Day 44 – Logoso to Finesterre

Posted from Fisterra, Galicia, Spain.

(This will be my final post for the Camino de Santiago. After today I’ll spend the next view days returning to being a traveler/tourists. I may post a few pictures from London but I’ll rest my tired typing finger from posts.)

Like so many days on this journey the day started with a great sunrise. It will be another amazing day.

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After a nice breakfast I headed down the trail. It was a great path through thin forests. At one point I looked back and the sun was coming up directly behind me in the east. I knew that meant my path forward to the west was the right one.

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Before long I came to a fork in the road. I had to chose between Muxia and Finesterre. I chose Finisterre.

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The path continued through pine trees passing a couple of ancient churches. Off in the distance I could see a marine layer but no sea. Finally I came over a rise and could see the ocean.

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The path continued down to the town of Cee. A cute place on a small inlet. The path continued along above the rocky shore. Finally after teasing me with nice views I came down to the waters edge. Before me was a white sand beach reaching toward Finesterre.

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I took off my shoes and walk into the cool water. I’d made it across Spain to the Atlantic Ocean.

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I walked about 2km in my bare feet carrying my pack walking in the water. It felt wonderful. At the end of the beach I was at Finisterre. I dried my feet put on my shoes and walked into town. As I got above the beach I could see how clear and pretty the water was.

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I went to the municipal albergue and received another compestella and my final stamp in my credential. My camino was over.

Lorraine had told me of a place she’d heard was nice one so I headed to the Hotel Lopez. A little old lady walked me from floor to floor and room to room so I could chose a room . Finally on the 3rd floor she showed me a room with a double bed and an amazing view. This was the one. I asked “Cuánto es”. I thought her response was 50 but could have been 60. A bargain either was so I said Si. She told me to rest and come pay later (at least that’s what I thought she said). Later I went down to retrieve my passport and pay the bill. She slid the invoice toward me. Not 50…not 60….if was 20!!!! I may move here.

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I went to the store and bough a San Miguel beer. I walked up the hill and down the other side to the end of the earth. The sun was slowly sinking into the sea.

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I sat and watched it drop into the ocean. Like countless pilgrims before me back though the ages I sat and wondered what was out there.

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Last December while on vacation with Carolyn we went to Larrabee State Park. About 6 weeks earlier I’d watched the movie The Way and decided I was going to do the camino. I’d done some basic research and knew that the scalloped shell was the sign of the camino. While there at Larrabee I found a shell and picked it up. Not sure what it was for but knew I’d use it.

Last July while traveling with Carolyn and Emily in France we went to Vezeley. This is actually a popular starting place for the camino. As we walk along I saw the scalloped shell in the sidewalk. It was marking the start of the way from Vezeley. I took a picture standing over the shell which is the picture at the top of this blog.

I carried that shell from Washington all across Spain. Today when I reached the ocean I placed it on the beach, stood above it a took another picture. Later as I stood on the beach watching the sunset I picked up a new scalloped shell and put it in my pocket. As the sun set on the horizon I thought of all the people I know and love far off in the west. As the sun went down I threw the Washington shell into the ocean. It had traveled from the east side of the Atlantic Ocean to the east side of the Pacific ocean. Quite the journey. Just like mine.

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Buen Camino

Day 43 – Negreira to Logoso

Posted from Dumbría, Galicia, Spain.

Today was another amazing weather day. High clouds this morning clear skies this afternoon. Everyone keeps commenting on how unusual this is.

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The walk today was really nice. There were very few people, the trails were varied through farmland, forest , hills and flat areas.

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I’ve seen lots of mushrooms along the way. All very different.

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I noticed in this area the horreos are very different. They are made from rocks instead of wood or bricks.

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I had a very long walk today. I think if was about 35 km, one of my longer ones. All day the huge windmills were in the distance. Toward the end of the day they I actually got to them.

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After talking to several pilgrims I have altered my plans. I’m going to bypass Muxia and head straight to Finisterre. Word is the walk from this direction is great and will be missed from Muxia. So tonight is my last albergue and tomorrow my final walk. I’ll spend a couple of days in Finesterre then go back to Santiago for a couple of days. After 32km I was unhappy with the albergue and decided to go a bit further. The final 4 km were great. Above a river. Windmills nearby. Green. Cool. Very nice.

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The choice to move on was good. The final albergue is small (only 7 people tonight). It has great views into the valley. It is quiet, clean and they even provide a towel (a first). Had one more peregrino meal of Galicia soup, fish, fries, desert and wine. I dined with a Canadian and a couple from Idaho and San Diego (not sure how that works). We finished dinner with a drink called liquor of herbs. Delicious.

