Saturday, February 20, 2016

6th Leg of my Camino - Providence of Galicia: Villages of Laguna de Castilla to Santiago

October 11, 2015     Laguna de Castilla to Biduedo -
                                             10.7 miles / 17.2 Km 

My sleeping room was very quiet last night -- no one snored .. Yea...  Up this morning at  7 AM for Coffee con Leche and carbs.. Nancy is 1/2 day ahead of me. It is foggy and I waited until 8 AM to start walking, and fortunately Kenny from California  came along to walk with me. I was happy to have company in this thick fog. Kenny is a Chinese translator for the court system.  Kenny and I walked together for about 45 minutes, mostly in the rain and uphill.  When we arrived in O'Cebreiro we were both cold, so we stopped at the Bar for , yup you guessed it -- Coffee con Leche

I left Kenny in O'Cebreiro, and continued on, still foggy -- there was a yellow arrow pointing off to the left, which went up the hill into the forest. There were 3 female pilgrims, one with a yellow poncho, who took the path to the right, which lead to the road. I followed the yellow poncho; and was glad I did as it continued to sprinkle and this way I avoided the slippery rocks in the forest and had the nice smooth road to walk on. There were few cars, so that was a blessing.  After 1.8 miles I came to this monument that is dedicated to the Pilgrims.  Kenny took the forest route, and I met him here at the monument.
     I continued on the forest path along with Kenny and other Pilgrims.
The path ahead  had few inclines and declines....

  By 1020 AM I arrived  in Hospital de la Condesa and  I was ready for food -- To my surprise, Patti and Dave arrived a short time later  and we shared a cheese sandwich.
                                Cute place to eat and rest.
                Bathroom signs...                                     
Ladies &

Another 2 miles / 3.3 Km and some obnoxious inclines (the guide book shows that the path is mostly level -- oh so not true) and I arrive at Alto de Polo.  Another lovely place to rest -- with the company of pilgrims and chickens

     It remains cool and damp and my bones were achy,  best to keep walking  !!!

small village of Fonfria  

 Looks like an antique plow ..
                  There were miles and miles of rock walls
      The path then ran parallel to the road
                  More beautiful countryside...
                Keep on following the arrows.....  Patti and Dave walked with me for awhile, they continued on and met Nancy in Triacastela.  We started seeing cow pies on the path.
                 Long horn cows --  or bulls ???

      Lovely Albergue  in Biduedo - I used my translator app to get a room and to have my back pack sent ahead tomorrow (there's another steep decline ahead of me tomorrow)

  I sat in the dinning hall to relax and met new pilgrims and watched the horses and cows go by.

Pilgrim meal - 7PM pasta, beef and french fries and almond cake

             Off to bed for a good night sleep

 October 12, 2015  Biduedo to San Mamed del Camino

My plan is to meet Nancy in San Mamed del Camino at Paloma y Lena (my one Grandma's name was Lena, so it seemed like a good place to stay). And that is where my back pack is going.   The Morning started out with thick fog and light rain -- I waited until the skies were somewhat lighter and  it was 9:30 AM when I started walking.
           There were many cows along the path and beautiful countryside.
The fog and rain lifted 20 minutes after I left
     Peaceful dog - paid no attention to the Pilgrims
      Ancient hut used by farmers years ago
                         4 miles and 2 hours later I Entered Triacastela - 
                                   it took me longer to walk this 4 miles then anticipated.
                   I found a bar that was serving eggs -- Yup -- they serve french fries for breakfast.
            The eggs were delicious and the yolks were a deep yellow - orange

                Church in Triacastela
    There were two options - one was longer and along the river, the other was shorter; and up one mountain about  980 feet / 300 meter elevation. In the guide book the decline looks gradual.  
                  I choose the shorter mountainous route.  My path  started out with a mild incline
                                   for awhile I walked with Rendy from Holland

             The path was easy and peaceful

 I entered SanXIL around noon, I had 6 miles / 9.6 Km to go - By my estimation,
I should reach San Mamed del Camino by 3 PM at the latest.

