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Posts Tagged ‘pilgrimage to santiago’

Day 15 Thursday 2017.09.21 Padr贸n to Santiago de Compostela

The simplicity of just being.

I could scarcely believe that today is the day I was to finally reach Santiago. When I started this journey I had no idea of what lay ahead. I had read the blogs, seen the photos, read the guides, researched the areas, and none of them truly gave me any idea of what really lay ahead.

As mentioned in my previous day’s blog I woke really early, only to snuggle back between the warm sheets for an extra hour after looking out the window and seeing pitch dark…

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these shoes are made for walking….

2017.09.21 these shoes were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do…. Well this is it; day 5/5 and my last day on Camino. What a journey it has been. As I lay in bed last night I tried to reflect on where I’d been and what I’d seen and done, but I was so tired that I was asleep before too long. The bed is right comfy and now that it’s morning I’m reluctant to get up. But I did, quickly before the other pilgrims got going. I wanted to capture this image. Many of the albergues have a no shoes policy. So as you enter the living area you’re required to remove your walking shoes. Marvellous idea; keeps the place clean.

I thought this image epitomised the Camino….all coming together in one place for a brief moment in time, and then we’ll all go our separate ways. I wonder to where? Weirdly I haven’t seen even one of the pilgrims I’ve met previously. I think my marathon push through on Tuesday from Arcade to Caldas de Reis put me too far ahead. Pretty much everyone agrees, 32 kms was wayyyy too much. One of the disadvantages of having prebooked accommodation. C茅st la vie eh. But on the plus side I met my Camino angel; Susana yesterday 馃檪 Total bonus. I hope I see her again so I can say thank you one more time. I was surprised to note that the lass in the bunk above mine had already left – I never heard a thing…good earplugs, or a considerate pilgrim? 馃檪

before I left, I decided to take a last look at the river. The church looked other-worldly in the blue light as I passed through the square – fleeting shadows flittered as pilgrims walked beneath the pools of light cast by lamps on the corners.

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Igresa

On the way I noticed a tiny little coffee shop right across the square; Canton de la Iglesia, just in front of the church, so stopped off at this delightful place for breakfast; best cafe con leche and banana bread ever. I so enjoyed the warm, cosy, lively atmosphere… pilgrims filled the tables and the proprietors were busy bustling back and forth serving food and coffee. The conversation bubbled and you could feel an undercurrent of excitement….I wished once again and not for the last time, that I had made more effort with my Spanish language lessons.

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coffee and carrot cake; wonderful hospitality

I felt so bemused and quite out-of-body. Besides being really tired, despite a good night sleep, I was feeling so bemused at the fact that I had over 210 km’s behind me, with just 20 or so ahead, and only today left before I reached Santiago, I felt like I was in a bubble, my mind in a fuzz. It hardly seemed possible. I cried a lot today LOL

I finished off my coffee and the banana bread, gathered my things together, the proprietor gave me a big hug and a kiss on the forehead and accompanied by the sound of clapping (they applauded everyone who set off 馃檪 ) I left the warmth of the caf茅 and before starting my final day’s walk to Santiago I turned left for a last look at the church and river.

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coffee and carrot cake; wonderful hospitality on the Canton de la Iglesia

All was quiet and hushed as I walked, the sky an ethereal shade of blue-grey with a splash of pink just tinging the river and sky as the sun rose higher.

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early morning in Spain; leaving Padr贸n

Finally I could delay no longer, it was now getting on for 08:30 and unless I planned on getting to Santiago in the dark…

As I walked back through the square I noticed the proprietor from the caf茅 waving at me…I waved back and smiled. He waved again and held up 3 fingers…..as he did so, to my intense and everlasting mortification I realised that I had forgotten to pay them for the coffee and cake. I nearly died. Have you ever had the wish that the ground would open up and swallow you? Well…..

Red-faced and highly apologetic I made my way back into the caf茅. It felt like all the eyes, accusing eyes, of the world were upon me as I stumbled across the threshold, my apology falling from my lips. Mortified!! Especially as they had been so hospitable and kind.

Oh well…..it stills makes me cringe, even today, 2 months later LOL

After paying my dues, I felt like I should probably also pay penance for my sins, but the church was closed still, so instead I tried to gather my dignity back together and mentally bashing myself on the head I set off along the pilgrim’s route I had discovered the night before.

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Calle de Dolores – The Way to Camino de Santiago

The rain in Spain falls mainly……in Galicia on The Way to Santiago LOL

I had hardly walked a few yards than I had to stop and hoick Pepe off my back, and put our relevant rain covers on before getting set, ready, go again.聽The 2nd rainy day out of 11 days on the Camino….not too bad.

