So after 34 days I got home and have the Camino behind me.
Irun – Santiago – Fisterra – Muxia
talked with people from 23 countries
Many sunrises and sunsets, sunshine, rain, fog, wind, smoke, coast, hills, fields, cities, little villages, lots of slugs, cows, donkeys and other animals, lovely people, some shallow but many deep and mind opening conversations.
I guess I’ll need some time to make a proper summary of what happened and what I got from the Camino.
Until then, here are some more stats:
30.86 km per day average
55.57 km on the longest day
4.86 km/h average speed including breaks
carried 9-10 kg – depending on food and water
lost 2 kg – but also converted some fat to muscle 🙂
Either the dinner yesterday after the sunset was a bit too much or it was some excitement about getting home soon but I spent most of the night awake.
Around 6 I started to get ready as the bus left at 6:45.
My phone once again started being weird with the data connection not working and with flickering screen but it fixed itself shortly after the bus arrived to Santiago.
The bus took more than 2 hours and it was quite cold. On arrival it was only 4 degrees in Santiago.
I talked with a Lithuanian guy who did the French way. He just started a year long break with the Camino and planned to travel to East.
I wondered around Santiago looking for souvenirs and eating this and that 🙂 Finally I settled on the square next to the cathedral where the sun shined and one could see all the pilgrims arriving and meeting each other. In fact I met with la German guy who I last saw at least a week ago.
An Estonian girl asked me to take take her picture and as she was just going to go to Finisterra and Muxia I recommended her some places and helped her with the bus schedule.
After bumping into the Lithuanian guy again I went on to have lunch: I set my eyes on the market with some kiosks offering meals when I first got to Santiago so now I tried one of them. One with octopus.
I sat a little more in the sunshine then headed to the airport with the bus. Time to go home.
It took some self-encouragement to get up and get going after the fun the previous night as well listening to everyone talking about rest days in the last few days. The fact that most of the day was going to be uphill didn’t help either.
So I left around 8:30, just before the sunrise. It looked really nice and that gave some motivation.
Especially at the beginning the signs were way less frequent and helpful as on the way to Fisterra. This resulted in a few extra rounds here and there but either I managed to figure it out or even before that someone pointed me back on the way.
I had a super quick break in Buxan after 1:20 and 8km as there was a cute, donation based pilgrim rest and I took a stamp.
Not long after I met with Merek who was on his way to Fisterra. We recommended each other the hostels where we stayed the previous night and bid farewell.
As this route is basically two way I met a lot of people. The most surprising was a woman with a baby in a stroller. Not your typical setup for any part of the Camino.
Took another hour to get to Lires, the checkpoint between Fisterre and Muxia. I found the stamping station and at the end of the town I stopped for a break. I met there an old French woman who was kind enough to give me a pear.
From here on the slightly steeper uphill part started for 2 hours. Whenever I thought that I finally reached the top there was a little bit more just around the corner. Eventually though, around the 23k mark I got there.
After the way down to the coast there was a bit more roadside walking than it would’ve been nice but the sight of the ocean made up for it.
I went straight to the church at the end of the peninsula where the first glimpse of the bell towers actually triggered some weird emotions. By the time I walked there it dawn on me that this whole thing will end very soon.
I met two Irish guys and we helped each other with taking photos and also talked a bit. They told me about a Hungarian guy who walked the French Way and to Muxia to see the ocean for the first time in his life.
The low tide allowed me to sit on the huge rocks on the shore and watch the waves crushing on them. It was mesmerising. I sat there for more than an hour and left the little rock there as well that I carried from Irun.
I walked back across the town to go to the municipal albergue for my compostella. Later it turned out that it was unnecessary as since a couple of years all hostel can give it to you and I decided to stay in another one. Recommended by Merek as well top rated on Booking and not to mention that it was located much better it made sense for me.
I had a churros con chocolate in a place called Chocolate and I have to say it was the best: the chocolate had an almost pudding like consistency 🙂 I asked for a bocadillo for take away to eat it on the shore before the sunset however I didn’t manage to explain this and had plenty of time ao I didn’t mind.
I sat in for the first half of the evening mass in the church on the shore but as the sunset was just at the same time I went outside to watch that. It also occurred to me that because of the tide I cannot see – or at least find – the place I sat before.
The sunset was a proper and beautiful way to end the last of my 32 days of walking. With only so much cloud that gave a nice character to the sunset and the huge waves it was breathtaking.
We started the day with a breakfast with Merek and left Olveiroa at 8.
Unfortunately the municipal albergue where I stayed was not the best and half my stuff was still wet. So I kinda looked like a Christmas tree with everything hanging on my backpack.
