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Archive for September 20th, 2017

Day 14 Wednesday 2017.09.20 Caldas de Reis to Padrón

Today I learned how ‘The Camino Provides’.

The Camino Provides - 2017

The Camino Provides – 2017

I had bought the badge before I set off on my #Camino2017 and although it was stitched to my bag, I didn’t really give it much thought until; today….I met my Camino Angel – her name is Susana

We are pilgrims on a journey,
we’re companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

Words from Richard Gillard’s The Servant Song

After I retrieved my phone the night before, I sank into a deliciously hot bubble bath; ahhh heavenly. I could feel the weariness seeping out my bones and my stress levels beginning to sink. Before I fell asleep in that pool of deliciousness I dragged myself out and before long, attired in my pyjamas – the ‘everything hurts’ t-shirt my daughter gifted me, hair washed and dried, teeth cleaned (I miss my electric toothbrush), I slipped between the cool crispy sheets of a marvellously huge bed with a superbly comfortable mattress at the Motel Caldas. Although my initial impression of the motel had not been favourable, I have to say the bed was divine. I slept like a baby, undisturbed by any sort of noise except the occasional howl of what I assume was a wolf….shivers of delight.

Awake bright and early, I waited patiently for my breakfast, which, after much sign language and a smattering of Spanish the night before, was arranged for 7.00am. By 7.30 it hadn’t appeared. I rang reception, but again my lack of Spanish tripped me up. Then I had the genius idea of using google translate. So once again ‘una momento Signora gracias’ I typed ‘good morning. please may I have my breakfast now’ into google translate and pressed the voice button. Hey presto, quick as a flash google had voiced my request, the lady answered (I have no idea what she said) but within 5 minutes my breakfast was in my room!! LOL Too funny. I mean seriously, using Google translate to talk to someone on the phone!! Whatever next?? But it worked. By 8:14 I was on my way…Padrón. My last night on The Way and I was feeling wayyy too emotional. I walked the 1.6 kms into town and was glad of it….

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Early morning in the spa town of Caldas de Reis

The rising sun, not quite yet above the horizon, cast a rosy pink glow over everything, even the sign board looked pretty. I’m so sorry I didn’t have more time to explore Caldas de Reis, it looks enchanting. I had seriously miscalculated the distances of the various stages. Virtually on my own, I enjoyed my early morning stroll through the streets of Caldas de Reis, so much so that I went for a brief walkabout 🙂 I noticed that even the drain covers had a scallop shell pattern. I encountered one of the many ‘fierce’ animals in Spain LOL. I’d read so many reports from peregrinos saying they encountered fierce dogs and terrifying animals along the Camino, that I was quite trepidatious I may have the same problem…Nope.

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one of the very fierce animals I met on The Way to Santiago 😉 even the drain covers have scallop shell patterns

Wow, Day 4/5 – my pilgrimage was almost at an end; I was on my way to Padrón, but not before my early morning treat of coffee and pastry.  I spotted a likely cafe; Panadería Cervela just over the road from the Igrexa de San Tomé Becket tree-lined square and was soon ‘sitting in a cafe in Caldas de Reis in Galicia’ drinking café con leche and eating pastries on this my 2nd last day of my Camino 2017.

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Café con leche and a sweet pastry for breakfast

How amazing is that! My 2nd last day!! It felt so surreal. I’d been crying for ages and just couldn’t stop. This has been such an incredible experience – exhausted, excited, in pain and tired beyond belief, I don’t want this to end. Wow. Camino eh. Fantastic. I’ve a 19km push through to Padrón today and sent Pepe ahead again with Tuitrans. Tomorrow I’ll carry him into Santiago – suitably symbolic, me thinks. I can’t quite believe that I’m just 2 days away from my destination. Is my journey just beginning, or ending. I felt dazed.

As with Portugal, and the many towns of Spain now behind me, Caldas de Reis had it’s fair share of ramshackle buildings in the centre and outskirts of town. This really is a mystery to me, this urban decay.

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Urban decay and The Way

By 09:22 I had left CdR proper behind me and was heading into more rural terrain, the ever present scallop shells, arrows and little walking man on a blue board guiding me on my way. I was going to miss this so much.