                    A nice resting spot outside of SanXIL -- cornfield and farm house

                  Easy path and the temperature in mid 60's and no rain these last hours

   Now it's time to come down the mountain.....

             These last miles I walked with Jerry from Ireland - this helped the time go by - I arrived in Pintin and it was 3 PM -- I still had 1.6 miles / 2.7 Km.

            Jerry and i had no idea how this Coke machine came to find it's resting place
on the path -- we did not check to see if it was working...

The last 2.7 miles / 4.5 Km was very rocky.

Jerry stayed with me to the bar in Pintin, where I decided to call a taxi -- due my upper leg muscles being way to achy. There was no taxi available here and the bar owner informed me that  I needed to walk another  0.9 miles / 1.4 Km to the next Alberque -- I was not looking forward to walking any farther, yet there was no other option. At the Xunta Albergue (in the middle of nothing ) I asked the bar owner to call a taxi for me - I only had 0.75 miles / 1.2 Km to San Mamed del Camino. The last 0.75 miles was steep and rocky; which helped me to make my decision for the taxi.   Later on I talked to 2 pilgrims who had a GPS to track the miles which they believed was accurate and discovered that the miles / Km in my guide book were underestimated.   I did not regret taking a taxi.  
  Nancy and I were glad to see each other...
            we stayed in a 8 bed room; but we were the only ones sleeping there -- cost 8 Euros each

           We had a fabulous Pilgrim meal  soup, tortilla , pasta, desert

October 13, 2015           San Mamed del Camino to Morgade  
                  11 miles /  17.7 Km

 What lies ahead today is an incline of  984 feet / 300 meters We had our usual coffee con leche and carb breakfast and headed out at 9 AM. The temperature was wonderful for walking and we had a nice breeze.  We had a short  1.8 miles / 2.9 Km to Sarria

  Many Pilgrims start their Camino in Sarria. Some of the European companies give their employees extra benefits for walking the Camino.  Sarria to Santiago  covers the last 100km of the Camino Francés, which means you can receive your pilgrim certificate when you arrive in Santiago. One needs to receive 2 stamps per day in their credential book in order to obtain a certificate.                 Sarria is a very lovely city - population 13,000.

Lovely murals greeted us as we entered the city

Great Morning to be walking --

                         We stopped for Coffee con Leche and a snack at a bar near Santa Marina Church - the church was not open.  Lovely grounds around the church. 

                     More interesting signs on the bathroom doors...

                                                  Best toilet seat !!!
                                 We had a lovely walk through the city


                    The Monsteriro da Madalena was open for us to have a quiet moment


As we leave Sarria, there is a gradual 984 feet / 400 meter incline, with a few flat areas
until we reach  our destination of Morgade

                  Local Farmer

     The blue Pilgrim as seen below is seen throughout Galicia Providence
                  One of the Albergues that we passed along the way

           Cross t the side of the road...

                 This farmer is herding his cattle -- the cows have rouonded the bend in the road
he is in no hurry to catch up with them.  I passed the farmer and as I walked on, I saw that the cows had turned off the road heading for the farm house.

     I stopped and talked to the farmer - me in English, him in Spanish -- even though we did not know what we were saying, it was a gracious encounter --- He was OK with me taking his photo. He gave me a handful of chestnuts & Walnuts and a Kiss on my cheek :)


 We stayed at Casa Mograde - the only Albergue in this small village.
There was no WiFi available. This is one of my favorite Villages.
There were 2 dogs that hung around the casa. The Casa is owned by a family
and the two brothers both spoke excellent English.
Nancy and I shared a cheese sandwich.  As usual the sandwich was huge --
Whole sandwich and beer was 5 Euros. This 11 miles, seemed much longer ..
We talked to another couple that we met here, and their GPS tracked the miles at 13.

