Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Day 41 (11/02) - O'Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela (20.5km)

Summary: 41 days on the "Way" with 40 days of walking and covered 814km (505 miles) and arrived Santiago after walking several hours in heavy rain.

We got a prompt start and it was still pretty dark on the pathway through the woods. We stopped for coffee and toast after 7km in San Payo and it had (not on the forecast!) started to drizzle when we left the cafe. Very shortly it turned into a steady rain that eased up a bit when we stopped for another rest in Vilamaior (at a nice small Hostal where should stay "next time") and then became a downpour shortly after we left that cafe! We walked in a downpour or steady rain for the rest of the journey. Fortunately, we "only" walked two hours or so in the rain. As we neared the old city, we ducked into a nice restaurant for a very nice 3 course lunch and enjoyed the seafood -- mussels, razor clams, fried cuttlefish. The "finish line" for the journey is the large square in front of the cathedral but was somewhat diminished as it was raining and it was, after all, our second time. The usual scene is of greeting other walkers who one recognizes and taking lots of photos. However, we did get a few pictures and it was still an emotional ending to a long journey. It's hard to fathom the emotions pilgrims of centuries past who arrived after a truly grueling journey, much longer than we undertook. We got our Compostelas (certificates of completion) at the pilgrim's office and checked in to the nearby Hostal Suso where we had stayed last year. It's a very nice small hotel run by 4 brothers. We've recommended it to several others that we knew so there were familiar faces staying there already. The rain eased up and we got additional Compostela certificates at the Franciscan church -- St. Francis completed his pilgrimage in 1214 - 800 years ago! We had tapas at a nice place with 9 other pilgrims that we had met along the way so that was fun.

On the trail and before the rains began!

A brief respite from the rain. Unfortunately, it eased up while we rested and then REALLY began to rain shortly after we left.

Arrival in Santiago. Very wet and a bit cold but definitely happy to be here!

The certificate from the Franciscan church commemorating our pilgrimage on the 800th anniversary of St. Francis's own pilgrimage to Santiago.

Another picture when the rain has stopped and we are clean, warm and dry!

Evening at a tapas bar with a group of pilgrims - we had met all of these multiple times at various places along the way. Three of us from the USA and the other 8 from Canada. Interestingly, we met many more Canadians along the trail - at least among our "age group".

Location:Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Day 40 (11/01) - Arzua to O'Pedrouzo (20.5km)

It was raining fairly hard when we went to bed last night but had stopped by morning. The weather forecast was for a few thunderstorms in the morning but nothing happened. We started walking around sunrise and the valleys were full of fog or mist. Trails and paths were similar to yesterday. We stopped after 6km or so for the usual second breakfast and continued with a few more stops in familiar bars and arrived in O'Pedrouzo around 2pm. Had a bit of trouble finding a spot as the first few albergues that we checked were either closed or did not meet our "standards". The Albergue Porta de Santiago seemed nice and most probably will not fill up so we are now settled in and enjoying a bottle of white wine and pizza. We had soup for dinner since our mid-afternoon snack had filled us up. Our impression of O'Pedrouzo did not improve over last year but there are few other places situated nearby. If we had walked another hour we could only have stayed in a fairly isolated small hotel, but that would have been a better choice. We've done our best to stop in new villages where possible and that has worked very well over the past 40 days.

Lots of nice hydrangeas along the pathway.

Countryside in the misty morning.

Not the usual way-marking but it is that time of year. 32km to go!

Another pretty rooster.

20km to go! I wish the pilgrims were not so interested in graffiti on the mile posts.

Location:O'Pedrouzo, Spain

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Day 39 (10/31) - Melide to Arzua (15.6km)

It was an uneventful day; we had the usual breakfast near our albergue and walked along or parallel to the road and through forests. We figure there's about 55km left and wanted to divide so the last day would be the shortest but it turned our difficult to make today around 20km and did not want to walk 26km and end up out in the middle of nowhere with he chance that the albergue could be closed. So it made the most sense to walk 15km today and 20km the next two days. We stopped several places for snacks and ended up in Arzua before 1pm and found the nice small Albergue da Fonte where we have a twin room and shared bath for 10 euros each. Dinner was at Casa Teodora and quite tasty. The menu del dia had three of my favorite pork dishes (cheeks, knuckle and ribs) so it was a tough decision and I chose the pork cheeks.