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the dreaded N-550

Barely 1 km out of Padr贸n and I encountered the dreaded N-550 Precauci贸n Intersecci贸n. Urgh. Weirdly the sign said 16km to Santiago. I’m guessing that was for motorists and not pilgrims.

Wish me luck, 22.519 kms to Santiago.

Ahead of me and coming up from behind were a number of pilgrims. As you will note their backpacks were covered…yes it was raining proper now. Thankfully I had already put rain wear on. It rained on and off pretty much the whole way.

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along The Way of St James

We soon left the suburbs and entered a more rural area passing small plots with charming houses, the now familiar h贸rreo, and all with animals of one sort or another. I stopped to say hello to some of the ‘girls’ along the way.聽I saw some fantastic h贸rreos …they are certainly very interesting. I must find out more.

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Rural Spain, follow that pilgrim along The Way of St James

Day 5/5 Hah, 19.595 kms to Santiago……first 3 kms done and dusted 馃槉馃槉

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19.595 kms to Santiago

The route today took us through various hamlets, rural land with a variety of crops, through stands of tall trees and past h贸rreos and lavendarias. I saw and passed an elderly gentleman strolling along the path…..consider that it was raining!! I was like hello!! Where’s your raincoat dude?

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rural Spain

Suddenly it was 18.369 kms marker…the k’s were going down…weirdly on top of the marker was an eye-mask??? Why do people leave these things?

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18.369 kms to Santiago, rural Galicia

Once again I noticed so much urban decay. I mean seriously, the abandoned houses looked amazing..so beautiful in their slow decline, but oh so sad. People used to live there.

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signs along The Way to Santiago

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Along the Way of St James

Before too long we came to an amazing church; Satuario da Virxe da Escravitude – Santuary To Our Lady of the Slavery. A huge imposing edifice of grey stone slabs towering above the sidewalk. First a long flight of steps to negotiate. By this stage, anything more than 3 steps was classified as a ‘long’ flight of steps LOL Tradition has it that two miracles occurred that caused a temple to be built and eventually this magnificent church.聽The first one occurred in聽1582.聽The second of the events took place in聽1732.

All the pilgrims ahead of me were making their way up the steps, so I followed suit. Wow, what a fantastic building. To my delight, at the back of the church, just behind the magnificent altar, was a tiny office where we queued for our passports to be stamped. The guy was really busy with a large group just ahead of me. I noticed again how few people bother to leave a donation. Surely it’s not to much to ask….for their time and contribution to our journeys!! HINT: Leave a small donation 馃檪

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Satuario da Virxe da Escravitude

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Satuario da Virxe da Escravitude

Once again the route took us uphill and down… Thankfully not as steep as the previous 4 days which were at some stage pure murder on the legs. Not long after leaving that church behind us, the route took us past another beautiful church. They are quite simply amazing. I wished I had more time to visit them all.

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Igrexa de Santa Maria de Cruces

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snapshots of Spain – and it’s still raining

I passed the quirky entrance for a restaurant; Bella Vista (beautiful view) and was sorely tempted to stop, but the extra distance off the route just seemed too much. For someone who normally has no qualms at all about taking lengthy diversions, to consider 20 meters too far, was something of a novelty. Truly, by now my sense of adventure was well and truly tired.

I passed one of many memorials. Some of these have been raised in memorium to pilgrims who have died on the route. They are so melancholy. The realisation that someone died on that spot, just feet from where I was walking was a stark reminder that the Camino is not all fun and games.

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snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela

As I passed through a tiny hamlet, a wizened old lady was gathering bundles of hay and carrying them along to a barn – I mused at how different life is between here and the UK. Shortly after that I walked beneath a grapevine covered tunnel and was reminded of the snake I’d seen in the last vineyard….eeeek!!

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vineyards – snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela

The arrows were really inventive and as usual the route is really well marked. Unless you stray off course there really is no reason to get lost.

It’s 10:51 and I’ve stopped briefly for a break. 7.66 kms covered so far. I’m feeling stronger and full of energy. My ankle, strapped securely, is holding up well. This gorgeous little boy has decided to hitch a ride to Santiago 馃槏馃槏馃槏 isn’t he a beauty!!

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signs along The Way – snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela. A wee kitty hitching a ride

15.052 kms to Santiago and it’s still raining. I had read that it rains a lot in Santiago so I wasn’t too surprised.

Another of the very fierce animals I met along the way LOL This little boy just loved having someone stop and talk to him with a bit of a pet through the fence. I had noticed another lady also stop before I got there and then after I walked on, someone else also stopped to chat and pet, so I’m guessing he has wised up to the free love. Clever boy. Not long after that, just a few feet in fact, a wee girlie slunk up and looked for some loving too 馃檪 She followed me for ages and despite me picking her up and taking her back to her house, she just followed again and eventually I gave up and just ignored her. She eventually turned back and went home.

