Epilogue – Reflections

Been home 2 weeks now, I have been thinking a lot about my Camino, but that was then, but memories are nice to have.

It was harder than I thought it would be, mainly because I did’nt  train enough and overestimated my own capabilities. It was hard yes, different yes. But I wouldn’t have missed one minute.

Would i do it again? maybe, but probably not the same route. Maybe do it  from Sarria til Santiago – Muxia – Finnisterre – Santiago, but send luggage on to the different albergues and not carry anything but the  bare nescessaties. If I should do it again I would take more time to discover some of the places i passed and not just going from A to Z, like that was the primary goal, for example go from Orisson to Roncevalles, not look at anything but get there and then on to the next place like Zubiri. It was first when I got home that I read up on these places, and discover that I didn’t see this monument or building or experienced something else. I WAS A PILGRIM ON THE WAY TO SANTIAGO.

I have stayed at a variety of places from churches, to donativos public and private albergues, hostels and hotels all of a varying standard. I have eaten foods I’ve never had before, and had long and short conversations with strangers from all around the world.

“Helpfull” that was also a key word, stranges would give advice, medication, carry something heavy, or if you looked exhausted ask if you needed help, stop and share food and water or companionship. Looking back that IS the Camino . When your a pilgrim you are part of a special group or family if you like, everyone is the same, no class difference, just the way of doing it.

I felt like a lost tourist when I reached Santiago, and finished, i felt i was not part of the family anymore. Maybe it’s because on the Camino you have very basic needs, eat sleep walk, eat sleep walk, every day, no other daily worries. But time to think.

I have met many wonderfull people on my Camino, some I have had more interaction with than others. So please don’t be offended if your not named;

Sue & Pete NZ, Russ & Beth GB, Marika AUS. These fantastic. people i have met many times and many places and had a lot of good times with, But most of all, our little Camino family who stayed more or less together from start to finish nearly every day, we ate slept, talked and most of all walked together.

Rick & Connie CAN, Jim USA, Frank IRL Thanks for the experience. Would not have missed it for the world.

For me the camino is about people.

My end weight: 77.8 kg.= plus 1.5 kg. (The food did taste good!)

No. of kilometres = dependant on which sign you saw or which book you read, and which path you take. 776 til 820 km plus the loose ends.

Day 41 Journey home

Of course, today for the very first time  overslept. I thought I had woken at 4:30 i had set the alarm at 4:45 but forgot to adjust the volume as i  had muted it the day before in a church. In the bathroom getting ready to take a shower I saw that the time was 5:40, my train left at 6:00. I rang down and got the concierge to order a taxi, threw everything in the rucksack in one big jumble ran down the stairs with my boots in my hands and out the door, the taxi came at the same time, jumped in and finished dressing in the car. I made to the train with 3 minutes to spare.

Quicker than by car
Quicker than by car

This was an express train 5 hours to Madrid and some of the way it sped at 248 kmh. There was also a resteraunt car so I could get a coffee and food, there i realised that i had forgotten  my camera in the hotel. I rang to the hotel and asked them to look for it but after 5 minutes said it wasn’t there. So I rang to Rick & Connie and asked them to take a look which they did and got my camera.  They promised to forward it to me. That’s what I call really good friends.

In the train I met Marika again she had been sitting behind me all the time later on I would meet a few more that I had met and talked to on the Camino.

 

 

On the train I managed to bring my rucksack in order, change from wearing boots to sandles and put all my electronic stuff in a small rucksack type bag together with my passport and papers.

Without to much trouble after the train got in, just a question of following the rucksacks made a long way to the airport by bus and train checked in, and in the queue met Merete a Dane I’d  talked to at breakfat in Acebo, we had a bite to eat and coffee together before boarding our plane to Denmark. At CPH airport Merete my wife, was waiting to greet me, I was surprised that she did not comment on my unshaved, dishevelled, injured and tired look, but instead invited me to dinner at a sunset boulevard in the main train station before journeying on to Farum where we stayed the night at her sisters house.

Day 40 Santiago de compestela – Finisterre – Muxia

Awoke to a rainy day, so i was glad that i had chosen to cancel my original plan of walking to Muxia-Finisterre and return to Santiago (250km),  and take a bus trip instead.

