Day 34 and 35 – somewhere in Santiago 

I know you are all suffering withdrawals from not having a blog to read so will continue just so you know I am still alive and well and having a great time.

Have spent the last 2 days in Santiago wandering around enjoying this wonderful old city and catching up with all my fellow peregrinos I have been walking with over the last 5 weeks.  

I have had breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, coffee and any other sort of catch up possible.  




I am now sitting at the bus station ready to get in a bus to go out to the end of the earth – Finesterre/Fisterra. 

This is where the pilgrims went on to see where the sun set over the water and believed it was the end on the world hence – Fines – end – terra- earth. 

If you are looking it up on a map it is Fisterre.  

Had a wonderful 2 days in Santiago and very sad to say farewell to my fellow pilgrims.  

Set the alarm for the first time as I had no other pilgrims to wake me up and off down the road to the bus station.  

Met Oswin and Kian there and we bought our tickets and I ran into Bev a lovely kiwi I had slept in an albergue with a few weeks back.  

We all got on the bus and settled in for the 3 hour trip to the end of the earth!   

Tiny roads, big corners, big bus and narrow streets.  The guys in front of me who were in the front seats pulled out their rosary beads.  We all had a good laugh at that.  


It was so lovely after 6 weeks to see the ocean and smell the salty air.  The drive out was great as we were by the coast most of the way and the towns were all on the side of the hills overlooking the sea.  Very colourful houses as well



We arrived in Fisterra and there was a guy there handing out pamphlets to his albergue.  Bev and I were staying the night so took the leaflet and headed off.  Kian and Oswin followed us down the road.  They were only out for the day so we all headed out, after Bev and I had put our packs down in the albergue, on the 2.2km walk to the end of the earth.  

Beautiful walk and the coastline was pretty spectacular 




When we got to the end there was a lighthouse, a cafe and of course the Camino sign that said 00.0kms.  As in we were at the Fins of the Camino.  

Beautiful scenery and you could see why the pilgrims would have thought it was the end of the earth. 



We wandered around and then had our mandatory cerveza before heading back into town for lunch as we were all a little peckish. 

Found a wonderful restaurant on the waterfront and sat down to seafood platter, garlic prawns and pulpo (octopus) and paella washed down with a lovely glass of rose. Followed by ice cream and another glass of rose.  So delicious 


But the time had come for Kian and Oswin to go back to Santiago on the bus as they were flying to London and then home to Germany tomorrow morning.  It was really sad to say goodbye to them as we walked them to the bus.  I took a napkin from the restaurant and stood on the side of the road and waved like crazy and of course everyone on the bus thought I was waving at them.  Eventually the bus left on Spanish time – late – and I waved them off. 

Bev and I wandered back along the waterfront to our albergue and just having a rest now before we decide what is next in store for us. 

I would really like to go back out and see the sunset over the water with a glass of wine which I did as I was having not walking withdrawals.  Unfortunately there was a huge bank of cloud so the sunset wasn’t that spectacular 


It is now the next day and I am about to get the bus back to Santiago and getting an overnight bus to Bilbao. We are having a farewell cerveza and I am off


So you won’t hear from me until Bilbao but I will be back.  

Adios for now. 

Day 33 – Lavacolla to Santiago de Compostella 

I DID IT!


After 33 days of up hills, down hills, up mountains, down mountains across mesetas, through towns, through hamlets, meeting a huge array of multi national people, talking, laughing, drinking, eating, sharing stories and memories that will be imprinted in my brain and heart forever – 799kms across Spain from France.  I am here and this is myself and Pierre with out Compostella de Santiago. 

I entered Santiago this morning around 10am. Followed all the pilgrims into town and then through the narrow streets to the cathedral cane around the corner saw it and immediately burst into tears.  A very emotional day and as I sit here and blog a tear still comes to my eye.  

So today started almost exactly as my journey from France started.  When I left st Jean Pied de Port it was raining and very overcast and cloudy.

I woke up this morning and it was a total whiteout with cloud.  Thick soup.  Set off from Lavacolla and as I was in no rush stopped at the first cafe for cafe con leche, Zumo de naranjo and croissant. Then along came Julie and Michelle and Arvis. 

