Back home

Three plane rides and we are home to leaves and Franklin.

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We had breakfast in the Parador, and then caught a taxi to the airport. The plane from Santiago to Madrid was a little late, but we managed to get from the local gates to international within an hour of walking…seems like another day on the Camino. The new Airbus plane from Madrid to JFK was good, although seven hours long. There was a seat back monitor which the audio plug right there, rather than than in the armrest. The other great item was that there was a USB plug to charge your phone or tablet computer. We each watched three movies during the flight, which we hope will help with jet lag. We got through JFK pretty quickly and had a short flight to Boston. Anna picked us up and we drove home after dropping her off. We got home around 9 PM, only 21 hours after our 6 AM Morning alarm.

The whole spiritual, cultural and physical experience of our Camino was incredible and hard to put in words. We are so happy and proud to have finished.

Santiago Day 5 – Wednesday

Final day in Santiago and probably last post until we’re back in Maine. After a huge Parador breakfast we walked over by the university to meet Ivar Rekve, who maintains the fabulous English language forum, www.caminodesantiago.me

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After that we walked to the Igrexa de San Martín Pinario (PRS-88-8). The entire thing is Baroque from the 18th century and it just blows you away. Here is the main Retalbo from the front.

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The statues above are of course Santiago and San Millán, busily fighting to thrash the moors many hundred years after their deaths. We went into the choir, behind the altar and here is the main Retalbo from the back.

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While in the choir, here are some pictures of chairs, organ and back wall.

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Here are pictures of the various side chapels. Incredible baroque art.

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After lunch and a siesta, we went to the Necropolis tour under the cathedral. There were numerous Roman graves discovered around 50 years ago. While on the basement you can see multiple levels of constriction. The lowest is Roman, the middle is medieval and the top is 12th century. You can see the mason’s mark.

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We saw several sarcophagi and one had a skeleton. Since the bones were much newer and he was very tall

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We are now back at the hotel and will pack, have dinner and then leave for the airport in the morning.

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Posted from Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

Santiago Day 4 – Tuesday

We had our last breakfast in Hospedería San Martín Pinario and fiddle a while with wifi. Here is the breakfast area.

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We packed up everything and got ready for a walk down to the Parador. Just as we got to the door to leave, the heavens opened up, so we bundled into full rain gear and walked out. By the time we got bundled, it had pretty much stopped.
We went down to the Parador, and while the outside is not as impressive at first site as the one in León it is still pretty neat. The room is incredible.

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We were given a room immediately and after removing packs and rain gear and relaxing for a little while, we went to the Pilgrimage Museum and read about St James the Greater and saw an exhibit of the stages of building of the cathedral. This is a statue of St Anne with Virgin and child.

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Tradition holds that Saint Anne (Santa Ana) had three daughters, all Mary: the Virgin Mary, Mary Salomé, and Mary of Clopas. Salomé was the wife of Zebedee, and thus mother of James the Greater and John. Mary of Clopas was the mother of James the lesser and Joses.
After that visit we went to the Pilgrim Mass (still no botafumeiro), shopped, and went back to the hotel for some lunch and a siesta. We then did a tour of the hotel. It is the Hostal de Los Reyes Católicos, built as a pilgrim hostel and infirmary by Ferdinand and Isabel from 1501 to 1509. It has four separate courtyards, separated by gender and health: well men, well women, sick men, sick women. They were named for the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Here are the four:

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The chapel has incredible 16th century stone carvings, which have never seen weather and look like they might be plaster but are stone.

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The ceiling and the rejas at the entry were impressive.

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After that we decided to take a walk. We passed the Church if San Francisco, he is popular here since he did the Camino in the 13th century, and were in a minor sun shower with the inevitable result.

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We stopped at a farmacia and then bought some chestnuts at a supermercado. Since we would be having a late dinner we stopped at a bar for vino tinto and some snack. Came back and has dinner at the hotel’s Galician restaurant.

Posted from Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

Santiago Day 3 – Monday

We did shopping, of all things today. Had a nice filling lunch and just walked around town a bit. Tried to go to the Pilgrim Museum but it, as are most museums in Spain, was closed. Nice relaxing day. We got a picture of us on the side of the Cathedral.

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This particular entrance to the Cathedral is the Puerta del Perdón. On the top is Santiago Perigrino and his two disciples, Atanasio and Teodoro, flanked by 24 saints. This is the entrance to the cathedral which is used in Holy years, when St James day occurs in a Sunday (last one 2010, next 2021).

