Camino, my credential(s) are examined, and then the Compostela is written and signed (it's all in Latin), handed to me and...that's it!
    No longer a peregrino; pilgrim; or walking the Camino, I am an inquisitive tourist seeking to see and learn more about St James, and explore the history of this City. I might even climb on the roof of the Cathedral, have a drink in the Parador hotel (once a Catholic hospital, now the finest hotel in the City and adjacent to the Cathedral) and keep walking, walking and maybe do some more walking. No putting up my feet just yet.
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  • Day23

    Welcome to Santiago

    October 11, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Today (9th October, 2017) I walked the final 22km into the beautiful City of Santiago de Compostela. With tired feet and the heat of the day, the first sight of the magnificent Cathedral did not come quickly. From the Monte del Gozo (Mount Joy) where once the first glimpse of the Cathedral spires was seen by pilgrims, this early view is now obscured by trees. Monte del Gozo while being some 5km out from Santiago (and more like 7km to the Cathedral) is a large gathering place for pilgrims, who flock to the over-sized monument commemorating the pilgrimage that Pope John Paul II made here in 1993.
    The last few kilometres were slow and at times laboured, both from delaying the inevitable conclusion of my 790km walk from St Jean Pied de Port, and reflecting on how I might/should/ would feel when I arrived. Standing in front of the Cathedral for the first time was both spectacular and emotional. Stepping on to the last 'shell' of the Camino de Santiago (km zero) and removing my backpack was surreal and the sense of relief and loss of the weight must of hurt (because I had tears running down my face). Recovering my composure I watched pilgrims arriving much like me (fully loaded, sweating, and emotional to be in Santiago). Pilgrims were laughing, hugging, and sensing the significance of what we had achieved. Now it is time to get checked into my last Albergue, aptly named (and chosen for this reason) Albergue The Last Stamp (and this would be the last stamp / sello in my Credential before visiting the Pilgrims Office tomorrow and receiving my 'official Compostela'.
    "The pilgrim abandons himself to the breadth of the greater life that leads him beyond the farthest horizons, to an aim which is already present within him, though yet hidden from his sight."
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  • Day20

    O Pedrouzo (Arca do Pino)

    October 8, 2017 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    So today was my penultimate day of walking. I covered a simple and relatively short twenty one kilometres today. Not a particularly early start (although the room lights went on at 6am and following a chorus of annoyance went straight off again) I emerged from my bed at 7.15!!! A veritable lie-in. Breakfast of toast, marmalade, coffee, and orange juice, this pilgrim was ready for the road. The small group of pilgrims whom had loosely walked together yesterday were seeking solitary space today. I was very happy as I wanted to be alone too today. Always passing people (or being passed by others) with a smile and Buen Camino, I was very happy in my own pace and space. I arrived in O Pedrouzo at about 2.30 and was surprised to be the first pilgrim at the Albergue R.E.M. A modern Albergue with lights and power points at every bed - a luxury on the Camino. Tomorrow (all things going well and no issues) I should arrive at Santiago, and see for the first time why I started this journey last September. The Camino between O Pedrouzo and Santiago is a mixture of rural and urban settings, with some forests to give pilgrims a little shelter. The daily ascents and descents continue to the end with a reported gain/loss of +308 / -339, a not insignificant amount.
    But it will all be worth it to see the Cathedral spires, to receive my Compostela certificate, and to see the women I love. X
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  • Day19

    Ribadiso de Carretera

    October 7, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Tonight I have climbed out of Rabadiso to the Albergue da Carretera.

  • Day18

    Palace of the King

    October 6, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Here I am entrenched and settled in Palais de Rei, and it's small mercy I can't find anything to complain about. Unless you count sore feet, tired legs, and missing the important people / person in my life. The walking covered about 23km today, and passed quickly. Out the door in the dark at 7.15am and following a small procession (or as I described it; a mass exodus) Two stops for essential refreshments and feet rests saw me arrive in Palais de Rei at 1.45pm and, as has been my habit, I selected a small Albergue on the way out of town (along the Camino route). Tonight has me in Casina di Marcello and only 14 beds. Tonight I will participate in a 'shared meal'. Only those who are sleeping will have the host Marcello delivering his famous Italian style family dinner (€10).
    Palais de Rei, Palace of the King, is owed to the last Visigothic king to rule Spain. Witiza had a brief rein, from 700-709, and he was only 14 when he was anointed. The family ruled all of the Iberian peninsula from Toledo and it wasn't until 701 that Witiza came to Galicia, likely to Tui; his migration was prompted by both a Byzantine invasion and the spread of the plague from Constantinople (no no not all those pilgrims spreading their germs!). Witiza's reign was short lived but his namesake village here on the Camino remains. For the record (and accuracy) he was, in fact, a co-ruler with his father...but 'Palace of the Half King' lacks a certain attraction.
    Well having showered, laundered, it is time for a snooze before dinner. With about seventy kilometres to go, there's a notable increase of the 'tourist pilgrim'. Minibuses and coaches "dump" tourists (minus rucksacks and walking boots) onto the Camino, sello's (stamps) are collected in "pristine" credential's and off they go towards Santiago, dust free and absent of any ache except the derrière from sitting too long on their arses!!
    I firmly hold the view that everyone's Camino is unique to themselves. Some carry their packs, others have it transported ahead, but with 'day sacks' they walk the stages. Todays bus locusts have annoyed me. They are fakes and they did not deserve (or receive from me) the curtesy of the shared greeting Buen Camino. I passed them today with contempt.
    Tomorrow is another day, and the Camino de Santiago is coming to its beautiful conclusion. Emotions are subdued and people are speaking in terms of the "end", but surely it's only the beginning. "When you go through inner obstacles, you are more YOU than who you started to be. YOU are more than you remember being." "The pilgrim abandons themselves to the breadth of the greater life that leads them beyond the farthest horizons, to an aim which is already present with them, though yet hidden from their sight."
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  • Day17

