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