We are going to Madeira!!
We are going to Madeira!!
Ray and I are not big gift givers to each other, so this year for my birthday/our anniversary, I asked for One Perfect Day. And, I got it! I wanted a day with good food, good weather, a beautiful hike and to do all of that with my best friend in the whole world. What more could I ask for?
We started the morning with breakfast at Toast and Eggs in Waitsfield. We love eating breakfast out, but haven’t been to Toast and Eggs since pre-covid. I had the Breakfast Bowl that is quinoa, cheddar cheese, salsa and poached eggs on a bed of kale – super yummy!
Then we headed to the Stowe Auto Toll Road. We had to stop on the way up Route 108 for a bear that was out for a leisurely stroll across the road! I had heard about the toll road over the years, but thought it was some mythical ancient trail up to Mount Mansfield until I hiked up it this past spring. In fact, it is really a “toll road” that you can drive your car on up to the Mount Mansfield Visitors Center just north of the “nose” of Mount Mansfield. The cost was $25 for the car and driver and $9 for each additional passenger. It was priceless for us because Ray was not going to want to hike all the way up there as I have done a few times this year from the Stowe and Underhill sides of the mountain.
From that point, it is about a 1.3 mile hike over to the “chin” which is the highest peak in Vermont. Mount Mansfield roughly resembles a person’s head when lying down with the forehead at the southern end of the range and the chin and Adam’s apple (so I guess it is a male visage) at the northern end.
While the toll road gets you most of the way up the mountain, the hike to the summit isn’t a walk in the park. Many people head up there thinking they will easily get to the top of Vermont only to turn around after seeing the challenging rock trail that is not flip flop or broken foot boot friendly! Still, there are LOTS of people who do make it to the summit including several moms with their babies in baby backpacks and one mom who was carrying her infant in her arms…definitely not recommended!
With all of the rain over these past few weeks, I am grateful that somehow July 28 was a beautiful, rain-free day. While there was some haze and clouds, visibility was pretty good. At the top of the mountain we were able to see north to Montreal, west to Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, east to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and south to Camel’s Hump and the Mad River Valley where we live.
I was not in any rush for our hike to end because I was not looking forward to driving back down the toll road. We had only passed one car coming the other direction when we were on our way up, but I knew we would pass a lot more cars going down the road that is a ski run in the winter – and a pretty narrow one at that! But, it wasn’t all that bad and 4.5 miles later we were back on Route 108 heading to our next stop at Artisan Tea and Coffee for a perfect cappuccino.
We picked up our CSA share on our way home. This is the first week we got corn – impressively early for Vermont, but typical for our amazing Muddy Boots CSA!
There was just enough time when we got home to catch up on some work emails and get ready for dinner. I had made reservations at Hen of the Wood in May for this special day. We still are not comfortable (and getting less comfortable every day!) eating inside, so I reserved a table outside so the meal was weather dependent. But of course, it was One Perfect Day, and dinner was on! Dressed appropriately we were comfortable even with a little chill in the air.
Before we even ordered, the wait person came to our table with beautiful cocktails – French 75’s – from Nancy and Dave wishing us a Happy Anniversary. How thoughtful and what a great way to start off a celebratory meal.
We hadn’t eaten out since…this morning…but honestly, we haven’t had dinner out since pre-covid so we didn’t hold back with ordering. two apps, two entrees and a side veggie. We shared everything and it was all delicious. The wine was just ok at first, but really improved after it opened up. This is what I get for picking a wine who’s price matched my birth year, ’58. The HOTW team brought us a celebratory ice cream scoop when we declined dessert. We couldn’t figure out if it was salted caramel or strawberry; maybe it was a combo. They do say the tastebuds start to fade with age!
Back home we had a small 6″ cake that I had made the day before waiting for us. Chocolate on chocolate with homemade raspberry jam in the layers. I opened cards and a gift from my mom – the final glasses for our Simon Pearce cocktail glass collection – Ascutney Martini glasses. We enjoyed a small taste of Whistle Pig Rye with our cake – great pairing.