 This is one of the brothers.. I talked to the other brother about sending my back pack ahead tomorrow (we have another steep decline ahead of us). I asked the brother to call the taxi for me and to check that the fee was still 7 Euros. The brother was upset that they had charged me so much "you need not pay more then 3.5 Euros" is what he told me.  So after the brother had a lively conversation with the taxi company - I only paid 3.5 Euros  ... 

 October14, 2015  -  Morgade to Gonzar --  10 miles /  16 Km

                    Ready for another day of walking. On our way at 8:30 AM after Coffee & Carbs

            Lovely roads and trees..........
  0.7 miles out of Sarria - we walked through Barbadelo-  Santiago Chruch
            Cemetery next to the Church
  We started seeing these interesting building -- most of them have crosses on the top -
This is a corn crib - there are holes for ventilation

Cow on the hill

On the road again

              There are several very small villages along the way -- It's getting foggy  ...

              Memorial ...  and fog is more dense...

     We started seeing lots of cabbage - like plants

                 A resting spot along the way
          A very old corn crib
      More rock walls along the road

           Halloween is celebrated in Spain ...
    A gift shop in one of the small villages

      Embalse de Belesar (dam was built in 1963, to form the Reservoir Belesar)

   Entering Portomarin (population 2,000). The Camino path bypassed the city. We needed to eat and visit a Pharmacy for some supplies for our feet. Shortest way into the city is up these stairs.
              Once at the top of the stairs - here's the view.

           We ate at O Mirador Restaurant -- American music is popular in Spain -

             Looks like a traditional American ham & cheese sandwich

                                            Signs on the bathroom doors

      Main Street, Portomarin
        Gradual incline.....
             Change in the color of the path


            Nice path that ran parallel to the forest

     There are many cow pies along the path - even in the villages
 - the path runs parallel to the road -- 3 large hog buildings -- look just like ones in the USA

We arrived in Gonzar at 2:30 PM Cows and Cow pies greeted us here...

Nancy's ritual of checking for bedbugs (she never found any...)

 Amstel Beer  We had a fabulous pilgrim's meal with Maria from Calif. , John from Holland and a couple form Los Angeles. Lentil soup, Cod with cooked carrots & beans, dessert.

October 15, 2015  Gonzar to Palas de Rei  10.2 miles / 16.4 Km

We had breakfast - coffee con Leche and toast with some of the other pilgrims,
and were on the path by 9 AM - it was rather foggy

                 By 9:30 AM , the fog had mostly lifted

 Village of Ventas de Naron

          A small chapel -- we rang the bell

              Traveled on the road ...  Perfect temperature for walking...  

             Lovely gardens next to people's homes

        Downhill on the road            Beautiful countryside !

               Entering the small village of Ligonde
        Finding new things to take pictures of .... Bette Shoe on the left, Nancy on the right
            Coffee con Leche and a snack in Eirexe
                   4.8 miles 7.7 Km left until our destination
                  More cows and cow piles on the path

            Lovely resting place - few miles from our destination 

                  The path continues to be surrounded by trees -- a perfect day for walking

            Arriving in the village of Palas de Rei - arrived at 2 PM

  We stayed at Hostel Castelo -- a lovely, comfortable hostel -- had to go up 2 flights of stairs  -
which was the last thing we wanted was more inclines or declines --- Ahhhh my knees are not liking going down the stairs...  Otherwise, my hips and legs are doing well.

  Found a lovely tapas bar -- yummy octopus.
For our Pilgrim meal we had soup, beef, french fries, wine, bread and dessert.

                  Perhaps needing to shake things up a little -- we went wild with taking selfie's   --- 

Oct 16, 2015 -  Palas de Rei to Boente  --  12.5 miles / 20 Km

Mural in the bar where we had breakfast at 8 AM - coffee con leche and toast. There were a few local Spanish men there. The sun has not risen , yet

  Sunrise  -- We were on the path by 8:20 AM - after  The Morning was glorious.

After leaving Palas de Rei, the path is level, lovely, peaceful,
surrounded by trees, rock walls and so much beauty. 