With the suns rays casting a rainbow halo on the ground, I encountered my first marker of the day; 41.443 kms to Santiago. Oh my gosh! I had almost 200 kms behind me from when I left Porto. Truly, I could hardly believe I’d come this far. Awed AND dazed LOL

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41.443 kms to Santiago

Ahead of me, pilgrims trod a well-worn path past suburban houses; destination Santiago de Compostela. I briefly wondered where they had all started their journeys. And no matter where we started, now for this moment in time, we were all walking the same path; weaving our way through vineyards hung with bunches of deep red succulent grapes, treading quietly past ancient stone-built sheds adorned with small figurines sculpted of stone; St James – the pilgrim. Dotting the fields, the now familiar hórreos. The rising sun threw shards of light through leafy boughs still heavy with the leaves of summer. Soft rays casting shadows; highlighting the terrain of an ever-changing landscape; asphalt gave way to gravel and sandy paths, the whisper of footsteps – pilgrims walking in contemplative silence though tunnels of shady green forests, past the deep green and russet browns of ferns mixed with delicate pink heather growing with wild abandon along the wayside . A tearful pilgrim gently rests a token atop a cairn of similar tokens. Stop briefly to give her a hug. A temple of God could be no more hushed.

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Pilgrims walking. Vineyards. Stone sheds. Morning sun. tunnels of green. Autumnal fern

And now; 39.337 kms to Santiago.

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39.337 kms to Santiago

10:32 and I’m in O Cruceiro, a marker tells me I’m still on the Via Romana XIX. Awesome. Ahead a stunning Iglesia; the Church of Santa Mariña in Campo, the sun’s rays casting rainbow halos from behind the facade. A still sleepy village, its inhabitants just glimpsed between the trees. Blue skies.

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The Via Romana XIX. O Cruceiro. Church of Santa Marina in Campo

36.284 kms to Santiago.

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36.284 kms to Santiago 🙂 and pilgrims walking

35.568 kms to Santiago and a photo op. By now I am adorned with Camino trinkets; keepsakes or amulets to keep me safe? My fabulous walking poles ever to hand! I didn’t lose weight on the Camino LOL

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35.568 kms to Santiago and I’m adorned with amulets

In an orchard, the night’s chill leaves crusty ice on strands of a spider’s web; diamonds glinting in the early morning sun.

35.039 kms and a bunch of juicy green grapes…. left in offering or forgotten?

Then Casalderrique; a town on the outskirts of the Caldas de Reis to Padrón del Camino Portugués to Santiago de Compostela. Fascinating. I’m loving these strange, evocative words and names.

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a spider web strung with diamonds. 35.039 kms and a bunch of grapes. Casalderrique

Suddenly the weather changes; a swirling mist descends, enveloping wooded hills, sleepy houses, and the watery rays of sun, sending a chill along my spine. And 3 minutes later we have blues skies again – the sun heading towards midday doesn’t quite warm the chilly air.

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a damp mist descends. pilgrims walk beneath blue skies

A self-service wayside café with a loo for peregrinos. A stunning pilgrim sculpture and scallop shell mark the spot.

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Peregrino stop; rest awhile

34.584 kms to Santiago – Benvidos O Concello de Valga – Camino de Santiago.
Once again we’re required to cross the dreaded N550 & it’s now 33.799 kms to Santiago
Reminiscent of Portugal, I am once again following footprints in the sand.

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Benvidos O Concello de Valga – Camino de Santiago.

33.089 kms to Santiago and once again we’re on asphalt and walking through forests of green.

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32.049 kms to Santiago back on the gravel, and it’s all downhill from here

By now my right ankle was burning; each step excruciatingly painful as I gingerly put pressure on each step downhill. I really could have done without downhills today.  After the last 2 days of extensive and excessive walking, and crossing 3 mountains, my right ankle is in a bad way. I’ve barely covered 5 kms and walking down the steep downward and the steep upward inclines has been agony. I have a badly contracted muscle just above the right ankle that’s just seriously painful. For the last km I’ve been saying I’ll stop soon I’ll stop soon but just kept going. Suddenly there, in a shady clearing above a stream, I saw a wooden shelter and a group of 4 ladies resting. I hobbled over, they made space for me and to my sheer wonder, one of their party, a young lass said “I’m a massage therapist, can I massage your feet?” OMG I could have cried. Oh please!! 💞💞 The pain of the massage was tremendous, but the relief was even more so. With lots of laughter and admonishment, 3 of the ladies, chirruping away in Spanish produced a scissors, a roll of strapping tape and foot cream! After massaging my legs and feet Susana strapped up my ankle; the relief was amazing.