    Portomarin - Climbing into a dammed town

    October 5, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    A pleasant day of walking today. Setting out at 7.15 this morning into the mist and drizzle not seen before. Sustained with coffee and a pano chocolate my day begins. The head torch was an essential item again, illuminating where the transiting cows had passed for milking earlier. At one point I lost the yellow arrows and camino signs, and was noisily alerted that I had gone wrong by (on first impressions) fierce dogs. The ones all pilgrims are told of and, few have ever really encountered. These two barked in unison to tell me I had gone wrong and to tell be to go back and retrace my steps. To go back and find the 'yellow arrows'. And they were right, some seventy five metres back was the junction and I re-found my way. You might enquire how I could be so sure these intelligent dogs were giving me directions? Well in the silence of morning and with previous pilgrims ahead of me, these fine beasts had been undisturbed and were therefore not required to offer advice. But, as soon as needed they sprung into GPS mode and vocalised their advice.
    Portomarin holds the distinction of being the newest oldest town along the Camino. Portomarin of old was settled in the valley below. Portomarin today is essentially newly constructed, with some buildings (and the church) having been relocated stone by stone. Inspection of the fortress Iglesia de San Juan indicates that the stones were numbered to prevent head scratching later. Or was this an early version of Lego? The Iglesia de San Juan is the largest single nave Romanesque church in Galicia.
    The Rio Mino was dammed in 1956, forming the Embalse de Belasar which sits beneath the bridge.
    Portomarin gets its name from 'Porto' or river crossing, and 'marin', a reference to the Sanctuary of St. Marina that was located here in the Middle Ages. It enjoyed its peak of prosperity in the 15th and 16th centuries when several of the Catholic Monarchs slept here. The nearby capital of Lugo, also a Roman settlement, grew at a faster pace and Portomarin was quickly forgotten. As recently as 1919 the town was still not connected by a single road that could accommodate wheeled traffic. That has changed, and the prosperity of the town can now be attributed to the reservoir and the Camino.
    Having just eaten at the restaurant Perez, I can say this was on of my favourite meals. While chips or fries are a core part of the 'Pilgrims Menu' the braised veal was delicious. I can go to mass to tonight fed, and refreshed. X
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  • Day16

    Sarria and the last day with Franz

    October 4, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Today Franz and I walked our last day together. Setting out from Samos in usual good spirits (in the dark) we passed through the small hamlets of Foxos; Teiguin; and then selected the choice of going through Calvor (to avoid walking along the road to Sarria) today would be our last day together. Franz would meet his wife in Sarria and together they would finish the Camino. Stopping at Sarria for one last cafe con leche (coffee with milk) together at the Hotel Alfonso IX where I guess Franz and his wife will enjoy slightly better hospitality than at an Albergue (although as Franz told me "no swimming pool !" Well Franz if we ever meet again, my Albergue de Barbadelo has one here!!
    Sarria holds the record for the most Albergues in one town. As the last city before the minimum 100km point set by the Catholic church to be eligible to receive the Compostela. But it didn't inspire me to stop, after yesterday's disappointment I wanted something more rural. So...I find myself in Barbadelo (with a pool). Barbadelo, small as it is, once housed a monastery on 874. The Albergue de Barbadelo is new and well equipped (oh did I say it's got a pool 😎). Don't know what I'll have for dinner tonight, and tomorrow is a slightly longer walk to Portomarin tomorrow (21km). And, I hope wearing my boots loose will get me there without pain, if not there's always my sandals to the rescue.
    As one friendship parts, tonight is for contemplation reflection and being alone. X
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  • Day16

    Samos - Monastic Disapointment

    October 4, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    A short day today, only 11kms (3hrs) walked today into the village of Samos. Franz (from Germany 🇩🇪) and I opted for some religious immersion. Go to the monastery and rough it in a very basic Albergue, while witnessing the life and chants of the monks. Well disappointing was our experience ! We paid for a sanitised tour (the tour guide was an excellent young women) but we saw very little. The monastery is huge, but in serious decline with only 10 men in residence. So...onto the Albergue de Perigrinos Monasterio de Samos which we discover is separate from the Monastery and simply is housed in the same building. Despite both our guide books indicating the Albergue organised tours of the monastery and benediction - it does not. It is one long vaulted space full of hobbling pilgrims, snoring, and laughing!!! Well we arrived early and we're told in welcoming terms it didn't open until 1pm and NO we could not leave our packs at 12.30pm. So, Franz and I visited the 11th Century Capilla del Cipres, one of the oldest surviving buildings on the Camino. Simultaneously we received wisdom, and decided not to rough it, but to book into the Albergue Alboroque (across the road from the Monastery Albergue) who's welcome was genuinely warm. We were told to just go up and select our beds and then come down and pay. A small bedroom of some six beds we cherry picked the best and set out our packs etc. We ate at the restaurant with two very nice Australians and over some Galician food we put the world to rights. Franz and I went to mass at 7.30pm and then ate at the neighbouring restaurant where the internal issues of Catalan were being played out on the telly, and with an amazing multi-lingual German I enjoyed the translation. Bed and lights out followed a brief conversation with my beautiful Emma. Another day closer to being together again.Read more

  • Day14

    Triacastela - up and up and down down

    October 2, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Today after 25kms and 8 hours of mountain climbs we descended down and down into Triacastela. The excellent guidebook says to congratulate myself on a job well done, the pass into Galicia has been overcome and from here on the mountains soften in severity. Well that's great news, because today was tough on my feet. Two badly bruised toes and walking in my sandals may demand a shorter day tomorrow.Read more