Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Typical tracks and village roads

So after 280kms we finally reached Santiago where we met several members of the Pilgrims' Forum, attended the English services and visited parts of the old town. Then it was time to begin the long trip home, a story in itself, to follow shortly.........

Typical tracks and roads we have walked along over the past weeks.

May 31st - Sigueiro to Santiago

At one point we thought that we might have to split this final stage in two but our feet recover each day so we decided that we would much rather walk right through as planned. Perseverance and determination win the day.

We left Sigueiro at 8.10, after breakfast, with plenty of water and some food. A cool start again and damping slightly as we walked up the first hill so it was ponchos on, then off but we kept the pack covers on. The tracks today were kinder to our feet again although finally we were walking on tarmac.

There is a good bar just past the back entrance to the San Vicente (it might even be shared with them) so we went for drinks. They served really good coffee here , in some places it has been far too strong for either of us. We saw a peregrino from Meson Novo twice during the day, once here in the bar, but then only one other peregrino until we reached Santiago.

Our socks were slipping so we sat by a field side to eat our croissants and changed our socks completely. We did not intend to get blisters at this stage!! not having had any so far. Passing under the motorway there was a swallows nest similar to the one seen in 2011. We passed the only marker to retain its distance plaque and also the new lavadero (public laundry place) built in 2013.

It was 13.30 when we finally reached the cathedral in Santiago and then the Rúa do Vilar, the queue was out to the street so we skipped the Pilgrim's Office and went to our hotel (booked with our ferry crossing). Lunch, siesta then back up to Rúa do Vilar. The queue was not too long so we joined it and were registered and received our Compostelas as May pilgrims. (A record number we learnt later).

A great sense of relief - we made it; achievement too - we had walked 280kms in all from Ribadeo round the coast and then the camino Inglés; and gratitude - for all the kindess we have met on the way, the prayers of folk supporting us and last (but not least) our family for only expecting occasional contact and believing that 'no news is good news'.

The river and church - leaving Sigueiro

Swallows nest

View towards Santiago

The only marker still showing its distance

New lavadero

First view of the cathedral.

Convento do Carme

old town, Santiago

May 30th - Calle de Poulo to Sigueiro

After breakfast we took the taxi from Ordes back to Calle de Poulo (no-one in sight) and started walking at 8.55. The temperature was good for walking as we set off although it was very warm later. Parts of this stage were hard on our feet again, especially the section with granite chips on the long forest track and the road through the industrial estate.

Before this we noticed a new vending machine selling drinks, useful for those who need it and stopped ourselves in the nearby bus stop to eat our snacks.

Four pilgrims passed us on our way and when we reached Sigueiro there were 3 more. We were booked into the new Hostal Sigueiro and here there were a number of other pilgrims as well as (later) a large number in the old hostal which is managed from the new. After a long siesta we sat on the hostal's terrace overlooking the river before going to look for water and supplies for our final day.

Calle de Poulo


Right: behind the hostal in Sigueiro

Monday, 6 July 2015

May 29th - Ordes

In Ordes we had a good hotel again (the Nogallás) where we had lunch. Sopa then chicken - and for the first time we had a choice between chips or boiled potatoes which was good. Siesta and then we hung our washing out on the balcony facing the plaza, the washing line was finally useful and needed. Below the plaza was a small park with fountains and little play areas which we liked and the church had a font with a scallop shell lid which was interesting. Apart from that we did not walk far as we wanted to save our feet for the final 2 days. Drinks and cakes in the hotel cafe and then supper was in the 'Tunel' on the plaza near the hotel.

View from our window



May 29th - Meson do Vento to Calle de Poulo

Our plan for today was to walk to Calle de Poulo and then go to Ordes for the night. The new signing from O Meson Novo worked well and we followed the road to rejoin the Camino, which was road walking too at first.

A cold drink at the cafe-bar O Porto, the site of the pilgrim sculpture and also a huge dinosaur at the other side of the road. There was a cool breeze, some good track and more level walking with 3 cafe-bars open on this stage. We stopped again for drinks at the bar Novo in Buscas and then at the O Cruceiro in Calle de Poulo (closing day Monday).

The photo of Buscas is typical in many ways of our Camino, we have seen very few people as we actually walk and fewer pilgrims. I had remembered a particular big field but could not remember which stage it was on, today we walked round it - near Calle de Poulo. Our feet still felt bruised easily by the roads so we called a taxi to take us to Ordes rather than road walking for a further 3kms.

San Pedro - Ardemil

Dinosaur - O Porto

Pilgrim - O Porto

A Rúa - Buscas

Shady track

Calle do Poulo bar

'O Cruceiro'

Sunday, 5 July 2015

May 28th - Casa Julia to Meson do Vento

There were at least 10 other pilgrims at 'O Meson Novo' last night, including the lady we had met in Betanzos. After a 7.30 breakfast we were returned to Casa Julia to walk the section back to Meson Novo via Bruma. The others were heading for Sigueiro.

It was 8.20 when we were left at Casa Julia and there was a cool breeze which made it easier walking. Once again we were carrying snacks and nearly 4 litres of water but this time had some left when we arrived. Good, as there is nowhere to top up along this section. Having taken photos and stopped at the old chapel we started the long climb from the bottom of the hill below Casa Julia at 8.39, past the new church of Santo Tome at Vilacoba and farms then forest, reaching the top at 9.29. A steady climb on road and track but there is a very steep scramble up a bank nearly at the top. It would help if there were about 7 or 8 steps cut into it with log facing to prevent slippage. It was fine in the dry but must be awful if wet.

