Post Camino- what to do when the walking is done…..

The walking is done, we have celebrated Pilgrims Mass, what to do now….. A day trip….
Many people continue walking from Santiago to Fisterra and Muxia which are in the coast of Spain, and I know many who left today heading there on foot but we hired a car, much quicker.
But before we left for the day had to say goodbye to the first of our little group, Colin returned to England this afternoon so did not come with us, you know your walking time is over when your Camino family starts to get smaller.
Well off we went to Muxia and Fisterra, it is about 100km away, so a 4 day walk with lots of mountains but only a 1 hour drive to Muxia. Muxia is a lovely little seaside town with an amazing church.

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There are a few monuments there to pilgrim walkers. Very windswept, with a wind blowing off the Atlantic Ocean.

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Fisterra, which is where most people walk to so about 50km from Muxia, bigger and a more touristy town. There is a light house where people go to burn there Camino clothes (not sure this is legal) but we didn’t. There was a bit of a fire going when we arrived but someone had called the fire department, who turned up just as we left.

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Ran into some friends we had not seen for about 2 weeks out at Fisterra, so very pleased we went. And my navigational skills came in handy getting in and out of Santiago.

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Day30 Santiago de Compostela

Walking has finished! Slept in this morning, the sun came up without me watching.
Wandered around the old town this morning, looking for clothes for Dann. Than off to church for midday pilgrim mass. We got there early to get good seats, lots of people wandering around the church with tour groups.
The Bishop has been in town for a couple of days so the Botafumeiro was swung at the end of mass.

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There are about 6 priests who raise it up and swing it across the church, amazing to see. All the countries of the pilgrims who have arrived in the last 24 hours are mentioned. It is a lovely service even if it is in Spanish.
After church caught up with a couple of people who have arrived today, than some light shopping. I need a new top, over my walking clothes. Have picked up a couple of things, fun shopping with 3 upper middle age men, who need to share their opinion.
Tonight was dinner with just the 4 of us as Colin is off to England tomorrow, shared our favourite memories. After dinner walking back to the hotel, found a little alley were opera was being sung- truly beautiful.

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Day 29 O’Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

Last official day of walking, according to the ‘book’ it is 20.1km to Santiago…. Well it seems like a bit longer than that when walking.
It was decided that getting to Santiago for 12md Pilgrim Mass was going to be pushing a little hard, so had sleep in, breakfast and set out about 8.30am, sun was almost up and the usual mist about. Happy to be walking today, have spoken to my feet and explained they just have to get to 2pm, then they can rest.
It took it slowly stopping for coffee and resting as the day progressed. There are lost of pilgrims on the road today, but not seeing to many familiar faces.

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There is the anticipation of what Santiago will look like as you come over the last hill. I had this whole Brigadoon image in mind, sadly as you come over the hill it’s just another town. Had to walk about 5km through the outskirts to get to the old city, and than you find yourself entering the cathedral square and suddenly it is all done. As we arrived in the square there are about 20 faces I know so hugs and congratulations all round.

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After photos arranged to meet up for drinks once everyone is checked in.
Staying in beautiful little hotel, over looking tops of houses, white sheets and bathtub. The small joys of life.

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It really is a feeling of ‘wow’ we made it. Everyone is chatting catching up for drinks and than later about 30 for us went for dinner. A great night, stayed up till 10.30pm, I know doesn’t seem late but to us it’s a big night.

Day 28 Arzua to O’Pedrouzo

Day 28 has been walked!!
We had a lovely slow walk today, about 22km, stopping regularly to have a drink, chat with other walkers and generally enjoying ourselves.
There was no mountains to climb, only a few gentle hills to go up and down. We still started out early, with coffee con leche and croissant at 7am, than hit the road a out 7.30am. The sun is getting later and later, coming up around 8.30am and the mist burning off about 10am. But the last couple of days once the sun is out it has been clear and warm, perfect for walking. It is surprising the eucalyptus forests that we walk through, I could be walking at Mt Cootha. Dann tells me it reminds him of being a kid in India, I tell him it reminds me of every Saturday morning doing HikeFit.
There are signs now every 500metres telling us how far to go to Santiago. Once again you never know if this is correct or if it is in Spanish km, the numbers new quite add up. But it is good to see the numbers going down. All the talk with the Camino friends is what to dononce we reach Santiago, most of the people I know are arriving there tomorrow but we are mainly planing a late start tomorrow, not expecting to reach town until lunch. Pilgrim mass is 12md so many think we will do that on Wednesday, just take time tomorrow to enjoy arriving and not having to rush. There is a very loose group of about 25 of us who have been walking around the same speed and will be arriving Tuesdayish, so no doubt we will all gather together to celebrate in the next day or so. Really looking forward to seeing how everyone has faired.
Some people plan to continue walking to Fisterra over another 3 days or another 100km to the sea. Thankfully I think a day trip on the bus may be my choice if I go there, will wait and see, I want to play tourist for a couple of days.