I had, had enough of walking. So after a good and large breakfast i met Marika at 9:00 and got the turist bus with 19 others and started our sightseeing trip.

We drove to Finisterre mainly in rain and misty conditions so the really beautifull countryside was hidden, with a stop to see a waterfall, Ezaro, Spains largest waterfall and the only one in Europe that falls directly into the sea

Marika
Marika
Drying Barn
Drying Barn

Later we saw the largest drying barn in spain. Here I must explain that especially in Galicen, nearly all the houses have a little barn/house on 4 legs that looks like mushrooms (to stop vermin crawling in,) the barn/house is ventilated with a cross at each end and these barns are used to store smoked meats and/or root food, potatoes, beetroot and so on. The large barn was 35 meters long and 2 m in width 3m high. The reason for these types barns is the huge amounts of rainwater, the ground is always soggy.

End of the way
End of the way

 

After a cop of coffee we drove to Finisterre which means the end of the world, which for Spaniards, at that time believed the world was flat, for them the land stopped at the Atlantic. Finisterre = end earth. It has now become part of the Camino where pilgrims go to end their walk and make a ritual bonfire and burn there worldly possessions.

There is now a “kilometer stone” with 0,00 km near the museum and lighthouse, the waves here are gigantic  smashing against the cliffs and the graveyard of hundreds of ships.

After a good lunch consisting of  a first course of fish paella and second course of meat and chip’s and desert of cream cake with white and red wine we got talking to the other passengers from the bus, when they learned that both Marika and I had walked all the way from France to Santiago they were aghast, we were heroes in their eyes, they had walked 100km in 2 weeks while their bagage was sent on ahead to the next hotel and everything arranged for them, and they all had blisters and hurting feet and were exhausted.

  1. Tom at Muxia and magic stone
    Tom at Muxia and magic stone

    We then drove on to Muxia where the ending of the film ” THE WAY” took place, fantastic scenerary. Unfortunately it was windy, raining, but who cares.

Martin Sheen was born in Galicen with the name Estevez his wife’s maiden name was Sheen his son Emilio Estevez. The second most popular name in Galicen.

We drove back to Santiago and said our goodbyes to the other passengers, it was then that it hit me I was just another turist.

When I got back to the hotel I asked the concierge to find me a cheap and quick flight to Denmark which he did, express train to Madrid and Norwiegen air to CPH lucky the last seat, it took him 10 minutes to book and print my tickets to plane and train, if I should do all that it would take a day.

Last beer together
Last beer together

Connie and Rick and Jim were waiting for me,  so after putting my stuff in my room we went to get tapas found a good tapas bar with many local customers and went about trying all the different dishes (the best was lightly fried cod covered in honey and safron) plus wine and beer on the way back to the hotel I thought I had  forgotten  my glasses so Rick followed me back to the bar, this was also a good excuse to say a quick goodbye to Connie and Jim without to much emotion. When we got back to the bar i found my glasses in the hood of my raincoat so while we were here we might as well have a beer and talk about our Camino have another beer and, and, and,and we said our goodbyes in the hotel and went to our rooms, luckely I packed some of my stuff before falling asleep.

Day 39 Lavacolla igrexa – Santiago de compestela

DSC00855 DSC00856We had a lot of time to get to Santiago only 10 km so we started late about 8:30 It was a misty humid morning 12-14° with a few kilometers along asphalt road, and then into semi forest, dirt and paved roads. About 10 :00 we came to a monument to pope John Poul 2 on top of a hill, looking towards Santiago, unfortunately as it was so misty we could not see Santiago in sunshine.

There was also a bar there, were we drank cokes and met quite a few old aqaintences we had not seen in days. Here i forgot my fleece jacket with gorilla tripod in the pocket. (really good expensive jacket).

On the outskirts of Santiago I was walking beside Rick on an old unkept wooden bridge on my right hand side was a crash barrier seperating us from the heavy traffic and underneath the motorway. Rick trod on a loose plank which tipped up on my side, I tripped on this, fell forward but couldn’t stop because of the weight of my rucksack, and fell on my face although bleeding from the mouth I had not broken any teeth or nose. I don’t  how, but my right knee got lifted up and caught between the post bracket holding the crash barrier i needed help getting my knee out. I got some ice cubes from a bar to help stop the bleeding, but later went over to buying ice cream lollies.

