Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela. Friday October 14, 2016. Day 31. 19.4km

Our accommodation last night not to be recommended! Paper-thin walls and a snoring grizzly bear next door coupled with said grizzly bear also talking at full volume well before 7am, meant we were away by 7.30am. 

The bar that Renee had checked out yesterday for breakfast, that supposedly opened at 7.30 was still in darkness when we arrived. So off we went, probably one of our earliest days, stopping at first available place about 3km down the road. 



There was a definite buzz to the walking crowd today – for this would be the final day of walking our Camino. 

Renee received an email from Scottish Neil;  he is going to be walking out of Santiago to meet us enroute. He caught up with us at the monument – we didn’t stop as both Renee and I have pics here from previous caminos. 

Walked into the catedral de Santiago square just before 12pm.

Then off to the pilgrims office to wait inline for just over an hour to collect our Compostela. 


Then onward to check in at our hotel, have lunch and a celebratory glass or 2 of champagne. 

After lunch I did a reconnaissance walk around the old town to see whether I could find any of our fellow walkers – there was no-one I recognised. Renee had a massage. 

After a chunk of pizza we headed to the cathedral for the pilgrims mass. It was packed to the rafters at least 90 mins before the mass started. 

The swinging of the botufumero was stunning.  We joined Glenn for a few vinos then off to bed to sleep in on our first non-walking day. 

Distance walked: 19.4km

Cumulative distance: 788km – official document list the distance as 775km

Fitbit: 36,938 steps: floors climbed: 138

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San Xulian to Ribadiso. Wednesday October 12, 2016. Day 29. 22.6km

We awoke to the threat of rain today, but were reliably  informed that it would be after 1pm. 🙄🙄

Away just after 8am for the 2nd day running – we were very keen to start in front of the pack today. 


We had not even been walking for an hour when the mist turned to light, then heavier rain and we finally made the decision to don the wet-weather gear. Justified my purchase of rain pants (oversized!! Choice was these ones or a nice larger pair!! 😩)  yesterday in Palas de Rey 



Not so many photos today due to the rain. It was also quite peaceful walking today – the number of people significantly less than yesterday  – and NO SCHOOL KIDS. 


It was a most enjoyable walking day, mostly on back lanes, lined with Autumn leaves. Still lots of ups and downs today too. Passed the 50km marker. 

We arrived here in Ribadiso about 1.30pm and spotted a beautiful new Pension – the pension Ribadiso. We immediately dumped the idea of staying in the albergue that I had made bookings for yesterday. What a great decision!!

There is a bar right across the road which is where we will have dinner. It was also our venue for a couple of beers on arrival 😀😀. Cold was the order of the afternoon, despite a fantastic hot shower. Across to the bar for a nice dinner at 6.30pm then an early night!!

Distance walked: 22.6km

Cumulative distance: 743km

Fitbit: 35,235 steps. Floors climbed: 140

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Ribadiso to Pedrouzo. Thursday October 13, 2016. Day 30. 25.6km


We had a lovely night in Ribadiso. Great dinner and a really early night to bed.  Our walk into Pedrouzo ( and a little past as we missed the sign for our turnoff ) was accompanied by a little rain. 


We walked a lot of the day with Glenn, from Michigan. 

This is our 2nd to last day and it’s a little hard to believe that tomorrow will see us walking into Santiago, probably by lunch time. Most of the friends we’ve made along the way have already arrived, either today or yesterday. It’ll be great to reunite. 


Plan from here on is to spend a couple of days in Santiago, then catch a bus to Muxia and either bus onward to Finisterre or walk it, it being around 30km. It is highly dependant on the weather; varying forecasts show rain on and off over the next few days. 

Our accommodation for tonight is at Pension Lo. They have the strangest arrangements – closing at 5pm, so no dinner and not opening for breakfast. 

We made a trip to the supermarket and picked up supplies for a picnic dinner – the usual ingredients of vino Tinto, bread, cheese, tomatoes, fruit and nuts.  Another early night was in order. 


Renee demonstrating one of the underwear drying methods on the Camino. 


Distance travelled:  25.6km

Cumulative distance: 768.6kms

Fitbit: 40,603 steps:  floors climbed: 162

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Vilacha to San Xulian. Tuesday October 11, 2016. Day 28. 30.9km

Away into thick fog by just after 8am. Had a nice breakie and said goodbye to South African Gordon.

We were in this small village of Villacha a couple of kms outside Portomarin. When we reached Portomarin, hoards of schoolchildren joined the trail. Had a long steep climb out of the town, passing many in our attempt for a little peace. This was not to be – there are seriously so many people walking now that it is insane. 

We are now back to our early days pace, I think in pursuit of some solitude as much as anything else. 

The thick fog persisted until well after 11.30am. This photo was taken at 11am.


The fig eventually lifted around 12pm. We were watched closely indeed by this mama cow with her new-born calf. 