After our breakfast we all wandered off down a very foggy misty road. 

Arvis and I were chatting for a while and we came upon Monte de Gozo which is a big monument at the top of the hill overlooking Santiago. The pope visited there in 1996 so this massive construction was made.  Well we could hardly see it for the fog let alone look out over Santiago. 


We walked on and it didn’t take long for the city to appear.  I am pleased to say that walking into Santiago was a lot easier than a lot of the big cities I have walked into over the last 5 weeks. 


I just followed the pilgrims and there were a lot but not as many as I had expected.  Got into town about 10.30 and walked to the cathedral which is the finish of the Camino.  

I came around the corner and saw the cathedral and just burst into tears.  I couldn’t help it.  It was so emotional.  



I turned around and there was a very beautiful Spanish man who I had met over the last week and he came up and I burst into tears and he gave me the biggest hug and held my hand until I had calmed down.  He then gave me a kiss on both cheeks and we parted ways.  He is getting the bus to Finesterre on Sunday also. 

Friday the 13th was a good day for me.  Ran into Anna and Leonard on my way to my hostel to dump my bag and had another cry with them. Checked into my hostel and oh what luxury. I have my own bed in my own room with my own bathroom. 

Checked into my hostel and after getting the key and leaving my bag headed back to the cathedral. 

Everyday at 12.00pm they have a pilgrims mass.  Of course the crowds are huge and when I found the door to get in the queue was huge but there in the queue almost ready to go in was my lovely friend Ralph from Germany.  We said hello and I just joined him in the queue so went in quite quickly.  When I got in I walked around to look at the altar and OMG!  The lights were on in anticipation of the mass and even though there was scaffolding as there is a lot of renovations happening both inside and out it was still amazing 


I found a spot as it was very crowded with tourists and pilgrims. The mass didn’t start until 12 and I was in the cathedral by 11.20 so just had to stand around but had a great spot. 

The mass began with all the priests coming out

Then it all started in Spanish but I could understand that it was all about the pilgrims and he mentioned all the nationalities that walk the Camino and Australia was mentioned. Then a pilgrim got up and said something in Spanish and there was a choir and the organ was amazing
Then there was communion which I took part in, crying I might add, and then the piece to resistance what everyone had been talking the Botafumeiro.  A ‘Botafumeiro’ has been used since the Middle Ages, originally to clean the air when crowds of pilgrims having completed the Camino de Santiago arrived in Santiago de Compostela after their long journey. The Codex Calixtinus, the first Camino de Santiago ‘guide-book’, refers to the ‘Botafumeiro’ as Turibulum Magnum, which means this ritual has been taking place at least since the 12th century. The current ‘Botafumeiro’ dates back to 1851 and it’s made of silver-plated brass, weighting 53kgs when empty and up to 10 kgs more when full.

Eight men, called ‘tiraboleiros’, are required to operate the ‘Botafumeiro’. After being filled with incense and coal by the ‘tiraboleiros’, the 1,5mtr-high ‘Botafumeiro’ is tied to a rope hanging by the altar and set in motion with great precision, forming an impressive 65-metre long arched trajectory along the cathedral. In only a minute and a half, the ‘Botafumeiro’ reaches 68km per hour.

It was amazing.  




  

By the end of all that I was truly awestruck by it all.  Went for an hour and I had been standing up all that time.  If I had been walking not a problem but just standing I had to find a place to sit or get walking.  

Thought t would try the Compostella office where you get your certificate for walking 799kms.  Well got there and the queue was ridiculous and there was Pierre and they had been standing in the queue for an hour and were about to go in so I joined them in the queue and we were out in about 15 minutes.  I think it was my lucky day.  

Decided we needed to celebrate so we found a wonderful bar in the plaza outside the cathedral and were joined by about 4 other pilgrims and we celebrated, laughed, reminisced and just all pretty pleased with ourselves for making it.  

I thought I would then go to the post office to pick up my package I had posted from St Jean and guess what! It wasn’t there.  They had sent it back to France however had no idea where it had gone in France!   Great.  

