Day 34 SANTIAGO to Finisterre

First let me apologise for not always replying to your comments but they have been so motivating and I am honored to hear that you have enjoyed my stories .
We have spent the day getting our compostella which is the official recognition of our walk. This is only part of the queue which took an hour and a half to get to the desk!

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We then rushed to the cathedral which was packed with people that u actually sat on the floor but had a great view of the altar.
The highlight of the service which is in Spanish is the lighting and swinging of the botefumeria which is a huge silver incense burner that takes eight priests to swing. They pull on a rope like bell ringers after it has been filled with coals and incense and it swings across the church . Check the woman ducking in the video …

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After mass we booked into the Monasteria San Martin Pinario which has been converted into a hotel and also has rooms for pilgrims.
These are single rooms with a cot a very little else but what a luxury to have to not share with anyone , even your BFF (best friend forever)!
The rest of the day was spent catching up with Debbie at long last while Ali had a snooze.

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The next morning Ali and I decided to go to Finisterre so we caught a bus which took 3 hours and if we had walked would have taken us 3 days.
We were very excited to see some of our Camino friends on the bus and when we arrived we shared an apartment with Axel and his girlfriend Betsy

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After a quick lunch Anneke and the two of us discovered the most beautiful beach

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And as we were at the sea we tried some seafood that we don’t get at home such as razor shells ,clams and scallops…

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The next morning in a howling gale it was time to walk the 3 kms to the lighthouse . This was the place where the pilgrims for hundreds if years thought they had reached the end of the world. It is symbolic of the end of the journey and that your new life starts now that your sins are forgiven. One is supposed to burn your clothes as the old pilgrims used to be given new clothes.
The place is littered with half burnt shoes walking poles , socks and notes or rocks with messages on them and quite a lot of rubbish but still it was beautiful!
I decided not to burn my socks but a note i wrote but despite many attempts it wouldn’t burn!!!

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That milestone says 0.0kms literally the end of The Way !
On our way back we were entertained by the Seat Club and their cute cars waving and hooting as they came past

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20140608-115456-42896617.jpgSo we bussed back to Santiago for our last night in the Monastery again this time sharing with Ali again

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Ready to leave the next morning for Barcelona ;))))

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Day 33 Arzua to Santiago

We stayed in a crumby Xunta municipal Alberge last night with 24 other people in the room.
There were quite a lot of young kids as the Spanish kids get some recognition for doing the last 100kms and they are energetic and loud ;).
The showers were a challenge as there were no curtains and only 2 for all those people. One girl was actually blow drying her hair !!
Anyway we went to the nearest pub with Bill and Lisa and Anneke joined us later. We had a great evening and even ordered our first bottle of decent Spanish wine. Not the stuff that is decanted from a 5 gallon drum in the garage. We ordered several different dishes and shared them and drank a little too much!
The next morning we left at 6.30 with Bill and Lisa right behind us and soon realized we had missed the turnoff so wasted precious minutes finding it.
Also a perfect day for walking , our first coffee stop was after 6 kms.
We had been discussing breakfasts and how we were sick of the usual stale croissants when Lisa asked if they could fry us some eggs and bacon. This was the most amazing breakfast we have had in Spain and was an omen for the rest of the day.
Fortified we set off again and as we passed the 32.5kms marker we looked at each other and both smiled and said “Shew we could do that in one go!”at the same time the other two were thinking the same thing.
Bearing in mind that it was a total of 39 kms for the day and Bill is 66 yrs old we decided to give it a go and if the wheels came off we could stop .
Lisa was determined that she had spent her last night in a Alberge and the thought of a bed with real sheets and a shower to her herself was enough motivation.
So today we took very few pics. The scenery was pretty and undulating and with the chatting and singing and frequent rest stops to air our feet the miles flew by .
We were sure that there was a viewing point where we could look down onto the Cathedral but we never found it and it was very hazy .
We came into Santiago very excited and didn’t realize how far the cathedral was from the town limits so the long plod into the center was excruciating.
To say that the first sight of the cathedral was amazing would be a lie as we were so exhausted Ali Bill and Lisa rushed off to find a bed while I stayed for a moment to take in the scene . I then heard a yell and saw Simone running towards me and next minute we were hugging and laughing like crazy people.
It’s soooo good to be here and we will explore the city and it’s offerings tomorrow after a good nights sleep.
Till then … Sleep tight xxxx

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Day 32 San Xulian to Arzua

There was a funeral in the village that we stayed in last night so there was a traffic jam as so many people came.
The church bell rang repeatedly three times indicating that the deceased was a woman . Only two tolls for a man.
The hospitaleros, Miguel, said that it was tradition that everyone had to come and pay their respects and that they were all intermarried so if you didn’t come it was a huge slight and every body knew. He was fortunate that he had to work.
It was a BEAUTIFUL day weather wise with the sun shining and cool breeze.