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signs along The Way – snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela and some of the very fierce animals

I’ve stopped for food 馃槉馃槉 Just delaying the inevitable. Walked 9.96 kms so far and 14.664 kms to go. I’ve met some of the really fierce animals along聽The Way聽today 馃槏馃槏馃槏 That dog just loved having his nose tickled. The little cat followed me for ages. Mind you she followed everyone. 馃槆馃槆 I’m having such an amazing day. The kms are just flying by, the pilgrim’s are all full of joie de vie and there seems to be a spring in their step. I know there is one in mine!!! I’m trying very hard to not think about arriving in Santiago, coz each time I do, I well up with tears. 馃槀馃槀馃槀 nearly there and it hardly seems possible.

14.5kms to Santiago – Some of the markers along the route were very decorative and I could feel my excitement escalating with every one I saw.

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14.5 kms to Santiago! signs & towns along The Way – snapshots of Spain

I stopped in O Faramello for lunch and a drink; tuna mayonnaise (hot) on a baguette and a glass of the heavenly orange juice. The food in Portugal and Spain always managed to surprise me…when I was expecting it to be cold, it was hot, and when I expected hot, it was cold!!! I was tempted to buy the cake on offer…hot or cold?

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urban decay along The Way; O Faramello – snapshots of Spain; Santiago de Compostela

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Stopping for lunch in O Faramello on The Way to Santiago de Compostela

12.901 kms to Santiago – wheeeee 馃檪 so excited now. I passed a little church; Capilla de Francos, Abierta. Doors closed sadly.

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Capila on The Way to Santiago de Compostela

The markers were becoming more colourful now 馃檪 The landscape really beautiful I passed a sleepy hamlet where I saw a flock of exotic ducks or were they geese, waddling across the road. Mostly the villages are virtually deserted…I hardly saw anyone besides the pilgrims, who were now quite numerous and I was seldom alone.

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this way…..

The Camino聽Portugu锚s聽takes you through some of the most beautiful countryside as well as busy towns and urban sprawl.

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beautiful countryside in Galicia

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Rio Tinto!!! Camino聽Portugu锚s Galicia, Spain

Rio Tinto!!!! Have I been teleported to the Wild West? Where’s that dude on his horse? I just laughed when I saw this. Too funny. My emotions were very raw by now and anything, no matter how mundane, had the capacity to make me either laugh or cry….

As I reached this little bridge my excitement went through the roof!!! OMG just look at that!!! 10.166 kms to go to Santiago. I’m more than halfway there 馃榿馃榿馃榿馃槉馃槉馃憦馃憦 Wowwww.

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10.1666 kms to Santiago de Compostela

Overwhelmed by emotion I had to just sit down to gather myself. While I was just sitting there at the marker and reflecting on how far I’ve come, pilgrims whizzed by. Sometimes just a Buen Camino or a wave, other times an enquiry: are you okay? Si gracias. Just resting. When I started this journey 11 days ago I had no idea whether or not I’d even be able to walk this far. I didn’t know about all the amazing things I’d see, the fantastic countryside, the stunning churches and views, the hamlets, villages, towns and cities I’d pass through; places that were all just names on a map on 6th September. I hadn’t yet met all the wonderful people along The Way or experienced the kindness of strangers. I hadn’t practised my smidgen of聽the Portugu锚s language and a little more of Spanish. I hadn’t yet climbed a mountain with Pepe on my back, slept in an albergue or a mixed dorm. I hadn’t crossed these foreign rivers or bridges, both real and metaphorical. Yet here I am; 230 kms on from where I left and with just on 10kms to Santiago I’m overwhelmed – emotions raged, disbelief, gratitude, excitement, wonder, amazement.

I thought Pepe and Gemini deserved some recognition so today they’re both in the picture. Despite being exceedingly heavy to pick up and put back on, Pepe (backpack) has been my constant companion and without Gemini (nordic walking poles) I doubt I would have made it without a tumble or two; together we’ve come so far. My body is doing great and I’m both exhilarated and excited, and yet sad it’s all coming to an end. The tears are flowing. I wasn’t ready to reach Santiago yet!!! I wanted this to carry on…this wonderful walking. The simplicity of just being. The pilgrim’s are whizzing by while I sit. Oh and it’s raining again 馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ聽Raincoats on. Time to finish my journey. I’ll see you in Santiago. And once again I set off.

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that way to Santiago de Compostela

I photographed every marker from here on……

And then there was this…..