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Day 27 Palas de Rei to Arzua

I made a major discovery today – you can not believe the book called ‘A Pilgrims Guide to the Camino de Santiago’ by John Brierley. It is the book used by most English speaking walkers and everyone has a copy. Today’s walk according to the book was to be 25.8km with no hills. Well my pedometer recorded 30.2km and I recall a number of hills. I usually make allowances for Spanish km which seem longer than usual km.
Anyway, it still was a nice walk. We didn’t start walking till 7.30am is morning after coffee and croissant. As usual was dark when we headed out and lots of mist, it took till about 10am to burn the mist off and turned into a lovely day.

This area of Spain is known for its seafood, especially octopus but I managed to have great pizza for lunch. Having said that today we found a local place in Arzua for dinner and had some gambas(prawn) dish that was great. It you can find a place that does not have a menu del dia, you can get great food.
Travelled through great countryside again, and saw a few more old faces, catching up. This morning when we stopped for coffee, I saw an Australian women, Julia, from Hobart, walking back down the path. Julia has been walking since St Jean for 31 days, today she had concede that her Camino is over and she can no longer walk. Her back has been giving her problems for the last 2 weeks and now the pain was too much. She called a taxi to take her to the next town, than I saw her waiting for a bus to Santiago. It is terrible 2 days out from finishing to have to give up, but really the Compostela is only a piece of paper and she knows all she has accomplished, still a disappointment. Hope to see Julia in Santiago on Tuesday, along with many others.
It is funny that this walk is really down to a piece of paper in the end, when there is so much more to it. The thing I am most looking forward to is seeing everyone I have met along the way arrive in Santiago, sharing stories and reliving memories. We really live in a bubble while walking, I have seen only a little Spanish TV and I don’t understand it, so world events are a bit of a mystery to me at the moment – our lives revolve around walking from point A to point B and little else, and few people are worried about anything else.

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Day 26 Portamarin to Palas de Rei

It is funny, on days that we think are short it seems to take longer. The book everyone uses says 25km but these are Spanish km, my pedometer said 29km. Really was a lovely walk, up a little hill or two just to get the blood flowing. It was very misty up till about 9.30 this morning when it lifted and a mostly sunny day followed.

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We followed country roads most of the day around back of farms. It really is different scenery in this part of the country with lots of wooded forests.

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We are 65km from Santigo, or so the sign outside says. I can not imagine what I am going to do when I don’t have to get up and walk but I can not wait to find out.
Nothing of excitement to tell today.

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Day 25 Sarria to Portomarin

Another day down and only 4 more walking days to go. Today was a short day by Camino standards only 23km. We had a late start, had breakfast (coffee and croissant, not sure if I will be able to give them up) than started walking about 8am. Was still a little dark but the sun started coming up in the first hour. Go my morning sunrise today

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Someone had mentioned a little rolling hillside but surprise, surprise there was a half mountain again. It really was a lovely walk, with great weather, no rain, not to hot.
Sarria is the starting point for many people, as you are only required to walk 100km to get your Compostela and Sarria is 115km from Santiago. There was a lot more people walking today and lots of fresh faces. It is also interesting that as we get closer to the end old faces are reappearing. It is nice to catch up with old friends and hear about how they are going.
One of the interesting sights for the day was an ostrich. Came over the hill and there he was in someone’s yard.

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Of course there are lots of farm animals. Today the farmer was bring cows and sheep up the road, so we had to set aside to let them by.

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Walking through the back of lots of farms, there is a delightful odour lingering in the air and perhaps on the bottom of my shoes.
Sincere entering Galicia you have the feeling that your journey is almost over. There are now markers every 500m telling you how long to go. Had to get a photo at the 100km mark.

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Portomarin was today’s end point were you cross the Rio Mino, very wide deep valley.

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Another cute little town on a hill, but none of these towns come to life till 9pm, this is very hard for a pilgrim as most are in bed by 8.30pm.
We wait to see what the last few days will bring.

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Day 24 Biduedo to Serria

I woke this morning after what was possibility the best nights sleep since I arrived in Spain. A long walk, good meal followed by a hard bed with soft covers. Biduedo is on the side of a mountain, it consists do 2 hostels, 1bar and a farm with lots of cows. The cows came home last night while we were having dinner, along the same path we had taken to get into town.

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Last night the wind blow and there was a couple of thunder storms, I missed it all and did not want to get out of bed this morning. But unfortunately more walking was required today. We did not head out till 7.30 this morning as we thought it was going to be a short 23km, an early wrong turn added 5km to the day.
When we left the rain had stopped but the wind blow all day, some said up to 40 to 50km an hour.