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I have a hotel reservation tomorrow night so I’ll try and take the final walk slowly. It is suppose to be another great weather day (but rain is coming).

Day 42 – Santiago to Negreira

Posted from Negreira, Galicia, Spain.

I headed out to another beautiful day at about 8:15. The town was pretty quiet. The new way headed out of the main square.

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It was amazing how quickly the town disappeared in this direction. At one point I could look back and see the cathedral.

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Quickly I was in the woods once again. As I walked it was odd how quiet it was. I saw very few pilgrims and very few locals. Even in the towns it was silent. The highlight of the walk was an old stone bridge across a river near a small cascade.

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I even found a chance for a selfie.

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I arrived in the destination town about 1:30. I was first at the albergue. They had a washer/dryer do I washed all my clothes. Slowly over the next hours more people arrived. Probably 20 total for a place with 40 beds. They are a mix of people, none I know. A South African woman living in Australia, a Japanese couple, an Italian guy…

The albergue is nice. On the second floor with large doors opening into small balconies with nice views of the street.

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There was a nice store so just bought some snack food and wine and sat on one if the balconies and watch the night fall while watching the slow activity on the street. Tomorrow is a longer day than normal, 32 km. then I should reach the coast.

Day 40/41 – Santiago

Posted from Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

Well it has been an amazing two days in Santiago. I was afraid I’d get bored but far from it. I went to the pilgrims mass at noon. It was crowded but I had a good seat. Toward the end they hoisted the botafumeiro. It was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. I actually got to see it two other times. I’d go again if I had the chance.

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At the end of the mass I found Martin and Jane. I hadn’t seen them in two weeks. It was cool finding them again at the end of the camino. We arranged to meet for lunch. I met up with them and Cathy and Haley from Canada. We had pizza then spent a couple of hours at an outside bar having drinks (the life of a pilgrim).

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Later we walked back into town. We all hugged and said our goodbyes since it was unlikely we’d cross paths again.

This morning I got up, had breakfast and went out to see the town. The weather has been fantastic. It is apparently very unusual to have such amazing weather this time of year. It is cool, clear and amazing blue skies. I went to the cathedral to do the things pilgrims do. First I visited the relics of Saint James in a crypt under the alter.

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Then I climbed up behind the alter. There is a huge statue of Saint James and pilgrims can go and give him a hug, so I did.

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As I walked around town I kept seeing pilgrims I’d crossed paths with. Miriam from Australia.

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The Spanish ladies that stayed at a small albergue where we had a great conversation though they knew no English and we knew little Spanish.

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I even saw Sheshawn my stalker. I was sitting in a pew during mass. I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned around and she smiled and waved. I looked back a bit later and she was gone. How appropriate.

I had run into Helen and Lorain from Canada. We’d walk together often. Lorain had heard about a roof top tour of the cathedral so we agreed to go at 6:00. We met and if was terrific. The time has changed here so during the 1 hour tour the sun set and dusk grew. We walked around on the roof looking at the views and features. One of my favorite activities.

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Afterward I took Lorain and Helen out for tapas. It was delicious.

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We had 3 glasses of wine each, a bunch of amazing tapas and a creme brûlée. Total €44, unbelievable.

Well tomorrow it’s back to the life of a pilgrim for a little bit longer. My plan is to leave about 8:00 am. I’ll take 4 days to Muxia then 2 more to Finistere.

Thanks to everyone for the great wishes of congratulations. It’s been a blast and I’ll continue for a bit longer.

Day 39 – O Pedrouzo to Santiago

Posted from Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

Most people in my albergue woke and left around 6:00 trying to get to Santiago for the noon pilgrims mass. I’ll wait and go tomorrow. As I got ready I thought last albergue of this camino, last loading of the back, last breakfast….
It was another nice walk in the morning. There were more pilgrims at the start headed for the final leg.

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But soon I was alone in a wood path once again.

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I walk slowly and stopped several times for coffee or a drink. At each stop I’d see a few people I knew. At one I came across Fiona. She is from South Africa living in New York.

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We walked together for a bit. As we approached the city she stopped and went on to enter the city by myself. It was Saturday and many people were on the streets. Eventually I could see the cathedral in the distance.

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Finally after walking into the old town I got to the square (it was surprisingly quiet). I sat in the shade to watch the activity and other pilgrims arrive.

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After a while I had someone take my arrival photo.

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With my pack on my back I headed to the pilgrim office for my final stamp and my compestella. 39 days, 800 km, 480 miles and a few blisters….I made it.

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I got a room at an old monetary. It is an amazing building. My room is small and basic but it has a double bed, no one sleeping above me and towels!!! The little pleasures.