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when the next marker suddenly shows more kms to go than the last???

6,660 kms – the number of the beast apparently

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6,660 kms to Santiago de Compostela

2017.09.21 Day5/5 and 5.733 kms and I have no words 馃榿馃榿馃榿馃ぇ馃ぇ馃拑馃拑馃拑馃挄馃挄馃憦馃憦馃憦

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5,733 kms to Santiago de Compostela and it’s raining again

Just after the 4,560 km marker I came across a little wayside caf茅; A Paradina and decided to extend the day even further, so stopped for a pee and a coffee, and a stamp for my passport. LOL.

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a paradina, galicia

While ordering my coffee, a couple of ‘pilgrims’ pitched up and very rudely demanded the stamp for their passports. No please. No thank you. Just “sello!!” grabbed it and stamped their passport and off again without so much as a by your leave. That’s just not acceptable. At least buy something, this is a business. These people are doing you a favour by providing the ‘sello’, no one has a ‘right’ to it. If you don’t have time to buy something, then leave a small donation. Pilgrims say thank you and please. Tourists demand. Be a pilgrim.

Much of the route was through green forests dripping with water, over little bridges, past intriguing gates, through tiny villages, and then…..

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the beautiful countryside of Galicia

Whattt??? You give me 2 options now!!! After 235 kms!!! Seriously dude. 馃槫馃槫 I’m going right. Because….(mostly because it was downhill LOL)

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which way to go to Santiago

Then, after heading downhill and beneath a huge motorway, and walking along some narrow lanes, at a gap in the trees I could just see on the horizon, the towers of the Cathedral. Oh wowwww. I loved the colourful houses I was now seeing. Urban sprawl.

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I can just see the towers Santiago de Compostela in the far distance

Soon the route reached the outer precincts of the city and now it’s just 2.329 kms and the route is getting manic; confusing roundabouts, traffic noise, the hustle and bustle of people. It had stopped raining by now and I was sweltering under my raincoat, so I stopped and removed the rain covers….just an excuse to delay the inevitable really LOL

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2,329 km to Santiago

I’m crying so much by this stage I find it difficult to see. I crossed paths with some of the Irish group I’d met a few days before. 馃檪 We had a brief exchange of news, catching up on events and ‘how are you holding up?’…. and then I was off…a cathedral was waiting…

And before I knew it; the old city. I passed some fantastic buildings…..

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Santiago de Compostela 馃檪

…..walked alongside the Alameida Park, not realising I could walk through it

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Santiago de Compostela – Rua do Franco

and then…..crossing over at the traffic lights I was confronted with the crowds…I almost had a panic attack.聽Rua do Franco…..the traditional route of the Portugu茅s Camino to the Cathedral. Tears are flowing. Pilgrims in front of me, tourists and travellers…..it was so busy and noisy and overwhelming.

After walking for days with hardly seeing a soul, spending hours on my own walking through forests and fields, alongside rivers and streams and the ocean, to suddenly be confronted with hordes of people was a massive shock to my system.

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Santiago de Compostela – Rua do Franco

And as I walked, nearer and nearer… the tears just flowed….

…..at the end of the passage I could see the top of one of the towers……I cried a river…

2017.09.21 16:41 Praza de Obradoiro and 0.000kms to Santiago de Compostela 馃槉馃槉馃槉馃槉馃憦馃憦馃憦馃ぇ馃ぇ馃ぇ聽11 days 9 hours 21 minutes / 240 kms since I left S茅 Catedral in O Porto in Portugal at the start of my very first Camino. I just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

I tried to make a video to send home, but I cried so much I could barely speak. What an overwhelming feeling to finally be in Santiago. Too soon. Not soon enough. I wanted to start again!! I wanted a bed!!!

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Praza de Obradoiro and 0.000kms to Santiago de Compostela

The queue at the pilgrim’s office was 1 hour and 55 minutes 馃槀馃槀馃槀 and worth every minute, despite my painful feet 馃槈馃懀馃懀馃ぇ馃ぇ

2017.09.21 Day 5/5 And at last journeys end; my now completed pilgrim’s passport, the Compostela and Certificate of Completion 240 kms O Porto to Santiago de Compostela.

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The Pilgrim’s Office at Santiago de Compostela, my now completed and certified Compostela and the angel I carried by my side all The Way; a gift from my daughter.

