Camino Finisterre Day 5: Cee to Finisterre

The early risers once again created a home made breakfast feast for us. Sandy, not normally a part of the early crowd, set her alarm just to wake up early enough to help create this magic. We are getting spoiled. The other guests that passed through the kitchen were a bit envious. Some even hovered in hopes of an invitation, which we would normally extend, but there’s not enough food today and we seem to be getting hungrier and hungrier and eating more and more.

Elxe, a pilgrim from Austria, staying in the albergue, asked if she could film us getting our feet ready and putting on our boots. She’s making some kind of a movie about this. Hmm…

Another perfect day for a long walk. I love it when I see 0% precipitation.

Good bye to Cee, Albergue Moreira and our happy whistling host, Jose Manuel.

We walked through the small alleys and out through the ancient part of the town of Cee.

When you start walking at sea level, there’s no place to go but up. It’s a great way to get warmed up in the morning.

The teacher in Catherine come out almost every time we pass a sign or map. About that same time, the selfie-photographer in me comes out.

We passed by the cutest blue house that was all decked out in Camino de Santiago decorations. I tried to find more information about it on line, but didn’t have any luck. Maybe on my next Camino I’ll have to meet the owner, I’m sure we would be instant friends.

This guy saw us pass by and noticed that we were pilgrims. Not sure what gave it away – backpacks with shells hanging from them, worn out boots, Catherine’s shell earrings, hiking clothes drying from the packs or Sandy’s Camino themed buff. Surely it wasn’t the “pilgrim smell” everyone talks about, we’re a pretty clean bunch. Maybe not by home standards, but certainly in pilgrim standards.

Anyway, this guy explained (in super fast Spanish) that we missed our turn and guided us up a narrow alley that would connect with the Way. Thanks, random Spanish guy.

We were once again following the trusted yellow arrows. Each arrow is a comforting feeling.

This one called for another group shot. I tried to set up my phone with the ten second delayed shot, but it kept blowing over. Luckily a group of German ladies came by at just the right time. My 5 camino travel buddies have been beyond patient with me and my pictures.

This was the beginning of another descent back down to the ocean.

This one was with the 10 second delay feature. Not easy and not on the first attempt. But, eventually we got another great group shot of six.

We couldn’t pass up this opportunity to take our boots and socks off and sit at this seaside cafe for a moment.

As we got closer, there were more stands set up to catch the pilgrim clientele, some with set prices and some were unattended, just a sign asking for a donation.

Another completed Camino and another Compostela, certificate of completion. They have the office for the Compostelas in the Municipal Albergue in Finisterre.

We checked in to Albergue Cabo da Vila in Finisterre for 12€ each. And headed straight out for food.

Another delicious pilgrims meal.

All that was left.

Catherine and I decided to take a stroll though the town. Backpack free walks are always fun after a day of walking with packs on. We saw fishermen hand stringing their nets, a German lady that just opened a dessert restaurant in the heart of Finisterre (she gave us free samples) and a visit to the old church.

On our way back from our walk, we passed a market and decided a sunset pilgrim’s picnic at the western most point of Spain would be fun. We picked up boxed wine and picnic supplies and headed back to the albergue to get our friends.

With bags full of picnic supplies we headed to the end of the world. A short 3.5k walk each way. Luckily only one way was up hill. The other way was dark and after all the boxed wine was consumed. So both ways had their challenges.

Our last kilometer marker for this journey. 0,000 We have completed our pilgrimage that began in Porto, Portugal then Santiago de Compostela,Spain and now Finisterre, Spain. The end of the world. What a great feeling!

There is something special about sharing boxed Spanish wine on a rock at sunset with this wonderfully special collection pilgrim friends that would have never connected without the Camino.

The sun set, but we were still enjoying the moment and each other.

This picture says it all.

I am blessed in so many ways. First, I have a husband and kids at home that support this idea of long (really long) walks in foreign countries, I have a body strong enough to take me through every step (still no blisters), I actually like sleeping in bunk rooms and bunk beds, I have met so many wonderful, lifelong friends through pilgrimages and hiking, I get to know foreign countries at less than 3 miles an hour, and when I return home, I have wonderful friends, family and coworkers there that have been praying for me and holding things together in my absence.

I am in a great place and know I am blessed. I wish this feeling for everyone at some point in their life.