We enjoy the flocks of chickens and most include a very healthy rooster.

Rolling hills of Galicia.

Down to 40km (25 miles) remaining!

Another neat bridge.

Our resting place, Albergue do Fonte in Arzua

I had pork cheeks for dinner. Really delicious and nice texture. It was tough deciding between this and pork ribs or pork knuckle.

Location:Arzua, Spain

Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 38 (10/30) - Eirexe to Melide (22.9km)

Now that DST has ended, sunrise is at 8:30 or so. We had breakfast at the nearby bar and started walking at 8am. The walking conditions were nice for the morning and we enjoyed the countryside of Galicia. We stopped several times at small villages for snacks, soup, or cerveza con limon and arrived at our destination of Melide at 3:30pm. After getting settled in to Albergue O'Cruceiro, again in a room with two bunks and hoping to have the room for ourselvers, we headed off to enjoy the "pulpo" (octopus) for which this town is well-known. We had a small plate of octopus, an order of pimientes de padron and a bottle of local white wine. Pretty damn good for a "simple snack"! We relaxed a bit and went to a restaurant we had noticed along the path and that was mentioned online (Casa Alongos) - the did not serve large dishes, more like tapas or racciones, but we had several wonderful plates. The spinach and croquettes were freshly cooked, the roasted vegetables were served with aioli, and we had interesting zucchini packets - thinly sliced zucchini wrapped around a small block of cheese and then seared, and several glasses of an organic red wine (Mencia). The woman who owns the place was very congenial and also a wild mushroom fan so that made for a nice visit. All in all, a very different light dinner compared to typical pilgrim fare of meat and fries. We did indeed have the bunk room to ourselves so went to bed as happy campers!

Interesting sculptures in front of a bar.

Typical walking pathway in the morning.

Village scene and the camino pathway (above) and traditional granary of Galicia (below).

We stopped at interesting albergue/cafe for lunch - delicious soups (garbanzo and potatoes on the left and caldo gallego)

Stop for pulpo (octopus) in Melide and nice bottle of local white wine.

Location:Melide, Spain

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 37 (10/29) - Mercadoiro to Eirexe (22.3km)

We think there were only 5 or 6 pilgrims in our albergue and we were the only ones in our room of 3 bunk beds. The bar opened at 8am for breakfast so it was a leisurely morning. After 4km we passed by Portomarin where we stayed last year and continued another 8km before stopping for second breakfast, or was it first lunch? Then we continued on and had a bowl of soup. The countryside was nice and the pathway was quiet. We stopped in Eirexe, a small village, and are staying at a combination Pension/Albergue in a room that has two bunks and its own bath. We hope again that there will be nobody else in the room. Dinner was at the bar across the road from our albergue and another fairly typical "pilgrim menu". Nobody else had checked in so we had a "private room".

The 3' thick stone walls in the place we stayed last night.

Morning in Galicia, walking along stone-wall lined country lanes.

Portomarin, the small town where we stayed about this time last year.
The mileposts keep counting down! :)

Hamberguesas were for lunch. Not bad and the first we've sampled in Spain.

Mileposts keep counting down the distance to Santiago!

Our small pension / albergue in Eirexe. We ended up being the only pilgrims in a room with two bunks and bath.

Italian pilgrims - the dog (Zoe, a 9 month old "puppy") belongs to Danielle, at right. We enjoy our post walk relaxation with a few glasses of wine and fellow pilgrims.

Location:Melide, Spain

Day 36 (10/28) - San Mamed del Camino to Mercadoiro (21.3km)

Breakfast in albergue was simple, instant coffee and cookies or bread, but it was free. Headed off and Sarria was only 4km and we had second breakfast there. It was supposed to rain in the morning but amounted to only a few drops. Stopped again for a bocadillo and then later for soup and a cerveza con limon. The path was pleasant and often through tree lined paths or paved farm lanes along rolling hills of Galicia. At around 3:30 we arrived in Mercadoiro, nothing here but a bar and albergue but quite pleasant. We remember it from last year but only stopped for a drink then. Now, after our shower, rinsing clothes, etc. are enjoying a liter of red wine (~$4) working on our journals and hoping someone we know stops by so we don't need to drink the whole thing. Dinner was nice enough but more of a typical "pilgrims dinner".