But in my new found peace and tranquillity I thought I will worry about it tomorrow and went back and joined my friends for dinner and relaxation 

Had a wonderful dinner.  Santiago is so alive, it was Friday night and everyone was out.  No one eats in Europe/Spain until at least 9-10pm so the streets were packed with people and of course we kept running into more pilgrims we had met on the way. 

I am now tucked up in my bed in real sheets and had a lovely shower with towels and bath mats.  Oh the simple things. 

Wifi is terrible and it is very late so not too many photos today.  

Heaving a day wandering around Santiago tomorrow and trying to find my parcel.

Buenos noches me Amigos from the end of my journey but not the blog. 

Day 31 – San Xulian to Arzua 

Can I just say in case I haven’t said it before (hahahahaha) another incredible day on the Camino.  

I woke up this morning so refreshed having had a brilliant sleep. In bed and sound asleep by 9.30 last night and didn’t wake up until 7.15.   I slept in!!!!

Up and out as the sky was getting light by about 10 to 8 and set off getting closer to the ultimate destination.  

I am so glad I stayed out of the main town last night as when I set off this morning I was the only person on the Way with the last of the full moon lighting my way.  Oh the serenity! 


My head was totally back into Camino mode – nothing in it!!

Found a beautiful place for breakfast with the best tortilla I had had for a while



Set off down the road and as it was such a lovely day and I was savouring every minute after about 7kms found another lovely cafe in the sun where I had the best coffee and home made, just out of the oven, lemon cake.  Yum. Sat in the sun and devoured it and headed off again.  

Again walking through beautiful woodland and countryside. Galicia is certainly a highlight of this fabulous country.



Over the weeks of walking the Camino I have noticed in most houses they have this little house on stilts with a cross on it


I thought it may have been the family crypt where they keep their relatives. Well today I learnt what it was.  Purely and simply because I was walking past one and the doors were open.  It turns out it is the drying house for their corn.  Simple mistake due to the cross on it!


Well as I was taking a picture there was another lady and her son doing the same thing and so we got chatting, as you do, and it turns out Rosie and Martin were from Melbourne and walking the Camino together. I slowed right down and walked with them for the rest of the day and what a delightful couple.  
It was good for me as they walked so much slower than I did but I enjoyed their company so much and we were talking so much we arrived in Arzua before we knew it.  

They had booked accommodation in an albergue so I just followed them and booked into the same one and after the shower and washing we moved downstairs to the plaza which was right across the road for a few cervezas.  

Before I knew it along came Pierre and Gil so I introduced Rosie and Martin and we spent a very pleasant afternoon in the plaza chatting.  


I went off to the bank and the supermarket for things and came back and someone else went off for something and came back and before we knew it it was dinner time. 

We walked up the street to look for somewhere for dinner and ran into Julie and Michelle from South Africa then Anna and Leonard from Sweden and we had to pop in for another drink as the restaurant didn’t open until 7.30.  

It was so lovely to run into all these familiar faces again as the journey comes to an end.  We all will be in Santiago on Friday so I am sure there will be a very large group of us meeting up to tell stories and laugh and reminisce.  

I am getting teary thinking about it.  

Rosie and Martin had a great night as I was able to introduce them to lots of people and it was just a good fun night.  


So yet again the sun goes down on another memorable day on the Camino.  

Bale buenos noches

Day 30 – Portmarin to San Xulian

Pronounced San Julian. 25kms today and another strange day.  

As I have mentioned about Galicia the valleys are shrouded in clouds of a morning so this morning as I left town again it was a very thick fog.  Very damp also so my hair was wet even though I worked up a sweat climbing the mountain to get out of town.  

It has been interesting the last 2 days as a lot of people have joined the way to walk the last 100kms in a week.  Unfortunately they do not seem to understand the pilgrim way as they are loud, don’t turn the light off, slam doors. I shouldn’t be so negative but it seems like the peace and serenity of the pilgrimage has been lost a little.  

This morning as I left town people were walking in packs and talking so loudly it felt like they were screaming at each other and there is no hola! Or buen Camino!  I walked past a few people and said buen Camino and was totally ignored and they kept on talking.  