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After showering and resting I headed out to see the old town. I talked to several pilgrims I knew. I think more will arrive tomorrow. As I walked the narrow streets I saw Marco and Claudia from San Marino. They had made it to Santiago!! They asked to buy me a drink. We sat at a cafe and chatted about the trip. Claudia said she cried when she arrived. They were very nice. I got a picture before they left. They gave me a big hug and said goodbye.

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It was a special day. I’ll sleep well tonight.

Day 38 – Boente to O Pedrouzo

Posted from .

I was surprised but today was a very nice walk. I figured as I approached Santiago the way would be more commercial. Instead the walk was through very nice wooded pathways away from the road. The landscape may not have been as nice but it was very enjoyable. Since I’d stayed in a small village with a small albergue I walked much of the day alone.

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I did notice that the houses are much nicer. I realized that while it may take me days to get there these people can arrive in Santiago in 10-20 minutes. So these houses are nicer, pretty gardens (more flowers less vegetables) and nicer cars.

I have continued to be fascinated by the horreos (thanks to Kathleen for the identification, I’ve been wowing pilgrims with my local knowledge). I finally spotted one being used. An old guy was carrying vegetables to store.

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I also noticed today that some of the horreos are larger. Kind of like a double or triple wides.

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I had a nice surprise today. I usually try to stop around 11:00 for a snack. As I walked up to the bar I saw a familiar face. It was Kathy and her daughter Halley from Canada. I had walked with them several times early on but hadn’t seen them for about 20 days. It was like as reunion.

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Later I came across Lisa a Pasteur from Minnesota. She walks very slow and sometimes I walk with her for a while to rest. While walking today I passed the town where I planned to stay. Now I’m only 20km from Santiago. I’ve decided to go ahead and walk in tomorrow. I’ll take it slow and try to appreciate the final leg of this stage of the camino.

I also got a text today from Martin. I passed him so hopefully tomorrow I’ll see him and Jane on the way into town.

And finally today I saw my friend Marco from San Marino. He is too funny. He was dragging along. He said he walked until 8:00 last night. 6 hours longer than me to cover the same distance. He said he needed a coffee for energy and if God was good there’d be a cafe. Around the next corner there was a cafe, he was very happy. He insisted on getting a picture with me before I departed. I hope he makes it to Santiago.

Day 37 – Portos to Boente

Posted from .

I had a couple of good comments I thought I’d include here. First.

John wants to know, how you are dealing with drinking water. Where do you get it and how are you carrying it?

It’s odd just this morning I was thinking about my drinking water. One of the great things about the camino is the great infrastructure in place to support the pilgrims. I have gone for 35 days carrying from 1/2 liter to 1.5 liters of water. All along the way are fuentes (fountains). Each town and village has them. Some are simple spigots others are elaborate structures. Depending on the heat, length between villages etc I fill my Fanta bottle (1/2 liter) and Evian bottle (1 liter) appropriately. It has all worked out great.

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Kathleen asked me:

Your map shows you closing in on Santiago, are you excited or sad that the trek is winding down.

It’s interesting while for 35 days Santiago has been the destination, as I approach its importance seems to diminish. While I hope the arrival at the cathedral and going to the pilgrims office for the Compostela will be exciting, I’ve started feeling like Santiago will be another large city like Burgos and Leon. I think I’ll like enjoy it. I hope to see some pilgrims I hadn’t seen for a while. I’ll get a private room and I’ll eat some good food but the camino will continue (just like In Leon and Burgos). My plan is to get to Santiago Sunday, tour on Monday then head out. I’ll go first to Muxia, a quiet small rural town on the coast. Then head to Finistere. Here is where I think the camino will end. The end of the earth.

We’ll see.

Today I crossed paths with the pilgrims from San Marino. As I walked along I heard from ahead (in a heavy Italian accent), hey Texas!! It was the couple I’d shared a table with. Their names are Marco and Claudia. Marco (younger than me) was walking slowly, but smiling. He said he was sore. He had a big pack but it wasn’t strapped around his waist. I tried to tell him but he seemed happy as he was. I don’t think they are staying in Albergues because he talked about the hydrotherapy he’d had last night and the pool where he stayed. It was 10:00a.m. and they’d only made a few km. They said they were going about 28km, a long day. I hope the make it. Maybe I’ll see them tomorrow.

I stayed in a nice Albergue tonight and had the luxury of doing all my laundry, even my bed liner. The little things are so nice. The crazy bedbug lady with the issues showed up. I’ve learned she lives in Mexico with her Mexican husband growing coffee. She is unhappy because she thought she’d be able to open a B&B and visit with people. I kept it to myself that a B&B in northern Mexico might not be a big tourist draw at this time. She keeps asking where I’m going next. She may be my first camino stalker. Hopefully you’ll hear from me tomorrow.