So, there you have it. One Perfect Day! I think it will become an annual tradition.
This is my last day walking! I will be savoring every step of the 15 kilometers. I had breakfast and started walking around 10 and immediately started seeing pilgrims going the other way; from Muxia (pronounced as a good Galician “Galeetheean” would do, you would say “Mutheea”) to Fisterra. It feels like that is the way most people go, but the Way is marked in both directions.
Everyone told me I would prefer Muxia to Fisterra so I decided to leave the best ‘til last. Some also say that you end your Camiño in Fisterra and you begin the rest of your life in Muxia. That was enough reason for me to chose the South to North Route.
When everyone is walking in the same direction, it is easy to find someone to talk with if you are looking for company. When everyone is passing going the other way, at best you get a Buen Camino. That was fine for me and what I wanted on my last day.
I walked through a few very small villages, but most of the day was on wide dirt paths and much of it was weaving around a large number of windmills on the ridgeline of a mountain I had to go up and over. This was supposed to be a flat walk, but it didn’t necessarily feel that way as I kept going up and up for a 335 meter elevation gain.
While the Camino Francés definitely has more women than men on it, the Camino Fisterra seems the opposite. And, most women who are walking are with another person. So, it took me by surprise when I saw a slight, older woman coming toward me…alone.
It was Paula from New Brunswick and the woman who Shirley walked the Camino with. We were both so excited to see one another! We stopped and chatted for a while, took a selfie, exchanged email addresses and we headed off in opposite directions more than likely never to see each other again.
Paula is an inspiration. As she told me, she can walk long distances, but does it slow and steady. She was considering going all the way to Fisterra in one day! I suspect from her email address that she is 73 or 74, but she certainly doesn’t look it. I was especially impressed that Shirley was done walking once she hit Santiago, but Paula wanted to continue and did so on her own.
The walk took me very close to the windmills; closer than I have ever been. This source of renewable energy has been met with controversy in Vermont for many reasons including loss of natural habitat, inefficiencies with the Vermont landscape and forever changing the pristine Vermont viewscape.
I have to say that I find the windmills in Spain beautiful…almost majestic. When I think about the energy independence they bring to the country, they are even more appealing. But, they do make noise – a constant whoosh, whoosh.
I am just enchanted by these horreos. I look forward to painting some scenes with horreos’ in them.
I even found one for sale! I tried to convince Ray that we should buy it but he isn’t interested.
The entry into Muxia dumps you onto a busy road and then into town, but it along the rugged coast and it is beautiful.
I had a heck of a time finding my pension for the night and probably wasted 30 minutes wandering up and down streets. I find that sometimes Apple maps work best and other times google maps work best. The directions seemed to clear with Apple maps, but it kept sending me down dead ends. Finally I turned to Google maps and got to my place and checked in. I had a beautiful view of the harbor.
I wanted to head out to the point and the 0,0 marker for Muxia and also needed to check out where to get the bus back to Santiago de Compostela tomorrow morning at 6:45 so I quickly did some hand laundry (pretty much a daily routine) and headed out.
The breezy ocean air was cool and I was happy I had my down puffy jacket. It was a beautiful walk and a wonderful way to end my Camiño.
I didn’t stay to watch the sunset since I needed to eat dinner and get read for the early morning bus. Lucky for me, one of the best restaurants in town was right next door to my Pension. I had locally caught swordfish, a delicious Galician Albarino wine and fresh, uncooked cheesecake for dessert. It was a perfect ending to my last day walking.
I wasn’t really in a rush this morning because I only had 14km to Lires and I assumed it was fairly flat. My plan was to check out the fishing museum that I learned about after reading up on the Castile San Carlos. I discovered it is now a museum about fishing which normally wouldn’t be of interest to me, but I read raving reviews on Trip Advisor and decided I would stick around town until the museum opened at 11am, spend less than an hour there and then be on my way to Lires.
