fredag den 23. august 2013

Pedrouzo/Arca to Santiago, 22.08 (&23.09)

Once again we took off early this got up at 04.45 and started walking around 5.15. We were passing through some very dark forest and I was once again reminded that a head torch is essential to bring.

We took off so early thinking getting to Santiago early it wouldn't be so crowded at the pilgrim's office where the Compostela (proof that you walked) is issued. There was a rumour going around that people had recently waited six hours to get their Compostela! I wasn't even certain I would get one in the first place since I don't do it for religious reasons. And if the waiting time will be so long there is no way I am going to get it!

Along the way Siobhan and I met an American by the name if Connor. He was walking the Camino as part of his study so he would actually be getting credits for it. Pretty cool I thought.

Once again we were fairly fast and it seemed as if my feet walked faster and faster the closer we got to Santiago.

But after around four hours this sign emerged:


From that sign we only had around 2,5 kms to the Cathedral. I almost had to tell my feet not to run. The walk into Santiago was boring and it didn't help that the weather was grey cold and dull.

But then! There it was:

We could spot the cathedral. :-)

Two feet on the Camino and close to the end of it!

Norbert, Phil and Carlo were in front of us and in fact Carlo and Phil had already reached Santiago the night before. Norbert was waiting for us just before the cathedral so we could arrive together.

Norbert and Siobhan hugging.

And then we were there!!

It was a big moment and I was happy and proud. We met several people on the  square who we hugged and congratulated and then we went to get the Compostela.

The line wasn't so bad and I think it took me around 40 mins obtaining it.

My Latin name is Annam apparently!

While we waited in line Phil and Carlo showed up and when we were done we went to have coffee and tarte de Santiago which is a lovely almond based cake. 

At noon most people went to mass but I went shopping as I was dying to wear something else besides Lycra. I also made a quick stop to the hairdresser to get my hair dyed and straightened.

We met up at seven and people were surprised to see me and some didn't even recognise me! Haha. I just had my hair down, put on a dress and some mascara. Guess it is clear to say I am not a natural beauty. ;-)

And then we went out to drink! Our group was rather small though as fine people had to walk to Finisterre the day after and some had an early flight. Siobhan, Phil, Carlo and Norbert were there and since I had spent most time with them I didn't really need a bigger crowd. 

It was a good night but also sad as I had to say goodbye to Phil who had an early bus to Santander and Carlo who had an early bus to Paris.

My bus to San Sebastián is at 18.00 so I had time to wander around and say goodbye to Siobhan and Sue who are staying for an extra few days.

I got done better pictures of the cathedral since the sun was out today.

And I bought a naughty cheese:

I am not really liking Santiago too much. It is very crowded and extremely commercial. There isn't that Camino thing you cannot buy.

Now I am sitting in the bus waiting for next part of my vacation to begin and feeling a little sad because I miss some of the people that although I just met them has made an impact on my life.

onsdag den 21. august 2013

Ribadiso to Pedrouzo/Arca, 21.08

The albergue we stayed in last night was lovely but freezing cold during the night. Unfortunately I have been cold several times during the night (lesson learned for me: a silk liner is not enough so if I am to do it again I will bring a summer sleeping bag) but nothing like last night. I put on all my clothes but still couldn't get warm. Unfortunately that meant my dear friend "lower back pain" return. I only felt it a bit in the morning and luckily didn't feel it at all when I put on my backpack. 

Besides the cold I was surrounded by bad snorers and my ear plugs couldn't keep the noise out. To make a long story short I hardly slept last night but for done reason it still wasn't hard getting up at 4.45 (!!!!) this morning.

We wanted to be on the road early so we were certain we would get a bed in Pedrouzo. It is around 18 kms from Santiago thus making it a popular last stop.

Siobhan and I were flying today and we did 14 kms in 2 hours and 45 mins. Eventually we were by the albergue around 11 o'clock and got in line to get a bed. The albergue has 120 beds so we had no troubles getting a bed even though we weren't the first one to get there.

Bags in line once again.

Surprisingly there weren't many bars along the way. I kind of expected things to get more commercial the closer we get to Santiago but apparently not.

We did walk past a man that sold all kinds of junk basically in the middle of nowhere.

Siobhan not looking too pleased with the place.

Once I reached the albergue and removed my back it came back big time though. I am now drugged up on paracetamol and voltaren and will make it to Santiago tomorrow even if I have to crawl! I will deal with back afterwards.

I asked for a lower bed once I got to registration and the lady was so nice to give me this bed: 

A real bed! :-) (please ignore the mess) It is going to be my last night in an albergue and even though it wasn't as bad as expected I don't think I would sleep in albergues again if I were to come back. I would probably mix it with hotels/B&Bs along the way. It is a cheap way of travelling but obviously the comfort isn't the best. And people are very inconsiderate so you don't get much sleep. I don't even know how many times  I have been thinking "why am I in this cold crappy place when I can actually afford a hotel?" during the night. It is perfect for the camaraderie though since you get to talk to and hang out with people at the albergue.

I didn't take many pictures today so I don't have much to show. In the beginning we walked uphill quite a lot. The guide books have claimed that the last few days the course has been flat but they cannot fool a flatlander such as my self. I recognise flat when I see it and the course has hardly been flat! 

The last part of the stage was very much downhill and as far as I can understand it will more or less be like that until Santiago. Which is only 18 kms away. 18. I can almost smell the cathedral!