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Camino Finisterre Day 4: Logoso to Cee

We packed up our stuff, ate breakfast, said goodbye to sweet Manuela and hit the trail on this cold but rain free morning.

At this point we can either take a left and go to Finisterre or go right toward Muxia. We have heard opinions on each one, but decided we would head to Finisterre then continue on to Muxia, mostly because we wanted to stop in Cee for the night before making our final walk to Finisterre. This would give us two nice short days of walking and more time to enjoy Finisterre.

We met a lot of people along the way today, some new faces and some familiar. We met this guy that broke his arm about 10 days ago while walking the Camino Francés. He called the emergency number, waited for a taxi to take him to the hospital, got an X-ray and cast and continued his pilgrimage still carrying his full pack, determined to make it to the end of the world.

Yesterday’s rain left the trail pretty wet, but we’ll take a few water obstacles on natural trails over rainstorms on pavement any day.

This sign reminded us that we had a 15k stretch ahead of us with no amenities so we used the restroom one last time and filled up our water bottles. We are all very efficient at “going” trailside, but have a standing rule to not pass up an available flushing toilet. Camino friend, Cathy’s EZPee Pants are a good creation for this situation.

There was a locked up old church and a nice picnic area. Luckily Catherine had enough snacks to share. I’m down to a couple ketchup and jelly packets. Time to stock up.

It was fun to see Alex from California there. We introduced him to a couple from Bulgaria that we had met earlier and shared Catherine’s cookies with them all.

We were just starting to think about food again when this guy appeared. He said he comes here everyday (unless it’s raining) with his car full of snacks and drinks and sets out a few stools for pilgrims. He had no prices on anything, we could just donate what we thought was fair.

We finally had our first view of the ocean and Finisterre Cape.

As the trail descended, the sun started to appear through the clouds and we caught our first views of Cee, where we will be staying tonight.

We booked beds with Jose Manuel at Albergue Moreira. When I called, he offered me bunks in a room of 10 for 12€ each or rooms with two single twin beds. He had three, two with views for €30/room and one with out a view for €25. That’s only 3€ more/person for the people that get the view and .50 more without. For our own rooms. Yes, please, Jose Manuel, we will take all three!

The rooms were simple, clean and private. We are use to simple and clean, but private is something we haven’t had since we left home 23 days ago.

The view from our private rooms over the bay was beautiful and it was nice to have the balconies to dry clothes in the sun.

As soon as we checked in to our rooms, we headed straight back out to find the restaurant with a pilgrim’s menu that Jose Manuel recommended. Two bottles of wine were included in the price for our group.

The table next to us left a practically full bottle of wine on their table when they left. In order to prevent waste, we traded our empty bottle for their full one. We are such good pilgrims out to save the earth. This may have been the second unfinished bottle of wine we have saved from being wasted along our pilgrim journey.

This is the dorm room of ten beds.

Jennifer, Kathryn, Sandy and Jennifer went to the market and picked up snacks for dinner and breakfast supplies.

This light dinner was perfect after our big afternoon meal.

Francisco from Spain came in the albergue just in time to help us open a bottle of wine and join us at the table. He gave us a history lesson about Napoleon. Kind of difficult to follow with his limited English and my less than perfect translation skills.

As we were headed back to our private rooms in groups of two, it was a little sad. We all commented how weird it was not to be going to the same room again. This has been one big adult sleepover. But then we agreed it was nice to have a single bed with no one below or above.

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Camino Finisterre Day 3: Santa Mariña to Logoso

Unfortunately, last nights weather report was correct. We’ll be walking in the rain and rocking our rain gear today.

I bought this umbrella in Santiago and thought it would be good to hike with if it rained. Well it’s raining but this umbrella is about to be swept away in the wind.

45.468 rainy kilometers to go.

I didn’t take too many pictures today in fear of getting my phone wet. But Gayle can never pass up a good cow picture. She’s the cow whisperer of the group.

Here’s my attempt at a good cow picture.

I’m not sure if this was second breakfast, snack or first lunch. It was still raining and we were happy to be inside and dry for a while. It’s also fun to meet new pilgrims during these breaks. It’s difficult to talk to anyone on rainy days like today. The hood of a raincoat combined with the sound of the raindrops hitting said hood along with the wind blowing that same hood off if you look to the side makes it super hard to have a conversation.