After a late-ish breakfast, I made my way to the Castile and got there 5 minutes before it was to open. No sign of anyone. 5 minutes after 11 still no sign of anyone. Just as I took a closer look at the sign posted with the hours and realized the museum is now, in October, closed on Mondays, a man walked up and opened the gates. He explained the museum is closed today and said I should return tomorrow. I told him I wouldn’t be here and that I really wanted to see the museum. He kind of looked around as if to make sure no one saw him and he waived me in.
He is Manuello, the curator of the museum and the person all the Trip Advisor reviews raved about. We quickly established that his limited English was far better than my piquito Spanish and he proceeded to fascinate me for 30 minutes. Manuello is so passionate about what he was sharing you couldn’t help but be excited about it too! Kind of like when you get a personal tour of the Duck Decoys at Shelburne Museum from Kory Rogers.
It was almost noon and I was ready to get on my 14km journey north toward Muxia. It is 28km to Muxia so I split it into two 14km day’s staying over in the small village of Lires.
What a lovely walk! After I figured out how to get out of Fisterra and I was sure I was headed to Muxia and not Cee the route was clearly marked and path was easy walking. It actually reminded me of walking in Vermont in the fall. Except every now and then I would look left and catch a glimpse of the ocean!!
It seemed to take forever to get to Lires, but then I am not used to walking so late in the day. I really enjoyed the solitude and the scenery. It was a peaceful walk with no services along the way, but also no people and no graffiti! A perfect way to end my Camino after the impersonal final 5-days from Sarria to Santiago.
I started the day with another morning shower! Then I got packed up and headed down for breakfast. You jus never know what you are going to get with your overnight accommodations. This morning I was pleasantly surprised!
The place is run by an older couple and their adult son. They sat me down in the dining room and rearranged everything at the table to it would be set for just one. That was so thoughtful. Then, plate by plate, the food appeared. It was quite a feast that I figured would hold me until dinner.
After breakfast I took a cab to the bus station promising myself that when I returned to the city I would walk from the bus station to my hotel for the night.
Getting the bus ticket was easy. There were two busses to Fisterra. One was direct and one was “local” making several stops. I took the local bus since my plan was to get off in Cee and walk to Fisterra.
As I was waiting for the bus, Ruth from the UK showed up! It was great to see her and hear about her arrival into Santiago.
Most everyone got into the direct bus. Only a handful of us got into the “local.”
The bus ride was beautiful all along the coast.
It was raining on and off and I did not want to walk in the rain so I decided if it was raining when I got to Cee, I would stay on the bus. And, I WAS raining so I stayed seated and rode the last 10km into Fisterra.
Apparently the bus ride took a lot out of me because I was starving despite the huge breakfast I had. I checked into my pension and went in search of lunch.
I found a lively restaurant right in the harbor area that had an interesting menu Del Dia that included razor clams, scallops and scorpion fish which I had never had before.
Everything was delicious!
As I sat there two girls came in with a dog. I recognized the dog and one of the girls as a neighbor from Casa Olga’s. I started talking with them. They are sisters. The sister with the tats (Johanna) had just joined the other one in santiago and they had walked from Santiago to Muxia and now Fisterra and needed to get back to Santiago today. They couldn’t take the bus because of the dog so I convinced them to splurge for a taxi and that is what they did.
The dog was absolutely precious. He is 4 months old and his name is Mateo Santiago. She (Mary) got the dog in Leon. It had been abandoned at the medieval market. She spent four days in Leon getting the necessary shots and paperwork so she could bring the dog back to the USA. This is one lucky dog!!
My strategy of waiting until later in the afternoon worked! The rain stopped and I had a dry 2.5km walk up to the lighthouse which truly marks the End of the Earth.
It was a beautiful stroll.
And then there I was. At the famous 0,000km marker!
I walked out the the point beyond the lighthouse and tried to imagine what pilgrims and others thought when they stood here. It is only in the last 500 or so years that people knew there was something beyond that horizon. Before then this truly was the end of the world.