     More corn cribs

        Church and cemetery ..   Started having some left shoulder discomfort that did not ease up. Ibuprofen helped plus adjusted the straps on my back pack helped...  said a few 'extra' prayers.

Today I feel surrounded by Mother Earth - many of the paths are 
between trees or high walls of earth on both sides.

 I arrived in Boente at 2 PM -- my feet were ready to stop and
my shoulder was fine with my back pack off. Mural on the wall.
Boente Alberque was new, comfortable and peaceful.

October 17, 2015 -- Boente to Salceda -- 11 miles / 17.8 Km 

Peaceful path to start my day at 8:20 AM. I was not sure how many miles I wanted to go today - I had the option of staying in a village after 6 miles.  Plan was to see how my feet and shoulder were feeling..

 Cute homes with lovely decorated yards in the first village of Castaneda

The path is very flat, easy to walk... I've met a few Pilgrims today. Mostly I am alone and feeling very blessed by the peacefulness of today.
 I'm almost to Arzua and I need to make a decision of to stay there, or continue on to Salceda, as there are no hostels / albergues between the 2 villages which is 6 miles. I meet Ted, from Ireland. We walk together and share our stories then suddenly this white dog starts walking with us. We had no awareness of when he joined us on the trail. This is the only white dog I have seen on the Camino. He walks ahead of us. We passed a vendor selling coffee and snacks; and he did not know the dog.
 As suddenly as the dog appeared, he was gone when we came to this cafe. Here we stopped for coffee con leche and a little something to eat. We met a young couple with 3 children ages 2 - 8. They had a baby stroller for the youngest. I could not imagine doing this with young children.
 After our rest, Ted and I continued -- I had renewed energy and it was
 only 1230 PM - too early to stop for the day

We arrived in Salceda at 2 PM, Ted continued on to Arca which was another 5 miles /8 KM

 I stayed at a lovely Albergue - Here I met several new pilgrims from Finland, UK, Switzerland,

 October 18, 2015  - Salceda to Lavacolla  11 miles / 17.8 Km

Another beautiful morning, temperature in 60's when I left the Albergue at 8 AM

  Part of me
will be sad to
be leaving the Camino
I will arrive in Santiago
tomorrow on Oct 19th.

This will be a good day
to arrive, as it is my son's 44th Birthday

 Pilgrims I met at a bar along the way

 I arrived at Albergue San Paio at 1230 -- I was only 6.5 miles from Santiago. I wanted to arrive at the cathedral feeling rested and not fatigued at the end of the day.  I had a nice rest and ate my pilgrim meal at 3:30 PM. There were college students there from the USA. They were with their professor and his wife. The professor was from a Boston University and the students received credit for walking the 500 miles French Route. They had daily assignments and discussion groups every few days.

 October 19, 2015 - Arrive in Santiago today !!!!!!
                                        6.5 miles / 10.4 Km

I had a good long night's sleep. I was eager to start walking. I had fruit and a danish roll for breakfast. There was coffee available; but I choose not to have one this morning. There were 5 others (Marie, Suzie, Ruth John, Wendel)  staying at the albergue and I had made arrangements to walk with them at 8 AM. It was still very dark, as the sun would not rise for another 30 min.  Marie had a powerful head lamp, yet it was rather eerie walking when it was so dark. My flashlight gave me a little more visibility. 

 Wendel & John ---  Marie , Suzie & Ruth

After the sun came up, it remained cloudy. The temperature was nice for walking - around 65.
We walked through several small villages. It was too early for any bars to be open.

The path paralleled the road, there were several pilgrims walking towards Santiago

                 Monument built to commemorate the visit of Pop John Paul ll 

         One last downhill into Santiago. It is cloudy with only a few sprinkles 

                Statues dedicated to various people in history

           One can now see the top of the cathedral -- I'm getting very close...
                                          I stopped and picked up a danish to eat as I walked

            John is the first person I met when I was a few blocks away from the Cathedral.