That means do far I have done more than 300 kms in 11 days. Crazy. Unfortunately I have been lost a few times so the correct number I don't have.

Speaking of being lost here are some of the examples of what we are looking for in order to go the right way. Most times they are obvious but sometimes you really have to look for them. I especially find it hard to follow the road in big cities where the signs mix in with everyday life. But in general it is easy to find the tight Way especially if you are not too caught up in your thoughts.

Arrow and shell in Leon.

In Castilla Y Leon they always signed cities/towns/villages with informative signs such as this one. It has a map of thr place and says where the find bars and albergues and sometimes how far to the next place.

Sign next to colourful house.

In Galicia the signs look like this. It says how far to Santiago and is often placed every half kilometer. Very nice.

I have almost reached the end and I am not quite sure how to feel about it. It has been a great experience but I am looking forward to reaching Santiago now. Several people have mentioned I should carry on the 90 kms to Finisterre ("the end of the world" as it means) which is reached in 3 days. I am definitely not doing that and I feel that I am getting ready for the next part of my vacation which will be relaxation in San Sebastián and other places.

I haven't been think as much as I would have which is a surprise to me. I am guessing that it will happen once I get away from the Camino and I start processing all my inputs. I have been thinking some things already but for now I will keep it to myself. Uuuh, a cliffhanger. ;-)

Thanks for reading. :-)

tirsdag den 20. august 2013

Palas de Rei to Ribadiso, 20.08

Today I got up earlier than usual. Not really because I needed extra time to walk longer than usually but because I definitely feel the "bed race" going on. People start very early so they increase their chance of getting a bed and as much as I hate playing that game I really like to sleep in a bed.

The others stayed further away from me so I started walking on my own at 5.30. Getting out of town was easy as the town light made it easy for me to see the yellow arrows this finding my way. It was a very different story once I was out of town and I had to walk downhill in a forest without the stars lighting the road just a little. I cursed at myself for not bringing a head torch and used my IPhone to light up the way. It isn't that efficient but was better than nothing.

At a point I think I missed an arrow because it seemed like I went in circles but I wasn't too upset since I was quickly back on track. After around 40 minutes if walking I could hear Siobhan yell Anita and there right behind me were Norbert, Phil, Carlo and obviously Siobhan. -With head torches. :-)

The moon was almost full and was extremely beautiful and almost orange. I have never seen that before. I tried to capture it but without any luck.

The more I walk the less pictures I seem to take. I still very much enjoy the scenery but I guess I am not as impressed as I was earlier. 

I had to take this picture though. I believe it is the first time I see Santiago on the regular road signs and it made me excited because that means we are getting very close. :-)

Small town just before Melide.

Phil, Carlo and Siobhan on a bridge going into Melide.

I still absolutely love the morning. So sorry to bore you with another one of those morning light pictures. ;-)

Cute village (yet another one!) I passed I the way.

Hmm, it looked better in real life.

Melide is known for having the best pulpo in Spain so even though it was 9.30 Carlo wanted to have Pulpo (and then I will try not to mention he had had breakfast twice already at this point! Not fair he is so skinny really! ;-)) so he and Phil waited at the pulpo place until it opened at 10.00. By then the place was packed so apparently pulpo for breakfast is not that uncommon. Or maybe pilgrims just aren't too sane. Haha.

I has killer legs today and felt like I could be running 35 kms nonstop so I was a bit impatient when the others took long brand. Luckily we don't have to walk together so for great parts of the day I walked alone. Not always a good idea and I missed a sign because I was in my own thoughts. I kinda suspected it since the passage was so quiet and then I was stopped by a car and I could gather that the Spanish man tried to tell me I was not on the Camino and I had to go back. Crap! Half an hour later I was finally back in track.

Even though we are not in the mountains anymore it is still very hilly.

Today was a warm and lovely day.

Earlier on we had agreed to stop in Ribadiso which is a small place 40 kms from Santiago. Once I reached that place after around 25 kms a big smile appeared on my face since the place looked lovely.

The albergue is right next to a river.

I arrived at 12.45 and since the albergue opens at 13.00 Ursula once again had to get in line.

Shortly after Siobhan arrived. She had left the boys as they were talking about nudist beaches! When they got here they decided to walk on to the next place but us girls wanted to stay as we knew we would get a bed here and wasn't sure about that in the next place.

Shortly after to other members of the family Susie from the UK and Sue from Australia arrived and decided to stay here even though they had reservations elsewhere. So now the girls are back together again.

The albergue is the public one and is €6. AND absolutely lovely:

We went shovering, did our laundry and went out for food. As a pilgrim you can buy a pilgrim menu for between 8-12 euro that consist of three courses and wine. The quality varies as I have heard and so far I haven't had them much. Instead I have gone to supermarkets and bought cheese, chorizo, ham, nuts, vegetables etc.

Today I had the menu (besides desert) and even took pictures of it. :-)

Ensalada mixta (this one even had tuna and egg in it. Luxury!)

Main course; eggs bacon and fries (?!) It seems like the Spanish people love their fries.

Dinner on the ground. Ups! I got a replacement. Without fries. :-)

Susie, Sue and Siobhan.

We are only 40 kms from Santiago so after two easy days we will get there. It is hard to believe I have almost walked 300 kms in 10 days! 

That is it for now. I will go enjoy the sun and then have a small dinner before calling it a day. 

Thanks for reading. :-)