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My Camino Angel; Susana from Vila do Conde

Thank you Susana from Vila do Conde, you were truly my angel today. Today I learned how the Camino provides 💞💞💞💞🙏🙏

The Spanish ladies left after admonishing me about walking too far (Susana translated) and then Susana left soon after, repeatedly asking if I was okay now. Yes, thank you so much. I’ll just rest awhile and continue on my way. With lots of hugs and a wave with the tentative possibility of crossing paths in Padrón we said goodbye. Sadly I didn’t see her in Padrón.

Walking a lot easier now as I made my way slowly to Padrón. Actually, I wasn’t in any hurry. It was a fine day, the sun now warm on my skin, I passed fields, a pretty stone church (they are so lovely), and then suddenly……..29.883 kms to Santiago. OMG!! 😀

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Hoorah!! 29.883 kms to Santiago

To my delight I spotted a pair of old boots covered with stones of all shapes and sizes, sitting on top of a Camino marker. What story could they tell?

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these boots were made for walking…..

Another hórreo and a field of corn. And now Cedelo. The time was 14:09 and I had been walking for nearly 6 hours with just a few rest stops in between and a massage LOL. Another vineyard, dripping with plump bunches of ripe red grapes. Oh how delicious they looked. Hard to resist the temptation.

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snapshots of Spain

Don’t STOP walking Go. Go. Gooo

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Don’t STOP walking..Go Go Gooo!!! follow the yellow arrow!!!

Contrary to the advice given, I’ve stopped for a short break. It’s blazing hot. Almost 3pm and I’ve been walking for well over 6 hours.

26.603 kms to Santiago. 6 hours 38 minutes and 14.84 kms covered so far!  Padrón where are you. Slowww going today. Another downward slope. Urgh.

And on I walked; slowly passing towns and hamlets – As Cernadas, Chenlo, San Miguel, Condide, Valga. The names unfamiliar on my tongue, I longed to pronounce them properly. A silent vow to learn Spanish.

I passed a house adorned with the most glorious display of glorious bright pink Hibiscus!! A café wall adorned with dozens of scallop shells; fresh brewed coffee served here. A bizarre dummy dressed as a pilgrim nun standing next to a display stand of trinkets. An arrow points me in the right direction. A small village dominated by an enormous church its graveyard packed tight with marble and stone graves and memorials. A railway line to be crossed; my nemesis. A pretty painted house, red and white paint peeling off mouldy walls. A tunnel snakes beneath the railway line; the blue board with the walking man points the way; pilgrim this is your route.

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hibiscus

 

Suddenly we’re in suburbia once again – Pontecesures; thus named because in Roman times a bridge was built here. Pontecesures was one of the main Galician ports during the Roman era from whence products were shipped to Rome. The litchen-covered 10 arched bridge spans the River Ulla and separates the provinces of Pontevedra and A Coruña. I hurried along my way, crossing the bridge and for just a brief moment, again we’re on the dreaded N550. The sun-warmed day with bright blue skies reflecting in the water of the river as it flows rapidly by.  I’m getting closer now. Just a little further and I’m walking alongside another stone-arched bridge, this time carrying the N550 rather than spanning a river. At the junction of Aldea Calzada and Ponte Aldea, a scallop shell filled with plants rests on a stone pillar inscribed with the letters ‘no ori eses dsp’: interpreted as: “Neptune, the inhabitants of the Iria forum, placed this one at their expense“.

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Pontecesuras – not far to go now!!

15:19 – 7 hours and Hurrah. Padron is on the horizon 👏👏👏😀😀😀

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Padron!!!! 😀

25.018 kms to Santiago. 16.425 kms walked. This was the last marker I saw before reaching Padrón, so I’m guessing mapmywalk (said I walked 13.83 kms) didn’t update properly after losing gps signal at various points along the way. Clearly my distance was indeed the 18.4 kms that the Guide book I bought calculated LOL

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The last marker before Padrón….who lied? Google, the Pilgrim’s Guide or the markers!!

Hoorah!!! its 15:09 and finally I’m in Padrón, a cafeteria on the corner tempts me in, but I resist.  I strolled along the tree-lined “Espolon Promenade” where I saw a statue of Camil José Cela (1916–2002), writer and Nobel Prize winner who was born here. Padrón is a concello (Galician for municipality) in the Province of A Coruña and divided into five parishes. I’m in the parish of Santa María de Iría Flavia (or Iría Flavia).