What an amazing, incredible, heart-warming, painful, emotional, exhilarating and at times exhausting but unforgettable journey. This I shall never forget. It has indeed been a聽buen camino; a ‘good way’ for me. I have had the most incredible journey, way way more than I ever thought possible or anticipated – from聽Porto to Santiago聽on my聽#Camino2017

I’m here. My hotel, Anosa Casa was in聽R煤a de Entremurallas, but there was a road with a similar name; R煤a de Entremuros, on the opposite side of the city….after being sent back and forth a few times, by which stage I was crying again and ready to scream, I finally logged onto the internet and looked it up on Google maps (a life saver). So, after getting my Compostela it took nearly an hour to find my hotel……I was a very unhappy bunny.

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hoorah!! my bed 馃檪

The hotel had said they were close to the cathedral, they just didn’t say on which side of the city LOL As it turns out I had virtually walked right past the road on my way in along R煤a do Franco as I entered the city. After checking in and reaching my room, within an hour I was showered, teeth cleaned and sans supper, in bed! Time to sleep….I didn’t stir till 8am the next day. Exhausted on so many levels. But I was here…….Santiago 馃檪

Keep the ocean on your left and head north……a journey to聽Santiago de Compostela.

Going back to the beginning….leaving Porto on the 11th of September 2017

 

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Day 14 Wednesday 2017.09.20 – After spending the evening in Padr贸n 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 Padr贸n 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 Padr贸n, for a second visit and look around. It is a truly remarkable church, with centuries of history. The original temple was erected聽circa 1133 by聽Archbishop Xelm铆rez 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聽 strolled along the tree-lined 鈥淓spolon Promenade鈥, 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;聽in the lower one is the Virgen de los Dolores (Virgin of Sorrows), protector of women in labour.聽In the centre you can see a representation of the Apostle James鈥 body being brought to this Galicia by his disciples.聽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聽first inhabitants were the ‘Discalced Carmelites’ or聽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 Padr贸n 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 Padr贸n and the聽Mahia valley

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Convento do Carme and me 馃檪 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

Padr贸n 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 Portugu茅s 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, Padr贸n 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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Padr贸n; a labyrinth of alleyways

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

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sculptures in Padr贸n

An oversized scallop shell. Mac铆as o Namorado, Padr贸n, Galiza. Escultura de Ram贸n Conde.聽a sculpture to the Padron Pepper Pickers. Pilgrims carved into stone. An elaborate cross.聽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 Ram贸n 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. 馃檪 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 馃槈

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

Day 14 Caldas de Reis to Padr贸n

 

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Day 11 Sunday 2017.09.17 – Tui to O Porri帽o Day 1/5 Camino 2017 part 2 (read part 1 here)

After leaving the city of Tui behind me聽I was mostly on my own walking through fields and wooded areas, sometimes on asphalt, or along sandy lanes, setting a good pace, all the while looking for the arrows. Sometimes they are elaborate and sometimes quite faint and obscure. But I know now what to look out for; my ‘Camino eyes’ are open.

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and suddenly I was in the countryside…..the Ponte Romano in the distance

As I reached woodland and found the Ponte Romano along which the Via Romana XIX route continues crossing over the River Louro, I noticed a stunning rock sculpture; a cut out pilgrim and a delightful water fountain where some pilgrims were filling their water bottles. “Ola! Buenas dias” …. I walked to the middle of the bridge, just because 馃檪 and then continued on my way into cool green refreshing forests.

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a stunning sculpture on the Via Romana XIX near the Ponte Romana, a place for pilgrims to fill their water bottles and the Ponte Romana over the Louro

Walking through the beautiful landscape of the River Louro valley in Galicia, a 700 ha nature reserve, I noticed that the weather was a lot cooler, the landscape was greener and not as arid as Portugal. I felt absolutely joyful. The day was cool with a faint breeze and as usual I shouted a greeting ‘Ola’ or ‘Buen Camino’ as I went. I saw quite a few pilgrims today, but was never in a crowd.

Once again the terrain was variable; all change please…asphalt, gravel, cobbles, paving, mud…repeat…

10:50 Passing beneath a substantial bridge I saw this writing on the wall (I only photographed one side of the message)….

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whizzing through the Galician countryside, the route was variable

Peregrino: que v茅xalo ceo na terra cando teus ollos divisen as torres de Compostela.

Onde vai aquil peregrino (?), meu peregrino onde ir谩(?)
Cami帽o de Compostela. Eu sei que al铆 chegar谩.
Bo Cami帽o e un desexo CONCELLO DE TUI

Which roughly translated means:

We hope you see heaven on earth when your eyes spot the towers of Compostela.