I wanted to stay for the sunset but my “virtual travel guide” Henry told me it gets really dark after sunset and that without a headlamp it could be a tough walk back to town. It didn’t want to risk any problems so I headed back in the daylight. It is a good thing that I did because it rained quite hard after the sun set.
I just walked in a light drizzle. No problem.
I walked past Castillo San Carlos which is now Museum about fishing in Galicia.
It opens at 11am and is supposed to be quite a gem of a museum so I am going to head there before leaving for my walk toward Muxia. My plan is to walk about 12km to As Lires and spend the night there and then head to Muxia on Tuesday morning.
The lights in the harbor area were beautiful.
By the time I got back into town I was hungry…again!!! I stopped at a pizza place and had some wine and ordered a vegetarian pizza. I could only eat half and took the other half with me to eat for lunch tomorrow.
I “slept in” on Saturday morning until 7:30. It was glorious. At this point sunrise isn’t until nearly 9am so it is easy to stay in bed since it is so dark! Plus, I could hear the rain and wasn’t looking forward to another wet day. But, at least I wouldn’t be walking in the rain today!
I took a shower…the first morning shower since I started the Camino. A shower is such an important part of my home morning ritual, but it just doesn’t work on the Camino. Typically in the morning pilgrims roll out of bed and get walking. But the best reason I know of not to take a shower is because it saturates your feet with water and makes them more susceptible to friction and blisters!
I made arrangements to meet Lynn from Schenectady for the noon Pilgrim mass and I wanted to go to the big food market before then. I also had to move to another pension since I couldn’t get a room at the same place for two nights in a row. But, I couldn’t check into my new place until the afternoon so I checked my pack at the post office.
Yes, you heard right! The post office in Spain, called Correos, has a whole division that caters to pilgrims. They make it very easy to ship stuff from a post office along the Way to Santiago as I did in Burgos with my IKEA Frektah bag that I will use to check my bag and poles when I fly home. They also provide stage to stage pack transfer service. And, in Santiago they offer pack and luggage storage for €2.50 for the first day and €1 for each day after that.
I headed to the market and as luck would have it went past a side entrance to the Santiago Cathedral and went in. This year the cathedral is undergoing interior renovations so it is not being used for any services. It definitely is a construction site but at least I got to see it. I lit a candle for my dad and took some pictures. I could have stood in line to hug Saint James but didn’t feel moved to do so.
It is disappointing that I won’t get to go to a mass at the Santiago Cathedral. But I knew this long before I started the Camino this year and it is OK. A highlight at the pilgrim mass is the swinging of the botafumeiro which is a huge incense burner that “purifies” the congregation as it is swung with the help of 8 priests high overhead.
By the time I got to the market, I was getting wet and hungry so I ducked into a cafe that had a Taste of the Market breakfast buffet. For €12 I had a plateful of different cheeses, quince paste, chorizo and sausage, jamon and bread.
I quickly ran through a couple of buildings at the market. It only made me sad that I couldn’t buy food to cook. The veggies and meats and cheeses were all beautiful.
The pilgrim mass was at noon and I wanted to get there early since it gets very crowded. It was great to see Lynn and we got to chat before the service. She had to end her Camino because of the problems she was having with her knee. I think it was a smart decision but a very difficult one. She is a runner and is in very good physical shape and never expected to have to cut her Camino short.
The service was nice but nothing will compare to what I experienced in O Cebreiro so I probably will not attend any more masses on the Camino. By the way, Kate who I went to the O Cebreiro mass with was in the town for two days so she went to the mass the next night as well and reported on her blog that it was completely different from the night before. It was a different, older priest and the service was more traditional. Clearly the planets were aligned for me in O Cebreiro!
I saw lots of people I knew at the Santiago Pilgrim’s service including Team BTV, the three ladies from Burlington who I hadn’t seen since I was riding the horse up to O Cebreiro.
I am hoping we can all get together after we get settled back in Vermont to talk about post Camino reflections.
I also saw Shirley who I hadn’t seen for several days but was such an important part of ending several long days in a row during my last week walking.
She said she hardly recognized me without my hat!