The sky was still lit with stars that besides being beautiful meant that there were no clouds.
In one hour we passed 6k reaching the forking point for the routes to Finisterra or Muxia. We parted with Merek as he went to Muxia first.
On the way I saw the sun rising and wind turbines from quite close and some endless forests.
It took me almost 4 hours with a break halfway through to get to Cee, 20k from the start. I ate finally a pulpo empenada where pulpo means squid 🙂 It was absolutely delicious.
From there it was still more than 2 hours to get to Finisterra: altogether 33k in 6:40. However this was just the hostel.
I have to say that I felt some pain here and there because of last day’s craziness of going 55k but slowing down for a bit always solved the problem.
When arriving in Finisterra I started thinking that maybe I should have went with the municipal albergue however the previous day’s experience was voting against this. More importantly when I arrived to the place they were playing the soundtrack that I’ve been listening to recently a lot as well. Nice place 🙂
I also saw a sign for a Hungarian albergue. Apparently we are everywhere, even at the end of the world 🙂
In the albergue my phone gave me a scare as at 8% battery it did not react to the charger. Fortunately the old trick of turning it off and on again solved the issue.
I went to the municipal albergue to get my Finisterra Compostela then relaxed a bit in the hostel waiting for Lukazs to arrive.
After buying some picnic food we walked out to the lighthouse. A bit hurried as sunset was getting closer.
Found the 0km mark and we watched the sunset with an Italian guy.
When I arrived back to the hostel people were cooking and since they kinda overshoot the amount of pasta – 1.5kg for ~8 people – they invited me to join. Although I already ate before the invitation was so nice that it convinced me. I did the dishes during which I got a spontaneous back massage from a guy who did this for living even for the Circus du Soleil for a while.
The second of the three ends of my Camino turned out to be quite spectacular 🙂
Once again in the dark and occasional rain and of course this was again not a light polluted city walk but through a forest.
Before 11 I was in Negreira (22k from Santiago) so it was a quite quick decision that I want to go further. It was the plan as well. So after a second-breakfast-break I went on.
The rain as well. It just wouldn’t stop. And once again it was proper rain so I couldn’t power through it in t-shirt. Meh. However, just when I started to be a bit pissed because of the weather I passed by a bus stop where a pilgrim couple was taking a break and one of them ran to me offering a piece of chocolate. It came in the best moment, once again lifting my mood a lot.
Before 2pm I was in Vilaserio, 34k from Santiago. This was my first plan for the day. However there was a town, San Marina, in 8k so after a nice tea and hot chocolate and some small talk with the pilgrims waiting for the rain to calm, I left.
I crossed path a couple of times with a Checz man, Merek and finally we started walkig together. We stopped shortly in San Marina but went on soon. This was exciting as San Marina was already past 40k.
Even mlre than before the weather turned crazy with wind and sometimes stopping the rain, even giving a bit of sunshine. But all in all it was difficult to walk sometimes.
We arrived to Mallono (53k!) before 6pm and stopped to check the albergue there and ask about the following ones. Finally we decided to complete the second etap as well, going all the way to Olveiroa.
I closed the day with 55.5km in 11:40. What a day! …
Although I was only 20k from Santiago I wanted to start early to avoid “rush hour”. So I sad goodbye to Maria – this time most likely for good – and left the hostel around 7. Jeremy decided to tag along and so with a very good pace we were looking for a breakfast place.
Maybe because there was none exactly on the way – and yes, after 800+ kms a 100m off the way is still a distance that one would not want to walk … – or we were in a good rhythm, or maybe because we were kinda running away from all the people on the way, we only stopped after more than 15k at Monte de Gozo, way after passing by the Santiago airport.
Here we agreed that we’ll meet in the afternoon and I went ahead – we both wanted to arrive alone so Santiago.
Around an hour later I arrived. Went around the cathedral a couple of times as I was surprised that it is not allowed to go in with backpack and there was no place to leave it. So I went for my compostella that took an hour.
I’ve also caught up with Lukazs which was a nice surprise.
After checking in the hostel I went back to the cathedral and then walked a little bit around the old town. As nice the town could be, as annoying the amount of people was for me. Starting to understand why 3 days of Camino Frances is recommended before arriving to Santiago: need time to adjust…
Did some groceries and then went on to meet with Jeremy and Lukazs for dinner. Once again we had churros con chocolate but this time not to get energy for the road but for the pleasure only 🙂
We visited the evening pilgrims’ mess where we I saw once again one of the Lithuanian guys and we got to see the big pot(?) filled with incense being swung that was traditionally to overcome the smell of the pilgrims. Looked majestic though.
