2 February – Day 37 (2):

Just a postscript to my earlier email.

I finished my time in Santiago by attending the Pilgrims Mass.  It was also the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and traditionally the blessing of candles.  So we all were given candles  for the occasion. The Archbishop of Santiago was the celebrant. The Botofumeiro, a huge thurable  was above the altar but was not used. It has been used for hundreds of years. Originally it was used  because the pilgrims, try as the may, still smelt from their journey and this upset the locals. The smell of the incense coming from the Botofrmeiro, took away the smell.

So this Pilgrims Mass was a nice way to end my stay at Santiago.

 

2 February – Day 37:

This will be my last post. A quiet day spending time in and around the Cathedral and Santiago. Last night had a nice meal – decided not to order the favourite around here – Galacian octopus! Not sure if I would have managed it.

Not sure if this will be my last Camino or not. There are a couple more worth considering. The Camino via La Plata, sometimes called the interior Camino, starts in Seville, in the far south and goes north along old Roman roads to Santiago. But it is 1000 kms and would take too long. Another is the Le Puy route, which goes from Le Puy, in the middle of France to St Jean Pied de Porte, the traditional starting point of the French Camino. It doesn’t actually go to Santiago. Other routes are smaller. I will wait and see what the year brings. It may also be time for a break from these Camino’s

Thank you for reading this blog. Hope you enjoyed it. The final shots are taken inside the Cathedral.

1st February – Day 36:

I woke up this morning at 8.30am. I must have been really tired. The weather in Santiago is very changeable. One moment it is really cold and raining, the next it is a cleat blue sky,

I have spent the day seeing the sights, especially the museums. One difficulty with the Camino is that there is no time to stop and see things when you get to where you are going.. That is why I was grateful for the stops at Bilbao and Lugo. They both had plenty to see and I was pleased I spent the day.  I want to do the same with Santiago. I have attached some photos of a particular museum I saw today.

31 January – Day 35:

Great to be finally be waking up in Santiago de Compostela.  I tried to imagine what is was like for pilgrims for over a thousand years who have arrived here. It must have been the end of a wonderful and very tiring and dangerous journey.  Personally I believe this is the true end of the journey, not the add-ons of Finisterre and Muxia.

I hope to spend the next 3 days exploring the Cathedral and the city. There will be much to see.

But 1st some practicalities. Some time at a laundromat. Also a much needed haircut. Catching up on emails and all that is happening back home. Some quiet reflection on all that has happened.

One of the people that holds all this together is a tall, softly spoken Norwegian called Ivar Rekve. He runs an Internet forum that most Camino folk have heard of and use, with various threads that cover almost any subject that can be thought of re the Camino. Ivar was my 1st stop as he has a small Office near the Cathedral. I guess he does his internet work there but he also holds parcels for pilgrims to collect. When I arrived in Spain I posted him a small parcel with a change of clothes. To store it with Ivar cost me 5 Euro. I asked a few questions and thanked him for all he does for us.

Today was a really cold day in Santiago. I am leaving here on Saturday, taking the train to Madrid, then to the airport, then a flight to Dubai, Auckland and home.

30 January – Day 34:

I am staying in a pension once again. What would have been a good start was marred somewhat when I woke up. I had set my iphone on recharge overnight. But when I awoke it seemed that both the power socket and my conversion adapter seemed different. Like something was missing. I looked for the missing bit. Turned the rom upside down but could find nothing. Thought I had destroyed someone’s property plus my own. Couldn’t work it out. Didn’t know whether to mention it or not as I didn’t think my host would be able to help. At breakfast my host gave me several shells from Finesterre and a prayer card. Went back to my room ready to leave and decided to have a last look at the powerpoint socket. It looked different. Then I realised why. Half my conversion adaptor was stil inside it! I had a little difficulty getting it out as it was connected to live power but managed. Then I put the 2 parts of my conversion adapter together again and all was well.

The bus left at 11.45am so there was some waiting.  I had a walk around Finisterre.  It was market day and the 3rd day of gorgeous weather. The bus trip took 3 hr 15 min. It goes around all the bays and only heads inland towards the end. The bus stops half way and you change busses for the final half. A little  scary last year when it stopped on a lonely wharf at 9pm and I was asked to get off the bus!

I arrived at Santiago about 3.15pm and made my way to the old town. Without wifi and my Vodafone allowance almost used I was unable to book ahead so am going to stay where I have previously. I hope to do the essential things next, eg book transport to Madrid, and then experience Santiago.