After the service I had to move to my new pension which felt like it was miles from town. But in fact, it was just a short walk and I had a beautiful view of the Cathedral from my room.
I called my mom because today is her 85th birthday!!! We talked for a long time. My biggest concern with going on the Camino when I did was that I would miss being with my mom on her birthday, and her 85th at that. She was very understanding, but I still felt regret that I wouldn’t be there.
Six of us made plans to meet for dinner and on my way I dropped a bag with things I wouldn’t need for my walk to Fisterra and Muxia at the Correos. I wanted my load to be as light as possible.
Dinner was good. The Menu Del Dia included a bowl of mussels, cockles and scallops, a scallop dish and fish for the main course, Dorado.
On my way back to my pension, I bumped into Claudia from Toronto and Karen from the UK. I was thrilled since the last time I saw them we were riding the horses to O Cebreiro. It is funny how everyone seemed to get disbursed after that point.
Claudia told me her mom was still in the restaurant so I went looking for her and in the process bumped into several other people I know. This is how it works on the Camino!
It was great to see Loretta and her two friends from Quebec City! But, I was tired and ready for bed so I headed off for a good night’s sleep.
My plan for the final day of walking to Santiago de Compostela was to be out the door by 7 and stop somewhere in town for coffee and some breakfast before getting on my way. I knew the 20 kilometers would take me between 5-6 hours and I wanted to arrived by early afternoon. Alas, no cafes were open so I was thinking I would just start walking. But it was VERY dark and honestly a little scary because I could see so little.
Just when I wasn’t sure I should walk in the pitch black, Andy from the UK and Shawn came up behind me. I asked if I could tag along with them and they graciously said of course.
We got to the Kilometer 15 cafe in an hour and we only had 15km to go!
Andy and Shawn were moving fast because they wanted to make sure she got into Santiago in time to get her compostela. Since she was leaving first thing on Saturday morning, if she didn’t get it on Friday, she wouldn’t have the document commemorating the 500 mile walk she had just taken.
The Pilgrim office in Santiago only issues 2000 compostelas a day. When you arrive you are given a number (like you get in the deli) and the QR code on the ticket takes you to a website that tells you what number they currently are on. Sometimes people get a number early in the day and end up waiting 3-4 hours for their number to actually be called. Rumors abound about people arriving at 10:30am and only to find that all of the tickets for the day are already being gone. It would be crushing to walk all that distance and not be able to get the certificate.
After walking with Andy and Shawn for about 2 hours it was light enough for me to walk on my own. They kicked into overdrive and soon we out of sight.
I was so grateful that these two Camino angels took me under their wings and helped me get a strong start on my last day.
I created a hill and came out near the highway and got my first sight of Santiago de Compostela in the distance. It took my breath away!this is the goal I had been walking toward for over a year when I took my first step out of Saint Jean Pied de Port on September 24, 2018!
I knew from books I have read that the walk into Santiago involves trekking around the far end of the Santiago de Compostela airport. I was there just at daybreak. While it is a relatively small facility, it still felt mammoth.
Just as I was feeling the quaint villages were a thing of my Camino past, the airport faded away and I was back in another ancient hamlet. I was making good time so I decided to follow through of my plan of 2 hours ago and I stopped for breakfast.
More and more pilgrims were now on the Way and it was really foggy. Then the rain started. I stopped to put on my backpack cover and beloved poncho.
Just as I walked past a cafe, Denise and Dave, who I met on my very first day out of Burgos walked out! I hadn’t seen them for a couple of weeks. How fitting that I see my first Camino friends on my very last day! This is how the Camino works!
We walked through the final village of Monte do Gozo and got some pictures of a pilgrim monument that was pretty impressive, but completely missed the famous monument of the pilgrims at the top of the hill looking out over Santiago.
We passed a bar as we got into town and I said goodbye to Denise and Dave because I needed a bathroom break. I was also looking forward to making the final steps into Santiago on my own.
