Travels - Links to each trip

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Camino 2017 Rest of the story

After arriving in Santiago and visiting the tomb of my patron saint I felt that my pilgrimage was complete. The extension to Finisterre (or Fisterre as used in Spanish) was optional and more like vacation but I was very happy to continue walking on to the"end of the earth" as it was known in ancient times.
Helen and I started on our 4 day 90km (56 mile) walk to Fisterre. 
I did not continue blogging in part due to frustration with internet availability and partly due to laziness now that I was in vacation mode. 
The route was pretty, the weather was great and most of the stages were long and tiring but here is an overview of the days and sights  

Day 1. Santiago to Negreira

We left Santiago past the west end of the cathedral as it was just getting light, down a steep hill to cross the river and back up to the top of the next hill. There was a high fog above us and at one point we could look back across the valley and see the lower part of the cathedral with the towers and spires up in the clouds. 



After leaving the city quite quickly we were on trails through woods and up and down hills, through more open areas on our way to the little town of Negreira. 


Shortly before arriving at Negreira we passed over this medieval bridge, still the main traffic carrier olong this road. 


We found an albergue for the night and had a nice dinner at a restaurant in the town. 

Day 2. Negreira to Ponte Oliveira

The next morning we left early while it was still foggy for a long 32km day with several hills to cross on our way to the next town.  Here is the old city wall in the early morning as we left the town. 


After a while the sun broke through and we walked through pretty countryside. However this proved to be one of our most tiring days. We were walking for about 8 hours before we reached the next town without many places to rest or get a coffee along the way


The flowers were very nice by the trail


We finally arrived in Olveira tired but relieved to have the longest day behind us. We slept well that night!

Day 3. Ponte Olveira to Concubión

The next morning we set off on the next leg of our walk as far as the town of Cee. It is a harbor town on a bay of the Atlantic Ocean.  Our first view of the ocean came long before we arrived in Cee. 


For much of the day we encountered thick fog on the hills


And steep climbs and descents


Also we passed a confusing sign where the trails split: left to Fisterre and right to Muxia. 


Soon were we were on our way down a very steep descent to the harbor in Cee. It was very hard on our knees but we finally made it down. Often the descents were harder than the climbs. 

The sun came out and it was another glorious sunny day. 



We found an albergue in the adjacent town of Concubión and explored the town. It was very pretty with a XII century church. 


Dinner for me was muscles from the Atlantic. They were delicious! 


Day 4. Concubión to Fisterre

The next morning we made our final 13 km to the little harbor town of Fisterre. Much of the trail was close to the ocean and we were there in about 3 hours. 

We left our backpacks at an albergue and after finding some lunch, since we had missed breakfast, we set out on the last 3 km to the lighthouse on the promontory that for millennia had been considered to be the end of the earth where the souls of the dead were released to their ancestors with the gods. 

The walk along the coast was pretty with a clear sky and a very strong wind off the ocean. 


When we arrived Helen layed a stone she had picked out along the way to remember Ben's mother. 



Then we took the obligatory photograph at the 0.00 km post on a beautiful day with the ocean as our backdrop. We had completed what we had set out to do and covered almost 240 miles on foot across 2 countries of Portugal and Spain. A very special father-daughter experience. 


We picked up our Fisterrama certificates


 Later I wandered along the harbor watching the fishermen. I went to the fish market but today's catch had mostly been sold with just a few bins remaining. 


Return to Santiago

After our 4 day walk to Fisterre it was time to return to Santiago for 2 more nights. This would be our first time using transportation since we got off the train in Barcelos, Portugal which seems to have been an age ago. 

According to the schedule the bus would take a little over 3 hours but it turned out after we were already on our way that this was an express bus and only took about 1.5 hours. We were lucky without realizing it!  

Two more nights in Santiago and then on to the U.K.  

Good night, this time from Santiago. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Camino 2017 June 8 Day 11 Day in Santiago

Today we had planned a free day in Santiago. We made a lazy start to the day and then went down the hill to the pilgrim office to get our compostelas (certificate of completing a Camino). We had to wait an hour in line but then we were next in line and received our certificates.


We heard that it was possible to take a tour of the roof of the cathedral so we signed up for a tour at 1:00 pm. 
Next we stopped at one of the many local restaurants for some breakfast before returning to the apartment to continue with our laundry. There is a washing machine but we seem to have difficulty opening the door when a load is finished. Helen finally figured it out but not before we had played with it for quite a while.we then hung our washing out on the washing line outside the kitchen window but 3 stories above the ground and hoped it would not blow down into a pit below! 