Rick and Connie thought I should take a rest but we pressed on. Jim was dissapointed that he did not get a photo of me falling because he thought it looked funny.

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Getting my diploma
Getting my diploma

DSC00871When we got to the main square outside the cathedral we met Holly an English girl we had met on the way several times, she told us that the mass in the cathedral was starting soon, where we could deposit our rucksacks and get to mass in time and to see the swinging of the incense. Rick and Jim weren’t interested and wanted to find the hotel. Connie and I deposited our stuff and found a good place in the cathedral.

 

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About 30 minutes later Rick and Jim turned up they just wanted a quick look and leave,  but the doors were locked. Later they told us that they were glad they attended the service.

We had a lunch and a couple of beers in the warm sunshine before finding the pilgrims office to collect our compostela.  While standing in the queue who did we see but Russ and Beth, we made an agreement to meet and have dinner together. After queueing for an hour and a half, we got our compostela stamp.

Went back to the hotel with our bags and checked in. After a long soaking got dressed and went sightseeing on my own. After taking a few photos i saw someone waving at me from a table on a side street , it was Karin a french woman we had met a couple of times before at different albergues, so I took a glass of wine with her and chatted about ” now what?” Daily life was calling, back to work. Rick and Connie walked past so we said goodbye and wished each other good luck in the future.

DSC00887We had made arrangements with Marika earlier to have dinner with us, so that all of us that had started out together should have our final dinner together Rick, Connie, Russ, Beth, Marika, Jim and i, the reason there was only us, was simple some had gone home, some had finished days before, but this little group kept meeting up regularly without it being prearranged.

 

 

At dinner (tapas) I told Marika that I had planned to visit Muxia and Finisterre by bus but everywhere was booked up, she said let me try online, with the bus company she was booked on. She got me the last vacant seat on the bus with her. After dinner we said our goodbyes to Russ and Beth  (lovely people) we others would see each other tomorrow and went back to our hotels.

Hotel Casa de la Troya- Santiago de Compostela

 

 

 

Day 38 Calzada – Lavacolla Igrexa

We stood up late as we only had 18km today had a really good breakfast, had some good stories from the hosts.

It was drizzle when we started but the temperature rose til about 23c, so it was very humid. I must say it was a fantastic walk.

DSC00844Jim who for the first time complained both yesterday and today about influenzer and aching everywhere decided at a bar to take a taxi the last 8km to the hotel,  he took my rucksack with so that I could walk without any loads, wonderfull!.

As we had good time we had a lunch of spagetti and a big ice cream.

Apparently I had been walking in woods of eucalyptus trees without knowing it, but now I could really smell them and now know what they look like.

Jim had booked us in a luxurary hotel and we ate her . Jim and i shared a room but he had been in bed all day.

10 km left til Santiago

Hotel Ruta Jakobea-Coruna

 

Day 37 Melide – Calzada

We started out at 8:00 to an overcast but warmish day.

After walking through the town for abut 20 minutes we entered a very lush farmland there was hills, forests and an abundance of streams and small crossing points. There were also many bars to stop have a coffee and admire the view. Today it felt like a walk, enjoying the sound of birds the different smells, yes even the smell of old fashioned cow manure. The only thing that spoiled it, was the groups of tourists with the constant loud chatter of Spanish or Italien women.

Later on in town of Arzua I got lost from the others, missed the turning to the Camino and carried on the main road to Santiago. After 2-3 km I started looking at the map and could see that I was way off course, just then a taxi pulled up and the driver, grinning of course, asked  if i was lost, no I said but I need to get on track to Calzada, he said there was only 7 Km to Calzada i decided i might as well drive the last 7km to our stop.

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Jim with the owners

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I was glad i did as it started to rain. I did not know where we were staying, but knew Jim had booked us in a place in Calzada. At an albergue, a kind woman rang round to some albergues to find out where we were booked, she succeeded and told me where to go. I got to this 220 year old farmhouse which had been completely renovated and modernized.

I checked in, had a shower and then sat outside in sunshine drinking cold beer and eating fresh baked bread and cheese while waiting for the others to get here.

Should have been a 24 km hike today but for me only 17 and the temperature about 18c.