As it the case with the entry to all large cities on the Camino there were a couple of kilometers walking through the outskirts of the city on sidewalks and it was oddly difficult to find arrows to follow.
I ended up walking through the modern part of the city with a Dutch guy, Rudy, who was completing the Camino Primitivo (a five day Camino that comes in from the north and joins the French Way in Melide). When we got to the start of the historic area of town I said goodbye to Rudy and walked the rest of the way to the Cathedral on my own.
And then, there I was!
I immediately called Ray. He needed to share in my joy. He had been with me every step of the way. I was overwhelmed with tears of joy. I had done it!!
After soaking it all in, I made my way to the pilgrim office being fully prepared to not get a number even though it was just after noon. But, to my surprise, I got number 564 and they were calling in the low 500’s.
The wait reminded me of the lines in the hallway at the Alburgue in Roncevalles. Organized chaos.
the system they have set up working incredibly well and in less than a half hour, I had my compostela and a second certificate that you pay €3 for; a distance certificate. Plus a tube to keep them safe.
As I was getting my compostella, I met Andy Byer who is co-organizer with Kerri Daniels of the Sacramento American Pilgrims on the Camino group. I had met Kerri last year. It is a small world this Camino! I should mention that the Pilgrim office is staffed with dozens of volunteers. These are people like Andy, who pay their way to Spain and then volunteer to sit behind a desk for hours on end awarding certificates. Without them, the Camino wouldn’t work.
I headed back out to the square and bumped into several friends who had just arrived.
I made my way to my pension which is literally right next to the Cathedral. I have a balcony that I can almost reach out and touch the building.
I did my usual end of day routine; shower, reorganizing, hanging up wet clothes and a little decompressing.
Then I went for a walk to get something to eat. Suddenly I was starving! I started with dessert!
Angie from California connected with me and we agreed to meet for dinner. When I went out at 7 it was pouring rain so I invested in an umbrella which I would have paid just about anything for.
I had a delicious and comforting mushroom risotto (there’s that “fucking meat” that drive vegetarian Italian Danny crazy). I was in bed by 10. What an amazing day!
Tomorrow I plan to attend the noon pilgrim mass and visit the food market here where I will eat a late lunch. I have to move to a new pension since I couldn’t book 2 nights at the same place. Then I get ready for the “vacation” portion of my trip. I am heading to Fisterre on Sunday. I am actually going to Cee and will walk about 10km to Fisterre and then over the next two days will walk to Muxia which is about 28km that I will break into 2 14km days (remember, I am now on vacation!). But I am still a pilgrim so Jeannie Elias, the shell will still be on my bag!
For today, I drink in the joy of reaching Santiago safely and celebrate my accomplishment!
I can’t believe this is my last night on the Camino. Tomorrow I will walk 20 kilometers and arrive in Santiago de Compostela.
This is a pretty special night and while I planned to spend it alone writing my blog, I ended up reconnecting with lots of people and have a really nice evening.
I really want to be up and out early tomorrow to give me some hope of getting into Santiago in the early afternoon. So, the blog will need to wait until tomorrow. Here are the highlights:
I was in a pretty foul mood yesterday. The rain got to me. Everyone else agreed yesterday sucked and also agreed that the kids and the influx of people was super annoying. The Magic Bus didn’t seem to bug anyone but me. But, today it didn’t rain and everything was more tolerable. I think I actually heard several kids say Buen Camino, the thick crowds seemed to thin out and even when I saw the Magic Bus, all was good.
My Camiño friend from last year, Henry, told me about a fabulous restaurant where I had both lunch and dinner. It was just across the street from where I am staying. Taste the Way. Local products, good ingredients one large community table (and I thought I would be able to hide and write my blog!).
I will provide pictures and more color commentary tomorrow. I am a little overwhelmed with emotions right now. I walked across Spain!!!
Please check in tomorrow for more details and pictures.
I woke up this morning to rain and the forecast wasn’t promising. I am done being afraid of the rain and now and just sick and tired of it. I walked the entire day in rain that ranged from a drizzle to a downpour. At times the wind picked up to add to the excitement.
