A bit MORE of the Camino de Santiago
If you have read my first experience here
then you will not be surpirsed that I was excited to jump on board another Fodorite’s Portugues Camino route this past July. Cruiseluv opened an invitation to join her and her friends on their quest, so I did. But being the wimp I am, the entire portion from Tui to Santiago did not really appeal to me, not only because of the distance, but because I was reluctant to leave my husband for so long in the probable case he did not accompany me.
So I decided to do just the last four days with them.
Once I had decided to go, I quickly secured cheap Ryanair flights from Valencia to Santiago for 80E round trip, alter making cancellable reservations at cruiseluv’s excellent chosen accommodations.
I flew early one morning, arriving in Santiago around 8 a.m. I took the airport bus to the bus station and hopped on the next bus to Noia to do some coastal strolling.
The tide was out, so not as picturesque as with water, but the lovely historical buildings were well worth the excursión. I had a pleasant breakfast and alter a couple hours I took another bus back to Santiago and then another bus from the same station to MY starting point of this hike, Caldas de Rei. The bus information booth had given me the schedule for Caldas so I made sure I was not going to be waiting around too long between buses. However, that said, it is a GREAT place to socialize. 90% of the passengers waiting are Camino newbies from all over the world, wondering which dock their bus will leave from. Then a few old pros and bus station personnel inform them . Lots of pilgrims here catching a bus to the end of the trail at Finisterre more than anywhere else it seemed.
That is a day trip many like to do to put the icing on the final stretch. Some walk.. some ride. Coming this far I am sure they feel.. “ I’ve got to go see the end of the world here”. Many actually burn their shoes or clothes when they arrive there to represent the start of a new phase of Life.
I stayed at this hotel, Hotel Cruceiro, http://www.hotelcruceiro.com for two nights. This first night alone and then next with our small group. This turned out to be a very good choice. There was a supermarket across the street and it was close to most everything. I had a huge lunch menu of the day there and then scoped out the area finding the reccommended restaurant for dinner for the next night and retired early. I even found a sewing shop where the woman kindly and cheaply fixed one of the pulls on my knapsack.
The next morrning I knew cruiseluv and her friends (I had never met any of them) would be leaving Pontevedra for a long 23km walk. My plan was to get up leisurely and meet them (me walking TOWARDS Pontevedra) wherever that might be. As I was leaving town looking for the Camino's shell indicator,
a modern version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Way_of_St._James#mediaviewer/File:Muszla_Jakuba.svg
more than one person tried to stop me to tell me I was going the wrong way!! “Señora.. señora!! “ Santiago was in THAT direction!. I can understand their concern.. but I was able to smile and let them know my plan.
So off I went.. alone.. thinking of how glad I was to have decided to make this journey. Especially alter the following:
Several days before my departure I saw a post from my cousin on Facebook saying that the next day the family and friends were doing a “5 km. memory walk” in honor of their beloved son, who sadly, was killed a few years ago.
Suddenly, I got such a deep inspiration to dedicate MY 50 km. walk to him that this hike became all the more important. I have never done a walk for cancer or “run” for anything.. so this meant a lot to me to be able to dedicate my efforts to his memory.
I found a nice photo of him, put it in a plastic frame in my pocket and documented many of the stops along the way. We had meals together, stopped in front of churches together and basicaly I felt like I was walking with him, my cousin and her family. He slept on my nightstand next to my bed every night. I posted frequently on FB so they could “feel and see ” the beauty and spirituality of doing this walk, mostly by myself, but with him close to my heart and in my thoughts literally.... all day long.
Living here, it would have been so easy just to skip this walk it and to do it some other time. It required very little pre-planning compared to someone who has to arrange international flights, etc. But the fact I could finally meet cruiseluv, after so many years here on Fodors, was a catalyst for thinking it should be a fun experience. And I was right. It was a wonderful experience..
Well.. it was mostly fun and wonderful…. I will get to that point later.
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A bit MORE of the Camino de Santiago