Above Vizoño we sat on the seats briefly for a drink, then continued along the track before stopping again and sitting on a bank in the shade to eat our bread and sardines and a tin of peaches.

There was a mix of tracks and road again today with a lone cruceiro along the track (usually they have been in villages), another stone crossing at a stream and a donkey which was tethered at the roadside, as well as the views across the countryside.

We sat down by the stream at the albergue in Bruma to re-tie our boots and the the hospitalero arrived so we were able to have a sello too. Two Spanish pilgrims were waiting there who said that they had come from Carral having stopped there overnight. They had a different guide to ours which seemed to take a slightly different route in places. Five other pilgrims came and sat nearby waiting to go into the albergue.

We reached 'La Ruta' in Meson do Vento at 13.20 for lunch then had the afternoon at O Meson Novo - siesta, followed by washing which again was pegged very firmly to the line. Shopping in the little supermarket for water and supplies for next day then supper at Meson Novo. After supper our bags were re-packed ready for a good start in the morning. Once again there were several other pilgrims at Meson Novo and others seen heading for the hotel across the road. The route seemed to be fairly busy and we think that the albergue might have been full as 3 pilgrims came up looking for beds, as well as one, collected by Antonio, who was splitting the stage as we had done.

Hay making, Vilacoba

Top of the hill



Looking towards

Meson do Vento

Replacement arrow

Stream crossing

Tethered donkey

Friday, 3 July 2015

May 27th - Betanzos to Casa Julia

Only 6 other pilgrims at breakfast in the Garelos today at 7.30. We set off at 8.10, uphill with no cooling wind. This was to be the hottest day so far and we were carrying extra water, which put our packs overweight for comfort for a time.

We passed the 'pilgrim' on the hilltop, pointing the way and had a mix of road and track during the morning. At Cos we met 3 Spanish peregrinas, who we saw again several times during the day. We reached the new cafe-bar at Presedo (Meson-museo Xente no Camino)at 12.30 and had drinks (having drunk most of our water). Then we had a good menu del día, plus more water and topped up our bottles before carrying on through Leiro and to Casa Julia. The road walking was hot but there was some shaded track and at one point a stream below us, with the yellow arrow on a tree. We reached Casa Julia, which was open, at 15.30.

By then we had drunk more than another litre of our water each and had more drinks in the bar while waiting for Antonio to collect us. Passing the 3 peregrinas, who were heading for Meson Novo, Antonio gave them some bottled water. He was concerned that they had enough water for the next 5kms so went up to the main road and a bar, then took more water back to them before taking us to Meson Novo. Such thoughtfulness is what makes this place so special.

Siesta was followed by more drinks; talking to English speaking and the Spanish pilgrims while our washing dried on the line (without actually blowing away) and then a good supper. We had been so long on the road without speaking English that we were nearly speaking Spanish to one another and in some ways found it easier talking to the Spanish pilgrims than the English speaking ones we met, which felt a little odd. There were 10 other pilgrims at Meson Novo, the most we have seen apart from the big group in Betanzos.


Country road

Woodland track

Entrance to Meson-museo
Xente no Camino

Patio Xente no Camino

Church at Leiro

Track through the trees nearing Casa Julia

May 26th - p.m. Betanzos, O Pasatempo

The O Pasatempo park was further out of town than we realised, over the river then left and past the huge supermarket. The entrance is through a childrens' play area to both the lower level and the covered walkway. We enjoyed a walk round,there are fountains, sculptures and a maze amongst other things. We found the centre of the maze (it does have 'escape' gaps) and then walked along the raised walk to look across to the town and down on the maze. It was a good way to spend a hot afternoon followed by supper in the cafe restaurant at the bridge.

Then it was time to walk back uphill to pack. There was a slight panic as our washing was not back, but it was delivered to our room about 30mins later - relief as we wanted a fairly early start next morning. Breakfast was arranged for 7.30 - and we had everything ready as we planned to leave straight afterwards.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

May 26th - a.m. Betanzos

As there were at least 22 other pilgrims at breakfast we joined the second sitting, then went out sightseeing. This was a rest day!! so we left the pedometer behind.

The main plaza has some old houses and a stone arched walk, the church of San Domingo is here and opposite is the tourist office. (Just down the steps are the 'servicios' and further on down the slope is the Correos)

There are a number of other interesting buildings, including the old bankers' house (Hijos de las Nuñez/Banco de España) near the Concello (sello) and the church of Santiago. The churches of Santiago, Santa Maria and San Fransisco were all open, but none have sellos as far as we could see. The wild boar on top of the church of San Fransisco is the emblem of the Andrade family who were the overlords of this area. Returning to the main plaza the church of San Domingo was open and here we found the sello of Santiago on his horse (moved here recently). We made a return visit to Cafe Vega for lunch before siesta and then the O Pasatempo park. The statue of the brothers who created the park is in the plaza near the church of San Domingo


San Domingo

Bankers' House, now a cafe

Church of Santiago

Church of Santiago

Church of Santa Maria

Church of San Fransisco