Beautiful pathway in the morning.

100km from Santiago!

A beautiful day for walking.

We were the only pilgrims in our room - almost seemed like a private room!

The courtyard of our albergue's bar/restaurant. The stone walls of the bar are 3' thick and the old buildings were renovated in 2006 to create the Albergue.

Our room was in this restored building.

The camino pathway and the "street" in front of our Albergue. We so love these buildings made of local stone!

Location:Mercadoiro, Spain

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 35 (10/27) - Triacastela to San Mamed del Camino (via Samos) (22.6km)

Still a bit confused about how early to start after the end of DST. We did wait until it was fairly light because the first stretch was along a highway. Fortunately, most of that was outside of the "crash barrier" rather than on the shoulder. Then, we walked on a path though forest and along a small stream. Arrived at Samos around 10:30am and had a snack. The monastery at Samos is one of the largest and oldest in Europe and dates back to the 7th century, pre-dating the "discovery" of Saint James burial spot and thus the camino itself. The tour of the monastery was interesting and since the three of us who were there were not Spanish speakers, it was in english. Then, we had a rather long but pretty walk on a woodlands track or small road along a river and through farmlands. Finally, we reconnected to the camino route we followed last year, had a "cerveza con limon" and then continued for a short distance to San Mamed del Camino and Paloma Y Lena. This is a private albergue and we have a private room with one bunk bed and bath for 25 euros. The description says that this is "an oasis" and we certainly agree! Now sitting on the veranda with a pitcher of red wine and enjoying the evening. Dinner was vegetarian and the soup was the best we have had so far - lentil with mushrooms and very nicely spiced. That was followed by quiche, tortilla and salad with fruit and cake for dessert.

Stream and small village.

Beautiful fall colors of the vines on the house next to the pathway

Tree lined path through the forest and along the fields.

Views of the Benedictine abbey at Samos (above and below) - originally founded in the 7th century but buildings are more modern.

Typical path in the afternoon.

Ah yes, the sign we were looking for in later afternoon!

Our albergue for the night. Definitely one of the nicest we've stayed at.

Dinner in a beautiful room with 10 pilgrims.

Location:San Mamed del Camino, Spain

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 34 (10/26) - O'Cebreiro to Triacastela (21.5km)

Daylight savings time ended last night so we got a bit more sleep and left a bit after sunrise because we wanted to enjoy the beautiful scenery as we left town. The pathway follows the ridge line for several kilometers and then gradually descended with ups and downs and finally after 12km or so descending fairly steeply. However, it was still a much more pleasant downhill than after cruz de ferro. Weather was clear but not hot so we really enjoyed the day. Also nice that there were plenty of places to stop for snacks or coffee. Lunch was at a place we stopped last year and we had really great version of Caldo de Gallego there. Finally reaching the village of Triacastelo and we found a simple, older alberuge (Berce do Camino) and have a twin room with shared bath for 8 euro each and the lady did our laundry for 7 euros. It even had free access to a computer with printer so we were able to print our Ryan Air boarding passes. Then, went up the street and had a pitcher of sangria, bowl of olives, and plate of pemientos de padrone (fried sweet green peppers) while we worked on our journals and back to the room for a rest. At dinner we sat with a familiar group of pilgrims. I had scrambled eggs with mushrooms and prawns for an "opener" and braised veal tongue with fries for my entree and ice cream for dessert.

Sunrise looking over yesterday"s trek.

Although today was largely downhill, we still had some steep bits. This looks back over typical scenery.

Wonderful bowl of peasant soup, Caldo de Gallego. Made with white beans, diced potato, collard greens, cabbage, carrots and probably a bit of pork bone for flavor.

Bucolic scene and typical Galician views.

The camino passes right down the main street of Triacastela and the tables of the restaurant where we had sangria and snacks and later dinner. It's nice to eat outside even in late October! For dinner, we ate inside.

Hungry pilgrims!

Scrambled eggs, mushrooms and shrimp.

Braised veal tongue.

Location:Triacastela, Spain