I awoke in the country estate where I spent the night and Nyan who is the cook made me a wonderful breakfast of eggs and toast and I supplemented it with some cheese and jamon.
I ate breakfast with the only other guest in the lodge, Alexei, a Russian who now lives in Germany and has a luxury car service that he operates all over Europe this week he is helping a group of 6 people walk the Camino from Sarria to Santiago. He is basically a high end version of the Magic Bus which I am happy to report I did not see today!
By 8 I was in Hassan’s Escalade and he whisked me into town and dropped me off a “little further ahead” than where he picked me up and we hugged goodbye. I would highly recommend every pilgrim treat themselves to a night at Pazo de Laia in Palas de Rei!
This was going to be a long day and the rain doesn’t help at all. But I got into the biggest town I would be in today, Melide, before noon.
The entry into town was reasonably short and crossed over a beautiful bridge.
It seems like a cool town and I regretted not staying here, but it would have meant another day before I would get to Santiago so I pressed on. I got a stamp in my credential at the first church on my way into town and the last one as I left.
I did stop for a coffee and Aquarius at a Pulperia. The place is right on the corner and the guy is cooking the Pulpo right in an open window and encouraging people to come in. I was still full from my breakfast so I passed on the octopus.
Today was a series of small villages with farms, fields and forests in between. At one point I was overwhelmed with the scent of early mint. I believe it was from Eucalyptus trees. They are extremely tall and all of their foliage and branches are at the tops of the trees so I wasn’t able to touch or smell any leaves directly.
This stone crossing is a great example of the infrastructure in place to help pilgrims cross rivers.
There was a woman with a small fruit stand selling water, fruit and homemade baked goods. I was thrilled to see she had some roasted chestnuts and bought a small cup of them to snack on.
With the rain and the never ending string of villages, I have severe “are we there yet” syndrome. The afternoon just dragged on and on. The scenery could have been just gorgeous in better weather.
Finally I reached my destination for the night Rabidiso. But it wasn’t without just a few parting shots. First, the Alburgue isn’t in the actual town. It is further up the Way at the top of what felt like a really steep hill. Then you come to a busy road that the Camino Gods do NOT want you to cross. Instead, you must walk another probably .25km to reach a tunnel under the road. So close yet to far!
I was a drowned rat when I arrived but the people running the Alburgue and bar were very welcoming. There was a blazing pellet stove that was inviting.
I am staying in a 6-bed dorm (to balance my night of luxury in Palas de Rei). After I took a shower I put all of my clothes in the dryer and had linner.
Yes those are rubber like sheets. Uncomfortable to sleep in but safer for preventing bed bugs.
lights were out in our room at 9! Just two more days!
I was so excited to start the day again with a hearty breakfast! The pension where I stayed had limited breakfast options and while I appreciated their efforts, I was looking for more protein than was on their buffet. So, I packed up and headed out and stopped at the first bar that was open. No cafe con leche! Because no aqua!! I gathered from the upset bar owner that something had happened to the town water system and there was simply no water in town.
I headed further out of town and went into another restaurant and I think I got the last cup of coffee to be had in Portomarín. Ken and Theresa were there and Ken said water was pouring down the road as they exited town. Perhaps it was a water main break?
Whatever the problem, it was clear I wouldn’t be getting my much craved for bacon and eggs. I settled for a sugar high with a pain au chocolate and was on my way motivated to get to the first cafe about 8 kilometers (about 2 hours for me at my roughly 4 kilometer an hours pace) away.
I was one of HUNDREDS leaving Portomarín this morning. I am not super-loving the influx of new pilgrims from Sarria. On top of that there was a group of what I assume were Spanish high school students that numbered 50 or 60. They travelled in packs and spread across the entire path. So, it was hard to pass them and if they were passing they completely enveloped you and then spit you out the back of their pack and continued joyously moving forward.
