Thanks to Dot for her support and love. She gave me a new beginning and a new lease on life when I was at my most vulnerable and for that I am forever grateful. Love ya sweetie.
Jerry from Northern Ireland, County Down. You couldn’t ask for a better walking partner. Great craic and lots of laughs. Jerry was very generous and helped many Pilgrims, including me. He kept me safe from myself. Thanks bigly.
Sweet Lucy from South Korea. Vibrant and enthusiastic. A real fireball.
Left to right: Florence from Italy, Camille from Balogne who is doing a PhD in Utrecht. Good luck Camille. Alberto from Florence and Jerry. Alberto is one of those characters that makes our world enjoyable. A great guy. And Jerry, always smiling.
Sam from New York City. Good luck to you. Say hi to Kathlene from Vancouver. A great gal. Not shown is James from Bristol. Good luck in Nepal James.
Our landlady in Santiago.
Debra from Tucson and Stella from Zagreb.
Steven from Hong Kong
Helen from Manchester.
And all those other pilgrims on the square who arrive here by the hundreds in Santiago every day.
Our German friends:
Margaret, Claudia, Mathias and Rienard. So much fun.
Mary Anne from Australia.
Angela and Tammy from the Muskoka region of Ontario, Canada
Pedro and Marissa from Argentina, our friends from Brazil, Anne and Robert from North Carolina, and to all the others we met.
And the shadow:
Cheers and may all your Caminos be Bien and blister free.
Did 770 kilometers,800 from St Jean Pied de Port. For those of you with Fit that equates to 880,000 steps 🚶♂️. We had rain for 6 days, heavy rain for one day and torrential rain of biblical proportions for one. On that day we had serious thunder and lightening (Jerry was scared) coupled with hail. We had an early morning with gale force winds and Temps of around 5 C.
We also experienced serious heat and into humidity through the roof. On those days I was dripping in sweat after about an hour of walking 🚶♂️ 😩. And just when we had a beautiful day for walking we were inundated with the 3rd plague of Egypt. Swarms of flies and smidgens. Jerry had a face net, which he wore when it got seriously bad. So did others. I had to swat them. Smidgens were the worst as they flew into your eyes, up your nose and into your ears. Things improved when we arrived in Galicia province. All four provinces that we crossed were unique and had their own charms but Galicia was paradise. Lush and green. Rolling hills with valleys covered by a delicate mist in the early morning daylight hours. God has blessed this land. But, but, there were lots of hills to climb. Hard slogs.
We walked every day , averaging about 25 klicks a day. Because of a lack of sleep I took a half day’s rest in Burgos, rented a hotel room so I could get some sleep because the Albergues were very noisy.
Towns, villages and hamlets were super quaint and very clean. All toilets and washplaces were spotless. You could eat off the streets. The city’s were unbelievable in their architecture and cultural icons. Massive cathedrals with intricate detail in the stonework. Beautiful building facades. Pamplona with it’s Hemingway connection in The Sun Also Rises. Beautiful Burgos, Leon and Santiago. As I have said many times…I love this country. And the Spanish people are warm and very friendly….Hola. But, I must warn you that very few, if any, speak English. Sometimes it is hard to get your point across.
There were many types of pilgrims. Those that were true to the trail and walked the whole thing with their backpacks. The part timers and weekend warriors who partially completed the walk. They were the worst as they took up most of the accommodation by booking in advance. There were the bull shysters who talked the talk but couldn’t walk the walk and the loudmouth braggards who were to be avoided. And they came from all over the world. I could not believe how old many of the pilgrims were. We were definitely in the majority.
One of disappointing aspects of the Camino was the lack of socializing and interaction among the walkers. Nada. Finish the days walk, hit the bed and turn on the Iphone or Ipad. These things are a curse I tell you. And some were just down right rude and unfriendly. we were able to connect with some young and old as I hope my pictures reflect..
To me the worst part of the walk was the terrain underfoot. At times it was dangerous. Many Caminos ended prematurely due to sprains and broken bones and torn ligaments. Nothing in the guide books or training plans will prepare you for the 4 klick downhill trek into Zubiri or the long downhill slog after the Cruz de Faro. Brutal and dangerous. If you are going to do this ensure your training focus is hill climbing.
Finnistere was a huge disappointment.
The huge number of pilgrims on the trail was a downer for me. You were never alone and the walk lacked that sense of isolation or feeling of oneness with God or whatever other belief system you adhere to – or that important sense of being that is integral for the happiness and coexistence with the world around you.