Where is THAT peregrino going ? Where is MY peregrino going?
He is going to Compostela. I know that he will arrive there.
Buen Camino and a wish TUI MUNICIPALITY

Just on 11am I took a small diversion I stopped at a cafe; Bar Muniz just off the N550 for a visit to the loo (by now I learned how to use the loo with my backpack on!! 馃槀馃槀), then ordered a caf茅 con leche (no longer caf茅 com leite) and cheese on a very big roll; which was never what I was expecting.聽 Soon satiated, with Pepe on my back, I set off once again. Along the way I visited a tiny chapel; Capela da Virxe do Camino,聽an 18th century basilica building built on the remains of a previous church, which had a simply beautiful interior. The polychrome image in the sacristy depicts a seated Virgin with a baby boy at her breast.

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11am caf茅 con leche and the Galician version of toasted cheese LOL Still on the Via Romana XIX, and the delightful Capela Virxen do Camino

Not long after that I encountered one of those places where I stopped with a wtf exclamation… where to now? It happened from time to time…. I was on the verge of a very busy road with a 70 kms per hour speed limit 馃槻馃槯聽and it appeared as if I was meant to cross over the bridge in front of me (in my mind I was thinking ‘seriously’ are you F@%$ kidding?)

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….seriously??? I missed that marker altogether

…after walking a few yards towards the crest of the bridge I soon realised that no! this was definitely NOT the Way, so I retraced my steps and lo and behold there across the road was a Camino marker…hallelujah! I had missed it altogether. I scurried across, and carried on. As I walked it felt like I was taking strain on my left shoulder and right hip, which was weird as I had been very careful to balance out my packing, but realised, from a similar experience a few days before, that a strap had loosened. I stopped and removed Pepe to tighten the straps up and suddenly heard a cry of “hello Cindy!! ” To my surprise and delight it was my group of 5 that I’d crossed paths with a few times since Porto. Coincidentally they had stayed at the same hotel in Valen莽a as me last night and we had bumped into each other in the reception. I thought for sure they’d be well ahead by now, but no, it seems I was ahead 馃檪 So for the next few kms right through to O Porri帽o I walked with them. It was lovely and lively as the conversations ebbed and flowed. As we traipsed along through the gorgeous woodlands and wetlands of the national park,聽G谩ndara de Budi帽o,聽we came across a small granite cross and shrine; this marks the spot where San Telmo, the Bishop of Tui, died of a fever 750 years ago on his return from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The inscription reads as follows: ”聽Caminante, here he was sick of death in Telmo in April 1251. Ask him to speak with God in your favor聽.” It鈥檚 a beautiful place so we, like many pilgrims before and I’m sure also since, stopped for a rest by the stream. You will notice the granite blocks used to pave the path. Not easy to walk on.

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A small cross and shrine marks the spot where San Telmo, the Bishop of Tui, died of a fever on his return from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela 750 years ago. The horseman riding by was surreal to say the least

Enroute at about 12:20 we stopped at a marvellous little roadside cafe; O Chiriringo in Ribedelouro, where we had caf茅 con leche, a sugary bun and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice; nectar of the gods. They also stamped our passports 馃檪 I love all the little pilgrim reliefs and sculptures on the walls; pilgrims, a pilgrims staff and the ever present scallop shells.

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the wonderful garden cafe of O Chiriringo Ribedelouro, my group of 5 from AUS, and the best orange juice on the planet

After a lovely relax and a chat with a delightful Scottish couple who had also stopped (I met them again a couple of times along the route) we set off again. It was here that I saw my聽first h贸rreo; a Galician granary, built up off the ground to discourage rats and mice. The first of many I was to see eroute to Santiago. The oldest document containing an image of an聽h贸rreo聽is the聽Cantigas de Santa Maria聽by聽Alfonso X “El Sabio”.聽The oldest of these date from the 15th century, are listed structures and therefore protected under law. I just loved the direction board in their garden – O Porri帽o 9.5kms and Santiago 107kms.

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An h贸rreo; a Galician granary, a fabulous sign board; O Porrino 9.5kms and scallop shells decorate a wall at the garden cafe of O Chiriringo Ribedelouro

At 13:16 in the neighbourhood of Orbenlle,聽where the Camino Portugues leaves the municipality of Tui and enters the one of Porri帽o, at a bend in the route of the Camino de Santiago, we came face to face with a聽magnificent reproduction of the聽(The Portal of Glory) ‘Portico de la Gloria’聽of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral made by the painter Xai 脫scar. The聽‘Portico de la Gloria’ is the聽Romanesque聽portico,聽the cathedral’s main gate, created by Maestro Mateo in 1188.聽 Xai聽脫scar, invested four months of ‘nights’ to capture this in the mural. Next to that ‘The Old Pilgrim’ by the same artist; Xai 脫scar. Stunning!!

