My Camino de Santiago

Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 02:36 AM
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Cehegin.. I really enjoyed reading your Camino post as I am sure many others will, too!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 03:44 PM
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Hola Cehegin, my hat is off to you! I recognized that little bridge of rocks in one of your pictures! You have a great family that supported you in your quest. I also miss the Camino, especially when I see the pictures.

Ok, next installment:

Day 6- Melide to Arzúa- About 15 kms

Another short day, loved those!

After “enjoying” our breakfast at Pazo de Sedor , as described above, we called Jesús the taxi driver so he could pick us and take us to Melide. After buying some water at a grocery store on the main street in the old town we started walking, and for some reason became disoriented and started going the wrong way. A store owner came running out to alert us and tell us what way we should go. After the nasty way our morning had started, this simple gesture reinstated my faith on the basic goodness of most people.

This day is a bit of a blur. Do recall that our café con leche stop was at Boente, at what was probably the cleanest/ most immaculate bar we stopped at on the Camino. My husband defines that as the men’s bathroom having paper towels for drying your hands! In front of it was the church of Santiago which we visited and also got a stamp from. The priest there was the nicest we encountered in any of the churches where we stopped. He insisted in doing a prayer with us and giving us his blessing, which we appreciated.

We arrived in Arzúa about 2:00 and had lunch in a café at the town square, the name was Los Casqueiros. Nothing memorable, but satisfying. There we sampled some Arzúa cheese which was very good. After lunch we visited the parish church located just off the square and got our stamp. After a quick stop at an internet café, we called Jesus to take us back to the Pazo, about 10 minutes. It’s difficult to fathom that what had taken us about 4-5 hrs to walk was just a few minutes away by car!

Given the bad experience the night before, we decided we wouldn’t have dinner at the Pazo again, so asked Jesus to pick us at 8:00 to go back to Melide for more pulpo! Interesting that when we came down about 7:30 to have some drinks before going to Melide, the person serving drinks was the horrid woman. And this time she had a lovely smile on her face, probably because the owner of the pazo was now back and looking in on her. Either that or she suffers from split personality!

That night we asked Jesus to take us back to Pulperia Ezequiel, which was very lively and almost filled to capacity. We had a really fun time and spent some time talking with a couple pilgrims sitting at our table, an American young woman and an Italian young man. About 10:30 we called Jesus to drive us back to the Pazo for the night.
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Old Aug 6th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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Day 7- Arzúa to Rúa- About 17 kms (this distance is according to John Brierley’s book but I think it was a bit longer)

We decided not to repeat the breakfast experience at the Pazo and instead have breakfast in Arzúa. So we asked Jesus to pick us at 8 AM to take us to Arzúa, to where we had left off the prior day. It was a grey day, looked like it could rain at any time. At 8:15 I started thinking Jesus had forgotten and called him. He had overslept but in less than 15 minutes he was there. He left us at the main square and we said our goodbyes. He had been a great find, and his fares to/from the main towns to the pazo very reasonable. We spotted a cute café on the corner (Confiteria La Esquina) and had a light breakfast of café con leche and a delicious pastry.

Today we walked through different woodlands; some looked almost like rain forests, with ferns and a tropical feel to it. Others had huge eucalyptus trees. The terrain was pretty level , with no steep inclines or declines.

I don’t remember stopping for café con leche that day. Lunch time found us at O Emplame, where we had lunch at bar/restaurant O Ceadoiro. Lunch portions at this restaurant were huge. I was always amazed at the great value the pilgrim’s menu usually offered. The croquetas in this place were very yummy.

Not long after lunch, a little less than 3 kms, we arrived at A Rúa. The owner of our next hotel, O Muiño de Pena, suggested we stopped at the Information office at A Rúa and call him. We did and about 15 minutes later Javier, the inn’s owner, was there to pick us up (it was less than 10 minutes to the inn). The setting of the hotel is lovely. It’s housed in a very old water mill, in a very tranquil setting. Our rooms (doubles were 75 Euros, room only) faced the back and had lovely views of the water. Dinner that night at the Inn was mainly cooked (and served) by Javier and it was one of the best meals we had during our trip (3 course dinner, including wine and water, was 25 Euros PP. Well worth it). Because Javier wears so many hats in the inn, service was a bit, but understandably, haphazard. However, this didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the evening.

Rooms don’t have good sound insulation and we were able to hear the conversations of the ladies staying in the room next to ours. But eventually they settled for the night and all was good until…. As I was falling asleep I heard this blood curling scream coming from the ladies’ bedroom. Before I could even react and turn the light on, another one screamed and said something like OMG!! Next thing I know, I hear Javier’s voice in their room, calming them. The only thing I could think of is that they had seen a mouse or some other animal (not a very comforting thought)! I thought of getting dressed and going out to find out what the ruckus was about, but I was just too tired to do that. Eventually, they calmed down and went back to sleep. The whole episode had startled me so much that my heart wouldn’t stop beating a mile a minute. I thought I would never fall asleep!
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Old Aug 7th, 2012, 08:54 PM
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Hi, cruiseluv,
I am really enjoying your posts. I know the bar you are talking about in Boente, it is actually part of the new Albergue Boente. I stayed there a few days before you passed through, and it's a brand new operation, run by two young guys. They are energetic, flexible, and have high standards of hygiene (not always the case in private albergues). They provide a pretty decent dinner (and their dinner kitchen opens at 7 and CLOSES at 8:30, unheard of in Spain, in fact several hours before the kitchen normally opens for dinner/cena), and they truly enjoy their work. I really wish these guys well, because they are giving it their all.