We met Alex from California during our break. He’s hiking the Camino with his grandparents as a graduation gift from them. They’ve completed 5 caminos so far and wanted to share the experience with their grandson. How cool is that? Almost as cool as his hair. He’s a hairdresser and just graduated with a degree in economics. His grandparents had already headed back out on the trail.

We eventually headed back out as well. Taxi signs seem so much bigger in rainy days. Aaah, tempting.

These two were some of our bunk mates last night. The girl’s from Isreal and the man is from Austria. They met earlier on the Camino. We walked past them as they were getting into a cab. I’m trying not to judge and at the same time wishing I was getting in the cab with them.

We kept walking.

Another taxi sign. This is where the support of a strong pilgrim family comes in handy. Obviously, I was outvoted, and there’s no way I was going to be the only one to let a little rain get in the way of a nice walk.

Even in the rain these views are amazing!

We arrived at Albergue O’Logoso completely soaked and tracked in so much water.

The owner welcomed us with open arms and made us feel immediately at home. She told us to get warm, take hot showers and put our wet, dirty clothes in a basket so she could wash and dry them (for just 6€ each, that’s 1€ per person – such a deal). The hot water in the showers was still going strong after all six of us finished and there was hair dryer for us to use. This place is well worth the 12€ they charge. We did get scolded for using the hairdryer on our boots though. 🤷🏼‍♀️

We have a dorm room with three bunks and one single bed right next to the albergue bar. I mean right next to it. That brown door on the back wall is our room.

Jennifer asked if I would help translate something for her. She wanted something warm to drink with “a little something extra” added to it. Manuela had just what we needed.

This was the perfect drink to warm up cold pilgrims.

We stuffed our wet boots with newspaper and hung our ponchos and rain gear all over our dorm room. We were told that if they get full, they may put another pilgrim in the extra bed. Luckily, they aren’t full tonight.

The albergue bar also offered a pilgrim’s menu for 9€. Soup, salad, grilled chicken, fish or pork, real fresh cut fries (what was on our plate plus an additional platter), dessert and red wine. We were so glad to be able to stay in on this cold rainy night.

Look who’s at our Albergue tonight and having dinner at the bar. Alex and his darling 75 year old grandma, Carol. Alex’s grandpa already went to their room before I took this picture. Maybe we will see him tomorrow at breakfast or on the trail.

Manuela noticed that I was working on our neat stages. We had everything planned through tomorrow night, but still need to figure out lodging for Finisterre and Muxia. She showed me brochures from her favorite Albergues and let me know the pros and cons of each one. When I decided on which would be the best place for our group, Manuela called to reserve our beds. She said, “mi amiga Josafina de Los Estados Unidos quiere quedarae contigo…”my friend Josafina from the US wants to stay with you.

Thank you, Manuela for welcoming us into your albergue, doing our laundry, making us special warm drinks, making us dinner, recommending Albergues for Finisterre and Muxia, calling and reserving our beds, giving us goodnight hugs and making us feel at home.

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Camino Finisterre Day 2: Nagreira to Santa Mariña

I went to bed last night with great intentions of getting up early and helping with breakfast. That didn’t happen. I blame the ambien which is the fault of the French cyclists.

When I did finally wake up, the whole albergue smelled delicious. Kathryn and her prep crew had a very productive morning that we all benefited from, plus a new Camino friend from Bilbao, Spain.

This is by far the best breakfast we have had. Eggs with tons of veggies, toast and jam, yogurt and fresh fruit. Delicious! Coffee cheers to the early risers!

The ones that weren’t involved in the preparation got to clean up.

Meet Estib from Bilbao. I met her the night before when I was hand washing my laundry. I was getting ready to use what I thought was a bottle of detergent left by the sink. She let me know it was fabric softener. My Spanish isn’t so good after all. She also introduced me to the best bar soap for hand washing I’ve ever used.

We saw her again at dinner, recognized her from the albergue and invited her to join us for breakfast the next day.

We made sandwiches out of the leftover bread, chicken and pork cutlers from last nights dinner and packed them away in our backpacks for lunch.

Kathryn is going to Bilbao after the Camino with her husband so Estib shared some great recommendations.

The Camino just keeps getting more beautiful each day on this route. So glad we continued on to The Camino Finisterre after Santiago this time.

Our snack break was at this rest area for pilgrims.

It had a foot bath that we could soak our feet in. No thanks. I’m not putting anything in that green slimy water. See the water coming out of the pipe on the back wall? There’s a sign that says it’s potable. Im usually one that will eat and drink anything, but not this time. I’ll pass.