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the fabulous mural, a reproduction of ‘Portico de la Gloria’ painted by Xia 脫scar at a junction on the Way to Santiago and the Old Pilgrim

Continuing on our way, by 13:52 we left the quirky houses, rural lanes and sleepy villages

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walking through the Galician countryside, nearly there….just over 6kms to O Porrin贸 and 105.519 kms to Santiago

and the route took us through the horrible industrial area of Las G谩ndaras, along聽Pol铆gono das G谩ndaras a 3.5-4 km straight stretch of road of dull, harsh tarmac and pollution. Yuck. Glad it was Sunday or it would have been very busy. (you can take the alternative Camino through As G谩ndaras and the River Louro valley to avoid crossing the industrial park.) It was terribly hot by now and humid. I longed for the cool forests.

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3.5-4 km without any shade and along an asphalt road through a horrible industrial area.

While walking along this stretch, I suddenly found myself in ‘the zone’, and head down, my walking poles rhythmically swinging I just walked and walked, looking neither left nor right I was soon through the industrial park and as I neared the end I found one of the group at my side and steaming ahead – Joan was on a roll (pun intended LOL) – she knew of a cafe nearby; Caf茅 Adele. Hurrah, a place to stop. It was hot and I needed an icy cold drink….I knew just what would fit the bill 馃檪 Unfortunately the cafe was closed 馃槮 Onwards……

Then, just when you feel like you want to lie down and die, the route takes you over a steep bridge LOL. It took 30 minutes to get from one end of the industrial park to the other. But the reward was just on the other side in the form of Caf茅 Neuvo.

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just when you need it least…a bridge. …and now it’s 101.379 kms to Santiago

And finally at 14:20 Hurrah!! Caf茅 Nuevo Eidos Bar; not exactly The Ritz, but it offered a place to sit down, as well as food and drinks. We hurried inside, nature calling loud and clear, and then it was time for ‘Super Bock’. Damn that beer tasted good. The break offered some respite and we all removed shoes and socks and compared/massaged our achy feet. My Aloe Vera Heat Lotion was, as ever, my salvation. So far I have no blisters, but 2 of the ladies from the group of 5 had nasty blisters. Ewww, painful.

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and finally Caf茅 Neuvo Eidos – time to rest, drink a Super Bock and compare injuries LOL

After a brief respite, with just 4 kms left to go we set off at a good pace, and with my head down, walking poles swinging, for the next hour and 50 minutes I didn’t stop for photos or anything else except to capture the Capela de Angustias (the chapel of Sorrows) on the edge of O Porri帽o

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The chapel of Angustias (the chapel of Sorrows) on the Camino through O Porri帽o

…and then suddenly there we were, in O Porri帽o. It was now 99.408 kms to Santiago!! Hoorah, less than 100kms to go. Although exhausted, my spirits soared.

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tah dah!! O Porrino and now it’s less than 100 kms to Santiago de Compostela – 99.408 kms

I was caught by surprise that we reached O Porri帽o so quickly and sad to say goodbye to my group of 5. They were staying at a pre-arranged hotel and I still had to find my albergue. We made a loose agreement to meet up on the road to Arcade in the morning and said goodbye. As it turned out this was the last time I saw them. With no idea where my hostel was I sat down on a nearby bench and gathered myself… Where to next? I had no idea. But with occasional help from the locals, Google maps, and the Camino signs, I was guided to my destination.

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following the signs through O Porrino and finding my bed for the night; Albergue Alojamiento on the Camino Portugu茅s

I didn’t make a pre-booked reservation for the night, but instead I’d taken note of an alburgue; Albergue Alojamiento recommended by someone on Facebook, and phoned ahead earlier in the morning. Yes, they could accommodate me. Awesome. What time will you arrive? Oh about 6pm maybe 7pm. Okay, we’ll wait for you.

As it turned out, I arrived at 4.25pm.聽I’d wanted to experience the Camino way of not having accommodation sorted months ahead but just phoning ahead on the day and hoping to get a place for the night. I was very happy they had a place at the inn for me 馃槈

Soon I was checked in and reclining on a very comfy bed in a mixed dorm close to a very busy noisy highway. Thank goodness for my foam earplugs.

Alojamiento Camino Portugues,

Alojamiento Camino Portugu茅s

What a marvellous day. I’ve seen so many wondrous places, enjoyed amazing scenery and all the place names that I’d seen on the maps, researched and wondered about, are now coming alive.

End of Day 1 of my Spanish #Camino2017, and day 11 since I arrived in Porto. So far I have walked/travelled 140kms or so and I am astounded to realise that by Thursday night, all being well, I’ll be in Santiago.聽Buen Camino.

Walked 18.39 kms. 8 hours 47 minutes and 2 seconds door to door (of which at least an hour was spent in the walled city of聽Valen莽a聽and on the bridge over the River Mi帽o on the border between the two countries). Steps taken: 45,382.