Your place in/near Arca/A Rua (I'm not sure of the names) looks so lovely on the web -- but your description of the screams gives me pause!) In any event, I'm looking forward to the final installment! Ultreia et suseia!
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Old Aug 8th, 2012, 01:03 AM
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This is a great report!
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Old Aug 8th, 2012, 11:31 PM
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Loving this!
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Old Aug 9th, 2012, 11:29 AM
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I'm really enjoying your report. I am considering a camino sometime in the next couple of years. Your report makes it even more enticing!
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Old Aug 10th, 2012, 05:31 PM
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Laurie,One of them was probably the guy behind the bar . He was continuously cleaning, picking up tables, etc. I saw a washer on the way to the bathroom, which was immaculate. I wouldn't mind staying in that kind of place.

Regarding the O Muiño inn(www.omuinodepena.com),as you'll see below, the scream was not as I feared, due to a mouse sighting!

Day 8- Rúa to Santiago de Compostela- About 21 kms

Today is the day! It was so exciting to wake up knowing that God willing we would walk into my beloved Santiago today.

I would have liked to have an earlier start but Javier the innkeeper didn’t offer breakfast earlier than 8 so that’s what we did. He asked us if we had been awakened by the screams the night before (duh!) and apologized for it. Apparently one of the ladies had a nightmare and woke up not recognizing where she was. Once she started screaming, her companion followed suit. Me thinks she had a bit much of vino the night before. Well, I was glad to hear it wasn’t a mouse or anything like that.

After a very simple breakfast, Javier drove us to the same point in Rúa where he had picked us the day before. The weather that day was promising at the beginning and for the first part of the day there weren’t any steep climbs or difficult terrain. That morning we stopped for café con leche at hotel restaurante Amenal.

We then continued our walk, eventually going by Lavacolla, where the airport is. I must have been deep in thought when we walked by it because I never saw it! (I later asked my husband about it and he said he doesn’t know how I could have missed it!). Shortly afterwards we started having periods of rain/ drizzle which forced us to stop and put on our rain ponchos as we started the climb towards Monte de Gozo. By the time we reached San Marcos, about 1 km away from Monte de Gozo, it was raining really hard. I saw a restaurant, on the highway just off the camino, and suggested we go there (Raxeria/Pulperia San Marcos). This was a bit fancier restaurant that we were used to, with tables set formally and, for the most part, men in business suits! I felt all eyes on us, our wet ponchos dripping water on the bar floor. I was about to tell my husband that we better leave before they asked us, when I noticed that on the back they had a glass enclosed terrace. So, we quickly made our way there, this was more like it! We had a really nice lunch. They claimed pulpo was their specialty, so my son asked for it and I tried it. Not as good as in Melide, but good enough.

By the time we finished lunch and rejoined the Camino the rain had subsided, but it looked like it could start again any moment. We quickly climbed to Monte de Gozo from where we could first view the sprawling city of Santiago at our feet. But where were the spires of the Cathedral that I or somebody should be able to spot?? Never saw them! Never mind, excitement was building because we knew we were so close. We continued our walk, now going down , and soon saw a sign high on a post that announced “Catedral 4,7 KM” and the ubiquitous yellow arrow above. From here on you’re pretty much on asphalt and not particularly attractive as you make your way into the city. You go over a bridge to cross over AP-9 highway (weird, what am I doing here!?) and then continue walking into Santiago.

And just as we’re starting to approach the old town, the skies opened and rain started to pour down. Oh, no!, I said to myself. It was not supposed to be like this! What about the pictures when we reach the Cathedral?? But we kept slogging, now wearing once more our hideous ponchos and getting soaked. But as we approached the Plaza de la Inmaculada and the Monastery of San Martin Pinario, the rain turned to drizzle, and a sliver of blue sky started to peek through the dark clouds. Could I hope?? As we approached the tunnel /arch where usually musicians set shop, I heard one of them playing those lovely bagpipes. And at this point the sky cleared, turned blue ,and the sun came out! It was so overwhelming. We took our ponchos off and stuffed them in our backpacks, walked quickly under the arch thanking the musician with some euros, and came out on the other side, on the glorious Plaza del Obradoiro and the majestic Cathedral. I was by now close to tears, it was very emotional for me, and of course we all hugged to celebrate! I have been several times to Santiago so I knew exactly what the Cathedral and surroundings look like, but it was almost as if I was seeing it for the first time.