      1015 AM and I'm at the Cathedral. 
          I walked around the Cathedral and took in how majestic this Cathedral is.

                                     Steps leading to one of the doors into the Cathedral

      I found a place to check my back pack as none were allowed in the cathedral. The plan was that Nancy would get to the Cathedral by 11 AM to get a place to sit for mass at 1200 , noon.  I walked into the Cathedral and was awestruck by the beauty and grace of this cathedral .
The best site was seeing Nancy in the second row from the alter along with Patti and Dave....

We shared hugs and tears.... and gratitude that we all made it here safely 

There are no pictures allowed to be taken during mass; but after the mass 6 Monks come and swing the giant incense burner shown here. This is truly amazing to see

            This is the main alter with statue of St. James

Here's a you tube link that has recorded this ..........

The swinging of the giant incense burner was originally used to fumigate the sweaty pilgrims. Today is is swung at the noon mass; if there is enough money donated to have this done.

Later that day I went to the Pilgrim office to obtain my certificate of completion. One only need to walk the last 100 Km and obtain 2 stamps per day during the days of walking the last 100 Km - this would be from Sarria.  It took me 39 walking days to complete my 500 miles - this was 5 - 6 days faster then I anticipated.

We had lunch with Patti & Dave Soup, bread, coffee con leche. I got myself settled into our Hostel, then we went exploring. 
                                                            Ran into Tom (from Ireland)

           This lovely couple, we had seen off and on over the last week - we were happy to see them, as she had some knee issues -- and they made it !!

        More signs on the bathroom doors...  :)

We spent the next 2 days exploring Santiago.... 
                                                                          The Cathedral at sunrise

A few pictures inside the Cathedral. There are many chapels that are located along the wall of the Cathedral. Years ago, families had their own chapel.

 The ceiling and one of the chandlers.
       View from the back of the Cathedral

  There were a few hilarious statues by some of the shops / bars

signs... :)

We pampered ourselves -- Here are the massage therapist we found -- had a fabulous massage
  Spanish Hair cut  

Pedicure .. Ahhh so nice

Our next adventure -- 2 hour bus ride to Finisterre where we stayed for 5 nights

Finisterre, in Roman times, was believed to be the end of the known world. Initially, the pilgrimage ended in Finisterre, as people walked to Finisterre to see where the world ended. After St. James's body was moved to the Cathedral in Santiago and the pope declared this a scared pilgrimage the end of the pilgrimage was then considered to be in Santiago. 

View from our apartment in Finisterre - common kitchen area with 3 bedrooms. During our 5 nights here we shared this apartment with 2 other groups of 3.


 Kitchen / dinning area in our apartment

We headed to the lighthouse and farthest western point - approximately a 3 mile walk

 Joyful to find the 0 Km marker at the top    :) This is where I threw my Florida sea shell into the Atlantic Ocean.

 By the ocean -- 
The End of the World... 

A very peaceful place to reflect

 The "End of the World" at sunset


 Pictures of Finisterre Beach

        There are hundreds of scallop shells on the beach. The scallop shell is said to be a metaphor, its lines representing the different routes pilgrims travel from all over the world, all walking trails leading to one point: the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela.

    We took a taxi to downtown Muxia, then walked to the beach

One of the most beautiful coastlines I've seen

 Sculpture "A Ferida" (The Wound) by Alberto BañuelosThis sculpture that symbolizes the wound that has been done to the sea by the spilling of 66,000 tons of oil when the Prestige tanker that  broke apart off the coast of Muxia on November 13, 2002. The sculpture is 11 meters high, and weights over 400 tons.
Church: Santuario de Virxe da Barca  - 

Walking back to the center of town, we almost got caught in a  torrential  downpour. Nancy and I made our way back to Finesterre  via taxi, bus ride to Santiago, flight to Paris, then flight to Seattle on Nov. 1, 2015.  
             This ended our Camino Frances -- now on to more adventures.
                            Thank you for visiting my travel blog

Picture of Santiago Cathedral  (taken from Web site)
                                                           Buen Camino

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