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While looking for the museum, we came to the Igrexa San Martín Pinario, the church attached to the monastery where we are staying. It was also closed but we will get in tomorrow.

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No dinner tonight, lunch was too big.

Posted from Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

Santiago Day 2 – Sunday

I took tons of photos today and they will take a long time to sort through. We went to the Museum of the Cathedral and finished off with a tour of the roof. The botafumeiro, the giant incense burner, was not in use. They used it Saturday but we hadn’t gotten to the cathedral yet. We may have missed it and you will have to watch “The Way” or look up botafumeiro on youtube. Here is one from the museum.

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Here are a some photos from the museum.

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Here are some from the cloister.

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From the roof tour.

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The last item we saw on the roof tour is supposedly what happens when you fail to pay your stonemason.

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More roof tour pictures including a picture of me on the roof taken by Susan.

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Above the apse of the church (altar end) is the oldest part of the roof, dating from the late 11th century. Interesting Mujedar influence.

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Here is the clock tower taken just below it.

Posted from Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

Day 23a – Lavacolla to Santiago de Compostela!!

We made it after over 300 miles of walking between April and now (roughly 130 in April and 180 in Oct/Nov). We had breakfast at the hotel and headed out. There were no more km posts. I suspect that the airport redirects the Camino in the past. We walked, you guessed it, up the hill, down to the river, repeat. Shortly after another rainbow, we got our first views of Santiago.

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We stopped in Monte del Gozo at a bar which specialized in octopus and pork. I liked their sign.

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Unfortunately Santiago has exploded in size since the early perigrinos, and the mount of joy doesn’t allow views of the cathedral. We didn’t see it until we were right on top if it.

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We got over the river and into Santiago and saw the Templar Perigrino statue.

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We had a lunch of hamberguesas and agua con gas right at the Porto de Peligrino where you enter the old city. After lunch we headed into the old city and ran into tie Korean gent we had met at dinner in Salcedo two nights ago. We continued up and found the cathedral and the Pilgrim Office and our Camino esta completo!

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After this, we checked our backpacks and decided to do our first visit to the cathedral. On the way in we encountered James from Portland, OR whom we met in Ribadiso. He recommended we check out the San Martin hotel which is in a converted Monastery. Its fourth floor is set up for perigrinos, with simple rooms which are quite adequate. Here is the facade of the monastery.

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In the cathedral, we ran into Franco. Still barefoot and happy.

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The Cathedral is stunning. I will post some pictures here and take more today. As with the Burgos Cathedral in April, I probably won’t sort it all out. In the afternoon, near the Cathedral there was a Galician bagpiper playing. YouTube link.

Here are some cathedral shots.

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There is a stairway behind the altar, where pilgrims can embrace the statue of Santiago.

20131117-084748.jpgBelow the altar is the reliquary which contains the bones of Santiago.

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Posted from Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

Day 22a – Salceda to Lavacolla

We started the day with a nice breakfast which included Arzúa cheese. It turns out that cheeses in Spain have controlled origins just like wine. After about a km we rejoined the Camino.

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We passed a cute Galician pony.

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We passed the small 18th century Chapel of Santa Irene.

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We had some fresh orange juice at a bar and came to a major km post.

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We had lunch in O Pedrouzo aka Arca and then started toward the final stage toward Santiago. More great views and huge fuchsia vine as well as a cork oak.

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20131115-192359.jpgwe had a big climb up to the airport level. At this point the km posts stopped, I suspect due to airport expansion. They should begin again in the morning. Going around airport…

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The topography map in the Brierley guide shows modest grades It was anything but, however we continued around the airport, past San Payo, which didn’t have any hotels and in to Lavacollo, and found the Hotel Garcas, which is very nice. Tomorrow we should only have about 10 km left.

I cannot leave without mentioning the name of the town, Lavacolla, comes from pilgrims washing portions of themselves to be pure for Santiago. Colla in medieval Romance language means scrotum.

Posted from Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

Day 21a – Ribadiso to Salceda

We had a bit of a problem this morning. Our room was in a small separate building from the rest of the Albergue and we had left boots and poles in the main building, which was locked. I noticed lights in the kitchen and knocked on the window. Jim from Portland, OR let us in thankfully. So after coffee/tea and fruit, we headed out and were greeted by a km post immediately.