We took the obligatory pictures, rested for a while on the square, enjoying the sun and the view of the Cathedral. We then went to the Pilgrims’ office around the corner on Rua do Villar for our Compostela. There was a short line that moved quickly and we finally got it. I was surprised to see that our names where written in Latin, I didn’t know they did it that way. Afterwards we went to the Cathedral and paid our respects to the Saint by visiting the crypt where his remains are kept.

We were tired, dusty and wet, so decided to head to our hotel and clean up rather that remain in the Cathedral. For our stay we had selected the Hotel Altair, owned by the same family which also owns the very popular Costa Vella.

More later…
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Old Aug 12th, 2012, 09:14 PM
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what an emotional arrival!
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 07:18 AM
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Hate to see this come to an end, you did a great job with this report. What a perfect arrival into Obradoiro. No matter what the weather, walking into that square always hits you hard. How great to have arrived with your family.

Did you see the botafumeiro in action?
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 08:01 AM
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I have enjoyed every word of your trip report, as well as the encouraging commentaries of other readers. Probably more than any other item I've read in the years I've visited the site. A true inspiration. I often think of doing the Camino, and talk myself out of it, but your writing inspires me to make it a priority in the very near future. I will turn 65 this year, but feel 55, better do it soon.
I see that this is not a trip for my spouse, but finding the right travel companions would make this a trip of a lifetime.
Thank you to all who posted here
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 08:02 AM
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I've had a fascination with the Camino de Santiago for about 10 years but have not done anything to get in shape to walk even part of it. Perhaps this thread (along with my others I've read and the many books I've read) will prod me. I think if I had someone to do this with I would make the effort to train for the Camino.

Barb - are you serious about October, 2013? If so then count me in.

lincasanova - I'd need a great big prodding to get going, so prod away!

I'm reading "I'm Off Then" - yet another book about the Camino. I have a postcard of the way markers on my fridge (I ordered 20 of them a few years ago!).

I'm inspired!
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 08:31 AM
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I'll start prodding soon. once i get my plantar facilitis or whatever it is called under control i would love to do PART of this again.

unless you cannot walk, there is no reason you cannot do this at your own pace, and the distance you feel like. you need not do 100's of kms.. just enjoy part of this walk along this historical trail at the level you feel like attempting it.

i'll be happy to go with the "slower" group and stay at nice rural places along the way.
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 08:40 AM
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lincasanova - definitely count me in. I'm for the leisurely walk with lots of theraputic wine at the end of each day!!

One thing I've been thinking about is doing the Portuguese route, based on Laurie's wonderful trip report about it. But I'm up for any route. I can't get it together to do this on my own although I do travel solo.
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 09:16 AM
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adrienne -- Yes, I am definitely going Oct/13. My DIL is going with me too. We are both very excited about this journey. We plan on staying in small hostels (hotels) in each town, probably starting at Sarria. She only has a week to do it (DS has very kindly volunteered to stay home with kids), so unfortunately we will only be able to walk the last 100km. So come along!! It's going to be a trip of a lifetime.
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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cruiseluv this was a great report. It has inspired many of us. I think I would prefer to stay in small hotels inside town. Did you enjoy being outside of town at night? I just thought it might be more fun to be able to walk around before and after dinner. How far in advance do you think we would have to book our hotels? Again, thanks for this wonderful report.
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 10:33 AM
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Barb - let's email about this. My email address is in my profile.

I'm excited!!
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 12:16 PM
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Thank you for following along! I'm so gratified that what I wrote might give the necessary push to some of you sitting on the proverbial fence. I could kick myself for not keeping a journal , or at least notes as I had planned to do. I had to keep going back to the pictures to help me remember where we had stopped or what the terrain was on a given day.

I would love to join any group that might form. I would probably prefer to do a different segment or a different Camino if possible but I'm amenable to repeating this fantastic experience. For me it would be key to go with like minded people, I don't think I would like to do it by myself (although I walked by myself for what seemed to be hours at a time since the rest of my family walks much faster!). It's fun to compare notes and have people with whom to share it, even if its only during the breaks or at dinner time.

Barb, thanks for that question. If I do this exact segment again I would stay in hotels in town to the extent possible. I think you're correct, you lose something by not being in whatever city/ town at night. Some of the spontaneity is gone. Maybe just one night in a casa rural , to enjoy being in the countryside.

Laurie, yes, saw the botafumeiro swing twice! Actually I had seen it in a prior visit, but I could never get bored of watching the show!

Adrienne, I also started with the fascination and it took me close to 10 yrs to put my plan in action. So, go for it! Its a great incentive to get in shape by walking.

Lin, sorry you're dealing with that. Get well soon.

I'll come back later to give some comments about what we did in Santiago.

This is a link to some of the pictures which I posted on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...3&l=ef3b1881e4

¡Buen Camino!
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 12:22 PM
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Barb, regarding timing to books hotels... I started booking hotels in early January, once I knew my dates. Maybe October is not as busy, but since I was going in prime season I didn't want to run the risk of not getting my desired accommodation. Except for the hotel in O'Cebreiro I didn't have to prepay, just give a CC for guarantee; and for the most part I could cancel up to a couple of weeks before the date.
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 01:19 PM
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Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. Wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing. I am now penciling in a May/June 2014 camino on my calendar.
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