I was so surprised by how many people stopped to fill their water bottles. They didn’t even hesitate at the green slime.

At this point, we had to decide between the traditional route or the alternative one that touts “no asphalt or traffic.” We obviously choose the alternate.

Later down the trail, we noticed this sweet lady standing at the entrance of this albergue.

Meet Vivi, the owner of this beautiful old farmhouse. She invited us in to “descansan y relajense” (rest and relax). She didn’t speak English, but made it very clear that she wanted us to make ourselves at home in her home. I explained to her in my best Spanish that we packed a lunch that we would eat on the Trail. She said she had a lovely area for us to enjoy our lunch and we didn’t need to buy anything.

We ordered soft drinks that were served by her son in law. And he brought us treats too.

Local olives and sardines! Not everyone loves this stuff but we do!

We even added some sardines to our sandwiches.

They even brought us complementary cookies for dessert. Albergue Vella is great. If we didn’t already have beds reserved in the next town, we would have stayed here. This place is a fantastically restored huge farm house with a couple bunk rooms, some twin rooms and a double room.

Only 51.927 kilometers to go!!

Lots of signage along the way: mostly kilometer markers and albergue posters.

Casa Pepa, our home for tonight, was full of pilgrims soaking up the sun when we arrived. Good thing we had beds reserved. They have been turning away pilgrims for the past several hours.

We checked in, claimed which bunk would belong to which pilgrim, showered and made ourselves at home. Gayle and I have been trading off and on with top and bottom bunk. Tonight is my turn for a top bunk.

It’s amazing how quickly we can settled into our bunks, skip showers and get to the albergue bar when there’s 5€ bottles of pilgrim’s wine waiting for us. Gayle’s not in the picture, she’s in the shower. Don’t judge.

We had lentil soup, more wine and went over the map and plans for the next stages.

I don’t want to leave anything out: Gayle joined us and got the award for best smelling American. And someone spilled her wine. On my map. I won’t say who.

Tomorrow’s forecast isn’t looking great. Days of walking in sunshine may be over. Looks like we’ll be trading sunblock in for rain gear.

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Another Camino: Camino Finisterre Day 1: Santiago de Compostela to Nagreira

Today we start another Camino, the only one that starts in Santiago de Compostela instead of ending there. This one is called Camino Finisterre which translates to End of the land.

90 kilometers to Finisterre. We started with all day rain in the forecast, so were prepared with ponchos and rain gear. So far, we’ve only had to use rain gear on our day off, not while hiking.

It was a cold morning, but no rain. As we hiked up the hills and out of Santiago the Cathedral steeples got smaller and smaller.

and the sun came out and got brighter.

And before long, we were taking off layers and looking for a cafe.

In typical Camino style, a roadside cafe with pilgrim specials appeared at just the right time.

The towns we passed through today are among my favorites. I wanted to linger through each one and get to know them a little bit better, but we had to keep walking on to the next and the next until we got to Negreira, our home for the night.

Albergue Alecrin welcomed us in and gave us our own little corner with four bottom bunks and two tops, paper sheets and real towels for 12€ each. The owner recommended Bar Imperial for dinner. He was pretty persuasive, we even asked if he owned the bar, too.

He was right, the food was great and the price was too good to be true. I figured the portions would be small for only 8€ including wine. They had a 3€ split plate fee, so instead of three meals between the six of us, we each had our own meal.

So. Much. Food!

We put the leftovers in baggies for tomorrow’s lunch. This food is seriously good.

8€ each. No extra charges for the two bottles of wine and big bottle of water. No hidden bread fees either. Score! The 1€ and 2€ coins accumulate fast and are heavy! Especially when you’re carrying them across a country. We are getting the hang of this euro thing, but still have to look at each coin to make sure of what it is.

Our Albergue has a kitchen so we made a stop at a grocery store and fruit market and picked up eggs, veggies, yogurt and fruit to make for breakfast tomorrow. By we, I mean Kathryn.

Back at our home away from home to meet the rest of our room mates. We have been invaded by a group of French cyclist. This picture says all the things I shouldn’t.

It’s a full ambien kind of night with my earplugs smushed in my ears extra deep.

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Rest/Tour Day in Santiago de Compostela

Catherine and I went to the Pilgrims Office first thing this morning to get our coveted Compostela (Certificate of Completion) before the line got too long.