For that reason I decided not to stay in the big towns anymore but go to the little out of the way places and stay in local Albergue’s.  

As we are on the final leg of our fantastic journey from Sarria onwards we have to get at least 2 stamps on our credentials.  Of course I have been like a kid in a candy store so I have been getting 3-4 a day anyway.  The stamps have to be dated.  This meant that by the time I got to Sarria my original credential from St Jean Pied de Port was totally full.  

I went to the church in Sarria and they issued me with another one and put ‘continuation’ on it so I now have a new one and yes it is filling up quickly.  Averaging 5-6 a day now.  

Headed out of town this morning and of course first there was a mountain to climb.  I didn’t want to stop too early as there were so many people walking the cafes and bars were full and running out of food.  

I got to Gonzar and stopped for the ever fabulous Zumo de naranjo and kept on trucking. 

Just past Gonzar my head came out of the clouds at the top of  the mountain and what an incredible view.  It was like being in an aeroplane flying above the clouds




Of course once you get above the clouds the sun is relentless and another very hot day.  

Next stop Ligonde and it was breakfast time with croissants coffee and orange juice.  All the tables and chairs outside were all so wet due to being in the clouds for most of the morning. 

The walk today was so pretty most of it through woodland. One of the guys I was walking with likened it to The Shire in Lord of the Rings 




So pretty.

Got into Palas de Rei about 12.30 and it was time for a sit down and a grande cerveza. 



As I sat admiring the view along came a lot of my fellow pilgrims from the last 5 weeks. Frances, Pierre, Julie and Angela from South Africa.  

Unfortunately Oswin and Kian who I have been walking with the last couple of days left me today.  Oswin is in hospital due to not feeling well for the last few days.  Not sure what it is and Kian has decided to walk a bit faster to get to Santiago a bit quicker.  I hope Oswin is ok.  I have had such a lovely time walking with them.  Two really nice guys.

I wasn’t very keen on staying in another big town tonight so said goodbye to everyone and walked on.  No doubt will see them over the next few days and if not in Santiago. 

Thought I would go onto San Xulian which was another 4kms down the road and again through beautiful countryside 


Got to the albergue and walked in only to be told it had closed for the winter.  OMG!  I was going to have to walk to Melide which was another 10kms down the road.  Oh well off I went down the street rounded the corner and there was the cutest loveliest albergue called Casa Domingo. It had a huge shell out the front and hardly anyone here.  I am now sitting in the most beautiful garden with hammocks and lounge chairs sun drenched. What a little paradise. Give me this over the city any day.  

Apparently this place used to be an old mill and now transformed into an albergue 



I have just booked in for my pilgrims dinner and it looks wonderful back to the days when I first started of the communal dinner.  Don’t seem to have had one of those for a while.  Too busy trying out the local fare of octopus and mussels and prawns. Can’t quite bring myself to try the eel but the local fish has been exceptional 

Tomorrow is another day closer to the end so until then 

Buenos noches

Day 29 – Sarria to Portmarin 

Very strange day today.  As I said yesterday Galicia is very mountainous and there is a lot of cloud in the valleys. Well today, as Sarria is in the valley I woke up to thick fog in the town.  


Sarria is also the town where a lot of people join the Way to walk the last 100kms so it was very busy on the way today.  A little sad as the comraderie is lost a little because a lot of Spanish people come to walk the last 100kms in 5 days and they are in such big groups and so busy talking to each other that the Hola and Buen Camino is lost and they don’t welcome you to chat while they walk which has been such a huge thing whilst walking from France.  

Funnily enough in the wonderful guide book it says ‘for seasoned pilgrims beware of signs of irritation at the intrusion of new pilgrims’.  

In my new headspace I thought about it for 2 seconds and forgot about it and just enjoyed the very beautiful countryside I am walking through today.  

The majority of today’s walk was through woodland paths and gravel tracks but so weird because we were walking in thick fog which was the clouds.  So you could say my head was totally in the clouds today!!