 

29 January – Day 33:

  1. This is the 4th time I have done this walk, twice from the Finisterre side, and last year and this, from the Muxia side. It starts slow, then is hard work getting up high, then it’s easy along the top, and then hard getting down again. Last year it rained the whole time, this year, yesterday and. today, I am walking in beautiful sunshine.

I should perhaps mention one important monument of Muxia. It is the Santuorio de Nosa Senora. Unfortunately it was destroyed by lightening on Christmas Day 2013. It is hoped that it will be rebuilt quickly.

I had trouble finding my way out of Muxia but was eventually on the way. It began with a walk along the coast then up, up, up into the hills. Last year it was raining all the way, this year beautiful sunshine. Once up the going is good although one has to remember that it’s still 28 kms, so not getting any easier on the last day.

It can also be confusing with the waymarkers which are now pointing sometimes one way for those going to  Finisterre and the opposite way for those going to Muxia. In the middle is the little township of Lires. One must have to 2 stamps from Lires to be eligible for a credential at the end of the journey. Otherwise one could have the distance, so Lires is the proof that the distance has been walked. At Lires I met the 2 Spanish women who doing this part as well. I also met 4 young guys who have walked from St Jean Pied de Port. They said they had stayed an albergues every night.

If  Lires is approximately halfway, then there was still a way to go. One advantage of this route of course is that you are meeting people going both ways. Finally the long downhill into Finisterre. I chose to walk the final kms along the walkway by the sea leading into town, rather than from the hills, as this seemed a better way to finish the journey.

I found the municipal albergue and received my credential. My journey was almost over. I still needed to spend time in Santiago de Compostela.

28 January – Day 32:

One of the small problems on the Camino is communication with wifi. Positively, it’s just accepted as part of the deal, like power and water. No extra charge. Negatively, it is not always what it seems. It may not work in the bedrooms or only in the lobby. It may be very weak or slow. It may be unsecured, and the server will not accept it for safety reasons. This has happened to me on this and tomorrow’s destination, and hence this late blog.

Last night was good. This albergue and Casa at Olveiroa have become the place of choice for the final drive to Finisterre (or Muxia) tomorrow. If there are enough pilgrims then the restaurant (which is also part of the premises) is used. The cook provides a 3 course meal with wine or coke etc as required.  It’s always a good evening and dubs as a final celebration before the journey to the ‘end of the earth.’  It was a little different this time as most did not speak English so it was a case of listening but not understanding. Catalonia was mentioned a few times so I imagine the rather intense conversation was about that situation.

I was surprised to see the distance today is either 34.5 kms to Finisterre or 32.5 kms to Muxia. I had imagined the journey to Muxia a lot shorter than 2 kms. I think the others are going to Finisterre.

First off is a 5km hike uphill to Hospital. There are a lot of places on the route by this name as these were hospitals set up for the pilgrims on route. There is a bar/restaurant where there is a final chance to stock up before there long journey ahead.

Shortly after one goes left or right, to Finisterre or Muxia. I chose Muxia. Initially the route follows the road, but soon the Camino takes its own way through tracks and country roads, surrounded by Australian eucalyptus, which has really taken over in this part of Spain. I met one of the 2 Spanish women from last night, who is also doing this route.

Signage is not so good on this part of the Camino. Few waymarkers. The occasional yellow arrow. Even laminated squares with a yellow arrow on them against a blue background, nailed to a tree. Not so good.

Arriving at a bar at 2pm, I was supprised to be told I had 16 kms to go. I had thought it was less. The hotelier did show me a way of cutting it down from 16 kms to 13 kms. But this really showed me the problem I am facing. With waymarkers or with or behind other people, there is always a way of  judging how you are going timewise, but by yourself you tend to wander and usually get slower as time goes on. Of course I can monitor my time and distance on my iPhone but this makes it very mechanical, which I really don’t want.

I began to see the sea in the distance. It is important to remember that for the early pilgrims, eg from landlocked countries like Germany, they had never seen the sea before.

The walk into Muxia is quite nice and picturesque. I found the municipal albergue and received my credential. Then to my accomodation. They were a little unorganised, having trouble working the computer. Finally, I had my room. The wifi didn’t work in the room, only in the lobby. I had a nice meal and was able to watch Barcelona playing with Messi. Barcelona attacked al the time, were in complete control, but found themselves 1-0 down due to a runaway goal at the other end. I went back to my pension to see the 2nd half but it was not on my TV. Found out later Barcelona got through 2-1 due to some Messi brilliance. Everytime Messi got the ball the commentator would get really excited and I can see why.

Tomorrow is my final day, as I walk overland from Muxia to Finisterre.