I snapped these pictures and was quickly told, “no fotos.” Guess the “no hablo espanol” thing won’t work for this. Oh well, still glad to get these two “fotos” to document the moment.

The volunteers in the office asked if we wanted a free lunch ticket for the Parador. Free? Lunch? Yes! Parador? Heck Yes PLEASE!

We need to be there by 1:00, or immediately after the noon mass.

Ever since we left Arnout when he went to the Spiritual Route, we have been staying in contact through WhatsAp.

We knew from his messages that he should be arriving at the Cathedral de Santiago around 9:30am and we wanted to be there to welcome him in.

We waited in the rain covered in ponchos, raincoats and umbrellas.

After 12 days of walking in the rainy season, we have been so lucky and only actually walked through a few drops. So dealing with this rain while we wait for Arnout is not so bad.

After celebrating with Arnout and snapping the mandatory pictures, Catherine and I headed to save seats for our group for the noon pilgrims mass at the Cathedral, Arnout went to the pilgrims office for his Compostela and the others ran a few errands.

We arrived just before 10:00am and were surprised by how many people were already there. Then, the singing started and so did the mass. There was a 10am mass too. Who knew?

At the end of the mass they swung the Botafumeiro, the giant incense burner. Legends say that it needs to be so big so it can get rid of the pilgrim stench.

After the 10am mass we quickly moved up to save seats for the other four in our group plus Arnout. We managed to get front row, but it wasn’t easy and within minutes the Cathedral was packed!

Arnout and his Compostela. This picture is for your mom, Arnout.

After mass (our second mass of the day) Catherine and I headed straight to the Parador. It’s a super fancy five star hotel and restaurant.

We presented our Golden ticket and were shown to our seats where two other pilgrims were already seated.

Meet Josh from Portland, Oregon and William from France. This is Josh’s third Camino. He learned of the free Parador lunch ticket in his first Camino so arrived at the pilgrims office before it even opened this morning. Not sure how William knew about this well kept secret, but he camped outside of the office in order to get his free meal. He said that he had gone several days with bread and little else and had been camping most nights.

They give out ten tickets per day, but a lot of people keep them for a souvenir instead of trading them in for the free meal. I have a picture of the ticket AND a free meal. Winner!

Our other friends showed up but were turned away. Not only would they not give them a free meal, they wouldn’t seat them in the restaurant. They turned away other pilgrims during our meal as well.

Amazing food and unlimited wine. We snuck the leftover wine into the empty water bottle and brought it back to our friends that were turned away.

The rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent exploring Santiago and mapping out our next 6 days on The Camino Finisterre. We will turn in our short-lived tourist cards tomorrow and return to the pilgrim life.

Dinner was good and cheap thanks to another 10€ all inclusive pilgrims meal.

As usual, as we were climbing into our bunks, we laughed about our day and gave foot reports. I couldn’t believe it when Kathryn said her huge to blister had healed. I was on the top bunk and didn’t have the energy to climb down, so she hiked her foot up for me to see it. Amazing considering what it looked like just a couple days ago. (Zoom in). And amazing that she’s walking this Camino at 72 and can hike her leg up like this. I want to be 72 like this some day!!

Catherine reported that she may have her first blister. Confusing because there’s two Catherine/Kathryn’s so pay attention to spelling. Anyway, no, Catherine, that’s not a blister. Nice try, you get no sympathy from us. Whatever it was, it was gone by morning.

Going to bed early, looking forward to Finisterre (the end of the world).

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Day 12: Padron to Santiago de Compostela

We will arrive in Santiago de Compostela today. Santiago is just 25 kilometers from Padron.

Albergue Rossol offered breakfast for an additional cost. Toast as big as my head and cafe con leche for 3€. Hope to find a second breakfast soon.

The actual stones where the Apostle James the Greater witnessed to the people before his death and before he became a Saint were just about 2 kilometers away. In the opposite direction of Santiago. Up hill, up as lot of steps, way up. We were so close but this would add to our already long walk today.

I will probably never be this close to something like this again, so here goes… Three of us decided to make the hike up to the stones, three decided to skip the detour and head for Santiago.

The extra steps and walk up was worth it, for all the special feels and this cool picture. Thanks, Gayle.

Now back to the Trail.

I’m going to fly through the walking pictures. It was a good walking day, but arriving at the Cathedral was the best.

No stopping us now, we’re so close.