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We mainly headed down hill today into the valley but there is always a little up somewhere. I’d about a 400m climb around lunch. Once again beautiful countryside and travelling through the back of farms.

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We finally reached Sarria this afternoon. This town is 110km from Santiago, so the starting point for lots of people, as you only need 100km to get your Compostela. We also require to get our credentials stamped twice a day from this point on. Hoping it will not be to busy.
Dinner tonight was a big change, there is a great Italian place in town, ran into lots of people we know there. That is one amazing thing about this walk, you are alway meeting and running into people you know and everyone wants to talk- very much a community.

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Day 23 La Portela de Valcarce to Biduedo

There are some days that just make everything worthwhile and today was one of those days. It did not start well, after a terrible nights sleep I was not looking forward to hiking up a mountain. Last nights stop was at a truck stop and all night they were coming in. Wake at 6am for what we thought may be a eggs and bacon for breakfast. No bacon and eggs instead coffee and usual croissant. Heading out I the cold and dark, but thankfully no rain.
Today is a climb up to O’Cebreiro which is at 1300m, I am starting at 600m so only 700m to go up. It was decided to ship packs to the next stop, so only day packs today, this is a smart decision. We had covered about 8km by the time the sun started to come up and also the start of the climb out of Herreias. I have to say the climb and the views were really amazing. It was hard work but I just felt it made everything fantastic. Every time you stopped to look at the view there another valley or more valley to look at. The weather was cool but not cold and the rain held out until after lunch.

We had come across a dog yesterday, who didn’t have any road sense and was following pilgrims. I was not sure if the dog was local or where it was from. Yesterday I thought the dog would have been hit by a car and almost was a couple times when we saw it. Last night I didn’t want to think about the dog, than this morning there the dog was half way up the mountain. A young guy from Berlin had heard that the dog belonged to an Italian girl who was not far away. Kyle (the guy) tied the dog up and while we where having a break the Italian girl turned up. She didn’t have a lead for the dog and we told her the dog had almost been killed the day before. I saw her again late this afternoon and the dog is now on a lead. Really not sure why she has it with her…..
Lunch had us reaching O’Cebreiro, were we finally got our bacon and eggs. Also had an amazing hot chocolate with it. On top of the mountain is a cute little church with a Franciscan priest. Sweetest little town, same we didn’t have lots of time to hang around. The ladies toilet had a great washbasin.
It was than to start down the other side of the mountain, or so we thought. It seems it was just a lot of up and down to different towns. Still loved the walk, felt like you were on top of the world.
Finally after 7hours reached our destination, Biduedo. I can not all it a village as only a Casa Rural, bar and a milking shed… But what a great finish to the day. Nice home cooked meal, comfortable beds and watched the cows walking down the same path we had come in on, on their way home.

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Photos have been added at end due to no Internet last night

Day 22 Camponraya to La Portela de Valcarce

Last night we spent in the delightful town of Camponraya, well just outside it at an interesting motel. I said if Anthony Perkins turned up I was out of there.
We went into town for dinner, it would seem everywhere in Spain has sculptures, my question is what does this mean.

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We went into a cafe, no one could really understand anyone but we got across we were hungry and he just brought out food. Ended up with great salad and huge pork chops. We were given some sort of fire water, or maybe it was graper to finish the meal, very nice man thought we needed it.
Today started out cold, dark and very, very wet. We left the Bates motel about 7am, and seeing it was cloudy and rain this morning the sun did not an appearance till about 9am. Walked throughout what I can only assume were lovely vineyards. I had seen pictures from someone who is 24 hours ahead of me. Shoes and socks were well damp by the time we stopped for coffee in Cacabelos, not much to be done when you step in big puddles.
Most of today was through wine country, vineyards and grapes everywhere. Coming over one hill there were grapes hanging over the road, begging to be picked. They were so incredibility sweet.

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Unfortunately the town we had coffee I didn’t seem to be able to offer anything for breakfast so had to wait to Villafranca del Bierzo. I ended up having a tortilla sandwich, no more food needed for the rest of the day.

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Villafranca del Bierzo is a beautiful town on the edge of the mountain range, with the mist and rain cover looks very magical and add in the castle and is amazing.

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Nice break and on we go. Did catch up with a few people I had previously met, nice to hear what everyone is up to.
After coffee and food, we followed the valley floor for another 12 km to get to our destination of La Portela de Valcarca. Arrived about 2pm, sore, wet feet and all. Of course as the afternoon progressed out came the sun, was good for drying all the clothes. Than again bit of conversation, dinner and into bed by 8.30pm. There is no great night life for the pilgrims….

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