The people that ran this albergue were really good to their guests, and the food was great.

Albergue Turistica-Salceda

 

Day 36 Porto – Melide

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Got up early and here we could get a breakfast of bacon and eggs already from 07:00, bought some water, ( started buying bottled water a while back because although  the water from both taps and fountains was clean, it tasted of clorin). Andrew slept on.

Again we walked mainly in shady woodland on paths though crossing the main road several times, we walked over a number of small bridges and walked through lots of small hamlets. In a larger town we had coffee and a bite to eat and in two barrels in the café the proprietor was checking the octopuses that were in there.

Later on i started thinking that I’ve been carrying my walking poles for a couple of weeks now, and not using them? Better get rid of them.DSC00833 DSC00829One of the poles was even broken, on one of the first few days, so even though it broke my heart to go without the extra weight, i decided to leave them at the 50km stone.

 

 

In to Melide early in the afternoon (we had planned the last days trekking distances, as we had planned and booked a hotel for the day we finished the camino.) We found a watering hole as Jim would say, near our hotel on the main street sat down had some lunch and a couple of beers, and as usual met old camino friends, Jim met Manualla again Andrew and the women from the evening before we all agreed to meet later and have dinner together. Went back to the hotel did our things and came down and sat outside the hotel to have a glas of wine before going off and meeting the others.

We visited a resteraunt that looked interesting and inside met some others we knew. We had large plates of different things so we could share the different  dishes. For the first time I ate octopus it was nothing to write about.

Sunny weather 21c°

Walked 22 km.

Hotel Xaneiro- Melide

Day 35 Mecordoiro – Porto

We all woke early including Andrew but had to wait while the staff arrived and prepared breakfast, but as usual could always get fresh pressed orange juice.

Again a beautiful morning, sun from a cloudless sky a little morning mist, about 19c°.

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We walked slowly downhill through wine fields to the lake at Portomarin then on up into the town, where we stopped for second breakfast. What goes down, must go up, as did our route today. The route was very varied crisscrossing the main road several times, before going down into Porto and our albergue in the middle of nowhere.

Rick  Connie and Jim were in quick mode and sped off alongside the road,  Andrew and i walked along a dirt track for about an hour further away from the road. We all met up at a café had a lunch and then walked on some more got to our albergue.

This albergue was a privatly run and very clean and efficient staff, the owner a woman took Rick’s  rucksack to take up to their room Rick protested like a good gentleman to no avail, as she said you’ve walked all day.

Outside there were giant metal sculptures of ants. Andrew got a room where he had to share with Trevor an Australien who we would meet several times later, and four other ladies. Two German and a french woman Karin. Plus the german woman we shared a taxi with, the one who was going home, she had changed her mind after a good days rest, good for her. These people we would also meet again and again.

Of course we had to refill our depleted fluids and electrolytes,  and carbohydrates, as Jim would formulate it, at the same time getting to know Trevor, and the other women.

Because of our bad experience yesterday we were not interested in a pilgrims menu and this made the owner very sad, she promised us a meal we would be happy with. So we gave in! Thank god we did, really good well made food and wine and plenty of it. When she said good night later before going home we all gave her an ovation for the food, she got very embarrassed but happy. A very nice place!

Walked about 23 km weather sunny hot about 22c°

Albergue A paso de Formiga-Palas de Rei

 

Day 34 Mamed del Camino – Mercadoiro

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Sarria ahead

The Sun was shining and i felt much better than the night before.

Breakfast was also a vegaterian affair, you made it yourself and it was by donation I had water, toast with jam. I started an half hour before the others so I could have a little start on them. But would stop and wait for them at the first café in Sarria where I could have a proper breakfast.

What a difference from yesterday, sun from a cloudless sky. 06:30 Nice and cool walking on a gravel path next to the road, no cars or pilgrims just birds, a nice little walk of 4 km the sun had just come up and my feet felt good, I felt good. Then over a rise I could see down in the valley Sarria’s white building’s bathed in sunlight, what a sight.

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Andrew and Jim having coffee

I stopped at the first bar in Sarria and ordered a coffee and tortilla and chocolate crossaint, I had just finished when Rick, Connie and Jim came, so I took another coffee, and Andrew walked in.