The long walk through the outskirts of the old town of Santiago de Compostela where the Cathedral is and the end of The Camino de Santiago, in our case, The Portugues Route.

We did it! Time to celebrate with all the traditional Santiago Cathedral pictures. Such a great moment. This is the third pilgrimage for me, and Gayle was with me during all three. We met on our second day hiking the French Route of the Camino in 2016 and hiked The Way of St Francis of Assisi into Rome together last year.

I met Sandy and Jennifer through St Louis hiking clubs. Catherine is a friend of Jennifer’s and Kathryn is Sandy’s friend.

We planned on starting out together and figured we would separate at some point. But, we have stayed together practically every step of the way and loved every moment. It is amazing how we have bonded over the past two weeks! Great ladies and a true pilgrim Family.

Reporters were in front of the Cathedral when we arrived and interviewed us.

This is the view of the Cathedral from our room at The Last Stamp Albergue. Just after we checked in, it started to rain and hail. We certainly dodged a bullet here.

We’re on the third floor (which is really the fourth). The walkway between bunks is so narrow. But we love this place, mainly because of the location, name and helpful receptionists. We’re paying 16€/night each and staying two nights to have a rest/tour day before walking 90k to Finisterre.

The line at the pilgrims office was at least two hours long tonight, so we will be heading there first thing tomorrow for our Compostela.

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Day 11: Caldas de Reis to Padrón

We picked up breakfast food last night and ate in the hotel common area. We can only do so many days of pastries in the morning. It was nice to have yogurt, granola and fruit.

Other pilgrims were coming in and out of the area. Some we had met before, some looked familiar and others we were meeting for the first time.

These three guys met earlier on the Trail and have been traveling together for the past week or so. The youngest, Leo from Portugal in his early 20s, the eldest, Mauro from Italy 73 and the third in his mid 50s from Canada (I don’t remember his name).

Mauro speaks Italian, Spanish and French, Leo speaks Spanish and English and the Canadian Speaks English and French. Not a common language between the three but they make it work. They joked about being grandpa, dad and son.

They all agreed that Mauro is the strongest of the three of them at 73. He was happy to meet our friend, Kathryn, someone almost his age also walking the Camino and going strong.

I hope I’m still able to do this in 22 years.

Less than 40k to go. We got this.

So many bicigrinos (Pilgrims on bikes) passed us today.

The skies threatened rain all day, but we stayed dry with only a drop or two. All those church visits are paying off.

Not sure if this was second breakfast or just a snack stop. It was a little pilgrims rest area in the middle of farmland with vending machines, tables, a pilgrim statue and a bathroom.

Thanks to whoever put this little slice of heaven here.

Some how our group of six got pretty spread out today. I was the last for a while, enjoying the day, taking my time and taking pictures.

When I walked by this bar, I noticed Sandy, Kathryn and Catherine out front.

Guess what Kathryn was doing? This Ibuprofen gel is over the counter here. It’s amazing! We’re each getting some on the last day to take home with us. Great for localized joint and muscle pain and inflammation. It’s available in the US, but only with a prescription and very expensive. Here it’s 6€ a tube.

Pimientas de Padron are a local favorite around here. Yum! I’m eating my way through the Camino. Is there a support group for this? I need one.

We met these two ladies from Holland during our snack/lunch/foot break. They’re Aunt and Niece walking the Camino together. They couldn’t resist the peppers either. I hope we run into them again, they seemed like great people that would fit in well with our quirky group.

We love meeting and talking to the locals along the way. Everyone is so friendly and helpful to the pilgrims.

Getting closer and feeling good. We’re in Padròn, just have to find our Albergue.

But first we found a Cathedral, can’t pass that up.

We went in for a stamp and a prayer.

We found out this is THE Church of Saint James the Greater. THE Saint James that we are all here for. Saint James is Santiago of The Camino de Santiago.

After Saint James’ death, his body was brought by boat to this area and moored to this stone Pedrón. (Pedrons aren’t just a type of pepper. Who knew?) its a stone that boats tie to. And this is the actual pedron that was believed to hold the apostolic boat with St James’ remains. It is now under the alter of the Church.

We walked out a different door of the church than the one we entered through. Right in front of us was our Albergue complete with a bar on the first floor. Camino magic is alive.

Albergue Rossol is THE BEST!!! The owner, Constantino, makes this place one of the special ones on The Way. He told us his friends call him Tino, we’re friends now, so Tino it is.