After making the acquaintance of my room-mates; an elderly gentleman from Spain, 2 young Korean girls, a young man from the Netherlands and a young woman from I don’t know where, I made my bed and a had brief rest – socks airing above me, then a quick shower, and after repacking my bag and getting my clothes ready for the morning, I grabbed my phone and set off to explore…….

Day 11 exploring O Porri帽o

Read part 1 of my journey from聽Valen莽a to聽O Porri帽o.

Exploring聽O Porri帽o

 

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Back in 2010 my interest was piqued by a conversation I had with the niece of a lady I was caring for at the time. I mentioned to her that I was thinking of walking ‘The Camino’……and it turned out that she had already walked the route!! 馃檪 A woman. Solo. On her own! Hmmm…….since then of course I’ve discovered that thousands of women walk solo every year; from teens to聽octogenarians. Pretty damn awesome!!

Prior to that I had heard of the Camino de Santiago in an obscure sort of way; I can’t recall exactly when I was first aware of it, probably in one of the many books I read, and of course my father had already cycled some of the routes. My father was in London one year (I think it was 2007) and we met up to watch the Tour de France pass through the city. We chatted about the Camino and made tenuous plans to ‘do it’ together….but he wanted to cycle whilst I want to walk…so it was probably never going to happen.

camino de santiago

My father in his latter years, shortly before he died at the grand old age of 85.

But the seed was planted and after the conversation I had in 2010, the idea took root: I would actually walk it myself, by myself. And of course there was the movie ‘The Way’ with Martin and Charlie Sheen that was released in 2010. It’s taken some 7 years, but I have finally put my money where my mouth is and booked my plane ticket!!! On 19 April 2017 I posted this on our family’s ‘WhatsApp’ news feed:

*Breaking news* 聽Yes!! Its done …I’ve just booked my flights for #Camino2017
I Fly to Porto in Portugal on 7 September for 3 Days in Porto 聽then start walking 285 (260?) kms to Santiago de Compostela on 11 September along the coastal route to Caminha, then inland to Valenca for my last night in Portugal, then crossing the Minha River to Tui the next day for the final 100 kms to Santiago de Compostela. I’ll spend 3 days in Santiago and then fly to Barcelona for 3 days and back to UK on 28 September. Too exciting for words!!

I cannot tell you how terrifying and yet exciting it was to finally make the decision and when I posted this to the family news feed and then made a Facebook update it was with a huge sense of trepidation; am I doing the right thing?

I actually wanted to walk the Camino in 2016 but due to one thing and another, namely; reasons and excuses, I didn’t take the final step of booking my flight! I had started training earlier in the year in preparation since I didn’t want the pilgrimage to be spoilt by lack of fitness and too much pain, but even so, I realised by September of 2016 that in fact, despite my desire to go and love of walking I wasn’t anywhere near fit enough. Reasons and excuses.

At the beginning of this year I joined a Facebook group #walk1000miles and that has given me a massive incentive to get out and walk; almost every day. While working my time is usually limited to 2 hours per day (my break), but I manage to do 5 miles in that time and have loved every minute. Besides that when I’m home, I take long walks along the coast to Margate, Ramsgate, Cliffsend and have even walked to Sandwich (26 kms) on one memorable day 馃檪

Due to my job, I travel all over the country and so have had the pleasure of walking in different locations, with different challenges and landscape – this country is so beautiful. I am lucky. All these walks have added to my fitness levels. From the Isle of Thanet to the Isle of Wight, I’ve also walked in Ireland and along the North Downs, the Malverns, Worcester and Oxted amongst other areas. I’m truly fortunate.

camino practice walks 2017

I’ve had some wonderful walks all over the country

camino practice walks 2017

walks on the Isle of Wight

camino walks

walks on the Isle of Thanet, Ireland, the Malverns and Italy

Since 01/01/2017 I have walked 聽500 #bootson miles. If I had to include my ‘at work/on duty’ mileage I’m certain it would be well in excess of 1000 miles….but for purposes of training I have only added my actual ‘training’ time where I set out specifically to ‘walk’! As of today, in Ireland, I became a ‘Proclaimer’ LOL I will walk 500 miles, and I will walk 500 more…..

walk 1000 miles

I have walked 500 miles 馃檪 and I will walk 500 more

Meanwhile, and as mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have, with heart in my mouth, and a mix of excitement/ terror/trepidation/joy picked up the phone and booked my ticket…..no going back now!!!!

I’m finally going on my Camino. 馃檪 hooray!

And exactly 4 months from tomorrow, I shall start walking…..my Camino 2017.

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