I sad goodbye to Jeremy as well. When I started and got to chat with the Spanish veteran camino guys I never thought that I’ll be the one out of the people whom I got to know on the camino to go furthest and quickest. Not that I was racing I just didn’t I could keep up and/or keep on going.
Prepped myself some food for continuing the next day and got to sleep early which was a first in some time.
I’ve started alone after a breakfast but caught up again with Maria soon. The sunset was partly hidden behind clouds but before the stars and moon made up for it.
We arrived in Arzua around 1pm where Jeremy caught us as well. This is where the Camino Norte merges into the Camino Francaise along with one alternative of the Primitivo.
We sat down for a churros con chocolate and watched the pilgrims passing by. There were very noticeably more people and many of them looking rather tourists than anything else. The feeling of the Camino changed quite drastically: many tourists with their rucksacks sent with couriers and people walking casually with day-packs not being really friendly or considerate. Even the fairly new camino signs all vandalised. Kinda made me feel bad .. Also the amount of cafés, restaurants and albergues was just overwhelming. Not one albergue per 20k but 20 in one town.
Fortunately most part of the way was still leading through forest. Although we planned to say goodbye in Arzua we went on together searching for a place for lunch and a last drink. However by the time we found one and had a small beer we realised that we only 6k from the supposed end of the next etap, O Pedrouzo. So maybe because of the beer or just feeling the pull of Santiago we decided to do it. It meant more than 40k to which none of us prepared for today.
We found a nice looking hostel and went for a last dinner as next day I was to go to Santiago but Maria and Jeremy to stay behind which this time really meant parting.
After all it was a day with 43+k, record breaking step count and saying goodbye to people whom I spent a considerable amount of time in the past month sharing experiences and having chats about topics that I would have never expected.
Also, I just walked 500 miles and I will walk a 100 more 🙂
After the breakfast provided – and being thankful for a bedbug-less night we started together with Maria again preparing for an easy day: only 25k and the planned albergue opening at only 4:30pm.
Although this was the second day when we were expecting rain we were lucky enough that the rain stopped while we were still eating. We had a little bit of rain later on in the morning but the clouds started to disappear and the weather turned nice.
We mainly walked in forest or next to fields on dirt roads with trees alongside. Some parts were actually quite wild with huge flat rocks forming the road.
The highest part of the Camino was a fairly disappointing place: a little bump on a national road with not much view. It’s a bit more than 700m.
We arrived to Sobrado after 26k in a little bit less than 7 hours. Still had to wait for anything to open as until 4:30pm not only the albergue was closed because of the siesta but as usual, everything else as well.
The albergue was monastery. The rooms were converted barns but that didn’t show. I went to the evening prayers which of course was in Spanish but the singing was kinda nice anyway. Also I later learned that they prayed for the victims of the forest fires.
Afterwards I went to check out the church. It was probably the most beautiful as well as scary church I’ve ever seen: there was nothing but some benches inside, no altar, no organ, just the simply decorated walls and some tombs. All this in the weak light of the already set sun peeking through the windows. Beautiful and somewhat terrifying.
I had some instant soup to warm myself up and some fumed cheese from the region with fresh bread. As simple as it was it felt good.
As there was rain in the forecast I wanted to start early – the earlier I arrive the longer everything have to dry, including me. After all I left around 7 which meant pitch black with still smoke in the air from the forest fires blown by the wind. Not a pleasant start.
There was a hint of rain in the morning however the all day showers forecast never came. Actually I was really glad about that.
I managed to have such a good rhythm that I passed a fork where the suggested way diverged from the official. I think I missed some kind of fountain or spring but at least my way got slightly shorter.
I first took a rest after 15k and 2:30 mins. Given that for the first hour I barely saw the path making orientation difficult I was quite happy about my progress. It was here where I realised that I’m on a different way than I’ve planned and so the first bigger town – the suggested end for the day, Baamonde – was less than an hour away. So I cut my break short and went on to have a tea there, get more Compede from the pharmacy and have a second breakfast. I was hoping to get a stamp from the albergue but they would not do it as it was before opening time. Despite that the maintainer was standing right there …
So I went on, picked up some bread just before Miraz where the albergue run by the Confraternity of Saint James from the UK. I got there by 2pm after 35k.
The bedbug paranoia and awareness was just one of the reasons I liked the place from the start. It also had a fireplace that set a cosy atmosphere.
Today I’ve also crossed the 100 mark – actually by quite a bit: Miraz is at 85 🙂