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Padron; the parish of Santa María de Iría Flavia

The town suffered several attacks in the 10th and 11th centuries by both Vikings and Normans….geez, they were everywhere!! According to tradition, it was in Iría Flavia that the Apostle Saint James first preached during his journey in Hispania. Legend has it that soon after his death (AD44), two of his disciples brought his head and body in a stone boat to Iría Flavia from Jerusalem where he had been beheaded by “Herod the king” (Herod Agrippa I). The river Sar flows alongside the promenade through Padrón and past the cathedral where you can see the ‘pedron’. After resting here the disciples took his remains inland for burial at Compostela, now known as Santiago de Compostela. As a result, Iría Flavia, now colloquially known as Padrón, has developed into a popular passing place on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.  Besides being famous for it’s links to St James, Padrón is famous for it’s peppers (Galician pementos de Padrón).

I stopped at the cathedral; Iglesia de Santiago where the body of St James lay before being taken to Compostela. Tradition has it that it was here that the boat coming from the Holy Land carrying the body of the Apostle James was moored on the “pedrón”, a granite block; still preserved under the altar of the Iglesia de Santiago. The history of these places is just extraordinary. I stayed for about 30 minutes, just enjoying the overwhelming sense of spirituality, peace and tranquillity of the cathedral. I had my passport stamped, bought a trinket and made a donation.

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Iglesia de Santiago where the body of St James lay before being taken to Compostela

After a few minutes of contemplation I left the church and did a Google search for my albergue. Only 85 metres away 👏👏👏😀😀😀 Hallelujah.

I’m not sure who thought cobbled roads were a good idea, but I’d like to assure them they’re not. 😕😕😕 Albergue Corredoiras is probably the most well organised albergue I’ve stayed in so far, although I had to make my own bed 😂😂 Reminded me of boarding school. I’m in a multi bed, mixed sex dorm and now in the fully reclining position, as you can see from my last pic. I did not know that my feet could be this painful, however the 3 x 500mg paracetamol I’ve swallowed since this morning appears to be kicking in. So I’m going to do what every sensible pilgrim should do… sleep. 😴😴😴

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Albergue Corredoiras

What a journey. Today has been so painful, but it forced me to slow down. It’s been very hot again today and the last 5 kms were tough. I noticed that the Buen Camino greetings were more tired that before, pilgrims walked slower, feet dragging. Padrón looks amazing. I’m glad I got here early enough to rest for a while and then hopefully get out to explore. Just a little bit 😉

Day 4/5 walked 13.83 (?) kms and 39374 steps over 7 hours, 58 minutes door to door. I’m not sure which is more accurate, Google maps or mapmywalk 18.7 vs 13.83 kms. Hmmm??

Tomorrow; Santiago de Compostela. Too soon…..

But first, a little rest and then time to explore…. LOL The proprietor gave me a basket for my laundry but I was so tired I simply didn’t have the energy to unpack. Dirty clothes till Santiago I guess. I figured that pilgrims of days gone by didn’t have the luxury of a washing machine, so I too would just wear whatever it was that came out my bag.

I loved the configuration of the hostel sleeping quarters. Each bunk had it’s own locker and a curtain for privacy. Pepe had once again been safely delivered, so into the locker went he, and onto the bed went I. Snooze time. See Places I stayed on the Camino for more about the Albergue Corredoiras.

In case you missed it,you can read about Day 3 here from Arcade to Caldas de Reis

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Day 14 Wednesday 2017.09.20 – After spending the evening in Padrón I realised I would have to add it to my growing list of ‘favourite places on the Camino’ LOL. What a charming town, also with Roman connections.

After arriving at my albergue, as mentioned in my previous blog, I had a couple of hours snooze and then I hit the high spots…literally. On my arrival in Padrón I had noticed a very large church sitting majestically on the hill above the river overlooking the town, so made my way in that direction.

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Convento do Carme

Crossing through the Canton de la Igliesia, I stopped first at the Iglesia de Santiago, where I had spent some time on arriving in Padrón, for a second visit and look around. It is a truly remarkable church, with centuries of history. The original temple was erected circa 1133 by Archbishop Xelmírez and over the centuries various temples and churches have been built on and added to. The atmosphere is one of quiet contemplation, a stillness hard to match in the outside world.

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side entrance of Iglesia de Santiago entered via the Espolon Promenade

From there I  strolled along the tree-lined “Espolon Promenade”, the large rectangular tree-lined park that runs parallel to the river, along which I had walked earlier, just enjoying the early evening setting sun casting shadows across the dusty gravel. Strolling into town at the far end; pilgrims just arriving, along the riverside; locals sitting on benches relaxing in the warmth of the sun’s rays.