We arrived in Palas de Rey in great time – this is the end of a stage, so we expect that many will stop here for the night.  Rain is forecast over the next few days – so I bought a rather large pair of rain pants – looking fairly dashing in them if I may say so 😂😂😂😂. Certainly seeking fingers crossed that they won’t be required but in vain I think. 

After a quick snack, a pharmacy visit for a ibuprofen top up and ATM stop for some more cash we were on our way for the last leg. 

The scenery to our destination was amazing and peaceful!! 


It started sprinkling not far out of Palas de Rey.We quicken our pace and arrived at our destination of San Xulian, before any serious rain. 

 

Distance walked:  30.9km

Cumulative distance: 720.4km

Fitbit: 45,583 steps. Floors climbed: 211 floors

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Sarria to Vilacha. Monday October 10, 2016. Day 27. 20.3km

Away this morning by 8.25am after a yummy breakie of tostada, fried eggs and cafe americano,  into the dense fog that would last for hours. 

While it was cold, around 6*, the humidity was still high that before too long my hair was wet. The fog stayed with us at least until 11am.

The crowds have arrived on the Camino.  They are as advertised – loud, numerous and wearing clean shoes and sparkly clothes. The Camino spirit has now largely disappeared.  😩😩
The scenery was again absolutely outstanding – green, green fields and  dry stone walls along the back roads. 

We passed out of Lugo and into Galicia as we left Sarria. The new stone markers are very prolific. We are now less than 100km to Santiago. 


We have a twin room in one of the albergues that I stayed in last year – Casa Bandaros. We arrived here at 12.45, so early that we couldn’t even check in. Today was one of our very short days at just over 20 km. 


We adjourned to a bar just a little further on in the village and had some wonderful lentil and vegetable soup for lunch. 



Had our laundry done by the hospitalero, Gordon, while we sat in the sun for the afternoon, enjoying a nice bottle of vino Tinto. 

Our Scottish mate Neil has once again felt the need to get some serious miles under his belt. He emailed Renee this evening – he’s in Palas  de Rey – and has done an amazing 47km today. 

We were 2 of 10 people in this super little albergue tonight. Dinner was magnificent – first course padrone – mild chillies deep fried and sprinkled with sea salt. Delicious!! The spaghetti bolognaise – also delicious and after ice cream out came the liquors. We had a great evening. Highly recommended albergue. 


Distance travelled: 20.3km

Cumulative distance: 689.5km

Fitbit: 32,784 steps. Floors climbed: 149 floors

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Bidudo to Sarria. Sunday October 9, 2016. Day 26. 25.1km

Apart from a rooster with  a snooze button, we both slept exceedingly well last night. No road noise, street lights or overpass traffic interrupted our sleep – only, you guessed it – the rooster!!!’

We were up and at breakie by 0800 and being the only guests, were well- looked after by our lovely hostess. 


Thick fog was the order of the day for several hours today.


 

The sunrise today was a glorious mixture of fog and eventual sun rays peeping across the mountains.  It was absolutely beautiful. 

More examples of some fixer-uppers for the serious renovator.


Beautiful scenery all day.





Welcome to Sarria. 


Our accommodation formth night here at Pension Escalinata


Pretty little church here in Sarria. 



Dinner was with Neil and another guy from US – Glen, at a great little Italian restaurant – we had superb pizza and vino. 

Distance walked: 25.1km

Cumulative distance: 669.2km

Fitbit: 41,597 steps: floors climbed : 123 floors.

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Vega de Valcarce to Bidudo. Saturday October 8, 2016. Day 25. 26.8km

Set off around 8.40 this morning – translating I want to pay for last night accommodation was rather difficult. She kept trying to give me the room key back – the one that I had just given her before she served us breakfast. 

Anyway eventually we set off, but as it turned out, Neil had left Vega de Valcarce probably minutes before we did. 


This was another day of difficult climbing and then of course, descents. The views were fantastic – very hard for the camera to do them justice. 


The weather was perfect.  Once we reached O’Cebreiro we decided to walk on through. It’s a very popular place, bars were at capacity and tourist coaches everywhere. It was a further steep climb to Alto do Poio , where we had lunch. Absolutely delicious pizza and empanadas washed down with a couple of bottles of cervezo sin alcohol. (Beer, no alcohol). It is surprisingly, very refreshing and quite tasty. 

There were 3 massive dogs roaming around – one came across as I was finishing my pizza and layed his head right next to my plate. Awwww



We passed into the Region of Galicia, region Lugo today. The rolling hills are fantastically green – only achieved by rain. Hopefully not while I’m walking though. So far so good. 


These Camino markers are new since last year – they are spaced very closely!! This one tells us that Santiago is only 160km away. The end is surely in sight. 

We stopped for the night at a Pensione that is well past its use-by date. But our hostess was delighful – she couldn’t do enough for us. 