The weird thing was that it was cold and damp and then suddenly we were above the cloud and the sun was shining and it was warm and hot



This part of the walk is walking through a lot of little hamlets which consist of cowsheds and farmers


But no bar or cafes for breakfast.  We had to walk for approximately 2.5 hours this morning before we got to Morgade to have a big cafe con leche, Zumo de naranjo and no tortilla this morning so it was tuna empanada.  So crowded with new pilgrims but did see a few familiar faces.  

As I have walked the Camino I have seen on every pilgrims menu, pork, and as I have crossed Spain I have seen cows, sheep, goats, donkeys, horses but no pigs and I have discovered pig is a delicacy and on every menu but I have not seen a pig.  Well today was the day


Then we came down the mountain and we were back in the clouds.  


As my Camino sadly comes to an end I am very pleased to note that other than my first night in Orisson I have not booked anywhere. I have seen so many pilgrims get into their albergue and the first thing they do is ring ahead to book a bed for the next night.  That is modern technology for you with mobile phones.  I am really pleased that I don’t have global roaming on my phone as other than photos and doing my blog I have not used my phone for anything else, oh just important emails but nothing else and what a liberating feeling it is.  

I have walked into towns and decided that was enough and always found s bed.  Even now with all the extra pilgrims for the last 100kms I am still sble to find a bed.  

Came down the big hill and there was Portmarin in the valley still shrouded in cloud


Amazing bridge we had to walk over to get to the town 

And these were the stairs we had to walk up to get into town.   Stairs at the end of the day are always hard


Of course the town was still shrouded in cloud but got to the top of the stairs and sat down for a while with a vino Tinto and then made our way into town to find an albergue.  I have been walking for the last couple of days with Oswin and Kian.  They are 2 of the loveliest guys and we have had a few laughs and great chats as we cross Spain. 


While we were sitting at the top of the stairs which was about 1.30pm the sun came through and burnt the rest of the cloud off and now it is sunny and hot as per usual


When we walked into town it was market day and the streets were lined with market stalls.  How I wish I had a bigger bag!!


Now sitting at my albergue with a cold cerveza in hand and sweltering in the heat.  Time for a wander around town. 

Ran into Anna and Leonard from Sweden today and Pierre and Gil and so many pilgrims I have walked with over the last 4.5 weeks. 

Had to see the church which is the centre of every town.  This church however has been rebuilt as the original town was flooded.  


In the town square is the pilgrim pointing towards Santiago as we aren’t far away


So another day finishes in another beautiful part of Spain.  We are all out for dinner tonight and bed ready to climb another mountain tomorrow as we get closer to Santiago. Less than 100kms now

Adios Amigos 

Day 28 – Triacastela to Sarria 

As I don’t want this amazing experience to end am taking the last week very slowly. I estimate I will be in Santiago next Friday and am pleased to say that the majority of the wonderful people I have walked with over the last 4.5 weeks will be there also for a wonderful celebration of a fantastic achievement.

Even though I had a room with only 4 people in it, including me, I had 2 horrendous snorers.  Broken sleep but still up and ready by 7.30

I had met Oswin and Kian last night as they were walking through town but they were going on to the next town and staying in a vegetarian albergue. I don’t think they were very happy about it as they love their meet and sausage!

I said I would swing by in the morning and pick them up and we could walk together and eat meat all day.   They are so lovely the two of them and they make me laugh with there continual search for food.  Hollow legs!!!

I swung into A Balsa at 8 this morning and picked them up and we headed up another huge mountain.  I have become quite ok with walking up mountains it is coming down the other side that kills me.  Don’t know how I would cope without walking poles.



It was very cold this morning. 7 degrees and really didn’t take my jacket off all day.  Beautiful walk this morning and again that gorgeous ethereal mist below the mountains that made it look like a lake and islands 




Passing through a lot of little hamlets on the way to Sarria today and believe me the aroma from the cows as you walk through these hamlets and also through the countryside is almost overwhelming.  Very rural!!!


I love that from the way you walk into a town with tiny streets, everyone drives their massive tractors down these streets and as we walk in the cows have been before us so you have to be very careful where you walk and to keep your mouth closed as the flies are incredible. 


Here was one of the culprits 


It was only 20kms to Sarria today so we were here by 11.30 and rather than go on we wanted to find an albergue and stay and savour our last week.