There is a huge amount of hype to this Camino. They try to make it some magical mystery tour or some existential out of body experience. Having said that your reason for doing this is a personal one. For me it boiled down to my love of walking and taking in that which we have been blessed with. In this case the architecture, art,ambience, food, drink , culture, landscapes and people of Spain and the many new friendships I have made. This Camino did that for me. It was the same with my walk in France 5 years ago.
Or as Jerry would say: ” It was a good way to lose weight.”
Indeed, when I finished my walk in France 5 years ago I had a smile on my face. Now, with the end of my Spanish Camino and pilgrimage of 1700 kilometers, I can die a happy man.
Hope you enjoyed the blog as much as I had doing it.
My brothers’ birthday today. He would have been 68.
I forgot to mention our walk from Melide to Sasebo two days ago. It was fine. No problems. And we heard about our illustrious PM’s latest faux pas about honoring a Waffen SS Nazi soldier as a war hero. Yes it made the news over here and he is a laughing stock internationally. Jerry said that that is about as bad as a fart in a space suit!
After 500 miles we walk into a fog bank on our very last day. We cannot see Santiago. Well we have had torrential rain, rain. sleet, hail gale force winds, heat so why not fog to top it all off:
Two klicks from the end.
It is over. We made it. Hard to believe we walked across the top of Spain. I Don,t know which sounds better. 500 miles or 800 kilometers. In any event my personal pilgrimage started 5 years ago in Vezelay France so with ending it here I covered 1700 kilometers. I have the official piece of paper to prove it. The Compestella. How do I feel?
A great feeling to share with other pilgrims for sure:
Juicy Lucy and Hans from South Korea. Lucy was an enthusiastic fireball of a personality. Everyone loved Lucy. And then there is:
Sam from New York City and Kathleen from Vancouver. We think that they are an item now. A Camino romance. And Debra (L) from Tucson and Stella from Zagreb:
There were others, many others9
Cheers Mates and Lassies.
One more Camino blog post tomorrow as a recap and then I no longer have to suffer.
Only 16 klicks today. We were in Salcedo. Hard to get a room because all the part time Pilgrims reserved all the rooms. We think the owner took pity on us because I look disheveled as an old fart. He took pity on us and gave us a room with 50 of our closest friends. Sucks bigly.
We started out in the morning with the requisite hill and then settled out with a relatively flat surface. Terrain is still bad though. We climb 100 paces then stop to catch our breaths. This seems to work. After 8 klicks we stop for coffee and a baguette or the bread that tastes like concrete. Great for your teeth. No wonder they have so many dentists here.
We decided to take it easy and stop to regroup rather then go into Santiago.
Relax, have a few burrs as Jerry would say and then have a splash in the woods, or a piss. We meet Helen from Manchester and have a few burrs with her. Great crack as Jerry would say (conversation). Oh. what a Camino. The part timers really get to us as they book their rooms in advance taking up spaces that the real pilgrims should have. Hundreds of them and that aspect of the Camino makes me mad.
Crowds of pilgrims fron everywhere. No body talks or socializes in the least. They stay in their bunks, sleep or attach themselves to their IPhone or Ipads. Sad.
Galicia is beautiful. Lush and green. Homes are impressive. Very clean and modern. Indeed all of the villages and towns and cities are spotless. The plumbing is impressively clean. No worries here as on would find disgusting in other European places – like France. Some toilets provide a combination of pissoir and bidet. Clean at both ends, but I digress here. Sorry, pilgrims have to suffer so most of us are constipated – plugged up. Oh well.
Me and one of my Pilgrim colleagues. Notice the difference in dress styles.
Jerry, Steven and I on the trail
Steven is from Hong Kong. Great guy who speaks perfect English. We first met Stephen in Zubiri some 5 weeks ago. Wow. Time flies when you are suffering. Pilgrims have to suffer, we cannot have fun and we cannot swear. Shyte!
We have lost so much weight we are a shadow of our former selves.
Hydrangea bushes. Wow.
Soon to be in Santiago and the end of the journey.
32 klicks today in great walking weather. Lots of hills again. The guide books and apps are misleading because the elevation levels do not reveal the real story. When you go from one town to another the elevations at the two places may be the same. You get the idea th you have a flat path or a level walk. In reality you walk across one or two valleys in between those two villages. In Galicia, which is very hilly the orientation of the valleys us north and south. As we are walking east to west we have to cross the valleys, which means going downhill on the one side,cross the valley floor and then climb out if the valley on the other side. In that sense today’s walk was brutal. we crossed 4 valleys over 25 klicks one of which was 3 klicks long yet the elevation at the start was the same at the end. I broke the pilgrims’ third rule and cursed a great deal today. Our only saving grace was that the scenery was awesome: