Expatriate Australian retired software crafter Message
  • Oct25

    The Stats

    October 25 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    42 days
    904km walked comprising
    772km Camino Frances and
    132km after arriving each day and rest days
    1,163,950 footsteps
    13,079 metres altitude ascent and similar descent
    885 pilgrims arrived in Santiago the day we arrived.
    600+ photos.
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    Heros! No wonder us readers are all exhausted. Congratulations ..


    Well done fellas in completing this epic walk, no doubt got your feet up and relaxing now and don't forget to keep hydrating for the next few days ! [Mike Breen]


    This is amazing Kevin! [Katya]

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  • Oct24

    Lavacolla to Santiago de Compostela

    October 24 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    Final day: wet but short, 11.5km. Destination reached.

    We left our hotel about 7:30 with ponchos stowed. Within 3 meters of the door the rain started so ponchos were donned and off we went.

    It was a good path, no mud, mostly sealed roads or tracks. Also mostly lit by streetlights except for a small stretch when a head lamp was needed.

    After about 2km we found an excellent bar open and had a good breakfast (juice, toast, coffee). We also obtained there the one remaining “sello” or stamp in our credencial document proving where we had walked every day.

    We set off into town, passing through a village or two before a longish walk across Santiago proper to the cathedral.

    It rained on and off for the entire walk, at times quite heavily. So we arrived about 10:45 with wet shoes and feet.

    We got slightly lost in the old part of town as it is a maze there and the Camino markers seemed to disappear. But soon enough emerged beside the cathedral.

    We immediately bumped into Tony our Kiwi fellow pilgrim from Tennant Creek.

    We then took care of getting our official “compostela” or certificate of completion, written in Latin, including the Latin forms of our first names. It was a very quick process and we still had just enough time to check out packs for later collection and attend the noon pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral. It was standing room only. At the end they did swing the famous botafumeiro, censing the place up well. We were lucky to catch it as it doesn’t happen every day.

    After Mass briefly ran across our Hoosier friends just as they arrived. We will meet them later for dinner. Then a bite of lunch before checking into the Libredon hotel just a short step around the corner from the cathedral.
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    congratulations on completing the walk, it's been very nice following your adventures every day for the past few weeks !

    Kevin Esler

    Thanks Oli. All the best to you.


    And it looks like the rain stopped when you arrived. 😊 Congratulations on completing your Camino! Thank you for posting your Penguins link on the forum so members could follow your journey - I've enjoyed your adventures and all your wonderful photos! Safe travels home.

    John Esler

    Thanks Rose

    17 more comments
  • Oct23

    Salceda to Lavacolla

    October 23 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    2nd last day, 19.3km, worst weather yet. Sloshing wet feet for 6 hours.

    Vertical stats: 460m ascended, 680m descended.

    It was rainy and windy at breakfast time so we delayed departing till 8:30 when visibility was sufficient without a headlamp.

    Then it was head down and walk through some appalling weather: rain with very few breaks, and wind gusting very strongly at times. In some of the eucalyptus forests the wind roaring through the trees was thunderous.

    Speaking of eucalyptus, we saw some very large, both in diameter and height, older growth stringybark trees, especially in the latter half of the walk and near the airport.

    We’d had a good breakfast so decided we’d cover 10km before stopping to eat. In the end it was at Amenal at the 13km mark that we stopped for coffee and a somehow disappointing bocadillo de jamon. Had been hoping for a burger or spaghetti bolognese but the cook was off duty.

    From there it was a 2km muddy creek of a track up to the Santiago airport runway, rising about 100m vertical.

    The Camino took us round the end of the runway and wandered along for awhile till we reached our hotel, the Garcas, in Lavacolla, about 11km from Santiago cathedral. Tomorrow’s walk is also expected to be a rainy one, but it will be shorter.

    Now to find some way to get our boots somewhat dry. A shakedown in the bathtub followed by inverting them on top of the heating convector on the wall looks promising.
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    sorry you were walking in this, I'm on a bus to Porto! hope your last leg is drier!

    John Esler

    Perhaps we are paying our dues for the many days of perfect conditions. Enjoy Porto.

    Kevin Esler

    Make sure you have a glass of port in Porto!

    13 more comments
  • Oct22

    Boente to Salceda

    October 22 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    21km of mostly beautiful rural paths and an hour of rain.

    We planned for an early start to enable us to avoid possible rain patches with strategic coffee breaks. Down to the bar for 7:00am breakfast and found the place in darkness. We returned to our room to pack up and be on our way and found breakfast in full swing at 7:30 as we went down to leave.

    So refuelled we walked in darkness with a headlamp for 40 minutes until first light. For 8km the Camino followed a country path below overhanging trees up and down across several small river valleys until our coffee and cake stop in Arzua.

    Arzua also gave us access to an ATM to replenish cash and a farmacia for blister dressings and Vitamin i (Ibuprofen). It would have been nice to check out the weekly street market but rain was predicted and we moved on.

    Leaving Arzua through unpaved country lanes we encountered more of the eucalyptus groves we had seen yesterday. There are 400k hectares of Aussie eucalyptus forests in Galicia. Saw some fine old Stringy Barks.

    We stopped for a lunch of empanadas at Casa Do Horreo in Ferreira just 3.5km short of our destination for the day. It started to rain and continued quite heavily for an hour so we stayed under cover for desert and coffee. With no let up in the rain we donned our ponchos and walked on in the now easing rain and continued onto our accommodation.

    Now after dinner we are drying wet gear for tomorrow’s predicted downpour.
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    Not long now ......... 👏👏👏


    looks like perhaps 2 days max 👍


    fantastic photo!

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  • Oct21

    Palas de Rei to Boente

    October 21 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    21km in good weather with just a short shower of rain.

    The weather forecast had been dire so we were expecting another drenching. Grateful it didn’t happen.

    We had a good breakfast at a bar in Palas de Rei and put our heads down and cranked out 10km or so while the good weather was with us.

    Stopped for coffee cortado and cake at O Leboreiro. Then pressed on expecting rain at any time.

    By 14km we were in need of a proper refueling and had arrived in Melide so we stopped for a lunch of pizza.

    Melide looks like a pretty busy center but we didn’t linger. A km or two beyond the town the rain started falling so ponchos were deployed.

    But it rained lightly and only for about 30 minutes. Not enough to wet our feet.

    Eventually the ponchos were stowed and we walked on to our destination of Boente. Pretty small town. The pension is very good. We will dine here too as other options are scarce,

    Lots of eucalyptus trees in the forests we walked through today. Some were quite old and large stringy barks.
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  • Oct20

    Portomarin to Palas de Rei

    October 20 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    27km and soggy again.

    The rain in Spain falls mainly in Galicia. The rain in Galicia falls mainly on Kevin and John.

    An excellent breakfast at our Portomarin hotel and an increasingly late sunrise meant we didn’t get walking until 8:15 and it was still dark. We also knew from the great Spanish weather app that we would be in for rain from midday.

    We walked through the full length of Portomarin then across the river accompanied by the most pilgrims we had seen leaving predawn. Most will have started their Camino yesterday in Sarria which at 113km is the closest starting point at which pilgrims can obtain the Compostela.

    We climbed steadily from an overnight 400m to around 600m when it started raining and continued steadily for three hours as we climbed to 720m. Seeking some respite and warmth we called into Casa Mariluz in Eirexe for the restorative effects of Galician soup.

    On the track again we briefly experienced the heaviest rain of the day before the sun reappeared and thawed us out as we completed the last 8km into Palas de Rei.

    Like yesterday we had 3.5 hours of quite heavy rain while walking. But the soup break fortified us for further trudging, and the sunny conditions late in the day lifted our spirits and made a small start on drying out sodden footwear.

    We checked into pension San Marcos and it is just great: modern clean and comfortable. They cater well for pilgrims with an urgent need to wash and dry stuff. Oodles of clothesline space in the sun, and heating radiators in the room that are turned on !!

    The pension is massive, discreetly scattered over several buildings just a block or two from the middle of town.

    Based on Google reviews we had dinner at Pulperia A Nosa Terra. The kitchen opened at 7pm and the place is just a tiny bar so we cleverly squatted on a table at 6:20 and had a cleansing radler before requesting a menu. Dinner was very good. Kevin satisfied his craving for pulpo (octopus) and John had pork tenderloin prepared nicely, washed down with a good temperanillo, crepes, espresso. The place seemed to be very well run by just 3-4 people. Terrific Galician food.
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    Keep up the good work you two - the end is in sight and I have a bet on you in a 'Camino multi' to get there. I must say a highlight for me has been your brilliant photos - is one of you taking more than the other? I think that if I were either of you I would be pretty pissed by all the people who join the Camino with 100km to go and get to claim the achievement as well. Unfair I say! You should get the priority in accommodation, food and coffee as far as I am concerned. Let them wait in the rain! I also wonder what each of you think about as you hike along. I would expect that the days of walking would somehow clear your mind of a lot of shit. What then enters your mind, apart from the thought of when are we going to get there? [Dinny Goonan]

    Kevin Esler

    Thanks Dinny. Glad you are enjoying it. Photo responsibilities are probably 50/50. We’re both keen amateurs. The equipment is necessarily lightweight and pocketable: an iPhone 13 and a Sony RX100v7.

    John Esler

    Thanks Dinny. After 30 something days it is fairly easy to clear the head of the usual interruptions. It is good thinking time.

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  • Oct19

    Sarria to Portomarin

    October 19 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    A 25km day with lots of rain.

    We left our pension at 7:45, surprised to find it was not raining. The forecast was 100% certain about lots of rain. We had no sooner sat down in the first bar we found for breakfast when the heavens opened. It was torrential and sideways at times in the strong wind.

    Alas it was much the same when we’d downed our juice, toast and coffee so we donned the ponchos and headed out into it.

    It continued to rain, and very heavily at times, all morning. Some of the tracks leading out of Sarria were turned into creek beds. They improved outside the city limits a bit.

    In these circumstances, resigned to having sodden feet all day, we put our heads down and cranked out 12km without a break.

    Pilgrim traffic was noticeably heavier due to those beginning their trek at Sarria. So much so that there was a line out the door at the coffee place we passed as the rain cleared. We walked on a few hundred meters and stopped in a shed containing vending machines, and tucked into a KitKat and coffee.

    From then on there was little rain and we were able to appreciate the beautiful countryside: more lush green cow country, with a tiny village every few kilometers.

    About an hour later we stopped at a very nice bar at Brea and had something resembling lunch.

    Along the track we met some of the usual suspects, Lisa from Portland, and Paula (a.k.a Hot Wheels) and her 3 fellow Hoosier pals (Hoosier = person native to Indiana).

    We took pictures of each other at the milepost indicating we had exactly 100km to travel to reach Santiago.

    One other stop for a drink at a nice bar in Mercadoiro before covering the final 6km or so to Portomarin. There was quite a steep descent just before reaching a very high (60m?) bridge over the Mino river leading into town.

    We checked into our Pousada de Portomarin. It’s a grand old place, a former Parador, built in the 1960s.

    Relieved to find our wet feet had no blisters, we took care of some washing and boot drying and headed downstairs for the usual couple of cleansing radlers.

    This place has a restaurant where we will dine and breakfast, thus avoiding any unnecessary walking.

    We were happy with the ponchos’ performance today. They felt a bit clammy in the heavy rain but everything under them remained quite dry.
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    Love the innovative shoe drying techniques. Congratulations on reaching the 100 km milestone. The next few days should be very rewarding as you edge closer to your final destination. Hope the sun shines and there's not too many hills 😊


    100km to go. Great effort


    ahhh de Tiempos de Galicia... rain rain and more 🌧... congrats on passing 100km hope you gents got the sello for it in your Credenciales

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  • Oct18

    Triacastela to Sarria

    October 18 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Shortish walk today just 17.9km. There was a bit of vertical nonsense though. Mostly through cow country again. These are all dairy herds I think.

    (While I think of it we had a top notch 3 course “menu del dia” last night up the street at true Complexo Xacabeo. 12€ each. A very well run establishment.)

    Leaving in the dark as usual after breakfast at our pension, Casa David, we climbed steadily for a couple of hours up past San Xil. At the peak we were up 400 meters.

    The rest of the walk was a steady descent of 628 meters to Sarria.

    We refueled with some snacks from the vending machine in the village of Montan.

    We stopped for lunch at Pintin. Had the local version of a meat pie. Not bad.

    About 3km on a dirt track beside the road to enter Sarria.

    The weather was cool, dry and sunny with occasional periods of very strong winds.

    We quickly found our digs in the Pension Rua Peregrino.

    This is a fairly big town but definitely rural. I heard cows mooing a kilometer or so from our pension. You can also smell cow stuff from the middle of town when the wind is right.

    We will run a few errands when the shops open later.

    We are now about 113km from Santiago. We expect to cover it in 5.5 more days. Many people just walk from here to Santiago. We are expecting heavier traffic due to those joining the route here.
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    Very proud of you two boys. I enjoy you daily reports. Looking forward to hearing about it in person. Lots of love, Mum. [Margaret]

    John Esler

    Thanks Mum, I’m looking forward to a good sleep-in.

    Kevin Esler

    Thanks Mum. Hope you are well. We’re in the home stretch now.

  • Oct17

    O Cebreiro to Triacastela

    October 17 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    A tough mostly downhill 22km day, our first full day in Galicia.

    We had a good breakfast in the bar at Hotel Cebreiro and were on the road soon after 8am. Dawn is at 8:45 now so we used a light for an hour or so.

    Weather was cool and misty and once there was light to see everything was lush and green.

    The halfway mark was at Fonfria. The walk to there was some down and up on a very good path of hard packed dirt. We ate some lunch at what seems to be one of the new Galician government run albergues. Very modern and spacious.

    From there it was quite a steep drop into Triacastela. About 600m vertical over 11km distance. The path was good, no loose gravel or shifting rocks, but still it was painful by the end.

    The weather was what we’d heard is typical of this province. Misty, low cloud, breezy with occasional rain. We both needed the ponchos for an hour towards the end when the rain got more serious.

    As we were approaching Triacastela we were astonished to meet the fast walking lady from Indiana we’d dubbed “Hot Wheels” when we walked into Pamplona with her and her 3 friends, way back early in our trek. There was great hilarity all round.

    Then we stumbled into the Casa David pension and got cleaned up after a harder than expected day.

    Now for a cleansing Radler and a laundromat session.
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    I stayed in Casa David last night, nice place

    Kevin Esler

    Yes indeed. And 100m from the laundromat.


    Saw the Danish couple Jens and Kirsten last night at dinner and today at lunch, we seem to be on the same stages from here to Santiago

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  • Oct16

    Trabadelo to O Cebreiro

    October 16 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Elly, our host at El Puente Peregrino, is an excellent and creative cook and she fed us and our Danish friends Penny and Frank a beautiful meal last night. Red lentil curry, Shakshouka, and Choc brownies all accompanied by Vino Tinto of course. Elly also left us a basket of goodies for a predawn breakfast.

    Today was another big contrast.

    We spent the first four hours walking up the Valcarce river valley. We walked along the verge of a quiet road which has mostly been replaced by a motorway we could see in the distance. The river in a steep sided valley was rarely more than 20m from our path and it’s sound was a relaxing backdrop.

    We passed through a village every couple of kms and stopped for lunch at Las Herrerias 12km up the slowly climbing valley.

    In various places small herds of dairy cows grazed in the riverside meadows, their cowbells tinkling peacefully..

    After Las Herrerias the final 7kms to O Cebreiro was dramatically different and physically demanding. We rose 800m in altitude sometimes climbing along narrow rock strewn paths at 13% slope.
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    I'm gonna miss these daily updates when you've reached your destination, but I take it the rest will be welcomed

    Kevin Esler

    8 walking days left, Oli. Yes looking forward to taking it easy for a bit after that.


    I have just had a very busy few days … resting from your walking. I feel really refreshed. … I am spending four nights in Bright this week … while you complete half of what’s left … I am with the MX-5 Club.

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