I appreciated youth and their boundless energy and the hope they give me for the future. And, I think it is awesome that these kids are walking the Camino. I guess I am just being a little NIMBYish about their infiltration of the Camino today. I feel the same about the hoards of pilgrims who have joined the Camino in Sarria. They haven’t been enculturated to the ways of the Way. Few say Buen Camino when passing. It feels impersonal and more like I am walking down the street in New York City than on the Camino in Spain.
But, I had a second cup of coffee I was looking forward to and perhaps even bacon and eggs so Ultreia!
The first cafe was packed with pilgrims and kids and bus loads of people (3 big tours buses to be exact including the Magic bus). I didn’t want to spend an hour waiting to be served to I walked on. The next bar I stopped at another 4km away wasn’t packed but the one person working there was very slow and it was going to waste too much time so I forged ahead. But, I was getting hungry so I decided I would tap my emergency food supply.
A half of an RX Bar did the trick and I was energized and forged ahead. I finally stopped at a bar just before noon where I was at least able to get a cup of coffee. But it took a while and the one woman working there was tired and not so nice.
I wish I was able to keep up my sub-12-minute/kilometer pace that I maintained during my training walks, but I have slowed down. I am walking at about 4km/hour and that makes for a long day when walking 25 kilometers. Lots of people pass me and that is demoralizing. But in fairness to me, most of them aren’t carrying their gear. In fact, I would say at this point only about 20% of people are carrying packs. The rest have small, light backpacks and ship their luggage ahead each day.
There are several companies that transport luggage including the Spanish postal service, Corrios. These little backpack transporting vans travel up and down the Way throughout the day picking up and dropping off bags. I will admit to sending my day pack ahead on a couple of heavy rain days stuffed with my sleeping bad, sandals and clothing I wanted to keep dry as a way to lighten my load.
By mid afternoon I want tired and hungry and stopped at an outside table at a bar to figure out how much linger I had to walk. A server came out and asked my what I wanted. I was shocked and encouraged and ordered a cafe con leche and a piece of fresh cheese and membrello. As I started to eat it began drizzling and the waitress suggested I go inside and she carry the food in for me. What a different experience than earlier in the day!
This snack hit the spot! The bar was warm and inviting and I got out of the rain during the only drizzle of the day! Shirley came in and joined me. She was the first person I saw since morning who I recognized. We walked the rest of the way into Palas de Rei together.
Shirley and I high-fived when we saw town. It felt like a really long day to both of us.
I chose a different overnight experience for Palas de Rei. I booked a room at a country Pensión Rural. I was instructed to call them when I arrived and they would pick me up. That worked like a charm and in less than 15 minutes I was at a beautiful estate in the countryside. It is owned by 30-something Abdul from Saudi Arabia who left his tech job with Accenture to start this business with his uncle in Spain. They have restored this property and turned it into a luxury resort. It has an exercise room, that I will not be using! It also has a theater room complete with reclining seats. I won’t be using that either. But I did have a wonderful dinner and a HUGE room with a giant bathroom and deep bathtub. I drew a hot bath and luxuriated before dinner.
Dinner was a carb-fest that ended with a crepe-like thing stuffed with Nutella and rolled and baked. It was a delicious meal and I was happy with my decision to upgrade my overnight stay at this point on the Camino.
I will be paying for this indulgence tomorrow when I stay at a €10 dorm, but I thought the balance would be important. I have two more longer days ahead of me and the forecast isn’t looking good. But, it is what it is. Just three more days to go!
Welcome! Not everyone will want to read all sections of this blog, so I have set it up so you can easily find what you are most interested in using the Burgundy menu above.
Daily Camino Log: This is the place to go to follow me as I walk through the Pyrenees and across Spain.
Camino Planning: Includes info on how I prepared for the Camino including what I read, watching, listened to, gear and packing and training.
About the Camino: Provides basic info and links about the Camino if you wish to learn more about it.
All Posts By Date: This is the Whole Enchilada for Camino Junkies ONLY!
Instagram Feed: I plan to post photos to Instagram real-time as I am walking. I have added this so that people without Instagram accounts can see these.