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We passed a village market and unfortunately walked right past Melida a town well known for its octopus! I don’t know why but we were told it is the best in this town! Maybe it was subconscious or just that it was 10am and a bit early for octopus… I have to admit I was a little tentative…. We will try some this evening… Maybe 😉

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We only have about 40kms to go and I must say that the body is taking strain.
I don’t know whether it’s physical or psychological but now that we know it’s close to the end I am very tired.
The lack of sleep, the different beds, the constant wear and tear on the body, the food, the routine or lack of it, the looking for a bed at night, the showers…. Continue reading

Day 31 Vilacha to San Xulian

I wrote a note in the visitors book and we crept out of the house before the others woke up.
We got the impression that Gordon doesn’t get up too early and breakfast at 7.30 was too late for us .
We had such fun last night and there was much hilarity when Annemarie started telling stories.
It was a very pretty start to the day and we almost felt like we were walking through Knysna

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And we crossed the bridge into Portomarin which followed the original Roman bridge but when the dam was built several monuments and the main church were painstakingly rebuilt on the hill.
This next pic is of the original medieval bridge across the river Mino

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It’s been a long day and not too exciting.. We have noticed a distinct change in the pilgrims and we don’t see as many people that we know anymore.
There is more urgency in the new pilgrims and a freshness that we have lost ;))
Having said that we did bump into Lisa and Bill again later this afternoon who gave us a huge hug!
The rest of the day has been very relaxed settling into the new place and drinking beers chatting to new friends.
Supper was veggie soup followed by mixed salad and fillet of pork( I think ) and a tortilla which is Spanish omelette made with potato and coffee.
We walked 30 kms today and are counting down to the end now in 3 more days xx

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Day 30 Sarria to Vilacha

We allowed ourselves to wake up without the alarm and had another bath before breakfast.
We were so stuffed we felt heavy and uncomfortable leaving Sarria.

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Sarria is the starting point for many pilgrims as it’s just over 100kms to Santiago and that is the least you can do to qualify for your compostella. Cyclists have to do 200kms and 300kms for horseback riders. We saw our first chap on horseback today riding towards us and he was gone before either of us could grab our cameras. He was riding a beautiful piebald horse and his dog was running along behind. Must say I felt a little sorry for the dog!
There was a stream of pilgrims out of Sarria and we both had to use a bush and there was nothing really adequate nor convenient but as old hands we grabbed the first one possible and shocked a few newbies I think. ;(
Anyway we were keen to stay at Vilacha which is an Alberge run by Gordon a South African from Claremont so we phoned ahead and booked beds.
Not really the done thing but pressure is on now and beds are scarce. It also allowed us to enjoy the walk instead of rushing.

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We kept seeing these structures which I think are grain stores

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And a cemetery with this pretty Romanesque church

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And then we arrived at Vilacha to a great welcome from Gordon and Annemarie

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We had such a fun evening with lots of red wine a great spaghetti bolognaise with fried pimientos to start.
The other folks there were Ian from Aus, Louis an ex South African and his partner Gudwar also now from Aus and 2 Danish girls whose names were impossible to remember..
Lovely laughter and stories and Gordon and Annemarie fabulous hosts!

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Day 29 Triacastela to Sarria

Triacastela ,the town with 3 castles that don’t exist anymore ,was so full that we were turned away several times but we got a shared room with two Korean youngsters for 8 euros.This is quite luxurious as we have been living in dorms of up to 40 lovely pilgrims 😉
It was raining again today so therefore pics are few.
Ali stopped to put on her raincoat while I continued slowly and then took another route so we were both walking wondering where the other was until I stopped at a bar for coffee and I could hear her cheerful voice from outside !!
We trudged through mud and more mud mixed with cow poo… Lovely stuff

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We passed more happy cows and before we knew it Sarria was only 8 kms to go!!

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There were the usual dogs like the one guarding the cows

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And some storks in a garden

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We decided to treat ourselves to a night in a hotel today

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a guilty but well deserved bath and place to dry out.

Day 28 La Faba to Triacastella

We left in the rain this morning but not Before I visited the little chapel connected to the hostel to light a candle. It was in total darkness but by the light of my torch I was surprised to see how beautifully it had been restored!

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We had our usual chorus of snorers which kept me awake and at 5 am when I went to the loo my leg was so sore I thought I would have to call it a day.

 

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However by some miracle I started walking and I felt amazing and we had a great day covering the miles quicker than ever.

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We have officially passed into Galicia which shares many historical and physical similarities to Ireland. When the clouds cleared we had glimpses of the stunning countryside . P

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Too poor to support large families many men have emigrated and women are seen to be doing all the work in the farms and running the bars as well .
Mud accompanied us everywhere

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But at last we came to Triacastella which was nearly fully booked! I can’t understand how we can walk all day and hardly see a soul but the next town is overrun !!
Paella and red wine completed our day
Buenos nochas xx

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PS we have 134 kms to Santiago !!