We all walked together through Sarria’s streets and now we could begin to see the tourist pilgrims, those that were on a short hike and got their luggage sent on in advance. While walking through Sarria we noticed there wasn’t  many people around of the local inhabitants, it turned out that it was Witson and especialiy in Spain had an extra days special holiday.

We climbed up to the outskirts of Sarria, with some spectacular views above Sarria. The most of the walk went slowly upwards, mostly in woodlands and gravel paths with lots of streams and views. Today was sunny,  warm and I would say relaxed. Jim sagged behind, talking to all the girls, Connie was busy taking photos I was plodding along enjoying the nice countryside Rick was in a vigorous humor and just began to walk fast, only stopping so we could have lunch together.

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DSC00795 DSC00797 DSC00802This continued after lunch, while walking in between a group of tourist pilgrims I passed a gate only because I looked in and just inside sat Rick and Andrew drinking a beer, I looked surprised and asked how long to the albergue and was told it was here. I felt fresh and ready for more.

Andrew was going to ask if there was a vacent bed for himself. I sat down ordered some beers and took my boots and socks off. After 15 minute Connie came in with Jim and we had some more beer. Again Jim had booked in advance one room for Rick & Connie and one for us, the rooms were good with our own bath but later in the night, they smelled of septic tank. After a shower and while the others took a nap I went into the lovely garden there was classical music coming out of the speakers and enjoyed a couple of glasses of good Rioja red wine while looking at the hills and countryside. This hamlet had an official population of ONE!

We talked to some pilgrims that like us had ordered a pilgrims menu, wondering whyt there weren’t that many, especielly looking back at the busy afternoon, Maybe because they knew the dinner was not that good. It`s a pilgrims menu.

Weather about 18c° sunny

Walked about 22 km nice walk.

Albergue mercodiro-lugo

 

Day 33 Fonfria – Mamed del Camino

I had a terrible night, I couldn’t sleep, not because of others, my body ached and I had a headache, it turned out to be influenza and especially my feet and legs, everything ached.

At breakfast Connie said she was going to get a taxi to the next albergue, as she was having problems with her knee and needed a rest day. At the same time I heard that a German woman was ending her Camino here because she didn’t feel she could go on, she had got the staff to order her a taxi, I made a quick decision, i would take a free day so that i could be certain to complete the last 150km,  so i asked her if she wanted to share her taxi with Connie and me, which she did. So we drove to Paloma, Rick and Jim would carry on walking.

DSC00776While driving it rained all the time. Of course though, we waited at Fonfria til after 09:00 before leaving, we got to the albergue early while they were still cleaning. The german woman drove on to Sarria. Jim had booked on a booking portal for Rick & Connie in one room and Jim and i would share a room with 2 beds, but as our room wasn’t ready the hospitalaros offered me a room for myself for no extra charge, of course I said gracias. This albergue was in a secluded spot away from the road, and in beautiful surroundings, very modern, bungelow style, double rooms, 6 person rooms and 10 person rooms all with own bathroom communal diningroom with fireplace in the price. This was a family business. An oasis of peace and tranquility.

After getting our stuff in the rooms We had a snack and a beer and  exchanged notes and to get our experiences dates, times, and peoples names written down as correct as possible.

I think it’s time to tell that we had our mum with us, Connie! In the beginning  when we started pooling our washing together, Jim would break out in rashes with the thought of touching others clothes. Then Connie took over, she took our clothes every day put them in the machine and tumbler, and then folded them and put them on our beds, and she always got the right clothes to the right person. We never said it but took it for granted. THANK YOU MUM.

Rick and Jim came in in the early afternoon and after settling in and putting a wash on we had a couple of the usual.

Soon afterwards  pilgrims began to arrive some we had seen before and Andrew the travelling troubadour.

Not again!, a vegetarian albergue no choices, lintel soup with lots of chilli salad, with pasta in hot sauce and a desert which I can’t remember. We all had the same food and wine. Of course after the meal we all talked together, and Andrew played the guitar and sang. I went to bed and started to watch a movie on Netflix so as to fall asleep then I got the stomach ache it got worse and worse, then it happened!

I offered everthing to the gods and it helped about 03:00 I fell asleep.

Walked 0km. Weather drizzle about 15c°

Albergue Paloma y lena- Sarria