Sarria is 114kms from Santiago and this is where a lot of pilgrims start from in order to get their Compostella. You have to have walked 100kms to get it so this little town of 13,500 people is busting with albergue’s and hotels and is a little more expensive than the towns we have come through. I think it may be that way from now on but we will see.  

In every town at 6pm there is always a pilgrims mass with a pilgrims blessing at the end.  I went to one in one of the towns.  It was totally in Spanish so just copied what everyone else was doing.  No idea what was going on but I am very good at blending in!!!

Found a little albergue so the boys and I did our washing and went for a wander around town. Met up with Pierre and had our pilgrims lunch and am now about to go and explore the tiny town of Sarria.  

Been there done that.  Walked the town and now sitting in a bar on the street having a cold cerveza. 

Sarria has Celtic origins and was a major medieval centre for pilgrims 




I have spent the afternoon in the bar with Gil, Pierre and Kristina and now we are eating Italian in Spain 


The vino Tinto is gone and I can hear my bed calling

Buenos Noches

Day 27 – O’Cebreiro to Triacastela

Slept in an albergue last night with 55 other people and would you believe slept like a log.  Very big hill to climb yesterday and 55 people couldn’t have woken me they tried! 

Left before the sun was up this morning but the moon lit up the sky and it was quite light.  Beautiful coming over the mountains in moonlight.

Walked into Linares which was only another 3kms down the road and still fast asleep so moved searching for breakfast

At the top of the hill was the windy pilgrim 



There are so many fantastic statues to pilgrims all along the way. 

And then there was another hill to conquer. I think it was worse than yesterday but again the countryside is spectacular. I will be using every adjective I know to describe the beautiful area of Galacia. 

Mountainous, spectacular, scenic, green, autumnal colours, panoramic, beautiful.  Some of the most gorgeous country I have ever seen.  


Someone was telling me last night that Galacia was where the majority of the Way was filmed as it is so beautiful.  Hopefully I will see something soon that I recognise from the movie.  Will definitely be watching it again on my return.

So just to give you all an idea of the hills I have been scaling and descending over the last two days


Thankfully at the top of the mountain I scaled there was a very welcome Bar for breakfast. I sat with a few Catalan’s and naturally the conversation was all about what is happening in Barcelona right now.  The saddest thing is that the Spanish government won’t let it happen even if the majority want it. Typical, they will lose too much money!  

As I was passing through a little village I stopped to take a picture of the cows in the shed being fed and this little old lady, must have been at least in her 80s came out and called to me and all the other pilgrims as she had made a huge plate of crepes which she was giving out to us all as we passed.  I was talking to a South African lady who had done this walk 6 years ago and apparently she was there as well handing out crepes.  I just love the generosity of the Spanish people.  

Once over the mountain of course we had to go down the other side but the countryside is stunning.  




As you can see in the above photo in Galacia the early morning mists can give rise to the most ethereal ‘floating islands’ where hilltops appear above the clouds.  

So down the mountain I went meeting some ‘friends’ on the way 


As I was coming down the hill I saw a very ugly site of a quarry cut into the landscape but it turns out that these quarries provided the limestone used in the building of the Santiago cathedral. Medieval pilgrims would carry as much as they were able to the lime kilns in Castaneda.  

Arrived in Triacastela at about 20 past 12 but the albergue didn’t open until 1 so dumped the pack at the front door and went for a wander around town.

Triacastela means 3 castles none of which exist anymore but the parish church is dedicated to Santiago and has an unusual 18th century tower which has carved in relief the 3 castles. 


Wandering through town and I ran into my Brazilian friend Gil so we headed of the the restaurant for a pilgrims meal and I am still here drinking Rose and blogging as I have good wifi.

Just run into Kian and Oswin and I am meeting Gil again for dinner tonight.  

Tomorrow I will set off for Sarria which is only 112 kms from Santiago. Cannot believe my journey is nearly over.  

Out for dinner and ran into Pierre and he joined Gil and I for dinner and also Andreas from Sweden 


At the end of another fabulous day in Spain I say viva Espana and buenos noches