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Espolon Promenade in the early evening

From there I crossed the river Ulla/Sar via Ponte Santiago, past an old and elaborate stone fountain; Fuente del Carmen, a Carmelite fountain built by Pedro de la Barcena in 1577.

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view of the River Ulla from Ponte de Santiago

Located just below the convent the monument boasts a link with St. James.

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Fuenta del Carmen

This fascinating construction consists of three bodies; in the lower one is the Virgen de los Dolores (Virgin of Sorrows), protector of women in labour. In the centre you can see a representation of the Apostle James’ body being brought to this Galicia by his disciples. And in the upper body is a representation of the baptism of the Queen Lupa by the Apostle St James ‘Santiago’.

I followed the road up hill and then up numerous steps to the church built on the rocky area above Padron called “Santiaguino del Monte” to the Convento do Carme. An enormous monastery built at the beginning of the 18th century on living rock, it’s first inhabitants were the ‘Discalced Carmelites’ or Barefoot Carmelites (a Catholic mendicant order with roots in the eremitic tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers who dedicate themselves to a life of prayer – ref wikipedia). The convent eventually passed into the hands of the Dominicans, an order still present today.

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Convento do Carme

Unfortunately the church itself was not open to viewing at the time I visited, but oh my word…the views from the atrium were astounding. With the setting sun casting long shadows Padrón looked ethereal and other-worldly. It escalated to top of the list of my favourite places on the Camino.

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views of Padrón and the Mahia valley

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Convento do Carme and me 🙂 and views of the town and mountains behind

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Cruceiros in front of the Monastery

Then back down the steep steps and back over the bridge; Ponte do Carme and into the town proper.

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cart sculpture and Ponte de Santiago and Igresia de Santiago

Padrón is an ancient town, once more important than, but overshadowed by Santiago once the remains of Saint James were discovered during the 9th century and thus proclaimed patron saint of Spain by King Alfonso II, who built a church and monastery over the tomb in honour of the saint. It is however, now an important stop on the Portugués Camino Route to Santiago de Compostela – (Campus Steliae or field of stars).

As with most of the towns I passed through or stayed overnight in, Padrón houses and buildings, that tend to merge one into the other, are built of thick stone slabs which offer a cold dark feel, with the by now familiar decay, shuttered doors and peeling paint overshadowed by charming balconies and glimpses of quirky characters and sculptures. I absolutely loved it.

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Padrón; a labyrinth of alleyways

Meandering the labyrinth of streets and lanes I encountered some fascinating statues and sculptures.

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sculptures in Padrón

An oversized scallop shell. Macías o Namorado, Padrón, Galiza. Escultura de Ramón Conde. a sculpture to the Padron Pepper Pickers. Pilgrims carved into stone. An elaborate cross. Statue of a Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago.

Then it was time for food. I spotted a likely looking cafe; Cafeteria Bocateria Alfoli on the Plaza Ramón Tojo and was soon tucking into a delicious omelette and chips with the by now inevitable coke.

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supper

After satiating my hunger I decided to head back for a shower and an early night. I walked back long the Calle de Delores and discovered to my absolute delight that this was the route I would follow to Santiago on the morrow, a route that was just meters from the albergue where I was spending the night. 🙂 Thrilling.

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Calle de Dolores – The Way to Camino de Santiago

Soon, showered, teeth cleaned, Pepe repacked ready for an early departure, my clean clothes sorted and ready for the final day of my pilgrimage to Santiago, my leg massaged, creamed, and strapped I slipped between the cool sheets of my bunk. By 10:30 pm it was lights out and a heavy cloak of silence fell over the albergue. I really loved that about this particular venue…a lights out policy of 10pm and silence by 10.30pm.

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lights out at Albergue Corredoiras….all the Pilgrim’s boots tucked up safely for the night

Tomorrow….Santiago de Compostela. My final day of pilgrimage to the field of stars.

All too soon I was in the land of nod, undisturbed till my alarm went off at 6.30am. My foam earplugs worked a charm once again.

Early to arise, early to arrive…..or so I thought LOL Ultimately I didn’t actually get away till just before 8am…mostly because at 6am, it was still as dark as pitch. I didn’t fancy walking in such darkness so I snuggled back between the covers till 7.30 😉

To read more about the Albergue Corredoiras visit Places I stayed on the Camino

Day 14 Caldas de Reis to Padrón

 

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