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We proceeded up to Arzúa, had breakfast in an Art Deco bar and went to the supermercado to get a few things, since Arzúa is the last city before Santiago. The day was absolutely gorgeous and here are a bunch of shots of the paths and views on the way.

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As we walked along it was considerate that this warning sign kept our boots clean.

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We had the usual lunch (ham and cheese,beer) around 1300 and met a Belgian perigrino we had last seen at the Albergue in Pierros. We continued to walk down to the river and up and then down to the river and up.

20131114-165621.jpgGalicia reminds me of New Zealand’s temperate rain forests, although with fewer ferns.

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The climate here is much different as can be seen from this fuchsia which is clearly several years old.

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Cute bunny.

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We finished the walk for today around km post 26 and are staying at Albergue Pousada de Salceda.

After shower, blog, nap, and otherwise relaxing, we had dinner with four other perigrinos, 3 from Spain and one from Korea. Mostly Spanish with some English mixed in since the Korean gent spoke no Spanish and limited English. Lovely dinner, octopus empanada was the highlight.

Posted from O Pino, Galicia, Spain.

Day 20a – Melide to Ribadiso

Had breakfast in a bar in Melide and after a couple of km came upon the first post of the day, post 50.

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Shortly after that we came to Santa María de Melide church, PRS-83, a 12th century church with interesting capitals. Daniel and some lions are supposed to be included. The church was not open, so we couldn’t see the 15th century frescoes.

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We proceeded up and down hills for the whole day. There are tons if little rivers and each one has a valley and you go down then up 50 or 100 meters. Here is one of the river crossings.

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We took a wrong turn and in the process saw some old eucalyptus trees and a Galician pony (inside his fence)

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A man driving down the road informed us that we were not on the Camino and we walked back at least a kilometer to the place we missed the yellow arrow.

For the last several days we have been seeing little buildings in the air with either bricks or wood on the side. They are called pallieros and are used for storing cattle feed.

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Sun was finally out and here are nice landscape scenes.

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Along the way we discovered what makes brown spots in the road. 20131113-204116.jpg
We also saw some cute lambs.

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And palm trees

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We went down about 200 meters to Ribadoso, crossed the river and decided we didn’t want to go up 200 meters without a night’s rest.

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We are staying at Albergue los Caminantes, a nice place which is closing for the season shortly.

Posted from Arzúa, Galicia, Spain.

Day 19a – Palas de Rei to Melide

Long day, but nice surprise start. The Albergue San Marcos, served breakfast! We had café con leche, croissant, and zuma de naranja natural. The “natural” orange juice comes from a machine that you load whole oranges in the top and get wonderful OJ out. Most bars have the machines in northern Spain. After breakfast we walked for almost two km before encountering our first post. 20131112-174442.jpg
It was supposed to be sunny, but the sun never quite got through but at least no rain. Interesting walk through old villages. Also has to dodge impressive puddles

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Lots of ups and downs today, plus or mints 100 m ASL. We saw this note on one of our downhills.

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We continued along down a lovely path to a bridge on the Rio Seco. As you can see, it is not dry, despite the name.

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We had lunch in O Coto at the first bar we came to after three or more hours. There we met Dan and Ivy from Staten Island. He had come all the way from France and his wife had joined him in Sarria. We compared notes on who was slower and figured they would pass us. Later we went past an industrial park which had an abstract peregrino statue and an interesting cross.

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Shortly after leaving the industrial park area, we came upon a young horse who was right on the Camino. His mother was on the other side if the fence but he had somehow escaped.

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After this picture was taken he came up the fence and his mom made a big noise and he got off the Camino and into an adjacent field, although still on the wrong side if the fence. A little later Susan showed the picture at a nearby restaurant but nobody knew the owners. As we walked along she met a gentleman who said the horse belonged to his neighbor and he would go right there to help.
We continued into Furelo over a medieval four arch bridge and stopped for a beer and baño break.

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As we left the bar and continued up the final hill to Melide, I looked back and saw Dan waving his trekking pole at us. They were indeed slower. We walked with them into town and they went off to meet a friend at a different albergue. We checked into Albergue Pereiros, relaxed, napped and showered and went out to dinner at the place suggested by our hospitalero, Café Sony. Wonderful dinner including a half kilo veal chop which was the best meat we have had in Spain (we split it). Out early in the morning.

Posted from Melide, Galicia, Spain.