We picked this place based on a recommendation from Lordes at TuiHostel in Tui. She recommended several good ones in Padron, but we ultimately made our reservation because we saw free laundry mentioned in a review. We checked AlbergueRossol.com to confirm this important information.

Sure enough, “laundry free of charge for small parts”, could this be true? And the bigger question, are our laundry parts small.

We were so enamored with the warm welcome from Tino and the even warmer welcome of the well stocked bar with comfy seats and free tapas that we almost forgot about the free laundry.

We eventually asked Tino about the laundry rumor. He said, “Si, pero, lo necesito ahorita.” I have never seen this group of peregrinas leave wine and food so quickly.

Gayle might kick me out of the pilgrim family for posting this, but… when we were ready to move on we put the rest of the peanuts in our leftover baggie and headed out. Tino asked, “olvidaste algo?” We already took the peanuts and ate everything else on the table.

Oops, We forgot Gayle. She was sound asleep in typical Gayle style. This pilgrim life is hard work! Love you, Gayle.

Once again, dressed in our pilgrims finest, we headed out to see the towns sights of interest and find dinner.

We got back to the Albergue Rossol to find the stinky pile of clothes that we had left with Tino freshly washed in a real washer and dryed in a real dryer. Ahhh, I wish you could smell this pile of softness.

I’m going to sleep in my laundered, mountain fresh hiking pants and quick dry shirt that I’ll be hiking in tomorrow with dreams of our new friend Tino handing us Rioja wine, tapas and clean clothes.

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Day 10: Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

We left the albergue by 8:20am, had our first stop at an ATM by 8:25 and stopped at a breakfast cafe for coffee and pastries at 8:30. We left the cafe determined to get some serious mileage in.

About a block later, we passed a beautiful Cathedral and decided to go in just for a minute.

There was a volunteer giving pilgrims stamps. He explained this is the famous round Baroque Pilgrims Church and the main area is in the shape of a scallop shell. He told us about a 1€ pass to go up the stairs to the dome. Just what we need, more steps.

Even though we were anxious to get going, we each gave the 1€ donation and headed up.

 

The choir loft (with encouragement of Pilgrim friends) inspired Gayle to bless us with song. She sang the most beautiful rendition of The Lords Prayer that echoed through the dome and entire cathedral, gave us goosebumps and brought tears to our eyes. When we went back down, every one was so thankful for the special moment.

By the time we left the Cathedral and Pontevedra it was already 10:00am. Oops.

The sun was out and so was our laundry that didn’t dry last night. It wasn’t long before we were taking off layers and able to put our socks and underwear back in the inside of our packs.

We met seven people from the US today. There are people from all over the world walking the Camino, but we have met surprisingly few from America. This group booked their journey through Caminoways.com out of Ireland and are staying in really nice hotels and paradors, all prearranged through Camino Ways. They’re known as “Pampered Peregrinos”, nice of them to mingle with us commoners.

Lunch was on the grape vine covered patio of this small cafe in a tiny old town, San Amaro.

We asked if they had tortilla española, a traditional mixed egg and potato dish. The lady that owned the cafe proudly pointed to a “Gold Plate” award displayed on the wall. Absolutely deserving of this award! We added tuna that Sandy has been carrying in her pack and a bag of olives I’ve been carrying in mine for since our last grocery store stop several days ago.

Jennifer added skittles and Gayle still had some dates. I think our packs are finally empty of hoarded leftover leftovers.

It’s so fun to pass the ancient stone Way markers that have been updated with the number of kilometers left until Santiago. Less than 50k left. We are so close.

The locals are marketing to the Pilgrim traffic. We walked past lots of homes with grape vines and lots of signs selling home made wine.

Our Albergue tonight is an old hotel. We have a room with three sets of bunk beds and our own bathroom. Its a splurge at 12€, but it includes sheets and pillow with case and a nice fluffy white towel and a blow dryer. First time I dried my hair with a blow dryer since I left home over two weeks ago.

We put on our best foot ware and headed out for the night. Okay, we each have one other pair of shoes other than hiking boots. Chacos for me, no socks tonight.

The hardest thing of the whole day was deciding where to have dinner. We ended up at an outdoor cafe right along the river in the popular old part of town.

It has become our new norm to share three of the pilgrims menus and two bottles of wine between the six of us. There were three things to choose from on the first course. So we got one of each. Same with the second course and dessert. This way we get to try a little of everything and don’t over eat.