Day 36 – Portomarin to Portos

It is getting harder to leave in the daylight each morning. Today sunrise was at 8:51. I hit the trail about 8:15. Light was just starting to show in the sky. It was dark and misty. I could see shadows of other pilgrims ahead but navigating was hard. Slowly the light came to the sky.

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Over the last few days there have been many spider webs in the trees. Some even floating through the air. In today’s fog they took on a new look. Some pretty.

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Some scary.

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It was foggy until nearly noon. I planned to stop early today and found a little (8 person) albergue alone in the countryside. So far I’m the only one there. We’ll see if others stop.

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I chose this place because there’s an old church with connections to the Knights Templar nearby. I got the owner to make me a sandwich and I headed off for the short 2km walk. It was a church from the 13 century with some interesting carvings and frescoes.

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I sat behind the church in the sun and had my sandwich. Delicious.

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Only 4 people showed up at the albergue tonight. A German guy, Hank with a good sense of humor, a french woman that kept to herself and an American living in Mexico, Sheshawna. She has lots of issues including a possible case of bedbugs (plus an unhappy marriage, constantly stretching while talking to you, and menopause induced sleeping issues). We ate dinner together in the small bar (no one else was there). A good soup, fried calamari and tart Santiago (almond tart with powdered sugar), wine and bread.

Unfortunately we ate early so now I’ve got to try and pass some time before going to bed. I think this is a late sleeping group so I don’t want to go to bed too soon.

Day 35 – San Mamede to Portomarin

The day stated off like usual. I headed out at 8:15, first light. I had taken about 20 steps when my one walking pole bent. Disaster!!! I love my stuff, I have nothing I want to leave behind. I stood in the near dark trying to fix it. I figure this was it, I’d have to learn to walk without a pole. Suddenly I was able to get the bent part back into the next telescoping piece. Hallelujah, Santiago has saved me. I continue happily on my way. (Ironically at a stop later in the day I left the pole behind and had to hike back a little way to retrieve it. I’m not sure it’s going to make it to the end). The walk toward Sarria was pretty. The sky was clear but mist was settled into the low places.

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I walked on about 45 minutes to Sarria. Sarria is significant on the camino. In order to get a compostela (certificate of completion) in Santiago you must walk at least 100km. Sarria is the town that is closest to the 100km mark. So a large number of pilgrims start the camino in Sarria. Sure enough as I left Sarria the way seemed more crowded. The pilgrims seemed chipper, cleaner with more and nicer stuff. But as usual as I walked the people thinned out and before long I was walking alone.

Twice as I walked I came across pilgrims I knew that I hadn’t seen for about 10 days. It was fun to catch up and hear about other pilgrims we knew.

Yesterday the walk was in the low mountains with lots of vegetation but all along I noticed the beautiful stone walls. Today the walk was more in farmland (cattle). But still there were these amazing walls. The lined the path, they outlined the fields, they were everywhere. It is hard to imagine how many centuries it took to build them and how many centuries they have existed.

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As I walked today I saw an odd tall skinny building. Before long another, then another. I’ve not seen them before and wondered what they were.

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I asked a couple of people but no one knew. At one point I saw one with a door in the side that was open. Inside it looked like beehive boxes. So I’m guessing they are for bees that help pollinate the gardens. I’ll keep researching.

A few other odd sightings today. First an ostrich looking mean and pecking viciously at the fence.

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Then I saw a camino traffic jam. I definitely yielded to oncoming traffic.

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Today I also passed the marker indicating 100km to Santiago. It’s hard to believe I’ve come 700km and the end is approaching.

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The albergue I wanted to stay in tonight was full (the first time on my camino). Probably because of the Sarria pilgrims but it was small only 8 beds. Instead I went on to Portomarin. The albergue was ok but nothing to be excited about. At 6:00 I walked up to town for a beer. I sat out on the church square where the local action was happening. The place served pizza ao I decided I was ready for a change in menu and stayed for dinner.

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A group of pilgrims asked if I wanted to join them inside but I declined saying I was working in my blog (plus outside was much better). After a bit a very attractive man and woman asked if they could share my table. I said of course. They had great Italian accents. We talked and they were from the Republic of San Marino. Its a small country totally surrounded by Italy. We talked about their history, their politics, U.S. Politics, George Bush 43 and the equally questionable Italian government. They had seen the movie The Way (unusual for people from non-English countries) and wanted to go. They only had a week so we’re on their first day having left from Sarria this morning. They were sore, happy and excited. It made me realize that the Sarria pilgrims are looking for the way just like everyone else. The Sarria pilgrims made me come to Portomarin and I’m glad they did. I left the San Marino couple with a handshake and a Buen Camino.