Soon it was time for the roof tour so a 5 minute walk back to the cathedral. And we were led up a staircase that wound up one of the two main towers at the East end of the cathedral. 
Across to the other side on a wide stone walkway above the nave we could look down at the people in the nave below



Then up again in the tower and out onto the stone covered roof. We walked across the sloping blocks of stone and sat for a talk on the history and design of the building. 


The view down on the roof of the cloisters below and across the city was amazing. 


These are the two main towers. The left one contains the bells and the right one has a rattle which is only used on Good Friday signifying death. 


Up over the top of the apse to see down on to the square below.  


Here are the cloisters from the roof of the cathedral. This a tour well worth doing. 


Then back home to hang out the rest of the washing. Helen is at our window



The apartment is excellent with two bedrooms a bathroom and a kitchen / living room. It has all we need at an excellent price. The location is in the old town pedestrian area so very convenient. 



We worked on our blogs for a while before heading down to look for somewhere for dinner. It looked and felt like rain and we found a nice place where could sit outside under cover and enjoyed our first meal with just the two of us since our first day on the Camino. It never did rain however. 


Back to the hotel to sort our stuff and arrange for a box to leave some things in Santiago that we won't need on our way to Finisterre. 

We tried for an early night but noise and shouting outside on the street kept us awake for a while. 

Tomorrow we will set out for Finisterre and more adventures. 

Good night


(Backup) Camino 2017 Day 10 June 7 - Padron to Santiago de Compostela

The albergue in Padron was pretty good and most of the people we had been seeing along the way seemed to have slept well. We left at about 7:00am but stopped almost immediately for a breakfast of fresh baked apple pie and coffee. It made a good start to the day. 

It was quite cold as we set out and I didn't take my fleece off for about 2 hours when we stopped again for coffee. 
It turned out to be a bright clear beautiful day as we walked through several small villages where the typical Galician grain storage "horreos" were very frequent. In some villages there were several of them. In this picture there are three to be seen. They are always on stone piers designed to prevent rodents from accessing the grain stored for the winter. 


In this area the villages were all tidy and well kept with gardens growing vegetables and flowers by the houses. 


Sometimes we were walking under grape vines above us like a pergola. It was and shady and pleasant walking out of the hot sun. 


We encountered stretches through the woods away from the major highway which ran parallel to our path but we didn't have the noise of the traffic. 


More wayside crosses. Helen took some nice pictures of the various figures on some of these, many of which had stood up to weather for centuries. 



For most of the Camino we have seen cabbages growing with leaves only at the very top of tall stalks, some as tall 6-7 feet from the ground. Does anyone know what type of cabbage these are and have you seen them grown in the US?

Finally after a long uphill tiring slog for the final 3 - 4 km into the city in the hot sun we arrive at the cathedral at about 1:00pm. We soon find others we had met along the way and agreed to meet again in the evening for a celebratory dinner. 
We had booked an apartment very near the cathedral in Santiago for 2 nights and after getting the key and dropping our backpacks we found a table in the shade at a nearby restaurant and enjoyed lunch of
salads and Padron peppers. This time several of them were spicy. 


We decided to go to the 7:30 pm Mass in the cathedral and meet after that with many of the people we had met along the way. 

The mass after completing the Camino is always meaningful and joyful and this time was no exception. At the end the botafumeira was swung to the roof to encourage the pilgrims to take all the spiritual and meaningful lessons they had learned during their days, weeks or months walking along the ancient pilgrimage routes to their homes and to spread the Good News like the smoke floating out of the cathedral.

We met outside the cathedral afterwards and after a group photo we all went to dinner


After a great dinner in a party of 20 people whom we had met and shared our Camino experiences together we headed back to our apartment, passing some of the many churches and monasteries on the way. 



It has been a great experience for both Helen and me. So many great people we have met and shared both stories and meals with during the past 10 days of walking about 125 miles. We climbed many hills and crossed many rivers often on bridges and along paths built some 2000 years ago and still in use. We arrived at a cathedral whose construction started in 1075 and is still strong and imposing today. We had time while walking to meditate and pray. To give thanks and to seek peace and forgiveness. To feel encouraged and exhausted each day but to realize how little one really needs in life by carrying everything you have and need for this experience on your back like pilgrims have done on these same trails for over 1000.years!

Ultreia! Keep moving! 

That's all for today. Tomorrow we plan to stay and explore the city