After dinner we went in search of the Thermal hot water fountains that are known to have curing qualities. No one else would put their feet in the water in fear of catching some weird disease. Probably a good thing considering the blisters on their feet.

I hope I wake up well rested with healthy feet tomorrow. I still have lots of walking to do.

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Day 9: Viegadaña to Pontevedra 32.5 kilometers/20+ miles

Early wake-up call this morning, as planned.

Remember when I told you about Catherine being a productive early riser? Well, Jennifer is proving to be equally as productive.

This morning Jennifer filled her time before others woke up (at least before I woke up) setting up our breakfast buffet.

A beautiful spread of leftover leftovers. Good enough for a pilgrim’s first breakfast.

Our laundry didn’t quite dry all the way last night, so what was still damp this morning is hanging from our packs. Good thing my undies are “quick dry” and are packed safely away inside my pack.

Love Way markers with number of kilometers left to go.

Another day, another group shot with some significant concrete statue. Still six pilgrims strong. Amazing.

We’re walking to where? The views today were beautiful and it’s pretty amazing to be able to see so far. Until you stop and think, “I have to walk all the way across that valley and back up that other hill on the other side?” Actually that thought makes it even more amazing.

Second breakfast was about 9k after we left the albergue, which included a more involved session of table side foot maintenance than normal.

This blog post will now be renamed, Kathryn’s Pilgrim Feet. Let me start by saying Katheryn is AMAZING! She’s the oldest and most experienced hiker of our group, hikes long distances regularly and has never had blister or foot problems before. Well, The Camino has a way of bringing out the best and worst of people.

Her feet are a mess, but she has remained positive and carries on with a smile.

Our next stop was at this conveniently located picnic table under a busy highway for… you know what for…

Lunch was at about 1:15, after about 20 kilometers and 5 hours of walking. Since we still had over 12k left, we decided not to overeat. The “menu del peregrino” is always a lot of food and such a bargain, but it leads to overeating and the need for a nap. The six of us decided to share three of the pilgrims menus.

The local specials are so good: Tortilla Española, Peppers de Padron and Sardines for the first course.

They tell me we can eat the whole fish. Kinda scary, but really good!

Second course and desserts were so good I didn’t get a picture until the plates were empty.

At our lunch stop we ran into Lars (from Germany) and Tim (from Holland). They were at our Albergue last night. Tim’s pack is huge and heavy, probably the biggest I’ve seen in the Trail.

We have been a bit disappointed that a lot of the small churches have been closed. The tiny old Santa Martha Bertola Church was open and they left a stamp out for us to stamp our Pilgrims Passport. We stayed for a rest and a prayer and moved on.

After over 20+ miles, we arrived exhausted to The Aloxa Hostel, at the beginning of Pontevedra, a bustling industrial city. For 12€ we get a bed with real sheets (fitted, top and pillowcase) in a room with about 30 total beds.

Shoes had to be left on a rack outside the dorm. Thank goodness for that tiny incense burner. It helped, but they better light a few more pretty quickly if they want to eliminate the smells this group of pilgrims has brought in.

Even though the albergue slept 56, was full tonight and we were the last to check in, we got our own little corner with just six beds.

just the right place for Kathryn to work on her feet

and for Sandy and me to put our feet up in an effort to reduce swelling. Still no blisters for me, but my feet look like overstuffed sausages at the end of the day.

Lars and Tim ended up at the same albergue tonight too, but they got in about an hour before us.

They’re using a German guide book that has more restaurant information than the app I’m using. They noticed us looking for a place to get some food and shared the recommendation with us.

Cheers to young pilgrims willing to raise a glass with a bunch of *!% American ladies.

We ended up having dinner together. They met on the Camino shortly after Porto and are such great guys. They’re 23 and 21. We are older than their moms (except me, barely). It was fun having dinner with them and hearing about their countries, cultures, universities and plans on the Camino and beyond. Just like most dinners, we laughed until our cheeks hurt.

Don’t worry, Arnout, you’re still our favorite Dutch guy on the Camino. But these kids are pretty great, too. Hope you’re having fun on the Spiritual Route. Have you found a new group of fun ladies to hang with yet?

No spell check or proofreading tonight. It’s almost midnight and I’ve already taken an ambien. A whole one, remember how many beds are in our room?

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