Distance travelled: 26.8km

Cumulative distance: 644.1km

Fitbit: 41,695km. Floors climbed: 320 

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Cacabelos to Vega de Valcarce.  Friday October 7, 2016. Day 24. 26.7km

Our accommodation last night included a buffet breakie this morning. Our starts are getting noticeably later in the morning now that sunrise is almost 8.30. Passing overall the bridge just past our hotel, we passed this tractor complete with ploughing equipment, heading off for his days work.


Neil caught up with us this morning before we had even left Cacabelos. On our way out, we ran into the hotel owner from last night. He kissed us both and told us it was wonderful having us stay at his hotel, and he hoped that we had enjoyed it. 


It is now grape harvesting season – hillsides of grapevines bursting with glorious fat purple grapes.

Today was a day of brilliant sights and gorgous sunny weather. A lot of the day was alongside secondary roads, not often travelled, made very pleasant by the audible river on our other side. 


We passed this guy spray painting trees on the hill – reason not at all obvious?


Neil stopped for the day a few kms short of us, in Trabadelo- he had 5km up on us at the start of the day. We had a further 6.9km to our reservation at a Casa Rurale in Vega de Valcarce.  The room was quaint, small but the beds were nice and soft with beautiful linen. The things that make us happy 😊😊

 

Went for late afternoon drinks and dinner down the road. Met up with a gang of guys from the US also staying at the same place and enjoyed an evening of swapping stories with them. 



More glorious old broken-down buildings today. 

Our challenge for tomorrow, is where are we going to stay. It appears that accommodation options for the stretch past O’Cebreiro is quite limited – so do we have a very short day or a very long day????


Distance travelled: 26.7km

Cumulative distance:  617.3km

Fitbit: 40,654 steps:  floors climbed: 117

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El Acebo to Cacabelos. Thursday October 6, 2016. Day 23. 26.6km

We shared the top floor (and bathroom) of a very creaky old building last night. So we were awake unusually early and away well before 8am looking for some breakfast. Right on the outskirts of town we discovered a brand new albergue who served a full breakfast for only 4 €. Bargain!!

Today was to be a day of downhill walking – and it was absolutely magnificent scenery all day. 


We passed through many small, apparently deserted villages, with questionable building standards and adherence to building codes. 


  
We descended from about 1000m to about 500 m and into the Knights Templar town of Pontferrada for lunch. 


It was our intention to walk to the town of  Camponaraya, but the walk from Pontferrada to Camponaraya was along a heavily-trafficked local road and was not the slightest bit pleasant. Once we arrived, it quickly became obvious that we were not going to find accommodation that we were happy with. 

Cheap jamón (hams) at the supermercado (supermarket)


Renee and I decided we would grab a very convenient cab to the next village, about 5 km away.  My foot was starting to hurt and Renees knee was loudly objecting to any further walking. Neil decided it was against his Camino rules to cab forward, so he stayed in this village, and we made arrangements to catch up again in the the morning. 


The taxi driver took us to a highly recommended hotel – and it was lovely. We met up with several of our Camino friends when we went for drinks and food. Bar owner Santiago, was the ultimate host. Great food wine and company was the order of the night. 


On our way back to the hotel, the taxi driver who drove us here, stopped and asked if we were happy with his recommendation. 😂😂😂 certainly, we were!!


This is a new Camino marker that has appeared over the last day or so. 
Distance walked:  26.6k

Cumulative distance: 590.6km

Fitbit: 46,718 steps: floors climbed:  47 – that doesn’t take into account going down!!!

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Santa Cataluna de Somoza – El Acebo. Wednesday 5 October 2016. Day 22. 28.3km

Walked out of our accommodation at 8am after coffee. Dawn was evident in the east and it was a truly brisk, brisk morning with the temperature dropping just prior to sunrise to about 3*. The gloves made a welcome addition to my gear and justified their addition to the pack.

The temperature continued to drop as we climbed higher, desperately waiting for the sun to burn off the cloud cover.

The climb throughout the day was from about 1000 metres to a higher point of 1510 metres. A hard day made harder by the very steep descent on stony path into our destination of El Acebo.  There were some spectacular walking paths during the course of the day.  But the end of the day, we had descended to 1250m with a lot further to go tomorrow. It’s hard ont he knees. 😩

We passed through a number of interesting old crumbly villages that looked deserted during the the day.

Our journey took us past the Cruz de Ferro, a symbolic 5m high, oak tree stem with an iron cross one top, where one is supposed to leave a stone brought from home, symbolic of ones  troubles and be liberated of these.

It seemed to be much less to us, so we tossed our stones, uttered a prayer and moved on.

The last part of the day was a very very steep descent into El Ace o. Once agai. The path was very difficult, with an Abundamde of loose stones.

We have been reunited with Scottish Neil, our walking buddy from  the first week.  He did move ahead much quicker than us, but had been struck down for a few days with big time foot problems, and we have caught up with him.

Distance travelled : 28.3km

Cumulative distance: 559.4km

Fitbit: 45,189 steps. Floors climbed: 199<<<<
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